By on November 11, 2010

We’ve heard a lot of arguments on all sides of the bailout, but we had yet to hear anyone call for prolonged government ownership and involvement in General Motors… until now. What follows is a letter from Ralph Nader, former NHTSA boss Joan Claybrook, Center for Auto Safety honcho Clarence Ditlow and Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, urging the Obama administration to suspend GM’s IPO and take firmer control of the government-owned automaker’s decisions on a number of issues including lobbying, employment and the environment. Because, despite appearing to be stuck in the 70s, Nader and company have never heard of British Leyland. Taste the madness below.

Dear President Obama,

The U.S. government bailout of, and acquisition of a majority share in, General Motors was anexceptional action, taken in response to exceptional circumstances. The U.S. stake in GM obviously poses novel managerial challenges to the government. The appropriate response to those challenges, however, is not to run from the responsibility through passive ownership and premature sale at a loss to taxpayers.

We write as GM prepares to undertake an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of stock that will reduce the government stake in the company to 43 percent. We urge that the government as primary owner arrange for the suspension of the IPO and then begin exercising the responsibilities attendant to ownership. We would like to highlight some of the numerous reasons for, and applications of, these recommendations.

1. Ensuring the best return to taxpayers

The government obviously has a serious fiduciary duty to taxpayers to obtain the best possible return on our investment in GM. This should not be the government’s only consideration in managing its GM stake, but it should be a priority.

News reports indicate the planned IPO will cause taxpayers to realize a $4.9 billion loss.1 Certainly no one can predict the future of GM or the markets with any certainty, but many analysts have offered the view that GM’s financial prospects are very positive. Simply recognizing how severely the Great Recession has crimped auto sales in the United States gives credence to this view; annual sales remain down by more than 25 percent from a few years ago. Many analysts believe that the IPO is being driven by a government desire to exit from GM ownership as soon as possible, even at the expense of better recoupment of the taxpayer investment.

Investor prudence thus counsels for maintaining the government’s current share, and delaying a sell off so that the government can capture likely improved returns in the future.

2. Protecting jobs and investment in the United States

We believe the government emergency investment in GM was necessary and proper, though we were and remain critical that the government imposed conditions on its investment to lower GM costs but not to advance broader public interest objectives.

The primary rationale of investing in GM had to be to preserve jobs and prop an economy in a severe downward spiral. As we pointed out at the time of the government investment, it was incumbent on the government to ensure that GM maintained production in the United States. There may be a rationale for GM to produce overseas for overseas markets, but it should not be opening new facilities abroad to ship back to the United States; and choices about facilities
closings should favor keeping U.S. plants open, especially for vehicles produced for the U.S. market. There is a broader concern: the U.S. government has an interest in ensuring the locus of GM’s research and product development remains in the United States.

As majority shareholder in GM, the United States has the ability to direct or influence the company’s investment decisions. As the U.S. reduces its share, so its capacity to influence such decisions diminishes. Had the government invested in GM for pecuniary reasons, the legitimacy of affecting such decisions would be lessened. But the government did not invest in GM for pecuniary reasons. It invested precisely to preserve U.S. jobs and manufacturing capacity. It is now incumbent on the government to manage its investment to advance these objectives.

Underscoring the importance of suspending the IPO to ensure protection of the U.S. national interests in GM are reports that various foreign auto manufacturers — including China’s SAIC — and sovereign wealth funds are considering purchasing large blocs of shares in GM.2

3. Addressing climate change, safety and environmental challenges

Looming over all the other great challenges facing the country and the world is the threat of catastrophic climate change. Addressing climate change is going to require massive, across-the- board changes in the way we generate, distribute and consume energy. No area will be more important than transportation.

Your administration has taken some positive steps in increasing vehicle fuel economy standards, but we need even more to achieve transformational change.

Holding a majority stake in one of the world’s largest auto makers, even if due to an historic anomaly, positions the U.S. government to directly advance the transformational changes we need. In addition to prodding the auto makers to do better through always-contentious and often-undermined regulatory processes, the government can and should direct GM to increase dramatically its investments in electric cars and other transformational technologies, and to make sure safety is not compromised with such new technologies.

