One of the major problems facing the big three auto makers is the cost that employee and retiree health insurance adds to every car - by some accounts $1,500 per vehicle in GM's case.
In essence, if you buy a Chevy, you are paying a $1,500 premium for a crappier car than, say a Honda or a Toyota, just to subsidize someone else's health insurance. Or put another way: every car out of GM has to be made $1,500 worse to cover health care costs.
Now, in a market-driven, capitalist economy, that's all fine by me. If someone wants to buy a car from the big three and pay that price, what do I care?
But, if the CEOs of Ford, GM and Chrysler are going to ask me for my tax dollars, they damn well better have a plan to reign in those costs.
This whole health care discussion was brought into keen focus when I opened my annual love letter from my health insurance provider last night. I am self-employed, so my wife and I pay for our own individual health insurance. Every year, our rates go up. In 2009, our policy will increase by 20 percent.
So you'll forgive me if I do not want to cover the cost of cradle-to-grave health insurance for a few million autoworkers. I'm already bailing out Wall Street and the global banking system. If I am going to put my tax dollars into someone's health insurance, I would prefer it to be my own.