Sunday, March 29, 2009

White House Tells GM President To Resign?

I'm not sure I like where this is going. Actually, I'm quite sure I don't like where this is going:

General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, administration officials said Sunday. The news comes as President Obama prepares to unveil additional restructuring efforts designed to save the domestic auto industry.

I understand the argument that, for national security reasons, we need a domestic car industry. I'm still mulling over whether or not I agree with that argument, but let's accept it for a moment.

Why should we believe that Washington can run a car company better than a car company?

Who is the US President to tell a private company who its President should be? That should be the job of the Board of Directors.

From whence does this authority come; was it one of the strings attached to the bailout money? If so, my first question remains unanswered.

The President seems to want to nationalize a lot of companies, and have even stricter regulations on even more. That strict regulation and heavy taxation hasn't shielded Europe or the Far East from the effects of this recession; that tells me that alleviating the effects of the recession is not what these changes are all about. The recession is only an excuse for the government to usurp private property and increase its own authority.

George, Tom, Ben, and the rest of the Founders would not be pleased.


neko said...

Maybe he is getting ready to start producing an economical, enviromentally friendly car for the average American. A "people's car" if you will.

(This snark brought to you by Volkswagen - the only good thing to come out of Nazi Germany.)

Darren said...

Not entirely true. Hitler also had paths built along all the rivers and around all the lakes in Germany. Good for exercise--and for getting a little lebensraum of your own!

Ellen K said...

If this isn't the ramp up to nationalizing the auto industry, I don't know what is. And they've done SO well with Amtrak, the postal service and such.

Law and Order Teacher said...

It would seem we are well on our way to nationalizing all the major industries (for now) in the country. But, really, it's not socialism.

David said...

Part of the problem here is that everything is being done on an ad hoc basis rather than thru legislation which would have generall applicability. We already have a way to deal with companies in distress: it's called the bankruptcy process. If there are problems with this, they should be addressed systematically, not by having the executive and legislative branches deal with each situation as it comes up.

The ad hoc basis *is* better, of course, if one's objective is to extract the maximum submissiveness and tribute from the private sector.

mazenko said...

Away from paranoid conspiracy land and back to the world of rational thought - there is absolutely no way the government of the United States is nationalizing the auto industry, or any industry for that matter. It isn't going to happen. It never will. Does anyone forget that half the country voted against the current administration, and the many independents who did support him aren't socialists?

The government is committing money to support, even prop up, what it considers to be a vital industry. For the most part this makes sense, and it has been done before. The bailout of the S&L industry was logical, rational, effective, and did not nationalize banking. Even Sweden - socialist stronghold - took over its banks short term and then divested itself when they were solvent.

"Who is the US President to tell a private company who its President should be?"

The President shouldn't when the private company is acting privately. However, when public funds are involved it is a perfectly reasonable request. The President is not just randomly making this request. And the Board of GM doesn't have any more credibility than the government does at this point.

I believe in smaller government government, but I am not irrational enough to buy into the "government is evil, it's always incompetent, it's always the problem" hysteria. That's simply not true and it doesn't add any insight to the argument.

Steve USMA '85 said...

Wagoner was the Chairman & CEO since 2000. Nine years. In my book, he has had plenty of time to restructure and get the company viable and competitive against the competition. He didn't. That the board of directors didn't ask him to leave is a strike against them as mazenko states. If they didn't dump him, then I can blame the major creditor (the US Gov) to insist on it.

Darren said...

Lileks had an interesting thought on the topic:

mazenko said...

"President fires CEO" is a bit hysterical. Other than an anonymous source who says the administration insisted on Waggoner's resignation "if" they wanted more money, the more logical explanation is that it was recommended, if only for PR purposes, and Waggoner agreed to step down.

For those out there who still don't know what socialism is - and are apparently hunkering down in the garage with guns and canned goods to fend of the 'guvment revenuers' - EJ Dionne has a nice piece in the Post today.

Nick said...

"Who is the US President to tell a private company who its President should be? That should be the job of the Board of Directors."

Isn't he the man who'll be funding the private company? If he's the creditor, it doesn't sound unreasonable for him to create that kind of ultimatum.

allen (in Michigan) said...

and since my comment to Mike didn't go through I'll take a swipe at Lileks whose most entertaining when he's being a wise guy, as in that tweet and least worth reading.

Darren said...

I've approved all the comments coming through and haven't seen a previous one from you on this topic.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Sorry, I should've been clearer. I got a error of some kind from blogger that ate my comment. I was some annoyed, fired off a nastygram to Blogger which, I've no doubt, will quickly escalate to the highest stratum of the Blogger managerial hierarchy.

allen (in Michigan) said...

For what it's worth Mike we've been down this road of carefully separating the many, delicately-varied shades of socialism and as I remarked then, if it slithers on it's belly and has a rattle on its tail I'm not all that concerned with whether it's the comparatively rare and retiring Grand Canyon rattlesnake or the aggressive Diamondback rattlesnake, the crucial identification's been made.

Just because Obama's particular brand of socialism doesn't include a Khmer Rouge-like remaking of society via the simple expedient of killing everyone standing in the way of the glorious future he envisions doesn't make what he has in mind in more palatable. It's still socialism, it's still predestined to fail and it's still a means by which liberty and freedom can be reduced to the advantage of those above the law.

P.S. I'm writing this on my text editor and copy-pasting it into Blogger. Feh on their "Internet" pipes!

rightwingprof said...

Mazenko, look up the word "Boolean." Socialism, despite what apologists like Dione claim, is not Boolean. Any program that redistributes wealth (steals money from those who work for it to give it away to those who do not) is socialist. And "fires CEO" is neither hysterical, nor inaccurate.

Now please point to the clause in the Constitution that gives the Federal government the power to hire, fire, or otherwise meddle in the affairs of the private sector (and "they've done it for years" is not an acceptable answer).

mazenko said...


While I enjoy your comments and your website, I know anyone who refers to taxation as "stealing" is not participating in rational discussion. That is, of course, a shame because much of your content is quite insightful. Socialism is government control of the production - Britain's control of transportation, mining, and various forms of manufacturing was socialist. Financial support for ailing industries, basically a subsidy, is not. Regulation of interstate trade is one way of constitutionally "meddling" in private affairs, especially when the company asks for the money and the meddling.

By the way, I really enjoyed the link to Mike Rowe's speech from the TED/Maggie's Farm site. It was brilliant, and it speaks to much of my thinking and writing about education over the past decade. I really like what New Hampshire is doing with a push for graduation at sixteen for students entering associates programs and trade schools.

However, I am never able to post comments on your site. It seems to register, and then the comment disappears. When I try to re-post, I get a message that says I already posted. Yet, my comments never appear. Any thoughts.

Thanks for the discussion. I have really enjoyed many of your posts on English education and composition/grammar over the years.