The ability to direct such investments will decline as the U.S. share in GM declines.

Such direction makes even more sense given the second gift from TARP to GM in the bailout — a provision allowing GM to keep a $45 billion tax loss carry forward that normally is erased in restructuring. GM can avoid that amount in future tax liability on its profits.

4. Preserving our democracy from influence from unaccountable corporate entities

Whether by government directive or some very modest sense of propriety, GM suspended its lobbying and campaign contributions while undergoing the government rescue.

But now, outrageously, with the government still a majority shareholder, the company has resumed lobbying. To peruse GM’s lobby disclosure forms is to see a corporate entity working to shape policy on a broad range of issues, including: auto and truck safety, Wall Street reform, taxes, appropriations, climate change, fuel efficiency, trade (including trade agreements with Korea, Peru and Colombia, and negotiations at the World Trade Organization), and currency
valuation.

Why in the world is a majority government-owned — that is, publicly owned — entity permitted to lobby the U.S. Congress and executive agencies, often against your own administration’s legislative and policy positions, such as the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010 legislation to correct statutory deficiencies resulting in the Toyota debacle, presently pending in the House and Senate? With the ballot boxes barely counted, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (of which GM is a prominent member) is already reneging on fuel economy rules it agreed to with your administration less than two years ago.

The government as majority shareholder should not permit this to occur; and it should not permit its shareholding stake to be reduced in such a way that GM gains greater latitude to affect policymaking.

As the government was preparing its rescue of GM, we highlighted each of the concerns mentioned here, and urged that they be addressed as part of the rescue process. Those recommendations were, unfortunately, ignored. But it is not too late for the government to exercise its control of GM responsibly, and to advance vital public interest objectives. We urge you to act to suspend the IPO.

Sincerely,

Ralph Nader

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55 Comments on “Nader: Government Motors Forever!...”


  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Progressives would probably like the govt to own and manage most commerce in order to achieve social justice.
     
    They would perhaps leave the arts and fashion in private hands but have big plans for everything else based on the same labor/environment arguments presented by the Three Left Stooges in the article.

    • 0 avatar

      What’s I find fascinating about this this letter is that it basically summarizes the popular right-wing perception of Obama’s agenda re: the auto industry, and yet its authors are totally at odds with what the White House is actually doing. Could rumors of Obama’s ideological extremism be somewhat exaggerated?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Could rumors of Obama’s ideological extremism be somewhat exaggerated?
       
      Ya think?
       
      The American right as embodied by Republicans, Libertarians and Social Conservatives lives very much in an echo chamber where it assumes it’s the center, the Democrats (who are also right of center) are extreme leftists, and no one left of the Democrats exists.  It’s more a commentary on their own extremist nature than anything else.

      All you need to know about how left-wing Obama really is comes from how he and the Democrats have tried to throw Nader et al under the bus when they’ve exposed the mainstream party’s beholdence to corporatism.

      Nader is, for all intents, a Left-wing Tea Partier.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      Yes, President Obama did say the govt had no intention in long term ownership of GM. He also said similar things about getting of out ongoing wars, Gitmo, Patriot Act.
       
      He may just be picking which battles to fight but his oft stated belief that the US needs redistributive justice fits with the philosophy of Ditlow, Nader and Claybrook. Just look at the deal the Obama govt gave GM and the unions, the 20 year tax breaks…industrial planning throughout.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      “the Democrats (who are also right of center)”

      If you assume that the Democrats are right-wing, then of course Barack Obama is not a left-wing ideologue. But if you compare Obama to, for example, Bill Clinton, then he does tend more to the left and more to ideology than practicality.

      The main problem I have with Obama is that he is hard to pin down. After two years in office, I still have little idea what the man wants to do, and how he intends to do it. His health-care bill is a joke. And what else can he point to as an accomplishment?

