Exactly who is doing the driving?

Published 11:21 pm Thursday, November 20, 2008

Since major American automakers are in trouble, does this mean my Ford pickup is worth more now?

It’s nowhere close to brand new and not exactly old. But I figure since Congress isn’t quite ready to bail out car corporations, I can go ahead and rush it into “antique” status.

It’s interesting to listen to the way people at General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Corp., and Chrysler LLC describe the picture of their companies.

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GM and Chrysler could be weeks away from going under, executives say, and it’s not hard to believe Ford following closely behind.

Democrats are holding the ball on a $25 billion bailout deal, even with a phenomenal 445-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial Thursday. Car companies are pulling billions of dollars out of their own pockets every month to stay afloat.

But in the priceless words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “Until they show us the plan, we cannot show them the money.”

Wow. When the heck did the ghost of Jerry Maguire pop into the room? After a sappy love ballad, some partial nudity and a well-rehearsed line, car companies could have all the money they wanted.

How could this happen? I know very few people of legal driving age that don’t have a car.

On a recent road trip to Montgomery, a 10-year-old that I mentor counted all the cars on the road. He got all the way up to 1,700 before he got exhausted and gave up. That was a 45-minute drive on a Sunday, to give you some idea of what I’m getting at.

The sheer volume of cars hitting the streets makes it hard to believe that any automaker could be struggling this woefully.

Well, it’s pretty simple. People I know — and as I understand it, several million people I don’t know — are doing anything but driving a vehicle.

When a grown man rides a bike six miles to church, something ain’t right.

And to be honest, a lot of the fault lies with those car companies. While several automakers, most of them foreign, were already producing gas-sipping, economically friendly vehicles, the Big Three were giving us gems like the Excursion, Hummer and Durango.

They’re cute in the driveway, but monsters at the gas island.

The Big Three deserve some credit for developing hybrid vehicles, but it’s too little, too late.

I’m not one to point fingers. Like I said, I drive a big pickup truck. But I also drive the speed limit, and I’m not in any hurry to trade mine in for something with a better paintjob and a worse carbon footprint.

Alabama took some heat from Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Auto Workers, on Thursday. He basically accused this state of selling the car industry as a whole down the river for offering about $693 million in incentives to foreign car companies.

Really? Giving companies sweet deals because they make durable, affordable vehicles and will likely have more staying power than their American counterparts is a bad thing?

Well, look out, Boogey Monster. The big, bad Yellowhammer State is gonna get you, too.

It’s not even that complicated, actually. Before 1993, this state had no presence in the automotive world. So we didn’t really try to buy the house, we were just trying to come in out of the cold.

It’s sad that this has happened. I don’t think the government is going to dip its finger in this particular batch of sauce, primarily because we need transportation, and there are still millions of people who will overspend on cars.

Our economy will take another big hit, but we will recover. At least I think we will.

Maybe I should find someone who is in the market for a used Ford.