Monday, November 17, 2008
Bail My Ass Out, Johnson
There's a big brew-ha-ha over whether the gov should or shouldn't bail out the American carmaking industry. I think it should, but that from now on, any time the gov, which is us, bails out any business, we need to stipulate how the money is going to be spent. Taxpayer largesse needs to be awarded contingent on a company's using it for productive purposes, rather than just throwing it into the black hole of failed business models.
Business people should never be trusted to make business decisions. Only government should be allowed to do that. Commerce is much too important to ever be left in the hands of people whose main concern is making a lot of money for themselves.
So in this case, Detroit should get our help only if it agrees to retool its factories for making hybrid cars and light trucks that can be plugged in, rather than using our cash to pop out more F-150's and Escalades. It's our money, so we have the right to demand that it be spent on future, not past forms of enterprise.
The car executives have shown no ability whatsoever to see into the future, because they're so heavily invested in the petroleum-based type of vehicle, and loathe to give up the huge replacement parts business that will die a quick death after the public has turned to what is essentially an electric car. But it's going to happen, and trying to hang on to the past is pointless and self-destructive.
The main reason we study history is not so we can know what happened back in the day, but so we can understand the present, and anticipate future certainties, probabilities, and possibilities.