      One good thing you can say about George Bush (and in my mind, it’s about the only good thing you can say about him) — you always knew where he stood, what he was trying to do, and how he was trying to do it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      If you assume that the Democrats are right-wing, then of course Barack Obama is not a left-wing ideologue

      And that’s a fair assumption.  Look at what his administration, as well as the party as a whole, actually do, versus what the Repubilcans accuse him of doing.  He’s right-of-centre on just about every issue.

      The thing is, there really is no American Political Left left, nor has there been since Carter.  There are a few social liberals, but save for Dennis Kucinich every single one of them is a corporatist.  American political discourse suffers for being one-sided: what progressive policies you do get are so badly compromised by corporate interests as to be worse than useless.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      “The thing is, there really is no American Political Left left, nor has there been since Carter.”

      That’s like saying everybody is above average. Like the children in Lake Wobegon.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I invite you to have a look at politicalcompass.org, and to look at the policies and actions of actual left-wing parties around the world (eg, the New Democrats in Canada, the SDP in Germany, the Social Democrats in Sweden) to see what Leftism actually entails.
       
      I would also encourage you to read Chris Hedges’ Death of the Liberal Class to help you understand the difference between “Liberal” as it’s used in the US, and “Leftist”, and why the Democrats might be Liberal on occasion but are pretty far from Leftist.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      If I say that Bushes 41 and 43 were big government one-worlder leftys, that doesn’t make it so (even if it’s true).  Just because Engels, I mean psarhjinian, says that Obama is right of center doesn’t make it so.  And since when does TTAC, especially the editor, opine about the president is further to the other side of whichever side he is supposed to be on?  This site seems to be slipping from its purview since the Eugene contingent took over (Eugene being the epicenter of balanced views on politics).
       
      And that is why I love the Bugatti Type 57 Atalante

    • 0 avatar

      Ed, it’s a long standing tactic in politics that radicals will ally with more moderate groups that have the same overarching agenda. One hand washes the other. The less radical group looks moderate by example and by coming under seeming attack from their own extreme flank they can deny being extremists. Just because Obama comes under attack from doctrinaire leftists like the Nader crowd doesn’t mean that they don’t carry the same water.
       
      It’s ideology free. My first experience seeing this was with the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry. In the late 1960s the SSSJ was considered by the Jewish establishment to be radical troublemakers. The establishment liked good relations with Washington, Washington wanted detente with the Soviets and the SSSJ’s protests were sand in those gears. So the Jewish establishment ignored or paid lip service to the cause of Soviet Jews.
      Then R’ Meir Kahane and the JDL started getting really radical, planting bombs, shooting buildings. A secretary in impresario Sol Hurok’s office was killed by a bomb (this was the height of cultural exchanges between the US and USSR).

      Compared to the JDL, the SSSJ looked moderate and they started making inroads into the Jewish establishment.
       
      I think that Stanley Kurtz makes a compelling argument that Obama is a leftist in Radical In Chief.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I think that Stanley Kurtz makes a compelling argument that Obama is a leftist in Radical In Chief.

      And if that’s the case, then I should be allowed to call the Tea Party out as protofascist, right?

      Again, this is the fundamental lack of perspective in American politics at work, and the result of three-quarters of a century of anti-Communist hysteria and two recent decades of conservative radicalization. Oh, and the Democrats selling out. It’s left the Right without little sense of perspective and no brakes.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      IMHO, For those who believe Obama is a radical, you’ll find little proof of it based on his actions (hanging around with radicals apparently doesn’t mean you are one yourself).  For those who think Obama is right of center, well, black is white and white is black.
       
      To date, Obama has shown he is firmly left of center and left of where Clinton started.  We’ll see if he moves more to the center as Clinton did.
       
      It’s quite likely GM will be back at the bailout trough again, as the structural and leadership changes that are performed in a true bankruptcy didn’t happen here.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Obama’s policies are comparable to Nixon’s.  That’s how far right things have shifted,  This cry of radicalism is based on something  other than facts.
       
