They Fiddle While GM burns
Both American and Canadian politicians are fiddling while the auto-industry - and with it the entire economy - burns.
Yesterday the U.S Senate Republicans scuttled a $15 billion emergency loan package to GM and Chrysler. This morning Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced that "acting too quickly" would be devastating for the economy. This afternoon GM announced it was closing all it North American operations for six weeks starting Jan 1 !
That will throw 300,000 GM workers out of work - temporarily one hopes. That alone will increase the U.S unemployment rate by 3% in January. If you add in the 1-2,000,000 workers outside of GM whose jobs depend directly on GM - parts suppliers, shippers, dealers - who will also probably face layoffs as a result - you get an increase of closer to 15% in the unemployment rate. This is where we will be by next month.
So what is the U.S. Congress and Mr Flaherty waiting for ? When will it not be "too quick" to act? Flaherty claims he is worried about ongoing deficits! Who cares about deficits when the house is on fire. Now is the time to take out a loan, and buy a fire hose! When the fire is out we can worry about paying back the loan.
Flaherty claims he is worried it will take to long for moneys he puts into a stimulus to have any effect on the real economy. Is that a reason to slow down? No - it is a reason to hurry up!
Want an idea that will create jobs fast, help save GM, boost the Canadian economy, and improve the environment? Order 2000 GM Hybrid Electric buses. They are made in Canada. At approximately $500,000 each that will push $1 billion into the Canadian economy. When they arrive - give them as gifts to municipal transit systems. It will get some older more polluting buses off the streets and increase public transit ridership as well. A win win win situation.
Will the Canada's Conservative Government do something like that. I doubt it. They don't get whats going on. They are fighting the last war: consumed by frugality and "free market" orthodoxy. And, of course, they don't really give a sh*t about the people who are losing their jobs.