Yesterday Senate Republicans refused to support a bill to aid ailing U.S. auto makers. The New York Times report was accompanied by a photo of concerned pols, but I think this image gets to the heart of the matter.
This car dealership in Fort Wayne, Indiana had been vacated when the dealer moved to a new location. The photograph captures far more than the local news. A large, empty shell of building, surrounded by vacant space and cracked asphalt, reflecting pale light and a dull sky–the scene is an allegory of inertia, mismanagement, vanishing markets, and lack of vision.
Don’t expect to see it re-opened any time soon. The empty desolation of the photo captures the impact that shuttering the auto industry has on the economy. Each affected community is left with a big hole to fill and no obvious replacement.
I have no doubt that the bill, despite being endorsed by both the White House and Congressional Democrats, was not the best solution. I also doubt that the best solution was actually available at this time. Let’s hope a viable agreement can be crafted soon. No industry has ever deserved help less, but the Republicans shouldn’t blow up three states and put a hole in the side of the U.S. economy just because this is a good time to lean on the unions.
If there is a teachable moment here, it certainly includes several lessons about bad management. It also is yet another demonstration of the danger of minority rule. The Senate requirement of 60 votes for significant legislation seriously hampers the ability of the U.S. government to respond to important problems. The Senate Republicans can lecture the unions all the want, but their use of the supermajority rule exemplifies an inability to respond effectively to change–exactly the attitude that led the auto industry to their sorry state.
Photograph by Noah Gage/Flicker.