      Nader is not a “lefty teabagger” in that he is not just a mouthpiece for inchoate rage.  He’s responsible for the clean air and water act which has, no doubt, saved tens of thousands of lives.  As well as auto safety regulations – remember the good old days when Ma’s head it the dashboard in a fenderbender and she died with a radio knob through her skull.
       
      What pisses me off about the right is that they deride policies from the left while benefiting from them. A thankless bunch.
       

    • 0 avatar

      I think that Stanley Kurtz makes a compelling argument that Obama is a leftist in Radical In Chief.
      And if that’s the case, then I should be allowed to call the Tea Party out as protofascist, right?

      Only if you can make as compelling a case as Stanley Kurtz has. If you can’t see the difference between making an outrageous charge with no evidence and making a serious charge and then providing the footnotes, that’s your problem.
      Other than being nationalistic, I don’t see any common ideologies between the Tea Party on one hand and Spanish, Italian, or German fascism on the other.

      and the result of three-quarters of a century of anti-Communist hysteria

      Yes, Mr. Duranty, tell the tens of millions of victims of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot that they were hysterical.

      It’s amazing how even after the Venona decrypts and the revelations of former Eastern Bloc spies, leftists are still in denial of the crimes of Communism.

      McCarthy, McCarthy, McCarthy.

      To use an appropriate phrase, have you no shame?

      I can catalog how Sen. McCarthy’s irresponsible actions set the cause of anti-communism back two decades. And I’m not very proud about the HUAC either, but you can’t even condemn Stalin and Mao’s murderous crimes. You demean the victims of Communism, both dead and still in the labor camps of China and prisons of Cuba, when you use the phrase “anti-Communist hysteria”. Tell you what, next time you decide to vacation in Havana, try to make a humanitarian visit to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, who sits in one of the Castro brothers’ jails. Maybe you can tell Dr. Biscet about “anti-Communist hysteria”.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      probert: Obama’s policies are comparable to Nixon’s.  That’s how far right things have shifted,  This cry of radicalism is based on something  other than facts.

      Contemporary scholarship correctly classifies Nixon as a liberal.
       
      probert: Nader is not a “lefty teabagger” in that he is not just a mouthpiece for inchoate rage.

      The Tea Party clearly wants less government spending and lower taxes. Those goals hardly represents “inchoate rage,” even if you prefer not to understand them.

      probert: He’s responsible for the clean air and water act which has, no doubt, saved tens of thousands of lives.  As well as auto safety regulations – remember the good old days when Ma’s head it the dashboard in a fenderbender and she died with a radio knob through her skull.

      The death rate per 100 million miles driven – the true measure of automobile safety – had been declining since the 1920s, before Nader was born (in 1934). At best, he helped continue a trend that was already happening. 

      He also supported the stupid 55 mph speed limit, which retarded automotive development and increased costs through unnecesary time spent on the road and undeserved speeding tickes. He opposed the repeal of the nationwide 65 mph speed limit in 1994, even though its repeal resulted in a drop in the fatality rate. So his record is mixed, at best.

      • 0 avatar
        2ronnies1cup

        ‘Hitler was a Socialist’, ‘Nixon was a Liberal’, ‘Obama is a Marxist’.

        Jeez Louise – I promised myself I’d bite my tongue, but some of the batsh1t insane whacko political revisionism coming out of the U.S. recently (not just on this forum, but it jarrs particularly badly here due to the otherwise impressively intelligent and considerate nature of the members) really and truly frightens me.

        Seriously.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Nader hated GM back when they actually had real engineers working for them (although the MBAs and unions were well into their “trash our company” mode).
    He loves GM now that all the real engineers have left and we have college dropouts and other idiots who’ve never run a business are working there.
    Fits, doesn’t it?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’ll just say I agree with Nader, and for the reasons he espouses, and leave it at that.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      I actually agree with his first two points. There is no way the taxpayers will get the best return with an early sell-off and with the sovereign wealth funds and China involved GM’s future in this country is nonexistent. Of course with the Fed propping up the stock markets with QEII we might be at a peak now. Eventually the bubble will burst and we will be in the same boat as we were in 2008. Government ownership is always bad but there is a fiduciary duty to make the best of the investment. But GM should have been allowed to die two years ago.

