From The Providence (R.I.) Journal — Originally published Saturday, Dec. 6

The idea of bailing out the Big Three automakers angers many taxpayers, including us. It would seem to reward years of short-sighted, self-dealing management and sweetheart union deals while indirectly penalizing those automakers in the United States — Asian- and European-based — that have focused on making energy-efficient cars and that have made reasonable, not gold-plated, labor arrangements.

For that matter, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler themselves have done well making such cars — but they have mostly done it abroad. And note that all these companies are to a greater or lesser degree multinationally owned. Don’t weep tears of patriotism for the Big Three.

... The car companies are an important part of America’s economy and industrial infrastructure — including for defense matters. It would be better to keep them going than to let them collapse, with all the damage to the American economy. Still, any more aid — and they’re now asking for at least a $25 billion additional bailout — must be predicated on very specific conditions.

First, of course, the aid should be loans, not grants. ...

There should also be provisions to encourage the companies to move far further than they have toward making energy-efficient cars. ...

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