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Auto dealers' problems not due to government

Readers' Letters
by: L.E. BASKOW, Alex Laws, co-owner of Portland’s Timberline Dodge, in May places banners on the dealership’s cars reading "Government Forced Liquidation." Chrysler’s bankruptcy is eliminating the Laws family’s dealership, the only Chrysler dealer in Portland.

Who on earth ever said capitalism is fair (Dealer: Chrysler shutdowns are unfair, May 28)? The object of the game is to make as much money as possible - another name for the American Dream. Of course, when things go wrong, it's part of the process to blame the government.

It wasn't the government that didn't bother to notice that foreign manufacturers were putting out more innovative cars that the public was buying. It wasn't the government that paid astronomical salaries to the fat cats who sat in the corner offices. And it wasn't the government that turned to the taxpayers for help when it became obvious that their own incompetence had turned the company sour.

Sure, the mandate to sell assets to Fiat and the pressure inherent in a federal bankruptcy procedure was onerous, but whose fault was the bankruptcy in the first place?

Dick Brandlon

Southwest Portland

Chrysler acted in bad faith

Your very interesting article on the woes of the Chrysler dealers says that Alex Laws does not understand why his family's dealership is on the closure list in the first place (Dealer: Chrysler shutdowns are unfair, May 28).

I think the answer is very simple: The owners are being punished for doing everything Chrysler asked them to do, because Chrysler acted in bad faith. Since they agreed to order extra vehicles and even to personally guarantee the loans used to finance the inventory, canceling their dealership is worth much more to Chrysler now than canceling one with much less inventory, or inventory for which Chrysler is the guarantor.

Since they have no power to enforce their franchise contract due to Chrysler's bankruptcy, perhaps they can pursue a remedy by suing in civil court for negotiation in bad faith - which, if it occurred, happened prior to the bankruptcy and thus may not be immune to civil and possibly criminal lawsuits.

Andrew Allen

Northwest Portland

Incompetence sealed into companies' fate

Your article 'Dealer: Chrysler shutdowns are unfair' (May 28) is appalling. Timberline Dodge failed because they hitched their wagon to a sinking ship; accusing the government is preposterous.

Chrysler joined the Detroit lemmings and ran toward the truck/SUV cliff, ignoring obvious long-term implications. Short-term profits were all that mattered.

A corporation fails when it has nothing customers want to buy, and Alex Laws cries that his American Dream is being stolen. Well, I'm an American, too, and I don't dream of my tax dollars bailing out corporate incompetence.

Bruce McDonald

Canby

Closing Timberline makes no sense

Thanks for taking time to write about the Laws family's struggle with Chrysler (Dealer: Chrysler shutdowns are unfair, May 28). Lost in all the 'get lean to compete rhetoric' spilling out of Detroit and the White House, the fact is closing these dealerships won't save Chrysler much money. Dealers pay or guarantee for cars or parts before delivery.

If the Fiat merger comes to fruition, closing Timberline makes no sense. Fiat makes small urban cars. What sense does it make to close Chrysler's only urban dealership in the Portland area if you need to sell small urban cars? The cowboys living in the suburbs who love big Dodge Hemis and trucks probably are not going to pay much attention to Fiats.

But more upsetting is the idea that our inept government hacks can put a bullet in a successful business. Wish we could do the same to the bureaucracy that is taking our country away from us.

Norm Myhr

Oak Grove

Obama didn't cause bankruptcy

I thought that, being an automobile dealer since 1938, the owners of Timberline Dodge would have noticed what has been happening over the last several decades (Dealer: Chrysler shutdowns are unfair, May 28).

I find it interesting that Mr. Laws is quick to blame the new Obama Administration for forcing Chrysler into bankruptcy when the facts say otherwise. It was the previous Congress that gave a lot of money to GM and Chrysler to help bail them out. When Obama came into office, he added a bridge loan with the condition that the car companies fix their problems. GM and Chrysler took the money, made their promises and then did almost nothing.

I suggest that Mr. Laws redirect his blame to the places where it belongs. Maybe he should consider taking some of that responsibility himself and give up the idea that the government should save him. We live in a capitalist society, not a socialist one.

Kate Mytron

Southeast Portland

Blue collar workers get no help

We had a chance to help the blue collar workers of America and we passed on it (Dealer: Chrysler shutdowns are unfair, May 28).

We bailed out the white collar workers and sent the blue collar workers down the road, justifying it with statements bashing unions and some saying they got themselves into this.

The fact that dealerships were going to close after factories closed was a given. Some who commented with anger and hate may have figured that out too late, but that was the reality. And we are here now.

I am sorry Timberline is closing and all those folks are losing their jobs. I think America could have done better by you and many others. Your help went to white collars and bonuses, and a lack of understanding and support from your fellow Americans.

Gerard Welch

Corbett