    • 0 avatar

      I strongly agree with Point #1, and partially agree with Point #2, though think that the UAW will do plenty, and then some, for the latter.

      But, yes, I’ve also come out repeatedly for prolonged government ownership. I don’t think it’s nearly time to take off the training wheels.

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    Fascinating letter.
     
    Nader’s right, though. The government spent $50 billion directly, and imposed indirect costs on others of at least that amount, to save GM from going through a normal bankruptcy. Like it or not, the government is stuck to a tar baby. No way can the government just let the IPO happen and pretend everything is back to normal.

    • 0 avatar
      FleetofWheel

      No the govt is not stuck. Bailing out of a bad investment to mitigate further losses or market distortions is very much an option.
       
      Sounds like you’d  keep paying on a health club membership in another state that you never use because the cancellation fee would be too high.
       
      So many on here fall prey to the same common investor delusion of sunk cost in regards to GM.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      I’m not saying the government is stuck. What I’m saying is that the government cannot do, as Steve Rattner is trying to do, is say that the bailout was a success and all is now rosy. The situation is a lot more complicated than that.
       
      Sort of like when George Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” after the invasion of Iraq. As if it were that easy.

    • 0 avatar

      George Bush never declared “Mission Accomplished”. That was a banner displayed by the carrier’s commander to his own sailors who had just finished a long deployment. Frankly, I doubt that Bush even knew about the banner till his plane landed on the deck.
       
      As political theater I thought him flying out to meet the fleet was grand. Unlike Dukakis in a tank, Bush has been at the stick in a real military jet. If I was president and a former pilot, I’d want to try a carrier landing myself. Hell, it’s far more presidential than sending my wife on a vacation to the Cote D’Azur.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      “That was a banner displayed by the carrier’s commander to his own sailors who had just finished a long deployment.”

      Not true. An embarrassed White House tried to claim that, but then had to admit that the banner was made and put up by the White House.

      George Bush was going to say “Mission Accomplished” in his speech. But Donald Rumsfeld saw a draft of the speech and took that out. Unfortunately no one stopped the banner.

      But that bit of history is not particularly important. My point is that you cannot take radical actions and expect the results to be simple. You invade and occupy a country (two countries in our case) and you cannot just say “let freedom reign” and walk away.

      It’s a bit of a stretch to compare the two, but I was comparing that to this: You bail out a private company to the tune of a $100 billion, and that action will echo down through history.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    The positive side to this proposal is that when implemented, any company will realize that being bailed out is *truly* painful… Right now, GM essentially just takes a wad of cash and is on its merry way, waving and shouting “until next time, uncle Sam!”.

  • avatar
    A is A

    Twentieth Century Motor Company

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    I agree with Nader’s take on the lobbying. Obviously since Obama’s always willing to put his "heel on the throats" of advesaries (oil drillers, Toyota, etc) when it suits him, he didn’t object to much to this cozy GM lobbying resumption very much.

    Other than that, I thought Ralph Nader was, well, "Not with us any more". Go figure.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Ralph Nader talking about cars is like the pope talking about sex.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Not exactly a novel suggestion:

    http://www.answers.com/topic/plumb-plan

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    This is nuts
    Why?
    Because his truth is circular.
    It’s fluid.
    It moves and dances around like a shadow.
    Eventually it comes around to bite you in the ass.

    This is where we have difficulty allowing our discussion from the Truth about cars to wander into THE truth.

    “the government can and should direct GM to increase dramatically its investments in electric cars and other transformational technologies, and to make sure safety is not compromised with such new technologies.”

    OK.
    Wait…what?

    Now what is it going to be?
    Return on investment or forcing changes in consumer activities and characteristics?
    Is it going to be jobs?
    Is it going to be the environment?
    Just what in tar nation are you wanting to save?

    Save me from all this wisdom.

    You can’t have both, since you can’t force success or taste.
    You can’t force birth control.
    You can’t force fairness.
    You can’t even define it. You won’t even permit it. If you really believed in fairness, you would be spending your awaken hours relieving others of suffering and want instead of saving money and purchasing materialistic things.

