Thursday, February 26, 2009

Save Detroit

Poor Bobby Jiindal. He really does seem like a nice guy. But the country just can't afford any more nonsensical ninnies right now. Giving the Republican Response to President Obama's non State of the Union speech, Bobby was clearly and pitifully out of his league. The faux pas were many. His problem didn't seem to be that he sounded like he was telling an inspiring story to his 5 year old, but that he offered absolutely zero ideas on how to go forward and quickly address our nation's economic crisis.

Following in W's Footsteps

This is of course not just Bobby's incompetence. It is the actual Republican strategy. By being unhelpful naysayers, they will feel entitled to complain about anything that doesn't seem to be working exactly as hoped, and complain that the President's plans that do work didn't work as well as claimed, or really just slowed down a recovery that would have happened anyway. They really do think that we are a mob of idiots. And why shouldn't they? Until this past year, we've proved them right in 5 of the past 7 Presidential elections.

But that's not putting country first. Which of course is the point. The Republican's successful strategy is to get the labor class to unite with the moneyed class against the interest of the middle class, by baffling the uneducated buffoons with bullshit. And it usually has worked, as it has for centuries, since the middle class came into existence.

So, I'm loving the public ridicule that Bobby is so deservedly catching for his performance. But he'll be back. Rascals and con men have a shameless way of coming back to life.

Meanwhile, "conundrum" seems to be the word of the week, as non-economists realize that an economy based on the circulation of wealth is really tricky to mess with. Any solution to one problem creates a new imbalance somewhere else. It's a lot like trying to re-start a jet engine in flight without blowing it up. It's harder than it sounds.

Take our friends in Detroit. Despite decades of selling us clinking, clanking lead sleds through sleezy sales methods, they are now in need of public assistance. No crime there. Everybody needs a break now and then. But what's the problem? And what's the solution?

Our newsie friends give us the impression that Detroit needs money. Well, sure. Not having money is a problem. So is the solution to give them some? Well, not so fast.

The "Big 3" don't have any money because sales are down. Ford, which is the best condition of the three, has sales down about 2 million cars per year. That's a lot of cars. And a lot of jobs. So maybe the real need isn't money, but sales.

So here's an idea. Let's increase sales. That would give Detroit more money without just handing over a big old bag o' cash.

How? Incentives! Tax cuts! Republicans have to love this idea. And it sort of makes sense. And not just tax cuts, but tax credits. A tax credit is a dollar for dollar discount off of your tax bill for evey dollar that you spend on a BRAND NEW CAR! (Use Monty Hall voice.)

So, we give a big tax credit to everybody who buys a brand new car. I know that I would love a new car. Who wouldn't?

But Worldview, won't that flood the car market with used cars that will compete with new cars for overall car sales?

Well, yes, of course! That's the conundrum part. So, what to do? Export them! How? Tax credits again! Give dollar for dollar tax credits to folks who donate their used cars to overseas charities. This will not only help overseas charities, which is good, but also deplete the stock of available cars for sale, thus helping demand for cars recover. Hah. That wasn't so hard.

In the meantime, how about regulating these doofuses into building something that makes sense for our future. Just selling "what the market wants" is a crack dealers ethic. It doesn't stand up to scrutiny and should not be incorporated into public policy. And cars sales has now become a part of public policy whether you like it or not.

Now that's a car.

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