The National Security Angle
I am not attracted to "saving" companies that are unable to compete in their markets, but the present circumstance is unusual in at least three ways, one of which the auto executives have largely left out of the debate.
The first issue is the extraordinarily large number of jobs provided by the auto industry and the second is the precarious state of the overall economy -- both of which the CEOs have mentioned repeatedly.
The third issue, however, which few are talking about, is the importance of a viable domestic auto industry to national security. While the likelihood of so-called "conventional" wars seems -- hopefully -- remote at the moment, the potential for a major military conflict must remain a consideration.
One cannot prevail in war with a service economy alone, and the auto industry comprises a very significant portion of our nation's heavy manufacturing capability.
Of course, it may be that were Detroit to fail, auto manufacturing might merely move to Tennessee under foreign ownership. But my guess is that if Detroit fails, a good part of the manufacturing capability it represents will find its way out of the United States as fast as it can go.
The auto execs could have made this case -- in a constructive manner and from a national perspective. It is important for everyone to consider, irrespective of the interests of the auto companies themselves.
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