    “the government as majority shareholder should not permit this to occur; and it should not permit its shareholding stake to be reduced in such a way that GM gains greater latitude to affect policymaking.”

    I protest this “government” shareholder image to be tossed around as if it has any real shareholder characteristics.
    If I am a shareholder, I can make decisions as a shareholder.
    Do YOU feel like a shareholder of GM with any power or say whatsoever?
    You do?
    You think you can call your broker today and sell any shares? Can I vote on this GM investment thingy?
    No?
    Do you get information in the mail about anything at all a normal shareholder gets?
    No…because your not really a shareholder of GM.

    Not so many years ago, my dear friend lost his entire savings when Borden’s went bankrupt.
    His years of company investment and stock vanishing in thin air along with his dreams.
    Hundreds of people lost everything.
    Why was this man…all those unlucky Borden lifetime employees different from GM workers????

    To me, fairness is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    I am a shareholder in GM like I am a shareholder in the US Military.

    Please….

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nader has really fallen from his role as a car safety advocate to being a Dennis Kucinich grade fruitcake.

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    These people won’t be happy until we all drive their idea of a “car” or better yet, be forced into “public transportation” between our union jobs and our 1,000 sq. ft. solar powered apartments.  Nader lives like a trapist monk and wants the rest of us to do the same.  These people are dangerous.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Please read the letter again. This time, do your best to separate its words from your hatred of Nader. What he wrote has NOTHING to do with regulating cars out of existence or having us all live in cubes, as if that’s going to happen. It’s about not selling our investment short.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      Public transportation, a union job and a 1000 square foot apartment – this is your version of hell?  A lot of people would give their left nut for this – especially in a period of double digit unemployment – who are you, Marie frackin Antoinette?

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      Actually, Ralph Nader is pretty well off. I have not checked all of the facts in the summary reproduced below. But when Nader ran for president he did disclose that he had $3.5 million in stock. So I know that much is true.

      “Next consider Ralph Nader, the ultimate corporation basher and perennial candidate for the presidency (not to mention sainthood). Nader’s persona is that of the Spartan lefty, the “walk the walk not just talk the talk” opponent of the hideous corporate greed that dirties the soul of America. When he visited the Soviet Union back in the 1960s, he admired the lack of consumer products, and when he returned to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet system he was dismayed to hear people praising free market economics. To Nader, corporations are evil: they dominate governments, rig prices, sell dangerous and useless products, and generally hurt our standard of living.

      “But in his personal life, about which St. Ralph is very secretive, things are different. He lives well, using a D.C. mansion that he apparently owns (though the title is in his sister’s name), earns millions from speaking and writing, and invests in – big, multinational corporations! He has net assets of about $4 million, most of it in corporate stock, such as the $1 million he owns in Cisco Systems, not to mention his stocks in major defense contractors such as GE and IBM. He controls nonprofit organizations and trusts, all secretly run, with his family members on the governing boards. His charitable foundations give away 4% of their assets every year, the lowest amount possible to keep their IRS tax-exempt status. The remaining assets are also in corporate stock, including telecom monopolies such as Verizon, BellSouth, and Qwest.”

  • avatar

    Nader, Ditlow and Claybrook are parasites. They’ve never created a thing in their lives. Not a single safety feature, not a single emissions control. Almost every safety feature in cars today was developed by a big bad capitalist. Even Nader’s claim to fame, Corvair’s swing axles, were a known problem for decades before he made them his hobby horse.
     
    Truth is that when government owns companies, pollution goes up, not down.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Almost every safety feature in cars today was developed by a big bad capitalist

      And, on much more than one occasion, they were dragged kicking and screaming into making it available.  Yes, capitalism can innovate.  Capitalism can also collude, stall, monopolize, obfuscate and generally act against what’s good for society as a whole as long as it’s profitable to do so.

