Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Entertainment: Point And Counterpoint

I only saw about the last three minutes of this year's Super Bowl. In the time I was watching, the New York Giants scored a touchdown to go ahead, yet the folks who were interpreting the game for us said that this was a dumb thing to do. I thought that scoring so you could be ahead at the end was the objective of this game, but apparently, as has been the trend, the game is getting more complicated.

Thus, I felt ill prepared to write the usual incisive post-game analysis Slobber And Spittle readers have come to rely on.

Still, even having missed most of the game, I heard about this commercial:

It's Clint Eastwood at his dramatic best, narrating what I suspect will be one of the more memorable Super Bowl commercials ever. True to his usual on-screen persona, he's that gritty tough guy who sometimes need reminding that he has a heart, telling us we're gritty, tough folks who sometimes need reminding we have a heart, and we're not going to let a little thing like an economic downturn get us down. It's for the Chrysler Corporation, whose products and economic outlook are both looking considerably better than they were three years ago, thanks partly to the actions of both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration to make sure Chrysler and the other U.S. automakers had financing when they needed it.

I've discussed before the fact that manufacturing firms will often need financing to keep going. Improvements to production facilities are expensive in many industries. There are also economic downturns and sales downturns, when a company might need financing to weather the storm.

The plain fact is that it wasn't the auto industry in America that failed, it was the finance industry. It caused the crash of 2008, and it refused, even after a huge bailout, to help American industry deal with its economic woes. I supported both the Bush and Obama Administrations on this issue, and that's part of the reason why.

Sadly, not everyone agrees. There seem to be quite a few folks who think that we can do without a manufacturing base in this country. Second City Television puts that notion in the perspective it deserves, with its own parody of the Eastwood Chrysler commercial:

In particular, it calls out a Mitt Romney op-ed that appeared in the New York Times back in 2008. In the grand tradition of sportscasters who think that scoring a go-ahead touchdown is a dumb idea, he wrote this:
If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

Let Detroit Go Bankrupt
The idea that you can make a manufacturing company better by starving it of funds is insane, but it's one that people who have made their living by destroying companies, which is what Romney used to do, tell themselves and anyone else stupid enough to believe it. Romney appears to believe that instead of making things that people value here, we should instead become a nation of people who sell our "intellectual property" to each other. We should, in other words, become vampire capitalists like him, or work on the domestic staff of folks like him.

I don't fault Romney particularly among our current crop of presidential candidates on economics policy. None of the likely candidates for either party betrays the slightest idea of what really makes a national economy function. Obama has surrounded himself with the same Wall Street pirates who made the economy crash in 2008. Romney is one. That's the main difference there. Ron Paul's views on economics are mostly either insanely foolish or foolishly insane, and neither Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich has a clue.

I think these politicians must get their economics advisors from the same school that produces the sportscasters who advise against scoring a go-ahead touchdown at the end of a game.

What people ought to remember is that Romney was writing that editorial about what George W. Bush did. Barack Obama supported that decision with more loans. Neither is a flaming liberal. Both realized that we couldn't afford to let an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Americans in high paying jobs go bankrupt. The loans have been repaid, and Detroit automakers are back to making useful products again. That's more than we can say for the finance industry, despite the massive bailout it received.

What I love about these two videos is that in a way they're both saying the same thing. A point is made in one using straight drama to make its point, and the other uses biting sarcasm as a counterpoint.

Enjoy your Saturday.

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