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The car companies that eat our future have their hands out - again!

By Peter Boyle

There are some new faces joining the banks on the corporate bailout queue: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The “Big Three” US car corporations are demanding for US$50 billion in bailout loans from the US government - on top of US$25 billion already approved. Across the Atlantic, the European car companies are demanding a matching 40 billion Euro subsidy.

The corporate empires that gave the world those dinosaurs of the 21st Century - the gas-guzzling SUVs and Humvees - now are threatening put millions of people out of work, if they don't get bailed out. But even if they get these handouts they refuse to guarantee that jobs won't go.

In Australia, PM Kevin Rudd has already obliged car manufacturers by doubling their corporate welfare cheque to $6.2 billion. However, according to the November 3 Melbourne Age, federal Innovation Minister Kim Carr admits that the extra subsidy will not stop the immediate loss of jobs in an industry that employs only 65,000 in Australia today. Holden has already cut 1100 jobs, Ford 600 and Mitsubishi 100.

Perhaps the car companies don't want to miss out on the free handouts for big companies after seeing bankrupt banks around the world bailed out to the tune of more than $6 trillion in the last few months? But all around the world, the car industry has been massively publicly subsidised for years. In the US alone, the total public subsidy to the car industry has been estimated at US$700 billion per year! That's before the crisis. Only the so-called “defence” industry gets a bigger regular public subsidy in the US – to the tune of US$1 trillion a year.

Every government around the world is told that these car companies need massive public subsidies because of competition from overseas. But in every country it's the same global car corporations with their hands out!

What could these trillions being blown on bailing out capitalism be better spent on? Here are just some possibilities:

* US$2.1 trillion would wipe out all the poor countries “debt” to the world's richest countries. Think of the consequences such a move in terms of children saved from starvation and preventable disease, wars ended because their real causes have addressed, and huge forests saved from destruction driven by the need to repay “debt” that has already been repaid many times over.

* An annual investment of a mere only US$30 billion a year would solve global food insecurity according to the UN Food And Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

* A corporate study by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) found that an annual global investment of US$170 billion in energy productivity through 2020 could halve global energy demand - an amount equivalent to 64 million barrels of oil per day. This investment would would cut CO2 emissions to about 550 parts per million.

These sort of socially and environmentally necessary investments would also be recouped very quickly. For instance, United Nations Environment Program (NEP) research shows that every year, for example the felling of forests deprives the world of over US$2.5 trillion worth of such services in supplying water, generating rainfall, stopping soil erosion, cleaning the air and reducing global warming.

Green Left Weekly is 100% opposed to this system which subsidises death and destruction for profit. But we get no government subsidies and rely solely on our readers and supporters like you. With your help we've raised $184,601 for out Fighting Fund this year.

Can you help us raise the $65,399 we need by the end of this year to meet our target by joining the scores of readers who have already taken up our call for $20 ($10 for a seven-issue introductory gift sub and $10 donation to the Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund)? Or better still make a bigger Xmas present to Green Left Weekly and buy a year's subscription for a friend or relative.

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