Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lesson learned: Auto bailout version

I was planning on doing this lesson that I had learned this year as the last one. After the Auto bailout and watching the loathing reaction of some folks, I decided to switch it to today.

The absolute most important priority for any elected officials is the people. I know it may sound silly to point that out, but it seems to be the first thing that many folks seem to forget.

Talk show hosts don’t answer to constituents.

Newspaper editors don’t answer to constituents.

Bloggers do not answer to constituents.

However, elected officials do answer to the people.

For example, on this auto bailout, does Congressman Paul Ryan support the “real conservative” agenda, or should his support be for the people that live in his district?

Sure, I have seen the beating that the congressman is taking over his support of the auto bailout. Bloggers who are actually making the claim that Paul Ryan has disgraced himself.

I am certain that the talk show hosts, including the local ones, will be tearing apart Congressman Ryan today. So be it.

The reality of the situation is that the auto bailout is not about gigantic car companies, gigantic unions and even big government.

There are real people’s lives at stake here. Real people American people, who are frightened, angry and panicked about their future lives. These people are frightened and they do not know how they are going to feed their families, keep a roof over their heads and even pay for heat for the winter.

As a little peon aldermen in a city of almost 100,000, I represent about 6,000 people. Of those 6,000, my guess is about 1,500 of them are directly or indirectly affected by the automobile industry. Many of them are retirees of Chrysler or are currently employed by the Chrysler engine plant still located in Kenosha. Some are employed or retired from the support industries for the auto industry.

My guess is that in Congressman Ryan’s district has close to 75,000 to 100,000 are directly or indirectly affected by the automobile industry. Not only is their a sizable GM plant in Janesville and a Chrysler engine plant in Kenosha, but there are support industries that will go under if the American auto makers do not survive.

What would you do if you were in Paul Ryan’s shoes? Honestly ask yourself that question.

Would you tell the 100,000 people that live in your district…

“You are on your own”.

“I believe in smaller government and less spending, so let them eat cake”.

“Hey, I believe that the US auto industry needs to collapse into bankruptcy. They will be better off in the long run.”

“Blame your union. If they had not demanded so much from the companies, you would not be in this situation”

Seriously people, would you be able to look the people in the eye that live in your district that are scared and actually say any of these things to any of them?

You probably would not. In fact, you would do whatever you could to try and help your frightened constituents.

Part of helping these people also includes reform. Without reform, the auto industry will collapse.

This money will only last for about 3 months. That is a very tiny allotment of time to try and figure out real reforms that will get the auto industry off of the taxpayer’s dime and to set the industry on a new course forward.

I am certain that Congressman Paul Ryan will spend a lot of time with both GM and Chrysler as they attempt to chart a new course for their shareholders and their employees.

The talk show hosts, the bloggers and the news editors will continue to call Paul Ryan a disgrace today, but the truth is the real disgrace would have been if the Congressman would have completely ignored the PEOPLE that live in his district. He answers to these people.

Even in my little area of Kenosha that I am privileged to represent, I have learned a many valuable lesson this year.

The lesson learned:

Never ever make a political decision, make a people decision.

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