Friday, November 21, 2008

Maybe They Should Call the 2009 Model "The Hubris"

Given the corporate appeals from top executives to Congress for federal aid, it is interesting to see how the websites of the Big Three auto-makers say remarkably little about their public case for help from taxpayers. While GM does put its "Facts about the Auto Crisis" close to its front page, and subsidiary Chevrolet links to the same appeal in an attempt to garner public support, the general emphasis on company websites is on showroom rhetoric not dire warnings about the possible results of non-intervention. Ford further underplays its lobbying efforts in order to emphasize its product lines, lineage, and service to various communities, discourses in which it stresses its financial largesse to others rather than its economic needs. Finally, Chrysler, which is most obviously in meltdown mode, since it doesn't even have new models to display at the annual auto show, has the sunniest website, where no hint of its economic troubles can be seen.

As to the bailout, I'm divided. I understand that the auto industry is a large part of the economy, but I don't feel that diverting attention from the failing banking industry and credit markets is wise right now. And I tend to be unsympathetic to an industry that has fought environmental regulation so vigorously and counts on profits from discriminatory practices in which women and people of color pay more for cars.

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