written by bendygirl at Tuesday, October 28, 2008
By Dean Baker
We all know how hard it is to get by on tens of millions of dollars a year. That is why the Washington Post was near hysterical in its support of the Wall Street bailout earlier this month. They argued that if we didn't give $700 billion to the banks right away that all hell would break loose.
Those who wanted to put conditions that ensured that the money didn't go into the pockets of shareholders or top executives, or even that the bailout was done the right way through direct injections of capital (as it eventually was) were denounced as reactionary Neanderthals. So, the bailout went through and the Wall Street executives are now getting tens of millions in compensation, courtesy of average taxpayers.
Now the occasion comes to bailout the auto industry and the Post goes ballistic the other way.
After all, the average autoworker makes $56,650 a year. That's almost as much as Robert Rubin makes in a day. Who do these autoworkers think they are?
There are serious issues that should be asked about any bailout of Detroit, but it is a bit obscene to see a paper that in both its editorial and news pages was an active supporter of handing tens of billions of dollars to rich Wall Street bankers suddenly turn around and get hysterical about the idea of helping workers making $57,000 a year. And remember, none of these autoworkers are responsible for wrecking the economy.
The class bias at the Post is so thick that most people should know to treat this one as a leftover from the comics section. But it is still pretty disgusting to see people who make six figure salaries and who anxiously promote policies to help people who make seven and eight figure salaries, get outraged over a policy designed to help people earning $57,000 a year.
Personally, gotta agree with Mr. Baker, and it was really these two paragraphs that really made the case:
Well, we can think of several objections. First, there is the question of whether the U.S. government should be picking winners and losers in a business such as this. It's one thing to bail out the financial sector, whose product -- credit -- is essentially fungible and on which all other businesses depend. Automobiles, however, are not interchangeable, and Congress can't substitute its specific technological and aesthetic preferences for those of the market. What if we lend Detroit $25 billion and still nobody buys its cars?
Second, this bailout taxes the less well-off to protect the relatively privileged. The average individual General Motors production worker, whose job would be saved by the bailout, makes $56,650 per year, according to the Center for Automotive Research, and that doesn't count better-paid, white-collar types. Meanwhile, half of all households-- which typically include more than one earner -- make less than $50,000 per year. Where's the justice in that?
Think about it for just one minute.
Okay, so then let's try again, the Post is ACTUALLY saying here that it's okay to bailout credit and insurance companies whose executives' greed brought down those same companies and destroyed the economy, but it's not okay to LOAN money to the Auto industry because their workers, union workers, make more than $50k on AVERAGE. that's not the median salary, that's the average. Apparently, to the Post, it's still okay to reward Investors over helping WORKERS. And yeah, that's really what this comes down to in the end. The Post is really suggesting that "fungible" industries like finance are essential, but jobs that pay well are simply not needed.
Nice job Post Editorial Board. Nice job.