The Tenuous Balance in Owning GM

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), June 3, 2009 | Go to article overview

The Tenuous Balance in Owning GM


For ages, people have ben crying out for government to operate more like a business. Now, it appears, federal officials will get some inside experience in what that means.

Introducing your new auto company, General Motors.

GMs official descent this week into long-predicted bankruptcy sets up a critical test not just of the Obama administration, but also of the nature of our capitalism. Even if as a nation, we may have long since given up on Thomas Paines famous epithet that "that government is best that governs least," no one can feel too good about the government owning a car company.

The Obama experiment, we are promised, will be different and will be short. Lets hope so. For already, the key indicators do not seem to bode well for the separation of commerce and state. Weve ordered the removal of the corporations chairman, expressed plans to replace most of its board of directors, dictated profit goals and second-guessed the very restructuring of dealerships we ordered the company to institute. No doubt, GMs announcement of impending plant closings will result in new rounds of partisan squabbling and, even more debilitating, political sectionalism as elected officials race to spare plants and operations that have more to do with their home districts than with the overall health of the company.

To be sure, rescuing GM from financial ruin is a justifiable goal. But just as important as rescuing the company is the value of letting the business run as a business by people who know the business. …

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