Friday Funnies

Bailing out the Big 3

|

NEXT: Pinched Over Pennies

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m thinking the 2009 “D.C.” will look something like this.

  2. The hilarious thing is that the public has such unrealistic demands that they won’t drive a US-made Yugo unless it has heated leather seats, 5-star crash safety rating, Nav Sat, and DVD entertainment system.

  3. I’ll rate the cartoon “funny because it is true”.
    It doesn’t bode well for the survival of the american auto industry if they are forced, or worse yet choose to build cars that people don’t want to buy.The virtues of the best American cars have always been power and style.Good-looking cars that are fun to drive and cost quite a bit less than most of the “foreign competition” is the only winning product. Buyers looking primarily for safety, fuel economy and “greenness” are out there but they are largely anti-American automobile no matter what Detroit offers.

  4. Even when Bok is right, his delivery blows.

  5. So, Epi, you’re saying that this was a case of BlowBok?

    Thank you folks, I’ll be hier for another five seconds. Tip the fish. Try the waitress.

  6. So, Epi, you’re saying that this was a case of BlowBok?

    (throws rotten tomato at the moose, misses)

  7. I’m not sure I get this joke.
    I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt and concluding that Bok meant to say that legislature-imposed engineering standards will have little to do with reality – not that any of the above things would be bad on their own merits if they could be done feasibly (except the absurdity of having a giant wind turbine on the car)

    He could have scored some points with me if he’d only identified the features that would involve favoritism to special interests (farmers, middle class, etc.), but there’s really no cfl lobby.

    But alas

  8. The hilarious thing is that the public has such unrealistic demands that they won’t drive a US-made Yugo unless it has heated leather seats, 5-star crash safety rating, Nav Sat, and DVD entertainment system.

    Which is why those Japanese cars are doing so poorly in the US market.

  9. If we’re going to pay for the roads and bridges, it’s only logical that we pay for the cars and trucks that use them.

  10. The japanese cars in the US aren’t really all that much more fuel efficient than the American cars. American cars have a bad rep because they suck after about 35,000 miles (or in the case of the Dodge Calibur I was “upgraded” to last weekend, they suck after 0 miles)

    The major problem with bailing out the big three is that it doesn’t leave enough room for a start-up American car company to buy up their assets and make a go of it themselves. Rehabbing the reputation of having shitty cars is going to take a lot more work than just completely rebranding. For fuck’s sake – Hyundai has a better reputation than some American cars, and they’re perceived as a better value.

  11. I guess it’s time to dispense the (never true) notion that the automobile infrastructure is paid solely from the gas tax.

  12. “If we’re going to pay for the roads and bridges, it’s only logical that we pay for the cars and trucks that use them.”

    We already do. It’s called “buying your own car.”

  13. “If we’re going to pay for the roads and bridges, it’s only logical that we pay for the cars and trucks that use them.”

    We already do. It’s called “buying your own car.”

    If that were the case, Detroit wouldn’t be in this mess, now would they?

    Government pays for the roads. Government should help pay for the cars.

  14. If that were the case, Detroit wouldn’t be in this mess, now would they?

    Government pays for the roads. Government should help pay for the cars.

    This makes zero sense.

    Detroit is in trouble because people–not the government–buy other manufacturer’s cars.

  15. geniusiknowit = 4x funnier than Bok

    S/he’s just teasing.

  16. Don’t tell me how to interpret geniusiknowit, NutraSweet! You tell VM how to do it, and he’ll tell me.

  17. Sorry. I always get the chain of command confused.

  18. Sigh. Here, dude.

  19. Since this either de-evolves into a joke making thread or a Bok-bashing hategasm…

    A hilarious intersection of disgruntled taxpayers, graffiti artists, well-intentioned government stupidity, and moronic journalism.

    Wall Fail

  20. I think the opposite is true. Congress will say, if you want this bailout money, you’d better keep making crappy cars and not cut any of your expenses.

  21. That’s too stupid to be real, NutraSweet. Right?

  22. At least sometimes Bok steals a *good* idea.

    P Brooks | October 28, 2008, 11:32am | #
    I can’t wait for my first glimpse of a car designed by Henry Waxman and Barney Frank.

