During the 2007-2010 economic period, the auto-industry bailout was a huge controversy. It began with the collapse of many banks and very highly affected the auto industry. Along with the persistence of bad management, which lead to a poor response to the unexpected downfall, the labor union workers were outraged and demanded the unions do something. This brought the major automobile companies: Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors borderline bankrupt. The quality of these company’s products were already being scrutinized for not holding up to the standards that they had in previous years. In addition, their workers were also being paid dramatically low wages which made the matters worse since they were so close to bankruptcy. The public saw the low wages as an attempt, by the companies, to save money and at least stay afloat in the industry, but even with spending less money on labor the companies still found themselves struggling financially. During that time, the automobile companies requested bailout money in an effort to save their companies and their workers. Many factors were taken into account on making the decision of whether or not the government would grant the auto companies the money. The effect the decision would make on the country’s economy was the major influence in the situation. The dilemma arose that if the country lost three major auto companies the economy would suffer. On the other hand, if the government bailed the companies out the taxpayers would have a huge chunk of money taken from them; As the loss of so much tax dollars, through the act of bailing out the auto companies, would have a devastating effect on the economy. The factors were discussed and the American government decided to allow the release of funds towards the bailout of the automobile companies. The government’s decision to allow the bailout money to be issued to the automobile companies had caused the resentment in the tax payers towards the government, hurt the economy even more with this event having occurred at a bad time of economic recession, and brought negative connotation to ‘Auto Industry’ as they had received an unfair advantage.
Published on February 19, 2009 in The Buffalo News Newspaper, Adam Zyglis’ cartoon titled, “Second Auto Bailout” illustrates how the auto industry continues to misuse aid money and disappoint the country no matter how much help they are given; In this case it was widely believed that the auto industry had received an unfair advantage over all other struggling industries towards the end of the recession of 2007-2009. His cartoon shows Barack Obama as a baseball player who seems to be the supplier for the ‘Bailouts’ as they are depicted as steroids. The character representing ‘Auto’ asks Obama if he’s “Got Anything Stronger??” as he already has plenty of syringes stabbed into his back along with the many more used syringes in his hand that he hides behind his back. Obama is pictured as a weak, terrified, and disappointed individual while ‘Auto’ is huge, aggressive, and scary individual because he misuses, by over using, the ‘bailouts’.
The Great Recession, from December 2007 to June 2009, was ultimately the result of the failure of an 8 trillion dollar housing bubble. The loss of such wealth led to cutbacks in consumer spending. As a result, a collapse in business investments occurred, along with the financial market chaos combined with this loss of consumption. Once the business investments and consumer spending was depressed, extensive job loss followed. 8.4 million jobs were lost in 2008 and 2009 from the U.S. labor market. It was the worst employment devastation since the Great Depression. The country was already in a bad state in the midst of a recession which made the bailout more costly that it would’ve been if it was in a stable economic period. The country, economically, could not afford this act to bailout the Big 3 auto companies. This would explain why Obama, in Zyglis’ cartoon, is scolding ‘Auto’ and why Obama has his back turned to ‘Auto’. Obama is making an effort to ignore ‘Auto’ because the country cannot afford to bailout the auto industry, however with the great recession occurring, the spotlight is really put onto the auto industry and it’s struggles so it is difficult for Obama to NOT acknowledge this issue.
Similar to the situation in John Knott’s 1937 cartoon entitled, “There’s an Idea”, the workers in Knott’s cartoon are basically striking for more and more demands they want from the government. Over 250 strikes took place in the auto plants within the span of 3 months, so it’s safe to think they had to be asking for a bit too much and had excessive demands. In Zyglis’ cartoon ‘Auto’ asks, “Got anything stronger??” as ‘Auto’ already has many used syringes; ‘Auto’ is wanting too much. In 1973, America experienced an oil crisis which caused the oil prices to rise from $3 per barrel of oil to $12 per barrel. At this time, gas guzzlers were popular vehicles as muscle cars took over the era. American muscle cars became very popular and the auto companies were bloated and successful. As the unexpected and unanticipated oil crisis hit the country, the auto industry had no time to prepare. As result, Japanese auto plants were established in America which was a huge blow to the American auto industry as more competition was added. American vehicles had been producing bigger and more fuel-inefficient cars for decades when the Japanese manufacturers arrived and produced smaller and more fuel-efficient cars which would come to outperform the american style models. The auto industry needed a bailout and the first bailout was issued after this crisis, which is why this cartoon is titled “SECOND Auto Bailout” as it refers to the bailout during 2007 to 2009 recession.
During the late 2000s, ‘the steroid era’ was a term created in Major League Baseball when many players were thought to have used performance enhancing drugs, or PEDs, in the form of steroids. During this period, offensive output had increased dramatically. In Zyglis’ cartoon, his reference to steroid use alludes to ‘the steroid era’ with the syringes of steroid representing ‘bailouts’. It is likely that the reference could be towards Alex rodriguez, or A-Rod, as he admitted to using steroids in his MLB career, from 2001 to 2003, on February 9, 2009. The cartoon was drawn on February 19, only 10 days after the confession. In addition, at the time of the the confession, A-Rod played for the New York Yankees who are notorious for wearing pinstripes on their gameday uniforms, which many baseball fans see as an outdated fashion and ugly. In the cartoon, the players are wearing pinstripes. Going along the fact that Steroid use in sports was always referred to as an “unfair advantage”, it’s very likely that Zyglis used this reference to the bailout. Since the auto industry required a bailout in the 1970s and the government decided to give them another bailout during the recession was seen by most americans as an unfair advantage just like what steroids does. During the recession, out of all the corporations that were struggling and needed some help, the government decided to give the auto industry another bailout rather than give it to an industry that hadn’t had one yet.
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