In interviews across the state over the last two weeks, criticism of the automakers’ request surfaced again and again. Many people said they had long watched Michigan’s economy strain and falter — in no few cases causing the collapse of their own employers and loss of their own jobs — and could no longer see why the Big Three should be singled out for rescue.
“How many other, small companies would like a bailout?” said Heather Davison, who lives in Davisburg, less than an hour north of Detroit, and has been unemployed for a year. “It seems to me that the car companies saw the banks getting a bailout and said, ‘Oh, let’s go!’ ”
Like some others interviewed, Ms. Davison was unsparing as well in her criticism of the United Automobile Workers. “I’ve watched that Ron Gettelfinger on TV,” she said of the union’s president. “He talks about the need to restructure, but they needed to look at that a long time ago.”
John Raterink, a tool and machine maker who works at a small shop in Grand Rapids that supplies parts to the auto industry, opposes a bailout even though his livelihood is tethered to the car makers. Mr. Raterink, 46, points a finger at the Big Three for a lot of economic misery.
“Do I think things could get worse?” Mr. Raterink said. “Absolutely. But bear in mind that we’ve already been dealing with this since the last quarter of ’99. If I have to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, I hope G.M. faces that same reality of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps.”
Jeffrey Kerr, a real estate developer who lives in the Lake Michigan town of Saugatuck, objects to the personal costs that he says come with bailouts. “When the government starts bailing out private companies,” Mr. Kerr said, “what they’re basically saying is, ‘We’re going to tax you more for a very long time.’ ”
Pat Weber, a construction manager who was laid off last year in Fennville, near Saugatuck, largely agreed. “A bailout will cause a snowballing effect,” Ms. Weber said, “and it’s way too scary how it will come back on all of us.”