Bailout Watch 30: Nader Votes Nay, Dooms Opposition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Ralph Nader has plenty of good reasons for opposing the $50b taxpayer bailout, sorry, “low interest federal loans” for Detroit. Namely, “decades of poor decision-making” and Detroit’s total inability to drum-up capital on Wall Street. Unfortunately, Nader’s name, reputation and government intervention fetish discredit his cause. GM wasted no time rising to the bait, brushing off Ralphie-Boy’s criticism with a suitably put-down. “There are many more relevant voices in this discussion that see the existing provision for what it is,” spinmesiter Greg Martin told The Detroit News. “A sound, smart policy to inject capital into the industry to get advanced technology vehicles on the road quickly.” For once, a GM toady gets it right. About Nader. The consumer advocate argues for government intervention on a socialist scale: a “public takeover of the corporations.” Though a thorough managerial reshuffling should be a condition for any government bailout, Nader’s proposal of a government-run U.S. auto industry is ridiculous. Any such move would lead to a British Leyland-type public ownership debacle. Opponents of the bailout plans would do well to keep their distance from his wild schemes.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Sep 09, 2008
    Wikipedia; however, quickly lays to rest psarhjinian’s glib statements about fascism being somehow the opposite of socialism, a common canard that is repeated ad nasuem. Well, yes and no. In theory (and this is important: theory and real-world implementation are often very different) classical Fascism and Socialism are more or less diametrically opposed economic ideologies: * Fascism is top-down statism, a sort of militarization or corporatization of "normal" aspects society that typically would be allowed to run independently. Property rights don't usually come into it; organizational rights do. * Socialism is bottom-up statism or collectivism. Compared to fascism, socialism's fix is on controlling property rights, but not organizational ones. Fascism eschews democratic process; socialism does not. Neither are inherently bad; in a perfect world where people aren't involved, fascism allows unparalleled operational effectiveness, socialism ensures that no one is left behind. In practice, pure versions of both are trainwrecks because the people involved suck. The opposite of socialism is not facism…it is libertarianism. Well, no. Well, yes. Well, sort of. Libertarianism and anarchy operate on a different spectrum entirely. The trick with these two (one?) is enforcement. How do you prevent the natural accumulation of power? Answer: you don't. That's why pure anarchism/libertarianism is fundamentally broken. The least objectionable form of government, social democracy or social republicanism, is more or less your best bet. The system will vary by how it leans (left, right, etc) and will never satisfy ideologues, but it has the key advantage of, operationally, working better than anything else. Churchill was right, by the way. Worst system, except for all the others. Sorry if this is off-topic, but I really dislike it when people throw labels around ("liberal", "neocon", "fascist", "nazi", "communist") and expect people to a) accept their dogmatic meanings as true and/or inherently morally superior and b) assume that people agree with them. It's also imprecise: I can agree with someone saying "I don't support Ralph Nader because I don't think government ownership is a good idea, and here's why...", but not "Ralph Nader's ideas are bad because they're socialist and/or fascist" when they don't really explain what they mean by socialism or fascism (or are really unclear), other than that it's something they don't like. It's dogmatic fervour, rather than rational discourse. I can sense I'm about to be slammed for being a relativist.
  • Justin Berkowitz Justin Berkowitz on Sep 09, 2008

    @psarhjinian : Thank you for your post. My head was starting to throb.

  • Landcrusher Landcrusher on Sep 09, 2008

    Psar, You are much closer, now. I would disagree with the diametrically opposed comment. That's like saying the union libs and the green libs are diametrically opposed. The top down, bottom up thing is somewhat correct, but I would argue that in fact, both are top down. Socialism is "ostensibly" bottom up, but the top in both systems uses all sorts of tricks to control majority opinion. Both are inherently bad because of what happens in practice. Results matter much more than intentions. They may not be bad in theory, but we don't live in theory. I completely agree with you last paragraph, and it's precisely because the labels have various meanings to different folks. If you can't be specific, then just labeling something means very little. There is nothing wrong with saying that Nader's idea is socialist unless you and your listener don't really know what that means. Then, you better be able to explain it, or you should have kept your mouth shut in the first place.

  • Morea Morea on Sep 10, 2008

    @psarhjinian : Thoughtful post. I underestimated your depth of understanding and I apologize. Since this is a car blog I'll let this topic rest (although we could go on for days!)