Back in the mid-1900's manufacturing was the backbone of the American economy. The automobile industry was probably the strongest of these industries, so much so that there was a slogan that expressed it all - "as goes GM, so goes the nation."
Today, as the big three auto makers struggle to stay alive, there still might be truth in that old expression. If the auto industries are allowed to fail, it might be the death knell for the entire American super-structure. Hundreds of thousands of employees of the auto companies out of work - hundreds of thousands more in the auto-parts plants (we have a couple of big plants in the Syracuse area that manufacture components for the auto companies and I have acquaintances who work/worked there) - restaurants and stores who depend on the income from those employees - sales departments that sell cars or auto parts - financial companies that lend money for the purchase of those cars - ad infinitum.
Can we afford to take a chance that these three industries will survive if they go into bankruptcy? Can we allow bankruptcy courts to terminate the retirement benefits of hundreds of thousands of retired employees of all of the auto companies and the related business so that all of these folks are then seeking to go back to work at age 70 or even 80 when the job markets in the US are shutting down? Is it possible that bankruptcy will mean the end of these businesses?
The following video is from Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC and is a little long at nearly 11 minutes, but it is a well-reasoned, intelligent discussion of the problem. If being informed is something that interests you, this might be worth your time.