Like any good congressman, the automakers are just going to the trough to get their fair share.  Like with congressmen, this “get mine, too” attitude makes for a weak Congress and a weak auto industry. 

If congressmen and women were given incentives to do what was right instead of what will get them reelected, they would make far better decisions for our country.  If automakers were given incentives to build better cars, instead of incentives to keep union members employed and shareholders happy every quarter, they might just make better and more commercially successful cars. 

Here’s what we should do to create the right incentives:

  1. Don’t even think of a handout.  If you have shown poor judgment and purchased a house beyond your means or bought a boat you could not afford, your government will not and should not bail you out.  This is no different. 
  2. Offer a line of credit to each company in line with their needs and their ability to pay it back, just like a bank would if you or I asked for a line of credit.  It would have to be backed by assets like real estate or equipment or receivables or inventory.  If it is not as much or as easy to get as the automakers hoped for, they will just have to make cuts and change plans.
  3. Contract equally with each of the three automakers to purchase 60 % of the vehicles needed by the federal government for the year.  Based on cost of operation data, place the remaining orders with the company that provides the best efficiency. 
  4. Offer a $5,000,000,000 prize for the first US automaker to prove they have a ready-to-manufacture-and-sell electric vehicle that will charge 75% or more in 15 minutes, run 200 miles on a charge, and carry 4 passengers plus their luggage.
  5. Offer a $2,000,000,000 prize for the first US battery manufacturer to meet a standard that will allow the automakers to achieve the above ranges and charge times.

In other words, I think we should pay the automakers for doing something as opposed to giving them money for having done something poorly.

Much like the way the War on Poverty created more dependent poor, handouts to automakers will just make them weaker, less competitive and more dependent upon the government.

Did I mention that I think we should not even consider giving a handout to the automakers (or the financial companies or any other for-profit venture)?