Detroit's failings a diversion for Congress
Our representatives in Congress have made a big show of rebuking executives of the Big Three automakers, scolding them for traveling to Washington in private jets, and demanding detailed plans before lending them money. It's almost as if they were trying to make us believe that they feel some sense of responsibility for our money.
Such was not the case when the financial system collapsed and Congress authorized $700-billion to be given to banks with virtually no oversight, no demand for detailed plans, and no public humiliation of bank directors. Now the bankers are busily reducing consumers' credit limits, right at the start of the holiday shopping season, while the government alleges that it is trying to make credit more available. Shameful.
Why didn't Congress treat the banks the same way they are treating the car companies? Because government bears equal responsibility with the banks for the bankrupting of America, and your member of Congress doesn't want you to dwell on how he or she let you down. Now the Big Three automakers, coming to them with hat in hand, are the perfect patsies for Congress to use to divert our attention and make America forget that they failed us miserably in ways that will cause many families to suffer for a generation.
If the companies succeed, lending them the $34-billion they are seeking will have saved 3.5- million jobs and kept alive the research and development labs we are counting on to design the green cars we will all be driving in 15 years. If they are unsuccessful and the Big Three eventually collapse, the effort to save them will still have been worth it.
The decision is a no-brainer. But politicians won't do the right thing when they have the opportunity to divert attention from their own failings to the plight of a ready-made patsy or three.
Meyer Baron, St. Petersburg
Driven to a $34B plea | Dec. 3
Automakers resort to a pathetic ploy
Well I see in the Times where the CEOs of the Big Three American automakers traveled to Washington this week to plead for their "big bucks" handouts.
And get this: They drove their own products to the meeting. How utterly pathetic. How ridiculous can you get. It appears that these millionaire CEOs — and you might as well include the members of the congressional committee — have lost all sense of reality when it comes to dealing honestly with the public.
Do they actually think this little one-act charade will fly in the minds of U.S. citizens? Somehow we have come across in business and political circles to be no more than a mass of public nincompoops. I can't speak for other folks, but quite frankly my pocketbook seems to flatten out a little more with every new congressional hearing in Washington.
Harold T. Sansing, Dunnellon
Bank regulators ignored, documents show Dec. 2, story
Banks are undeserving
Just when you thought nothing could top the number the auto industry did on Washington, along comes yet another perfect storm revelation: In 2006, regulators were forewarned of the impending economic meltdown but chose to ignore the warnings in favor of letting the market take care of itself.
This raises the obvious question: Why are we contemplating bailing out the perpetrators? Let them be subject to the free-market forces that got them into the fix they are in.
Then we should devote the billions of dollars in aid to helping the real victims: the American taxpayers. Putting good money after bad is a double whammy: You take spending power from the only people who can turn the economy around, and you put it in the hands of those who rightly deserve not a bailout but prison time for crimes against humanity.
All of this is such a fitting epitaph for the dysfunctional Bush administration. Jan. 20 can't come too soon.
Duke Miller, Anna Maria
Banks to grant 45 days of grace | Dec. 2, story
Make the bankers wait
A few days ago there was an article in this paper that stated that the Royal Bank of Scotland "would give homeowners who miss mortgage payments at least six months before starting repossession action — double the three months it used to give."
That makes Florida's offer of 45 days of grace an embarrassment. Note the normal extension for the Bank of Scotland was 90 days even before the world financial collapsed.
We should change our laws to make foreclosure the last resort. The very banks that are all getting bought up or bailed out with money borrowed against future generations had approved these people for the loans to put a far too fancy roof over their heads. So they should have to wait to boot them out. We all know that the banks are losing a small fortune processing these foreclosures anyhow, so they might as well help the needy.
Almost every working family is only a couple paychecks away from financial ruin due to uninsured illness or long-term employment loss. Most of us realize this and have empathy for those getting evicted from their lives.
Doug Adams, Spring Hill
All the news fit to print, via Bangalore Dec. 2, Maureen Dowd column
Keeping jobs here
Maureen Dowd wrote Tuesday about James Macpherson, owner of the Pasadena Now online newspaper firing his seven staff writers because they wouldn't work for the 7½ cents per word rate that writers in India would accept.
Macpherson brags about his "pioneering" work in reducing the need to employ his fellow citizens as if there were no connection between the state of the economy and his personal greed. Show me someone who instead is pioneering the creation of jobs with living wages in their local community.
Macpherson will soon enough change his tune once someone in India figures out they don't need him to publish an online newspaper in Pasadena.
Remember when it was fashionable to "Buy American?" How about "Spend your advertising dollars only with media that employ your customers."
Fred Jacobsen, Apollo Beach
Support not a given | Dec. 2, letter
The letter writer says the Israeli government practices "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinian people by controlling, as occupiers, every aspect of their lives.
Has the letter writer visited Palestine before and after the creation of modern-day Israel? Did he see the arid desert that was before, and the lush fruitful Israel that is today? Does he know that there are millions more Palestinians today than in 1948?
The Israelis are not practicing "ethnic cleansing." They are defending their lives, property and creativity against those who would like to see them wiped off the face of the Earth.
Arlene Berger, Clearwater