The national security considerations make saving General Motors, Ford and Chrysler a life-or-death matter.
I wish I were making this up. I’m not:
We’ll want a G.M. or a Chrysler when it’s time to make tanks and Humvees.
I guess we were all kidding ourselves about China being any kind of military force so long as it didn’t have "a large automobile and truck industry". And of course Detroit doesn’t make tanks: for that kind of thing you’d probably be better off looking to General Dynamics. As for the Humvee, it’s built by a company called AM General, which was smart enough to sell the Hummer brand name to GM.
But Ben Stein, of course, never lets facts get in the way of a nice piece of alarmism: if we don’t bail out Detroit, we’re all going to die!
Stein also casts his entire column as advice for "a new leader of the United States" and "a Democratic president" — not only can’t he bring himself to use the name "Obama", but he can’t even use the definite article. Although he has no problem using the word "herewith" — he’s never been lacking in pompousness.
The greatest bit of bensteinery in the column, however, comes when he starts talking about "relocation assistance" as an alternative to job retraining:
I am endlessly amazed that I have to pay about $60 an hour to hang a mirror in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and that there is a shortage of reliable handymen there. This has implications for hard-working machinists being laid off in Detroit. Maybe there is some merit to a fund that would take workers where they want to go and are needed.
Doesn’t your heart just bleed? It’s so hard to find good staff these days. And there’s something to be said for uprooting skilled workers from Detroit and put them to work hanging mirrors for Ben Stein in Palm Springs. After all, a little bit more reflection in his life would surely do Stein a world of good.
Update: Commenter "icandoitdon" makes a good point over at Seeking Alpha:
If you want to argue that the survival of the American car manufacturers is important to national security you must also argue that free trade agreements, which have led to the flight of American manufacturing for years, are generally contrary to our national security interests.
I wonder whether Stein is willing to go there.