Friday, December 12, 2008

Stupid Liberal Talking Points

...or Why The Big Three Bailout Is Actually a Bad Idea Too

The latest conventional wisdom in Left Blogistan is that the Big Three bailout must be a good thing, since Republicans are opposing it, most probably to bust the UAW. Pardon me while I *headdesk*. Does anyone around here but me remember what unions are for?!

Saving the Big Three to save the unions is like subsidising mobsters to make sure that the police have something to do.

The Big Three have made these threats before: I can't be the only one who remembers the '80s: Back then, it seemed like every month or so, representatives of the Big Three would be back at the government's door, palm out, flanked by a couple of sweating gorillas in suits, saying, "Chee, nice economy youse got here. Be a shame if somethin' wuz ta happen to it... Youse wouldn't happen ta have a few extra bucks lyin' around, kinda ta make sure nuttin' happens ta it, wouldja?" (And keep in mind, unions exist to protect workers against the exploitation of capital. Where's the union to protect the world against exploitation by the Big Three?)

If the Big Three were natural persons, instead of those fictive legal persons we refer to as corporations, they'd be looking at life imprisonment without possibility of parole, based on the number1 and frequency of their crimes; they're unrepentant, unreformable serial criminals. They've been on the brink of failure now (and being kept alive by massive government subsidies -- either in the form of actual subsidies, outright bailouts, tax credits and other "incentives," and public investment in infrastructure that directly benefits them, such as the Interstate highway program) for about three decades or longer. They have had countless opportunities to reform, restructure, and reinvent themselves. Their response has always been to buy a few more legislators, throw around some (empty?) promises about building another plant (to replace the ones that went elsewhere because of NAFTA) and crank up the consent-manufacturing machine (to the tune of trillions of advertising dollars) to make sure they don't have to sell what consumers really want, they can keep making consumers want what the Big Three have to sell, at least well enough to keep them limping along on their various forms of subsidy money for a while more. Suggest the kind of massive restructuring that would take away their near-monopoly/monopsony status, and their executives start slandering your character, which is a sure tell that they know that's the real solution, but they like the status quo just fine.

I'm against an auto industry bailout for exactly the same reasons I was against a financial industry bailout -- allowing a corrupt, exploitive, failing industry to remain on taxpayer-funded life support is basically giving the criminals at the top a free license to continue robbing us. So bailing them out is stupid. Considering that the Big Three are in large part responsible for many of the ills of the modern world, we don't owe them, they owe us.

By the way, now would be the time for some enterprising politician to be the hero by kick-starting that "green Apollo program" we've all been hearing so much about. Someone who could create millions of jobs by creating alternatives to dysfunctional, destructive car culture would solve the entire problem in one fell swoop.

1 A view in my folder of articles on the subject from Lexis-Nexis also shows antitrust probes in 1976, 1979, 1980, 1993 and 1994, plus breakup proposals for GM in 1980 and 2000.


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