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Murray Fromson Headshot

Not a Dime... Unless

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Big news! What a way to emerge from the excitement of last Tuesday's election than to read about the three major automakers plea for another handout. Not a handout, they insist, only a loan of $25 billion from the Federal government to get rid of their debt. Ah yes, another example of socialism for the rich and capitalism for the rest of us. Isn't that swell? In the face of the 1973 oil embargo and the other economic crises tied to rising gasoline prices the country has encountered since then, America's Big Three have conducted business as usual with no inclination to find ways of making the OPEC nations drink their oil.

For years, American car-makers have been cranking out Humvees and other gas guzzlers without embarrassment. While a handful of entrepreneurs like Tesla Motors of San Carlos, California are demonstrating innovative ways to produce cars driven by electricity and other companies are experimenting with autos dependent on other alternative sources of fuel, all we hear from Detroit is whining about how expensive these cars would be to mass produce. Of course, Tesla's revolutionary autos are expensive at $109,000 per copy. But until GM, Ford and Chrysler dare to produce low-cost, fuel efficient revolutionary cars for American consumers and couple that initiative with a a massive sales campaign mounted abroad under patent, the cost of an innovative car will never come down dramatically. There's nothing more enticing to car buyers than a bargain. There's no better way to re-energize assembly lines in Detroit, in Ohio and other manufacturing sites which in turn would mean more jobs in an economy desperate to shrink its worrisome jobless figures.

But the Big Three's solution until now is to coax yet another $25 billion in low-interest loans from the U.S. Department of Energy to assist them in making more fuel efficient cars. Inevitably, you have to ask where in blazes has America's most important industry been, exercising the necessary kind of ingenuity all these years? What have the manufacturers done beyond unveiling glitzy experimental, models at their showrooms that are beyond the pocketbooks of most consumers? Have the car-makers been in the forefront of encouraging the development of alternative energy sources for a majority of American consumers? The answers are zero. They should taken a look at the size of automobiles driven by most Europeans for the past 30 years? All the American moguls had to do was walk through the neighborhoods of London, Paris, Berlin and Rome to realize that small is beautiful. Instead they've stubbornly shown little inclination to get their slick-looking but large-sized American clunkers off our roads that are used to cart single passengers up and down the nation's freeways. Listen to the complaints and frustrations over traffic paralysis and you can't help thinking the automobile truly is becoming the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

Perhaps, the automakers can justify a case for help from American taxpayers, but first we ought to demand a pledge in blood that they will change their ways now and forever before giving them a dime.