In an exclusive interview with PM, Jay Leno gives us his take on the auto bailout:
I think we should bail them out. To me it’s like class warfare. The white-collar guys get a bailout and the blue-collar guys don’t? That’s crazy. You know, I’d rather help a guy with a wrench in his hand than some guy sitting in front of a keyboard.
We’ve given the banks $700 billion. Does it seem like anything has actually happened with that money? No. But when a factory closes, boy, you’ll see the effect of that right away. You’ll see towns go under and you’ll see lives ruined. That town will never be a manufacturing center again. At best those old buildings will become a mall or a Wal-Mart.
I look at it this way: I don’t necessarily want to loan my brother-in-law money, but he’s family. To me, GM, Ford, Chrysler and the suppliers that go along with them are our family.
We barely make anything in this country anymore as it is. And once you lose this manufacturing infrastructure, it’s pretty much gone forever.
During World War II, Henry Ford converted his automotive plant to airplane production. Every hour, another bomber came out of the Willow Run plant in Michigan. We actually made planes quicker than the Germans could shoot them down. Once a country loses its manufacturing base, it’s in trouble.
And when a country manufactures a product, there are many other companies that feed and live off what was produced. When Henry Ford made the Model T, it opened up an aftermarket industry that was the biggest in the world. Think of the folks that make saddlebags and chrome parts for Harley-Davidsons—today, all these companies prosper from Harley’s original bit of work.
There’s a precedent for this bailout too.
In 1979 the government gave Chrysler a loan of $1.5 billion. Hey, we all made jokes about the old K-cars at the time, “some assembly required,” right? But Iacocca turned Chrysler around. It paid that loan back in half the time, with interest, and the government actually made money.
And that’s good enough reason for me to support a bailout now.
The whole auto industry is in turmoil; it’s not just GM, Ford and Chrysler. Sales are down. Mercedes-Benz just leased another 15 acres of property in Long Beach to stack up all the cars that are arriving that they can’t sell. The trouble is, people coming into dealerships to buy these cars can’t get loans anymore. It doesn’t stem from bad products.
Were mistakes made? Sure. Should the automakers have produced more fuel-efficient vehicles sooner? Yes. That was the big mistake. But those cars, like the Chevy Volt, are now on the way.
And GM has done a great job with many of its recent products. Cadillac, for example, has turned itself around from an old man’s brand to a hip car company that makes world-class automobiles. For the first time in a long time, these cars are respected by the European manufacturers as real contenders. How sad would it be to get so close to the finish line and not win the race? We have the ability and we have the technology. So do we let our auto industry go under? I don’t think so. --Interview Compiled by Ben Stewart
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Опубліковано Jason о 12:04 PM