Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Georgia to Detroit: Drop dead!

Posted By on Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 10:39 PM

Can you say car-denfreude?

Slate has an interesting piece about how Southern states banded together to block the proposed federal bailout of the Big Three automakers. We know the opposition was led by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and other prominent Republicans, but the Slate article explains how it wasn't GOP philosophy – or simply a shared dislike of unions (though that's a big factor) – that rallied their efforts.

It was more the fact that foreign car makers have been very good to several Southern states – much better than Detroit has been in recent years. Ford shut down it '40s-era Hapeville plant in 2006 and GM closed the doors on its Doraville factory this past September. But Kia, from South Korea, is already hiring Georgia autoworkers for its first U.S. plant, set to open in a few months in West Point.

While the Big Three frequently exhibit an air of entitlement when dealing with the state and federal governments – remember the disastrous private-jet caravan when the CEOs came to cry poverty in Washington? – the foreign automakers have gone out of their way to ingratiate themselves with their new hosts.

Other Asian and European companies are likewise heavily invested in the South – Toyota in Kentucky; BMW in South Carolina; Honda, Mercedes and Hyundai in Alabama; and Nissan and Volkswagen in Tennessee.

Basically, the thinking is no longer "What's good for GM is good for America," but may be "What's good for Kia is good for West Georgia."

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