Logic is in short supply these days, but there are still rational, thinking people out there writing columns, making statements, and talking sense . . . the trick is finding them. While many American politicos in Congress, the White House, the media, and the blogosphere have gone on an incredible ‘bailout bonanza’, committing your and my tax dollars to all kinds of crazy, counterproductive causes without hardly a second thought, we really need to sit back, take a breath, and look at these things in a rational context.
Bernard Avishai is doing that with regard to Ford, GM, and Chrysler’s shameful begging for large amounts of tax dollars to counteract their own mistakes. In a column that appeared in today’s Washington Post, he makes a case not for a bailout (though he does not necessarily oppose one) but instead for a sea-change in how the ‘big three’ operate.
I certainly don’t agree with all of Avishai’s proposals. First, any government money or government equity investment (in reality, a partial nationalization) must be absolutely off-the-table. The ‘big three’ dug their own hole, and they alone have an obligation to find their way out of it. Second, I don’t agree with his proposed patent changes since they would potentially stifle rather than increase innovation as companies will be fearful of their competitors benefiting from their good ideas.
Having said that, Avishai’s core thesis is right: we can’t scream “NEED MONEY NOW” and wave our arms around, we need to look at the real problems and the ‘big three’ U.S. automakers need to find real solutions.