06/01/09 — A sad day, really: GM's troubles a predictable, yet disturbing, development

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A sad day, really: GM's troubles a predictable, yet disturbing, development

Most people probably saw today's bankruptcy filing by General Motors coming many, many months ago. So, the announcement itself is probably no great shock.

But when you think about its implications -- and you realize that American taxpayers now have a pretty significant stake in the company -- you might wonder just when the next shoe is going to fall.

There is reason to be sad. This was a once-great example of American industrial prowess that has employed hundreds of thousands of American workers over its many decades of existence. To think that we might be witnessing the first steps of its demise is disturbing at best -- and a significant milestone in history.

No one really knows how all this is going to turn out. It is possible that bankruptcy will allow GM to change some of the factors that have made it unable to compete effectively -- expensive union contracts, unbelievable pension liabilities and other costs of doing business that have been allowed to proceed unchecked.

But in the meantime, we, its new part-owners, need to be careful.

The last thing that any American company needs is for the government to start telling it what to do to recover from a slump. Bureaucrats with no concept of the reality of the marketplace in charge of a for-profit enterprise will spell its doom. They cannot even run the government-owned agencies on a break-even budget, how can they be expected to compete in the auto market?

So remaining vigilant to decisions that are being made and who is in charge of those decisions is in our best interest as taxpayers.

There is not enough money left in the U.S. Treasury to invest in anything but a solid, well-researched and well-managed plan. And nowhere in that definition will the words "government-run auto industry" appear.

Published in Editorials on June 1, 2009 10:17 AM