Bailout Watch 116: Forbes' Jerry Flint Quotes Shelley, Votes Aye
Does anyone edit Jerry Flint’s columns? And yes that’s a trick question. If I were the editor in question, I would sit in awe of any curmudgeon brave enough to argue that GM deserves an extra long root in the federal taxpayers’ trough by admonishing readers that “we should remember Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem.” Ozymandias? That particular poem is about hubris and inevitably of death and decay. And yet our man Flint’s uses the work to suggest that U.S. taxpayers should bail out General Motors because we don’t want a great empire to, uh, decay and die. Here’s the deal: we owe them. “I have a long memory,” Flint opines, synapses firing like mad. “I remember World War II, when the president of GM– his name was William Knudsen– headed the successful effort to build our great war production machine. GM helped save America then.” That would be the same GM that aided and abetted the Nazi war machine. “I remember the great GM pay, pensions, health care and dividends that made life good for millions of Americans.” And the union corruption, intransigence and feather-bedding that made GM a sitting duck for transplant attack. But wait ’til you hear what Flint has to say about GM’s current management. You’re not going to want to miss this. Right after the break.
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Can GM be saved even with a bailout? The British tried to save British Leyland but it was beyond saving. Are we throwing good money after bad? Would it make more sense to let one of the little three go, rather than try to save them all? Chrysler has the least debt and might be the easiest to save. Would it be more cost effective to provide incentives for foreign companies to add engineering centers to the US? Would it make more sense to back winners rather than losers? The largest problem at GM is their corporate culture. Is the only way to kill their bean counter management to let GM die? On the other hand, GM has some good product now. Should we let them die when they finally start getting product right? No easy answers here, but it looks like President Obama will turn the cash tap on for Detroit. It may or may not work.