Bailing Out the Big Three
With regard to TIME's COVER story, I have no sympathy for the Big Three automakers [Dec. 15]. For decades, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler fiercely opposed corporate restructuring and green technology while egregiously mismanaging their businesses. The only reason they've recently gotten religion is that they're teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Mark Stuart Ellison, BROOKLYN, N.Y.
While U.S. automobile companies have some responsibility for their current predicament, for many of the reasons you cite, the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve have unclean hands as well. Each of the car companies had adequate capital entering the fall, but when Treasury and the Fed "brought down the house" by letting Lehman Brothers fail, worldwide credit markets froze, preventing Americans from buying cars, since most people use loans or leases to do so. Financial markets and the lack of available consumer credit--not a lack of appealing car designs--are the reasons for this crisis, and piling the blame on Detroit is simply not balanced. Steven M. Friedman, NEW YORK CITY
After my brother started working for a Ford dealership, my wife and I took advantage of the family plan and purchased a brand new 2004 Freestar minivan. Over the 2 1/2 years we owned the vehicle, we had to take it in to the dealer at least eight times for warranty work. The only thing worse than the quality of the vehicle was the quality of service I received. Not surprisingly, the dealership is now out of business. I wouldn't buy another Ford vehicle if the fate of mankind hung in the balance. Steve Devereaux, STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.
I can't understand why there's no talk in Congress about moving auto manufacturers' health-care systems into the federal system in exchange for an equity investment that--as journalist Thomas Friedman has suggested--requires the hybridization of their entire fleet. The federal system includes several large health-care units. Why not take Detroit's health-care needs off the automakers' hands and develop a single-payer system before rolling it out on a national scale? Not having to worry about the medical needs of personnel would make Detroit automakers better able to compete with other companies. Matthew Ernst, OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C.
The economy would not withstand the collapse of the auto industry, but perhaps carmakers should look to their friends in the oil industry for assistance. ExxonMobil and others reported record profits--with our money--supplying fuel for all the gas-guzzlers Detroit built. Why should U.S. citizens pay again? William Stamm, ROSENDALE, N.Y.
I was amazed that TIME's cover story made no mention of the Big Three's most obvious and most easily remedied failure: clueless marketing. Consider that GM, arguably the world's biggest car company, is worth far less today than Harley-Davidson, the world's fourth largest motorcycle maker. Dexter Ford MANHATTAN BEACH, CALIF.