England offers a lesson for the 'let 'em die' crowd

For those who say, “Hey, let ’em die. America can always be like England, with car plants by non-English companies,” we have this news from England: The United Kingdom’s automakers and suppliers are pleading -- yea, begging -- for a government bailout.

“Support is needed now. It is very urgent,” says Paul Everitt, president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the U.K. trade association.

It seems the global credit meltdown is making car buyers disappear, so U.K. automakers (owned by foreigners), suppliers and dealers have a cash-flow crisis. Some are in bankruptcy.

This comes as French President Nicolas Sarkozy is vowing to give loans or loan guarantees to French automakers.

Well, America has some unique aspects, such as a destructive love affair with cheap gasoline and, therefore, SUVs and pickup trucks. But the credit crunch, the collapse of vehicle sales and a desperate lack of cash are not uniquely American.

After our Congress beat up on the American car companies, we now await the Bush administration’s plan to extend loans to Chrysler and General Motors.

I wouldn’t hold my breath, though, for any of those senators who voted to let the domestic auto industry go bust to acknowledge that at least some of the American auto industry’s problems are not entirely the fault of Rick Wagoner, Bob Nardelli and Alan Mulally.

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