Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GM Says Thank You America

So as a New England Patriots fan, I naturally spent part of my Thanksgiving watching the football game against the Detroit Lions. It was a pretty good game, especially because the Patriots won. But one advertisement that I saw was more memorable than any play in the game. Given that Detroit is the city of the automobile, it's not too surprising that GM ran a big ad during the Thanksgiving Day game. But this ad truly surprised me and grabbed my attention. Take a look:

This ad really stuck with me all weekend. If the banks had tried to run it, well, it would have been obnoxious. But GM was a casualty and not an instigator of our financial collapse. And the truth is, they're right. Everyone falls, and most of the time we need help getting back up. Regardless of your feelings on the TARP program, whether you think it was Bush's failure, Obama's failure, Bush's success, or Obama's success (I've heard at least one person say every single one of these), the logic of this ad still holds true. But our government seems to have forgotten what it knew two years ago.

At midnight tonight, our government is poised to turn its back on the million of unemployed Americans who still need help getting back up. They want jobs, but none are available. They aren't waiting for something better. They are struggling to survive. And when unemployment benefits aren't extended, a motion which will add a mere $5 billion dollars to the deficit, these people will have nothing to live on. For the record, extending the Bush tax cuts for people making MORE THAN $250,000, which the Republicans hope to do, will add $700 billion to the deficit over the next ten years. That means it costs $10 billion dollars more a year to provide extra cash to people making a quarter of a million dollars, than it does to help millions of unemployed Americans survive while looking for jobs. And yet Republicans are concerned solely about the deficit when it comes to the unemployed and solely about the economy when it comes the top 2%. The hypocrisy is glaring.

Everyone falls, and everyone needs help getting back up. If you're making over $250,000 a year, you aren't falling. If you have no job and no source of income, then you are. GM and the banks got the bailout they needed to prevent a complete collapse of our economy. And they are paying the money back. And now the American people are asking for the same kind of help. They'll pay that the money back, by spending it and stimulating the economy during an important Christmas season. Should they be turned down, so that the wealthiest 2% can lavish themselves and add more to their bank accounts?

Governments are designed to do two essential things: Protect their citizens from "falling" in many different ways, and to help them get back up when they do. Ours failed at protecting us from an economic collapse, but if they fail to help us recover from that collapse, then truly America is lost.