      I’m glad people like Nader exist.  You may not agree with them, but they’re one of the few checks on coporate power that we have, and we have fewer every day. Again, that mainstream Democrats have worked so hard to marginalize him should tell you what a thorn in the side he is of business.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      No offense Ronnie, but you come off sounding like a Reagan-era B-Schooler hyped up on too much Ayn Rand. Please ask yourself if the points of Nader’s letter would sound any better if it came from Warren Buffett or Carl Icahn? They typically ask management the same kinds of questions, just from a different perspective.
       
      Make no mistake, this IPO is about global finance, not building good cars, Detroit’s future or North American manufacturing. Very rich entities and people are about to get richer, and probably at our expense. Past and recent history has proven time and again that Big Money shouldn’t be left to its own devices. Why shouldn’t the US Government to be smarter about our investment than the British were 30-40 years ago? That’s why these questions need answers.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      Capitalism can also collude, stall, monopolize, obfuscate and generally act against what’s good for society as a whole as long as it’s profitable to do so.

       

      psarhjinian

      That’s bad people doing bad things. I don’t suppose you would blame guns , stones or knives for their use in deaths as well.

      Once again, Nader is, in fact like every single one of us, a hypocrite. The only difference is I know I am.
      I know I want materialistic things.
      I want my family to have more than the next.
      I want my kids to be happier, richer, safer…I could go on. 

      But I know enough to stand in awe of those who create, invent and make my life so much more pampered as a result.
      I am a proud consumer.
      Nader is a self appointed reverend or tribal medicine man.  His peyote vision will protect the consumer from the evil business.
      Nader feeds off the efforts of others.
      The easiest job of all is to make sure others work hard or stand in judgment of the work of others.
      That’s what Nader is…a know-it-all yet-do-nothing do-gooder.

      Nader cannot justify, nor can anybody on this blog, that the government was just in its random capital involvement in the recent bailouts…those of Wall street or Detroit. To many suffer from failure in this country without such aid.

      This reminds me of the scene in Blazing Saddles where the black sheriff holds a gun to his own head and warns everybody off or he’ll shoot himself.
      And just like to fools in the movie…we all were frightened into giving our money.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    In my home, a surefire way to start a fight with my beloved – a strong believer in the power of good government – is to say that Ralph Nader outlived his usefulness 25 years ago. He’s one of her icons.
     
    I have to say that this time old Ralphie Boy makes enough sense to outweigh my dislike of him. Karesh, Contrarian, Mike AR, psarhjinian and Daanii2 — clearly a free-market guy — all understand that those old Leftie vs. Free Market arguments don’t apply here.  Lately, what used to be the “Left” has been acting a whole lot more capitalistic and resourceful than “Big Business” in its unending addiction to corporate welfare.
     
    The GM IPO has come too fast and too soon. Too many questions are unanswered. What, if any, long-term role will Akerson play? What is the role of the firm he’s closely aligned with, The Carlyle Group? Their history with multiple interlocking directories of global governments and corporate entities are unsavory at best, and should be enough to give GM’s majority shareholder pause.  Why did Ed Whitacre really resign?
     
    I understand that the 2009 bailout was shoved down the throats of GM and Chrysler’s creditors. They took pennies on the dollar. Now they are getting orchestra seats to the liveliest IPO in ages and stand to make back those losses many times over.
     
    In this scenario, we’re in the catbird seat. Is it wrong to be skeptical, slow down the process and question whether We, The People are all being snookered? Shouldn’t we be playing a cool hand instead of being happy with only a $5 billion loss? It’s not as if were about to find out that GM’s financials are actually way below……oops, did I give away the whole shell game? Sorry, my bad.
     
    Seriously, there are merits to Nader’s argument.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Almost every safety feature in cars today was developed by a big bad capitalist
    And, on much more than one occasion, they were dragged kicking and screaming into making it available.  Yes, capitalism can innovate.  Capitalism can also collude, stall, monopolize, obfuscate and generally act against what’s good for society as a whole as long as it’s profitable to do so.
    I’m glad people like Nader exist.  You may not agree with them, but they’re one of the few checks on coporate power that we have, and we have fewer every day. Again, that mainstream Democrats have worked so hard to marginalize him should tell you what a thorn in the side he is of business.
     
