Archive for big three automakers

Dear New York state: Why spend $21,000 on a rug during a recession?

Posted in 1, economy, news, Politics, Ranting with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2008 by bloggingmom67

Here’s yet another example of stupid governmental decisions that piss me off. Someone in state government made the ill-advised decision to purchase a $21,000 custom-stitched, antique Turkish carpet for the Executive Mansion?

Now, granted, the rug was purchased in July, before all of us fully got that our economy was going down the toilet. But at that point, Gov. David Paterson was already making a round of cuts to the current budget — taking away money that was already promised.

Sure things got worse and worse and worse. (I’d like to hope the purchase wouldn’t be made now, but I can’t say I’m confident of that.)

Also, I’m sure the governor himself knew nothing of the purchase — or at least I hope not. But the thing with being in charge, you get blamed whether it’s your fault or not. (You also get credit for what your underlings do well, so it all evens out.)

Why does this rug thing bug me so much? Because, like the big three automakers swooping in a corporate jets asking for a handout from taxpayers, it belies the message we keep getting from politicians and corporate leaders. Sorry, we can’t fun programs for early education or schools because we don’t have the cash. Hey, we need money to keep our business afloat but we’re not willing to drop our standard of living one bit in the meantime. (Yes, I realize the big three changed their tune eventually but only after being publicly flogged.)

But we can go buy a rug that’s more expensive than me, you or most people we know would ever be able to spend. (And, yes, I get that in the state’s massive budget $21,000 is like a couple hundred bucks in mine.)

Since the economy got bumpy, my husband and I have really cut our spending. (I know that adds to the economic malaise, but we’re worried we might not have secure jobs.) We’ve stopped eating out, except very infrequently. I’ve cut back on buying coffee; I fired the cleaning lady and started dyeing my own hair. These are all small “nickel-and-dime” type of savings.

But the thing is: True savings comes from these nickel-and-dime savings. Sure, I could save lots of money if I stopped paying my biggest bill — my mortgage, but I’d also be out on the street. So the only way most people can really trim their own costs is by doing a lot of little things that add up. Somehow government doesn’t seem to get this, or at least it seems that way. Instead, they try to cut big chunks out of the budget, but that doesn’t work. The state still needs to function even as it trims costs.

Here’s my message for the state (and federal) government: Take a cue from the Kit Kittredge movie, a film based on an American Girl doll character that is set during the Great Depression: Use it up; wear it out; do without. That’s what I’m trying to do.

bitchy mommy


Big three automakers want bigger bailout

Posted in 1, news, Politics, Ranting with tags , , , , , , , on December 3, 2008 by bloggingmom67

Dear Big Three automakers:

I’m not sure what to think. First I was mad at you; then happy; then mad again.

It angered me when you swooped in on your corporate jets and ask for a $25 billion bailout of taxpayers’ money. You came with no plan on how this bailout will help your industry prevent itself from falling into this financial mess again. And you just looked greedy, as you stayed mum when an elected official asked if you’d be willing to give up your corporate jets.

To me, you acted as if the government were good ol’ mom and dad.

Big three: “Hey, I need some money?”

Congress: “What for?”

Big three: “Stuff.”

Except, the money isn’t your parents’ money. It’s money that belongs to taxpayers like me, and OK, like you. These taxpayers are facing the same recession as you that got you into a “cash-flow” problem. In fact, many of them probably have their own “cash-flow” problems.

So Congress wisely sends you back, empty-handed. Come up with a plan, you’re told. And stop acting so arrogant.

You come back to Congress. And you’ve made some progress. Ford and GM’s CEOs agree to get just $1 pay for next year if a government loan comes through. (Chrysler’s CEO is apparently only paid a $1 already.) Ford and GM agree to sell their corporate jets. They’d all cut salaries for executives.

But then you come back to Congress and ask for more money.  You say $25 billion isn’t enough; now you need $34 billion.

Honestly, it’s hard for me to understand that you need nearly $10 billion more, and it has only been about two weeks since last visit to Congress. Is that your final answer?

Yes, I get that it’s a bad thing for our economy and all your workers if you three companies go bankrupt. But do you also get that this bailout is on the back of folks who have been laid off, who aren’t getting bonuses (or never did), who aren’t getting raises this year (or ever did). Do you realize some of the taxpayers paying for this largesse can’t even stay home from work one day for illness for fear they’ll get fired.

That’s it. You can go now. I really don’t want to look at you right now.

bitchy mommy

Dear auto industry execs, start acting like you deserve a bailout

Posted in 1, Politics, Ranting with tags , , , , , , , on November 24, 2008 by bloggingmom67

 I know eventually we’ll need to bail out the auto industry. Mass layoffs at auto plants won’t serve the nation, and bailing out the ailing big three automakers, I think, will be necessary to help jump-start the economy.

But I’m glad Congress said “No” to the bailout, at least initially.

Here’s why: This corporate greed and self-centeredness has to stop.  I don’t blame the auto industry CEOs for being rich. I don’t blame anyone for being rich if they got their legally.

But if your industry is sinking, you need to cut back — not just come begging. I’m not willing to bail out the auto industry until they take some responsibility of their own. Auto execs: Why not sell your corporate jets, cut your own salaries — do whatever needs to be done — and come up with a new business plan to prove you won’t end up in the toilet again. Then, I’m all for giving you a bailout. What ever happened to the captain going down with the ship? (And, auto execs, you’re the captain in this analogy in case you didn’t get that.)

As billionaire investor Warren Buffet explains: The government should insist that top executives at Ford, General Motors and Chrysler invest a significant percentage of their own net worths in the Detroit-based companies, ensuring both executives and taxpayers would share in any profits or losses.

I think the big 3 CEOs need a reality check. It’s not just their industry that has hit the skids. Everyone is hurting. I, for example, am getting a raise of roughly $7 a week this year because of the economic downturn. I’m not complaining. Thousands of people aren’t getting a raise at all or they’ve been laid off. We’re all facing having to do without or make things last, as Kit Kittredge says in the movie that bears her name and tells of life during the Great Depression. Please remember that. The whole world is not flying high while you three — and you three alone — have fallen on hard times.

We’re all feeling the pinch. Look at the newspaper industry. If ever there was an industry in need of a bailout, the newspaper industry is one. At my last count from news reports, nearly 6,000 journalists have been laid off so far this year. The Star-Ledger in New Jersey nearly closed and was saved only because nearly half its newsroom staff opted to take a buyout.

The Christian Science Monitor announced it will only have a Web edition, not an actual paper, paper. That saves money because newsprint is one a newspaper’s biggest expenses. PC Magazine is also going that route.

Newspapers are getting a double hit — both the recession and a decline in readership that has been going on for 50 years but has gone into warp speed because of the Internet. What would a democracy be without newspapers or a free press?

It seems of any industry, this is one that it’s in all of America’s interest to save.

There’s just one problem. Newspapers can’t be a government watchdog and beholden to government at the same time. So a bailout, while it might help, can’t even be considered for newspapers. Too much conflict of interest.

So, auto execs, be lucky you could take a bailout. Start acting like you deserve one.

Much love,

bitchy mommy

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