  23. Cartoon rating – ??? (out of 5)

    I’d explain all of the difficulties that beset the Big 2.5 but you’d all just get bored with a ten thousand word post. Any demands that the government makes as a condition of loan guarantees will just increase the flow of red ink.

    A not atypical example of government mangerial expertise –

    Three years behind schedule and almost $360 million above budget, the Capitol Visitor Center prepares to open its doors to millions of tourists who now must endure long lines without food, restrooms or shelter to catch a glimpse of the halls of Congress.

    The underground center, the largest single construction project in the Capitol’s two-century history in terms of size and expense, is to open to the public on Dec. 2. The final cost of the project is put at $621 million, more than double the $265 million estimated cost had the center been completed on schedule in December, 2005.

    Personally, I think GM ought to declare chapter 11 and renogotiate every UAW contract. Even the deluded heirs of Walter Reuther have to realize by now that UAW wages, benefits, and work rules are unsustainable. If the union balks, liquidate.

  24. I’m amazed that a one-panel cartoon can generate this much commentary.

  25. Epi,

    Beat’s me. But it’s the UK; I’ll believe anything from a country that has an anti-authoritarian superhero.

  26. I guess it’s time to dispense the (never true) notion that the automobile infrastructure is paid solely from the gas tax.

    Your mission rhywun, should you choose to accept it, is to find and document three mass transit systems that the users pay a higher percentage of total costs than the gas tax/highway system.

    This comment will self desruct in 5…4…3…

  27. NutraSweet, not as cool as Bicycle Repair Man.

  28. “It doesn’t bode well for the survival of the american auto industry if they are forced, or worse yet choose to build cars that people don’t want to buy.”

    Well they are already choosing to build cars no one wants to buy. That’s why they’re going bankrupt.

  29. angle grinder > spanner

  30. (hits NutraSweet in head with spanner, takes angle grinder, cuts NutraSweet’s feet off)

  31. There is a successful car company that makes a model which is designed to cater to American tastes. The cars are also largely made in Kentucky.

    That would be the Toyota Camry. It gets pretty good gas mileage as well.

  32. Foot freak.

  33. cuts NutraSweet’s feet off

    Only if he begs you.

  34. NutraSweet suffers from BIID, dude. No problem.

  35. I learned it from watching you, EPI!

  36. not a bad cartoon, but not great

    it makes its point, kind of

  37. Your mission rhywun, should you choose to accept it, is to find and document three mass transit systems that the users pay a higher percentage of total costs than the gas tax/highway system.

    Heh, I do have a job, you know. Anyway I was just taking a shot at oft-raised notion that car-travel is “self-funded” via the gas tax.

  38. Heh, I do have a job, you know. Anyway I was just taking a shot at oft-raised notion that car-travel is “self-funded” via the gas tax.

    Fair enough. My SWAG is that an extra 1-2 bucks a gallon would make the system self sufficient. My other SWAG is that mass transit, even in the big cities will never be self sufficient.

    Let’s all just be honest and admit that taking the bus/train/subway fuckin’ sucks compared to driving a car in most scenarios.

  39. My SWAG is that an extra 1-2 bucks a gallon would make the system self sufficient. My other SWAG is that mass transit, even in the big cities will never be self sufficient.

    Those are pretty big assumptions that also depend on many factors staying the same as now. I.e. remove cheap oil from the equation and the situation is entirely different.

    Let’s all just be honest and admit that taking the bus/train/subway fuckin’ sucks compared to driving a car in most scenarios.

    I’ve never owned a car nor wanted to, so I would have to disagree with that statement too.

  40. Bok didn’t draw this cartoon! Payne did! Payne signed the panel but the website still has this as a Chip Bok cartoon.

  41. Does anyone else think it would be SO COOL to see GM actually fail? File Chapter 7 and liquidate? I say this because they have tons of valuable assets, and it would be fun to watch who bought up what and at what price. You’d actually be able to watch the free market work, for a change. Lehman didn’t get the government teet, and they went down like a sack of bricks, but whatever financial voodoo they sell isn’t so easy to see. Watching, for example, Honda buy the rights to the Corvette, that would be wacky. Seeing BMW buy up Chevrolet’s truck division. Checking out Lexus retool and re-release The Cadillac. Getting to see some new hybrid only car company expand off of whatever work GM has done on The Volt and other R&D. It’s be a good day for this country.

