What’s wrong with the auto industry is not that it failed to create jobs. What’s wrong is that it emphasizes jobs over general growth itself…

The famous Chrysler bailout of the 1970s created a hero lionized almost as much as Clint is today: Lee Iacocca. As Chrysler’s chief executive, Iacocca put jobs front and center. “I’m playing with live bullets, with people’s jobs and their lives,” he told reporter Judith Miller in early 1980, after Congress adopted and Jimmy Carter signed legislation providing more than a billion dollars in loans to the company.

The jobs that Iacocca and other automobile executives protected were supposed to save the company and the industry. They didn’t. Supporting a troubled company like Chrysler merely postponed a crisis. It turned out that the auto industry generally couldn’t keep jobs even in prosperity. From 2000 to 2008, the year Eastwood produced and directed “Gran Torino,” an epic movie about the decline of Motor City, auto manufacturing employment nationally dropped by a third, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.