Wednesday, April 1, 2009

One Reason Why Newspapers Are In Decline

Newspaper executives are like Republicans: They blame everyone but themselves for their declining constituency and show no respect for the adversaries -- in this case, the blogosphere -- who are kicking their butts. Take this Olympian drivel about the auto industry from David Brooks of the New York Times and Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Times (here and here). Neither writer can remove his ideological blinders in the interests of providing serious analysis or looking at the human dimension.  

Contrast their nonsense with these posts ("Maybe It's Time To Talk About The 'B' Word" and "More On That 'Surgical' Bankruptcy") from Kathy at Stone Soup Musings. From "The 'B' Word":
I'm feeling a combination of anger and fear about our auto industry's future, but I also feel a sense of resignation. How much longer can we continue this way? We're dying slowly, one excruciating job loss at a time, and it's like torture. I'm beginning to think maybe it's time to call in the triage team, or in this case the restructuring team.
She then goes on to explain the intricacies of Section 363 of the bankruptcy code and why that might be the best course for Obama and the automakers. 

From "Surgical":
An auto bankruptcy could cost one-third of the three million people employed in the industry and shave four percentage points from our GDP according to a Deutsche Bank analyst. I guess that's why Obama called it a "surgical bankruptcy" in his address on Monday. Losing that many people would be like losing a limb in order to save your life. That's the bad news.

There is some good news though, at least for GM. An article in the NY Times reports the "government may seek to ease General Motors into what it calls a “controlled” bankruptcy, somewhere between a prepackaged bankruptcy and court chaos, by persuading at least some creditors to agree to a plan that would cleave the company into two pieces."
You don't have to agree with her conclusions to take the point that Kathy simply offers a more thorough analysis (not to mention a human connection) than a newspaper editor and a columnist writing from one of the most respected forums in the world.

There's a common-sense aspect to the auto companies' dilemma, something that no MSM commentator seems remotely aware of. Despite general mismanagement and inept boards, an awful lot of knowledge about car making has accumulated in Michigan, knowledge that we as nation should resist tossing into a junkyard. Properly led and with the right mission, the white- and blue-collar workers of GM and Chrysler could put the United States in a leadership position when it comes to the next generation of green cars. Why doesn't David Brooks write about that?...

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This just in: GOP proposes tax cuts and a domestic spending freeze. Stop the presses...

6 comments:

Cowtown Pattie said...

I don't know how I feel about the demise or semi-demise of one of our national symbols - the automobile.

I know a lot of real people depend on real hourly jobs via Detroit, so for them I say "bailout".

But, how many failed industries can the taxpayers afford to rescue?

K. said...

In this case, I believe that we would lose a great deal by casting aside what is really an immense knowledge base. The auto makers are more than a business -- they are a national resource.

Renegade Eye said...

The UAW's loyalty to the Democratic Party, is being rewarded, by being kicked in the teeth.

The chair of GM, who forcibly resigned, received a $20 million dollar severance package.

A factory closed, is a factory occupied.

Rising from my Ashes said...

I came across this the other day in the media but for some reason it didnt seem as catchy as you have elaborated and its also great to have your perspective. Very enlightening and I really enjoyed the links. Thank you.

K. said...

Thanks for stopping by! Digging up interesting links has practically become a hobby.

Kathy said...

Thanks for linking to my diaries, K. From the perspective of someone living in the midst of this storm, we're frustrated that the government has not allowed us to compete on a level playing field.

One example, Korea only allows American manufactures to export somewhere around 5000 cars to their country each year, yet we allowed them to send 700,000 vehicles here last year.

Health care is a big issue too. Sure our labor costs are a little higher, but that's because our companies have to pay for each employees health insurance. Japan picks up the tab for Toyota and Honda.

And I'm tired of hearing the UAW get blasted because they bargained for decent wages for their members. Why shouldn't they make decent wages? We all should, and $50-60,000 a year with benefits is hardly living high on the hog.

And what you say about retaining out manufacturing knowledge in this country is an excellent point. Right now, 95% of all lithium batteries that are expected to be used in the cars of the future are produced in Japan (or it might be China). Michigan is trying to bring that manufacturing to our state because it is insane to develop future autos that depend on foreign batteries. That puts us in the same situation as oil.

Anyway, I'm hopeful Obama will help level the playing field and encourage the growth of manufacturing in this country again. We need to be self-sufficient, and we also need to do something about the erosion of wages in this country. Blue collar industries deserve decent wages too.