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Oglesby: Auto bailout has strings attached
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I'm not the brightest bulb when understanding the inner workings of car manufacturers and dealers. In our free market, capitalistic society the arbitrary termination of long-standing dealerships by manufacturers to please government is puzzling.

Manufacturers long tried to be all things to all people, creating models for every taste. I can fathom the reasoning behind government's insistence these token brands be divested if bailout assistance is to continue. They require lots of advance capital to develop and market. Advance capital costs, at least to the extent of immediate earnings if invested elsewhere and especially when capital is needed on the basic brands.

Government isn't specifically dictating they do it, period. A quid pro quo is involved. The industry has gotten and hopes to get more public money to save itself from its own folly. Its failure could critically worsen an already precarious economy.

Government has a responsibility to ensure as much as possible that public money js used in a manner most or very likely to solve the problem.

With so many competing dealerships in close proximity, it is easier for buyers to wrangle the lowest net prices they can, thereby reducing dealer per-sale profits. Manufacturers get their money for the product.though they may incur some additional expense through discounts and incentives.

Isn't getting the most for your money the whole idea behind the free market competition? When government requires reduced competition as its quid pro quo, so the selected survivors can move closer toward monopoly, are we not taking another giant step toward socialism?

A pragmatist, I'm not totally against governmental assistance in emergency economic conditions, provided the terms give taxpayers a realistic chance of recovering that public investment at a profit. I'm thinking Lee Iaocca's Chrysler bailout some years ago. I don't recognize that actually happening so far.

Nor do I see the unions, the ultimate cause of much the industry's woes, backing off their demand to make it easier to organize not only in this crippled industry but also in other sectors.

That demand was an informal quid pro quo for supporting Obama. That omission, if allowed to stand, ultimately will add cost and reduce profits. Always has, always will. I'm purely guessing but believe it most likely the administration will quietly pressure the troubled automakers to go the bankruptcy route "for other public reasons" so the trustee can take care of the union problem.

Such a deal seems to be the best in sight for industry and taxpayers alike.

I repeat, I'm not the brightest bulb in this field. I'm riding my philosophical instincts here. It is good for us locally that our band of competing dealers were strong enough to escape the arbitrary closures.

Switching gears, It was so good to read the story of "Lefty" Cronic throwing out the first pitch at a Gwinnett Braves game recently. I thought he had died. He was a minor leaguer who could and did accept reality responsibly. Far too many couldn't and didn't.

While he did OK with the Atlanta Crackers, he accepted the reality that he lacked the equipment to get to the majors. He hung up his spikes, completed degrees in education, taught and, like my father, was a principal. My wife taught under him at Lula and has sung nothing but praises for him. He positively affected literally thousands of children during their important formative years, a major contribution to our society.

As one who also once had major league aspirations but lacked the equipment even more than he, I can relate to him and his decision. I made the same one, but probably haven't matched his subsequent contributions to our society.

Kudos to The Times sports section for its great coverage and promotion of the Gwinnett Braves. Minor league baseball is fun and less expensive.

Ted Oglesby is retired opinion page editor of The Times. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly.

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