Make us your home page
Letters to the Editor

Bailout won't help GM sell cars

Help automakers, but attach strings | Nov. 14, editorial

Bailout won't help GM sell cars

The Big Three are not victims of the current financial crisis. For those too young to remember, we had our first wake-up call 35 years ago — high oil prices, long lines at the gas station, high inflation and unemployment. The foreign manufacturers reacted by improving quality and fuel efficiency, and began to increase their market share. Detroit, unfortunately, has done little due to management inertia and union intransigence.

Things have now gotten so bad that even $25-billion will do little more than provide six months of operating cash to those who have, essentially, wasted 35 years.

As one who has worked for many years in the corporate bankruptcy arena, I'd like the public to know that bankruptcy doesn't automatically mean that everyone loses their jobs. The foreign manufacturers, who already build many of their fuel-efficient, better quality cars in American plants, will no doubt be interested in acquiring many of the available plants and skilled workers in the event of bankruptcy filings. The losers in this scenario, as with most bankruptcies, will be the shareholders and the unsecured creditors.

The $25-billion would be better spent in transitioning and relocating former Big Three workers to other car manufacturers or other employers who have shown their willingness to adapt to a changing business environment.

The American people have spoken their preference for several decades by decreasing the share of Big Three vehicles purchased. No amount of taxpayer bailout money can force them to choose otherwise.

Peter Ford, Tierra Verde

Cheap gas is the problem

At what point can Detroit force car buyers into vehicles they don't want?

People bought Hummers and F-150s not because they were shoved down their throats, but because they wanted them and could afford them. Cheap gas, low interest rates, inexpensive leases, home equity loans, etc., made them very attractive to people who maybe should have known better. Detroit has tried for years to build fuel-efficient cars, but guess what? No one wanted efficiency!

Capitalism 101: You market what people want.

We'll get serious about clean, efficient vehicles when gas runs $3 or $4 a gallon reliably. If our government taxed it to that level we'd have a healthy, stable auto industry, the world's best roads, viable public transit, maybe even a balanced budget.

By the way, the U.S. automakers aren't the only ones selling big: Toyota Land Cruiser? 13/18 mpg. Nissan Armada? 12/18 mpg. Chevy Tahoe? 14/20 mpg.

Stop thinking the Japanese are so bulletproof.

Dale Kitt, St. Petersburg

Help automakers, but attach strings | Nov. 14, editorial

Union is killing the industry

The editorial has a lot of merit, but a few things needed to be added. The buying public wanted their SUVs, and GM did what the market wanted. Yes, they wrongly conceded the small car market to the imports. However, the rise in gas prices changed Americans' driving and buying habits.

Also, Toyota ranks behind GM in fuel economy rankings, according to They do make the Higlander, FJ Cruiser, Sequoia, Landcruiser and the Tundra — all considered gas hogs. Honda was ranked one spot ahead of GM in fuel ranking and they make only one truck.

My opinion is that GM should give the UAW a final take-it-or-leave-it deal or file for bankruptcy and break the union that has been killing us. Then seek aid from the government and come back lean and mean. America needs our carmakers. We can't lose more jobs.

Greg Kowzan, Holiday

Teacher homes? Try it | Nov. 14, editorial

Details, snarls loom

The concept of converting the old Euclid school property into subsidized housing for teachers/police/firefighters/nurses sounds intriguing at first glance, but will have difficulty due to unintended consequences. I hope the Downtown Partnership's feasibility study examines not only housing demand factors but examines other human factors such as: How will units be allocated in a way that is perceived as fair? How will capital reserves for repairs be funded and spent? How will "owners" of the units account and save for federal income tax due on the income portion of the below-market rents/payments? How will resales be handled? If you ask the question "do teachers want less costly housing?" the answer is bound to be yes. Don't we all!

City and other governments have not shown the experienced real estate entrepreneur's touch with buildings in general, much less experimental housing. Spending tax dollars on such sites as the Manhattan Casino (vacant) and a second-floor restaurant at Albert Whitted (vacant) does not bode well for development success in the future. Let's have the School Board concentrate on educating our children, raising expectations of performance and behavior in these kids before participating in a development project that is way off the mark.

Scott K. Wagman, St. Petersburg

Teacher homes? Try it | Nov. 14, editorial

Teachers deserve better

I have two words for the planners of artificially affordable housing for teachers: "Teachers' ghetto."

After my brief time as a public school teacher, I came away believing two things. One, my colleagues were some of the hardest-working and most energetic, resilient and dedicated educators I'd known in almost 20 years of teaching; and two, they should all quit their jobs, because they deserved better than the financial hardship and lack of respect afforded them by a system that underpays them, blames them for all outcomes regardless of the quality of students they're working with, and schedules them so ruthlessly that there's no time for dignified bodily functions.

This new plan is another brick in the wall of this disrespect. Most industries understand you cannot attract quality personnel without paying them a wage that allows them to live a dignified existence. Industries that don't understand this pick their people from the bottom of the barrel. Yet for some reason, a society built around a free market refuses to recognize these economics as they apply to education — one of our most noble professions, and the fundamental resource for a healthy and economically sound democracy. Somehow, these professionals categorically don't deserve to benefit from their years of training, devotion and service. To lower our tax bill, we insist that the bedrock of our nation take a vow of poverty.

We get what we pay for. Governments, tax as necessary to build schools that not only communicate knowledge but inspire intellectual curiosity. School boards, respect your people — and that means pay them. All else is lip service.

And teachers, quit your jobs until the governments and school boards get the message. Go find the respect you deserve from employers who respect their people, and when the public school system implodes because you sought the market value that system pretended didn't exist, maybe we'll all finally understand just how very much quality schools are worth paying for.

Andrew McAlister, Temple Terrace

Teacher homes? Try it | Nov. 14, editorial

Help after foreclosure

This might be a great solution for single-parent teachers in Pinellas County who have recently foreclosed on their homes due to a failing economy. They continue to need affordable housing but now have credit problems to go with it. I feel that teachers in foreclosure should be the priority when it comes to affordable housing, particularly when they have children.

Mary Niemeyer, ESE teacher, Pinellas County Schools, Largo

Bailout won't help GM sell cars 11/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 24, 2008 8:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours