Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Congressional Motors

From the WSJ this morning, under the headline "US Could Take Stakes in Big Three":

WASHINGTON -- Congress and the White House inched toward a financial rescue of the Big Three auto makers, negotiating legislation that would give the U.S. government a substantial ownership stake in the industry and a central role in its restructuring.

But Iowahawk was all over this story way back on November 24th, when he leaked the advertising campaign being considered for the new era of nationalization being planned by the Pelosi Democats.

It's got a "return to the golden 70's" kind of feel to it. What do you think?


Innes adds:

Ask any American this question. Would the company that employs you be a better company, make a better product, be more innovative, if it were run by the government? (FYI: Rasmussen finds that "Just 14% Say Government Will Run Big Three Better.")

My closest personal experience with a government run company is the Long Island Rail Road. I like them. The conductors are friendly and the trains run more or less on time. They are yet another reason that I am glad I don't live in New Jersey. But the LIRR runs at a huge loss and the trains travel at half the speed they did forty years ago. That is not what made America great.

How is it that these three companies are faring so poorly in the auto market, whereas Toyota, Honda, Hyundai etc. are all turning profits selling American built cars? Does Congress have any clue? If they did understand, would they have the political will to do what is necessary to free these companies to make a profit? Given their illicit relationship with the unions (it is illicit for Congress, a publicly interested body, to be controlled by unions which are organized to promote narrowly private interests) and their fixation with regulation, especially environmental regulation, it seems highly unlikely.

If the federal government takes control of the banks, the auto industry and the health care system, why should it not also proceed to all the "commanding heights" of the economy? Why should these huge economic entities that control the lives of so many ordinary Americans not come under social control for the benefit of the people instead of the few? As the first post-war British prime minister put it, this would be "the embodiment of our socialist principle of placing the welfare of the nation before any section" or narrow interest. He advocated "a mixed economy developing toward socialism.... The doctrines of abundance, of full employment, and of social security require the transfer to public ownership of certain major economic forces and the planned control in the public interest of many other economic activities."

Perhaps Barack Obama will be remembered as the American Clement Atlee.

If so, we will have to suffer through decades of economic stagnation and self-inflicted misery until we learn our lesson and, in response to our tearful prayers, the Lord mercifully raises up an American Margaret Thatcher to remedy the whole mess.

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