Why the hate?
Perhaps you think “hate” is too strong a word, but did you hear Congressional leaders yesterday? They roasted executives from GM, Ford, Chrysler, and the United Auto Workers at hearings in Washington. Here’s an excerpt from remarks by Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee:
“Their board rooms in my view have been devoid of vision. The Big Three turned a blind eye to opportunities. They have promoted and often driven the demand of inefficient, gas guzzling vehicles, and dismissed the threat of global warming.”
On Monday, I quoted a similarly hostile remark, this one from Senator Shelby of Alabama. Shelby and Dodd are from different sides of the aisle, but they seem to represent the dominant feelings in Congress.
So, why are we seeing so much hostility toward Detroit automakers? Wall Street bankers weren’t sparred vitriol, but it seems to me that the venting about U.S. automakers is hostile to the point of hatefulness.
If Sigmund Freud were alive, he might say it’s transference—the shifting of collective unhappiness and resentment about the Wall Street bailout to the Detroit problem.
Or, maybe it’s a “Detroit thing”—a reaction against an industry associated with Detroit, a city with a poor image, a history of racial conflict, and a mayor who just left office in disgrace.
Perhaps it’s the “old economy” versus the “new economy.” High finance is intangible and glamorous; making cars is gritty, dirty, and, well, so industrial.
Do you suppose Detroit automakers would have a more sympathetic ear if one of their own were sitting in U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s seat? (Paulson made a fortune heading Goldman Sachs before Bush appointed him to the top Treasury spot.)
What do you think?
Do you detect a tenor of hatefulness in reactions to the Detroit automakers request for assistance?
Or, are they just facing their day of reckoning?
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