  42. It’s be a good day for this country.

    And who knows? Maybe they’d be able to hire in the Rust Belt again.

  43. BGM,

    Probably, much like Lehman, you would see one or two companies* buy the vast majority of the valuable GM assets and some enterprising PE company buy the turds for pennies on the dollar. I hope it’s the Japanese. It would be nice to see well-built American cars again.

    * Barclay’s and Nomura in Lehman’s case.

  44. J sub,

    What percent of highway costs are paid for by gas taxes? Also, please take into account surface streets.

    I can’t find a newer article now, but in 1997, when fares were 25% lower, fares paid for almost 90% of fares.

  45. I can’t find a newer article now, but in 1997, when fares were 25% lower, fares paid for almost 90% of fares.

    Well, that was before free bus transfers and Metrocard discounts, so perhaps it’s lower now. Ridership is way up, though, so that could make up the difference.

    Some interesting points in that article. Like how suburban commuters are subsidized way more than urban ones. No surprise, I guess.

  46. STOP CALLING .5!

  47. Mo,
    I read the link. It confirms what I’ve long suspected: Mass transit isn’t about being cost-effective, it’s about making taxpayers subsidize other people’s transportation. I’m glad to have that cleared up.

  48. Mass transit isn’t about being cost-effective, it’s about making taxpayers subsidize other people’s transportation.

    I think the point is that ALL forms of transportation are being subsidized. The question is by how much.

  49. Mass transit isn’t about being cost-effective, it’s about making taxpayers subsidize other people’s transportation. I’m glad to have that cleared up.

    And Federal Highway dollars aren’t? The miles of interstate to tax dollar (gas and otherwise) ratios of Alaska, California, Iowa and Texas are probably wildly divergent. My guess would be, Californians pay for 110% of their miles in taxes while Alaskans pay for 40%.

    I’d like to see the DC numbers as well. Looks like NYers can mass transit without guilt.

  50. J sub D, driving a car fails miserably in the situation where you’ve had more than a beer and a half and encounter a nosy John Q. Law en route.

  51. I was mostly surprised that it would be openly admitted by any statists that the government transportation network isn’t cost-effective.

  52. I was mostly surprised that it would be openly admitted by any statists that the government transportation network isn’t cost-effective.

    And yet non-statists claim that auto travel is self-sufficient all the time.

  53. Actually, I’ve stated on several occasions that I think the current government infrastructure system is not self-sufficient and that infrastructure projects should be funded entirely by fuel tax/user fees.

  54. “BDB | November 14, 2008, 9:50am | #

    “It doesn’t bode well for the survival of the american auto industry if they are forced, or worse yet choose to build cars that people don’t want to buy.”

    Well they are already choosing to build cars no one wants to buy. That’s why they’re going bankrupt.”

    Actually, plenty of people buy cars from the big 2.5. The trouble is the big 2.5 can’t turn a profit selling their products. THAT, fundamentally, I would argue, is the problem with Detroit.

    http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3022-autosales.html

    Indicates (year to date, as of October)that GM still has the largest market share domestically at about 22%. Toyota is #2 at ~17%, Ford is 3rd at about 14%, Chrysler as 11% and Honda is at 10.9%.

    As far as gross number of sales, GM’s pushed 2.56 million units, Ford 1.65 million and Chrysler as sold 1.28 million units so far this year.

    The difference between the 2.5 and Honda / Toyota is the latter can actually make money selling their 1.27 and 1.95 million units (YTD) respectively.

  55. I think the point is that ALL forms of transportation are being subsidized. The question is by how much.

    Facts are nice, aren’t they?

    I can’t find a newer article now, but in 1997, when fares were 25% lower, fares paid for almost 90% of fares.

    I can. One more authorataive than a NYT article.

    From the horse’s mouth (keyboard?) (PDF)

    Year ending June 30, 2008, in millions

    MTA Total Operating Revenues 2,918.
    Total operating expenses 5,871
    Total grants, appropriations, and taxes 2,937

    Less tha 50% payed by users. Operating costs only.

  56. The streets in front of our homes are required infrastucture with or without mass transit. They are typically paid for by assessments on the property owners which seems fair to me.

    Selling of all of the limited access highways to the highest bidder would eliminate those costs to the taxpayer.

