Lee Iacocca and Free Enterprise
Graham’s article on Iacocca demonstrates little knowledge of the facts. Referring to the Chrysler loan guarantee, Graham writes, “He was the beneficiary of one of the largest government bail-outs in corporate history.” The facts are that the government received fees of a million dollars a month during the years of the guarantee, which provided no money to Chrysler, just allowed it to borrow on the open market. In addition, the government made $311 million by buying Chrysler warrants. Also, Chrysler paid off the loans before they were due. Additionally, and perhaps more important, the survival of Chrysler saved more than 89,000 jobs at Chrysler and many more among its 30,000 suppliers and dealers.
Graham praises GM and Toyota for starting a joint enterprise to build cars in California, but fails to mention that Chrysler and Mitsubishi had announced a similar joint enterprise in the Midwest.
It is true that Iacocca argued for the continuation of quotas on Japanese cars coming to the United States and, as the United Auto Workers pointed out, this would save American jobs. He also urged that Japan open its markets so that American firms can sell more goods there, reduce the trade deficit and create more American jobs. It strikes me that fighting to create more American jobs is a pretty good thing. Too bad more people aren’t doing it.
FRANK W. WYLIE