GM, Chrysler bonuses could anger a nation resentful of loans

Ford Motor Co. will pay its hourly U.S. workers about $5,000 each in profit-sharing for 2010. General Motors Co. will pay about $4,000 and Chrysler Group will shell out $750 to each hourly worker, media reports say.

Salaried workers likely will get bonuses of various amounts.

This is good news for Detroit and Michigan. It should be good news for the nation. U.S. automakers are doing well and workers with more money stimulate the economy.

But I worry it won't be well received by the whole nation.

Ford is one of the world's most profitable automakers. It earned net income of $6.56 billion last year. Plus, Ford declined to take government loans at the height of the recession. Ford's profit sharing is a continuation of good news there.

But Ford's Detroit counterparts took government loans and filed for federal bankruptcy protection in 2009. Many people resented using tax dollars to keep GM and Chrysler afloat.

So how will the nation react when the Detroit 3 hand out bonuses when taxpayers still own part of the companies? Probably not so well, despite the fact that the automakers are paying the loans back in stages, and with interest.

It's a bold move by GM and Chrysler leaders to pay bonuses.

But the folks at these automakers worked hard to transform losses into profits. While they did it with taxpayers' financial help, they still did the work themselves.

My view: Why shouldn't they be rewarded?

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