How is the US car industry like Rhode Island?


Answer: Neither can get their fiscal house in order.

I'm hardly an expert on the auto industry. But haven't we been hearing for decades about how this industry has to be smarter and more competitive to outflank entries from Japan and elsewhere?

Part of the problem is how the US auto industry -- back when gas was relatively cheap in the mid-'90s -- popularized the SUV, since the vehicles helped to propel the bottom line. Now, even though petrol prices have dipped, the guzzlers are no longer big sellers.

The argument for a taxpayer bailout of the auto industry is that it is so immense, with so many ripples across the economy -- tires, advertising, you name it -- that failing to take action would be far more damaging. Obama seems to back this school of thought.

Some competitiveness experts, though, like Michael Porter (who was interviewed on the subject this week on WBUR's On Point), consider it folly to aid an industry hobbled by so many of its own self-inflicted woes.

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