    Now we are left talking about main street and the like. Still required infrastructure unless the furniture store is going to take deliveries via the bus system. Gas taxes anyone?

  57. J sub D, driving a car fails miserably in the situation where you’ve had more than a beer and a half and encounter a nosy John Q. Law en route.

    Let me go out on a radical limb here and say I support the proscription against driving drunk. I myself have left the car at the bar and taken a cab home. In certain rare locales, it’s actually cheaper to get your car towed home than the two cab rides.

  58. Agreed, driving drunk is dangerous and should be illegal. However, it is currently a serious offense to be driving with a BAC of 0.08%, which is far from drunk.

    It means if you have two beers before heading home from work, and get caught, you could be looking at jail.

  59. STOP CALLING ME .5! I’M A WHOLE COMPANY. I’M NOT INADEQUATE!

  60. It seems the republicans are getting ready for a big fight with Obama, already. They are taking a STRONG stance against any sort of bailout for the big three auto makers.

    This isn’t some “fly by night” company(s). We’re talking about a national pride. Don’t forget, they don’t just manufacture big gas guzzling SUVs, they make the commercial service and construction vehicles that help keep this county moving (no pun intended). They also build the cars that run in NASCAR (not that I really care about NASCAR, but there are quite a few people who do care). Many of those “NASCAR dads” vote republican. GM, Ford and Chrysler built/build the cars of the American Dream.

    Does GM have some serious problems? Yes, but they’ve acknowledged that. They’ve already made serious changes in corporate structuring, retirement benefits, and the number of product lines. Unfortunately, those changes won’t help in the short term (1-2 years).

    Do I think the republicans want these companies to shut down? Of course not. Their motives are much more devious. They want them to file for bankruptcy protection. I hear the republicans talking about pensions, overtime pay and benefits. I guess they feel these workers don’t deserve what they are getting. If GM files for bankruptcy, all current pensions will be taken over by federal insurance. Retirees will only get about 40 cents on the dollar.

    So, what do the republicans really want? First, they want to break the unions. Then, they want the manufacturers to do what Toyota and Honda did. Set up shop down in the southern states (where most of these republican congressmen are from) and use non-union low wage workers.

    What the republicans don’t understand is that, the relationship between the unions and management is not the traditional adversarial relationship. It has evolved into more of a “partnership”. When times were good, GM passed it around. Now, when times are bad, the unions are willing to make certain concessions. However, they can only make so much. If the UAW is forced to strike, and it may be, we may see sympathy strikes across the country from other unions.

    Given the current state of the electorate in this country, the republicans are playing with fire. GM is not asking for a $70 billion dollar tax break (handout), like Exxon/Mobile. They are just asking for a low interest loan to get them through a rough stretch. They are NOT being unreasonable, and the American people will see that.

  61. A few years ago, when asked about the state of the American auto makers, “W” said, “I think they ought to build cars Americans want to buy”. (What? Like armor plated Hummers?). He owes them and the country a huge apology for that bonehead statement.

  62. You know, if the car companies can’t make it as a profitable business, then the blame falls on the people that run those companies. Why are people directing their anger at the government? It is not as though the government made them fail and somehow owes them a bailout.

  63. Absolutely. I am angry with those people running those companies. They shouldn’t have to ask for a bailout. But like I said, it is matter of national pride.

    “What’s good for GM is good for the country”. Right? I’d like to know who said that.

    I don’t think it is really that big of a deal. The gov. bailed out Chrysler some 30 years ago, and the worst that happened was federal employees had to drive around in piece of shit “K” cars. Thanks a lot Lee A. Iaccoca.

  64. Yeah, okay, and winning Iraq is a matter of national pride. Oh yeah, and so is attacking any other country that disrespects us. And it’s also national pride to make sure no other U.S. companies go down the shitter, so let’s make sure we subsidize their profit losses with taxpayer dollars.

    That’s the fucking dumbest argument I’ve ever heard for socialism: national pride. Hmm, where have I heard it before?

    (Didn’t mean to Godwin the thread, y’all.)

  65. National Pride?

    If people want something to be proud of why not a company that is profitable and makes cars people want to buy. Toyota, Honda, and Ford seem to have figured it out. If you want to see an example of National Pride in automobiles look no further than the Lada.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.