Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bail Me Out

The ship of late 20th century American capitalism has run ashoal and now wants the government to bail, meaning it has effectively capitulated to the Marxist dialectic. I used to think that in funding worker retirement plans with company stock and granting stock options to an expanding pool of employees corporations were creating the possibility that those employees would come to control and then own the company--and worker ownership of the means of production is key if capitalism is to be party to its own demise. But incrementalism has no real place in the current global economic meltdown. What we have is a line of international corporations begging the US Treasury for money to save them from their own antisocial greed, which has brought them to ruin, and they use the threat of tens of thousands of lost jobs to justify the bailout, while preparing to renege on retirement and health insurance obligations and to lay off those tens of thousands even if they receive government funds. Thus, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are begging, but what I'm not hearing is what government will require of them--and require it should because it should not loan a dime without equity in return and some major changes. Here are some suggestions:

1. The SUV is dead. The car companies are in crisis now because they put all their effort into producing the gas guzzling monsters that imperiled drivers of small, energy efficient cars, not to mention the world. The car companies spent millions of dollars to avoid meeting strict gas mileage and pollution standards. When gas prices soared, sales collapsed and the industry had few other lines to promote.

2. Bailout money is earmarked for developing and building energy efficient low polluting cars, More is available for the car companies that are willing to make solid, reliable alernative energy vehicles. In other words, it is time to solve the flywheel and battery problems in a way that will make electric vehicles viable.

3. The corporations agree to support fully a single-payer national health plan administered through Medicare. that's good business.

4. No executive's salary can exceed 30 times the salary of the corporation's lowest paid employee. If that is $20,000 a year, the CEO earns no more than $600,000 a year, This applies to financial institutions, hedge funds--all businesses that do business beyond their state boundaries.

5. Companies failing to meet their retirement obligations must boost their social security contributions; they will not run retirement funds again; rather they will pay that share into social security. There is no need to privatize social security by the way because it will already own controlling interest in the company.

Those are starters. I'll think of more later.

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