With the global financial crisis, there’s been talk about saving companies and industries simply because a large number of people work in them. In Australia, Captain Planet (AKA Kevin Rudd) is bailing out the car industry, and one of the biggest reasons is the number of Australians that work in our automotive industries. This reminds me of a quote from Jeremy Clarkson in Top Gear a few years back:
I didn’t even know Australia made cars!
Society moves on. If we were to protect every industry that supported working families, then we’d still have a thriving horse and buggy industry. Technology and knowledge have always dictated the industries we need and don’t need, and like thousands of years of not caring which animals become extinct, we should simply leave it to technological evolution to decide who survives and who doesn’t. Do we really need to subsidise all those hard working morse code operators into the 21st century? I think not.
Sure, there’s argument for subsidising skill transition programs, but transition usually means delaying the inevitable for another generation, which just brings us back to subsidies.
Now I’m a socialist at heart, I stand just to the left of the most left learning person you can think of, so I’d nationalize everything I could if I had the chance, and I care a lot about the plight of families and the blue collar worker, but a career change isn’t the end of the world, and in many cases with outdated industries, the change to a more modern industry can mean improved life style, improved wages, and improved working conditions.
The money should instead be put into education and training for skills in modern industries, and not propping up industries in their death throws who have no way to, or no intention of, paying it back.
But what it really comes down to is, it’s the car industry. These are the people who ultimately provide the planet’s biggest source of pollution, the industry that has a habbit of killing off technology that will bring the end of the internal combustion engine (see orbital engine or Who killed the electric car?). Do we really need to prop them up any longer?