Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Three Sons

This article is not actually about my sons. The title is an intro to the metaphor I’ll use to describe the dangers of government interference in the free market as it relates to the auto industry. Besides, I liked the TV show.

I actually do have three sons. Let’s say that they each independently operate businesses that compete with each other to provide the same products and services. Let’s further say that, while operating their businesses in difficult economic times, two of the three businesses find themselves teetering on the brink of failure.

Continuing this scenario, the sons facing these dire consequences – knowing how much I love them and want them to succeed – come to me for help. They each remind me of the noble ambitions with which they started their businesses and the successes that they’ve had over the years. They also admit to the failures in foresight that have led to their predicaments. But they both plea on behalf of their families, and their workers, and their worker’s families, and their customers, and the workers and families of their suppliers – all of whom would be devastated by the failure of their businesses.

Tell me, just what is a poor caring father to do? Should I dive right in with everything I’ve got in an effort to save my sons and all of those who are dependent upon them? Or should I as they say, “keep it real” and remind them of the big ugly real world picture that shows that they and the ones they care about don’t exist in a vacuum, and that any action I take on their behalf affects not only them but the rest of reality as well?

Should I point out to them that they have a brother whose business is also facing tough times and yet is not at my door seeking salvation. Should I point out that any help I give to them would in essence give them a competitive advantage over their brother, and those he cares about, who is just as deserving of my love, loyalty, and help as they are? Should I remind them of just how unfair it is for them to put me in such a position in the first place?

What’s a poor caring father to do? What’s a government to do? The fact is that GM and Chrysler are crying for help and Ford is not. I don’t pretend to have any economics expertise, but it’s clear to me that Ford has more faith in it’s efforts to survive these hard times than does Chrysler and GM. It’s also clear to me that the taxpayer monies being used to help GM and Chrysler comes from every taxpayer, including those who work for and/or invest in Ford. You do the math.

I want ice water.

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