Do we need an auto industry?

Interesting article from Daniel Gross at Slate on the auto industry crisis:

Bottom line: it’s not just cantankerousness that makes some Southern Republicans eager to see the American auto industry disappear, with its three million jobs.  They’ve become familiar with their own non-union, foreign-owned auto plants, and they don’t see why we should keep propping up a declining system.

They have a point– though it’s undercut by the fact that those states attracted foreign investment with hefty state-level tax breaks and subsidies.

I don’t know that there’s any great answer to Detroit’s problem.  But I worry about losing an entire industry.  Transplants are not the same thing.  What does the US do better than anyone else?  According to Neal Stephenson, music, movies, programming, and high-speed pizza delivery.  (I wonder what the real answer is, and what if anything it’ll be in 30 years.)