    Psarhjinian:  I usually agree with your posts, and this one is no exception.  In fact, this beautifully states exactly the truth.  Virtually all meaningful emission, safety, and efficiency improvements were driven by regulation.  It’s even better when the improvements become so ingrained in the mindset of consumers that they become marketing assets.
     

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Me too. Well said.
       
      There’s always someone yelling “get the guvmint off our backs” but consider this — there were no clean air and water acts before 1970. As bad as the environmental situation is now, where would the past two generations — regardless of political or social affiliation — be without those net gains? In all likelihood, a lot more of us would have died an unnecessarily early death.
       
      Yeah, regulation is imperfect, but unregulated “free market” capitalism as practiced before Theodore Roosevelt’s time isn’t a very enticing 21st Century option either.
       

    • 0 avatar

      Okay, there actually is a laboratory test between what the environment is like, how bad pollution gets when there are few government regulations in a free market society that respects property rights, and when there is a society where the government has absolute control of business.
       
      The first condition describes the United States pretty well before the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, RCRA, SARA, CFR 49 etc et al. When I took a course on the history of environmental law, the professor made the point that even before those laws were passed, the environment in the US was still protected to an extent by local and state ordinances, nuisance laws and property rights. If a company polluted your land, you still had recourse in the courts. To be sure, these were limited solutions, hence the legislation, but compare what the environment in the US circa 1968 (when the Clean Air Act was passed, if I recall correctly) to a country where the government tells businesses what to do 100% of the time.
       
      That society would be the USSR. Interestingly, the free market society with few government controls on business had far less pollution than the communist society where government has all the power they need to make “business” and industry do whatever gov’t wants in terms of environmental controls.
       
      Ecocide In The USSR was written in the early 1990s, just after the Iron Curtain fell. The authors describe large areas that were made wastelands by Soviet “policy”, which basically meant that state enterprises just dumped raw effluent. But then what would you expect from a gov’t that scuttles nuke subs that end up irradiating fish?
       
      I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s in Detroit when they still made steel in the Rouge Complex and on Zug Island (we pointed out all the smokestacks on our the BobLo Boat). The same industrial infrastructure dumped waste right into the Detroit River. But as bad as pollution was in the US in the 1960s, it never approached the dead zones created by the Soviets.
       
      So both extremes have been tried. It turns out that your extreme is worse for the environment than a laissez faire society.

    • 0 avatar
      LimpWristedLiberal

      Yeah ronnie I tell ya what, I call Nancy Pelosi a b–ch and and next thing ya know they send me to the fu–en gulag.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    Nader’s points 1 and 3 are incompatible. You can go for the money or the social goals, but not both. The money option requires building the types of cars customers want, with a reasonable level of quality, at a price they can afford. Nader has always wanted cars to be portable padded cells that everyone drives at a snail’s pace. Now, he has added high gas mileage to his wish list. The problem is that no one outside his little circle wants such cars and certainly won’t pay premium prices for them. Therefore, they will have to be mandated or heavily subsidized (e.g. the Volt) and the company that builds them cannot be profitable.
     
    Point 2 is simply protectionism. Economists have known for centuries that it makes things worse, not better. The best CEO I ever worked for told us repeatedly that the only economic security we could ever find was to outrun the competition. And they won’t wait for us get get our butts in gear.
     
    Point 4 is a joke. Corporate entities are very accountable; they succeed or go bankrupt. That’s unless they have a benevolent government to bail them out so that they can continue screwing up. The least accountable entity in society is big government.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    Liberal Parasites like Nader should never be allowed to exist in civil society…He is no different than a common Mugger or Rapist since he feels entitled to other people’s lives and earnings…He is more tapeworm or mosquito than he is human.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    “ Preserving our democracy …”
    They mean preserving Progressive democracy.
    Democracy as interpreted by liberals.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Aaron & Roger – Go back to watching Faux News….Beck’s sponsor has a deal on gold if you hurry!

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