Ford lures workers out with cash. Is that a good thing?

When I saw Tuesday's front page New York Times story on Ford's pedal-to-the-metal drive to move its bloated hourly workforce to accept buyouts, I buckled up for another pothole-strewn, auto sector downer story. But then I read the thing, and found it surprisingly positive, touting the creativity, raw dollar value and long-term commitment Ford has put on the table with its latest, up-the-ante packages.

To wit: "And the company's paternalistic culture still lingers in the way workers often refer to the company as "Ford's," in reference to the family that provided them a comfortable income." (This is the reporter's copy, not a quote from a Ford exec or friendly analyst.)

The numbers do look pretty good. Cash payouts as high as $140,000, generous tuition assistance and extended health care coverage are among the latest options Ford is offering.