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Level the playing field

September 02, 2008

Re "Not too big to fail," editorial, Aug. 28

Your editorial on a Big Three bailout oversimplifies the situation. You imply that the only reason the U.S. automakers are in trouble is because they aren't efficient. There are many other factors that make free trade anything but that.

The reason Toyota launched hybrid technology so quickly is because the government funded it. In addition, plants in Mexico, Korea and China don't have to conform to similar environmental, health/safety and child-labor laws that the U.S. plants do. I am all for free trade if the rules are the same for all the players, but they aren't.

I don't agree that the U.S. government should give loans to be spent at the automakers' discretion, but our government needs to take a more proactive approach to level the playing field. These actions should include helping fund new technologies and imposing tariffs on imports from countries that have lax records on labor and the environment.

Our trade deficit is astronomical, running about $700 billion a year. Our funds go overseas for spending on consumables and commodities (oil). The money comes back into the U.S. as loans and purchases of our assets from foreign investors. This cycle is crippling our economy. Soon there will be no middle class. Our economy will become like Mexico's if we continue to have the shortsighted opinions expressed by The Times.

Mike Himmel

Shelby Township, Mich.

Have you heard the phrase "Arsenal of Democracy"? Do you know what it means? If not, dig out your old high school American history book and re-read the part about how American industrial might saved not only this country but indeed the whole free world in World War II.

The sniffing from the warmer parts of the country about the "Rust Belt" and the lousy cars Detroit produces is getting increasingly tiresome. If we continue down this road, the day will come when we find ourselves in a major war with an adventurous industrial nation that covets our land and resources and realizes that we don't possess nearly enough manufacturing wherewithal to do anything about it.

Seeing how you sophisticated highbrow folks live on a coast, you'll probably have front-row seats when the bad guys start coming ashore.

Bob Alexander

Sterling Heights, Mich.

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