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A modest proposal
Regarding Jack Lessenberry's "Papers in crisis" (Dec. 24, 2008), I've come up with a plan for the Detroit newspapers that Lessenberry would probably support.
Rather than have foresight into the changing habits of their readers, the papers should just keep cranking out a product that only a shrinking demographic buys. Rather than adjust costs, they should keep up the delivery service that they are losing money on.
Then when the papers run out of money they can ask the feds to bail them out, citing the impact the loss of jobs will have on the region as well as the quality of information available to society.
This will also benefit Jack personally because he will have future fodder for his column, as he lashes out at the Southern Republicans who object to bailing out the papers. —Dan Keizer, Eastpointe
Regarding Jack Lessenberry's "Blaming the workers" (Dec. 10, 2008), the story being sold to the public regarding the failure of the auto companies is the same old robber baron diatribe we've been fed through the centuries, because unfortunately, the rich guys also control the press. Naturally, in this light, it is the worker expecting to be fairly compensated that is causing the company to fail, because otherwise it is the management, and we can't have that becoming public knowledge. Egads, if that happened, people might start looking at the management of other companies and industries too. The misleading number of $73 per hour was no mistake. It was purposely put out there to muddy the waters, and some still think it is true.
The problem with the Big Three automakers is that they have all the vision of a potted plant, they have produced nothing but gas-guzzling behemoths for decades while their foreign competitors did strange things like caring about what people wanted. In comparison, the Big Three treat fuel economy standards like we are asking them to perform voodoo.
Their failure is their own fault, and if not for the poor workers that just happen to be on the deck of the Big Three's sinking ships, I would say let them sink and good riddance. But the workers deserve America's help. They showed up for work every day to do as they were told by management. It would be akin to someone telling me to drive my van into a utility pole, then blaming me for the damage to my vehicle, and completely disregarding the fact that they told me to do it.
It appears that Congress gets very tight with the purse strings when it might actually help out the average Joe, and quite liberal with the money, like a drunken sailor on shore leave, when it involves white-collar management. Wall Street receives $700 billion, currently earmarked out as more than $3 trillion, with less oversight than renting a movie from Blockbuster, but the Big Three needs a mere fraction of that and Congress wants contracts and promises equal to getting audited by the IRS. Something stinks. —Aaron Rowland, Hartville, Ohio
Erratum: Our cover story, "2008's Most Dubious" (Dec. 31, 2008), incorrectly identified the judge in Kwame Kilpatrick's case. His name is David Groner.