Wow. General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner has resigned in obedience to an Obama administration directive, a condition of the company’s receiving additional plundered tax dollars. The government has also given GM 60 days to present a cost-cutting plan; the company will of course continue during that time to be kept afloat by the taxpayers, the human safety net for arrogant losers. On the other hand, the government has decided that Chrysler cannot be saved as a stand-alone company and ordered it to merge with Fiat by April 30 before it will be allowed to suck any further on the taxpayers’ teat.
There’s something deeply, disturbingly unAmerican about the federal government controlling companies to such a degree, and the notion that government can do a better job than experienced businesspeople of managing corporations and whole industries would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. If the auto industry really is as vital as so many think, anybody who’s ever mailed a letter should be downright terrified by the government’s power grab du jour. And the precedent that it sets–that government can actually force CEOs out–is absolutely chilling.
On the other hand, this isn’t all bad. Bail-outs should hurt. I mean really, really hurt. They should make the survival of the companies that take them less likely, not more likely (as surely federal control can accomplish). Every corporate executive and union boss, every socialist politician and pundit, responsible for the transfer of billions upon billions of hard-earned taxpayers’ dollars to loser companies should suffer, as the incompetency of government merges with their own incompetency into some kind of super-incompetency. They should never again enjoy one good night’s sleep. They should writhe. They should scream, scream deep, loud screams that echo through the decades in the ears of any would-be moral felons, who seek to rebuild failing companies on the backs of hard-working taxpayers.
Rick Wagoner deserves to go; having accepted ill-gotten tax dollars, he has displayed himself as a morally reprehensible person unfit to lead a once-great company. And if what’s happenning to him discourages one CEO from trying to plunder the taxpayers, then that’s a welcome corrective to the gross moral hazard created by bail-outs.
That’s not the only silver lining. President Obama is clearly positioning himself as a greater defender of taxpayers than President Bush XLIII was during the disastrous final quarter of his presidency. (Granted, that isn’t hard, but it is more than we might have expected.) Now, I’m not so naive as to think this positioning is sincere; certainly this regard for the taxpayer is notably absent from President Obama’s other policies.
But it’s a sign that he’s running a little scared of the populist outrage that’s been building ever since XLIII and his water boys in Congress bailed out the banks on the backs of taxpayers. As The New York Times notes this morning, “Mr. Obama is well aware that he cannot afford to give the appearance of using tax dollars to reward executives who have done a poor job.” Of course, that’s exactly what he is doing in allowing these bail-outs to continue at all. But hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.
We’re getting to ’em. Let’s keep the pressure up!