No free lunch

The best things in life are free...

But you can keep 'em for the birds and bees.

Now give me money (that's what I want)

That's what I want (that's what I want)

That's what I want (that's what I want), yeah

That's what I want

--lyric from "Money (That's What I Want)" by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford

Detroit-- and by that we mean America's Big 3 automakers, GM, Ford and Chrysler-- may be hoping like crazy that it can soon drive right up to the federal feeding trough (gold-plated so recently by Wall Street bankers to the tune of $700 billion!), but there's no guarantee it will get its fill. And it's very likely that even if the Big Three do fill up, the sustenance won't come without plenty of unappetizing strings attached.

Certainly, it is hard to imagine that anyone in trucking would not want Detroit to get whatever assistance it needs to stay afloat. For starters, a hell of a lot of trucking frieght is automotive-based. On top of that, the vehicle and equipment suppliers to trucking that are not owned by the Big Three are interlinked with them in some way or another.

And then there's that chilling stat underscoring Detroit's economic footprint that keeps popping up in the media lately: one in ten jobs in the country is affected by the domestic auto industry, at least according to Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (D).


Workers arriving at Ford's River Rouge plant, circa 1944

The Big Three must be cheered at least a bit by at last having their plight break onto the front pages as it were-- and especially by hearing that influential voices are starting to speak up in favor of some sort of federal bailout or rescue (take your pick).

For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has indicated its support for Detroit via a letter penned by R. Bruce Josten, executive vp of government affairs, and sent both to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chief Ben Bernanke.

Josten argues that "The current economic environment requires immediate government action to restore liquidity so that the U.S. auto industry is able to function, meet consumer demand, and develop new energy saving technologies."

He goes on to say the Chamber believes powers granted to Paulson and Bernanke by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA)-- a.k.a the Wall Street bailout package-- will allow them to take actions that will "support the distressed auto industry which is so essential to the U.S. economy."

We can all be rightfully indignant at the Big Three for having screwed up so immensely-- thoroughly ceding the incredibly massive competitive advantages they once held on these shores to foreign-based (and now laregly Americanized) automakers, but I simply do not see how we as a nation can stand idly by and let this essential industry collapse to the point that so many jobs will be lost... not to mention risking manufacturing production capacity that can be viewed as essential to our national security.