Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The car companies that eat our future have their hands out — again!

Peter Boyle / AUSTRALIA
14 November 2008
There are some new faces joining the banks on the corporate bailout queue: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The “Big Three” US car corporations are demanding US$50 billion in bailout loans from the US government - on top of $25 billion already approved. Across the Atlantic, the European car companies are demanding a matching 40 billion euro subsidy.
The corporate empires that gave the world those dinosaurs of the 21st century - the gas-guzzling SUVs and Humvees - are now threatening to put millions of people out of work if they aren’t bailed out. But even if they get these handouts, they refuse to guarantee that jobs won’t go.
In Australia, PM Kevin Rudd has already obliged car manufacturers by doubling Howard’s corporate welfare cheque to A$6.2 billion.
However, according to the November 3 Melbourne Age, innovation minister Kim Carr admits that the extra subsidy will not stop the immediate loss of jobs in an industry that employs only 65,000 in Australia today.
Holden has already cut 1100 jobs, Ford 600 and Mitsubishi 100, on top of the 900 in Adelaide earlier this year. Perhaps the car companies don’t want to miss out on the free handouts for big companies after seeing bankrupt banks around the world bailed out to the tune of more than A$6 trillion in the last few months?
But the car industry globally has been massively publicly subsidised for years. In the US alone, the total public subsidy to the car industry has been estimated at US$700 billion per year! That’s before the crisis. Only the so-called “defence” industry gets a bigger regular public subsidy in the US - $1 trillion a year.

Every government around the world is told that these car companies need massive public subsidies because of competition from overseas. But in every country it’s the same global car corporations with their hands out!
What could these trillions now being blown on bailing out capitalism be better spent on? Here are just some possibilities:
• $2.1 trillion would wipe out all the poor countries’ “debt” to the world’s richest countries.
Think of the consequences such a move in terms of children saved from starvation and preventable disease, wars ended because their real causes have addressed.

Huge forests could be saved from destruction driven by the need to repay “debt” that has already been repaid by the Third World many times over.
• An annual investment of a mere $30 billion would solve global food insecurity, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
• A corporate study by the McKinsey Global Institute found that an annual global investment of
$170 billion in energy productivity through until 2020 could halve global energy demand. This investment would cut CO2 emissions to about 550 parts per million.
These sort of socially and environmentally necessary investments would also be recouped very quickly. For instance, UN Environment Program research shows that every year the felling of forests deprives the world of over $2.5 trillion worth of such services as supplying water, generating rainfall, stopping soil erosion, cleaning the air and reducing global warming.

Related Story:
Senate Hearing On US Auto Bailout Signals New Attacks On Workers
By Jerry White

19 November, 2008

Tuesday's Senate Banking Committee hearing on a $25 billion government bailout of the US auto industry underscored the reactionary framework of the official debate on the crisis of the Big Three auto companies. At the center of the dispute between those senators who support an emergency loan and those who oppose it is how best to impose the burden of the crisis on the backs of auto workers and the working class as a whole

Why We Shouldn't Bail Out GM

Nicholas von Hoffman, The Nation
Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: The bailout should be used to expand unemployment compensation instead of propping up a single, failing corporation.

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