Rick Haglund writes a column that appears in the Business/Jobs section of the Sunday Kalamazoo Gazette. But it’s almost always a lot more about government than business.
His article in today’s print section is headlined: “Wagoner exit will force automakers to fix problems fast.” The online version is headlined: “Obama lays out capitalistic path for General Motors, Chrysler.”
Both headlines reflect the content of Haglund’s article. (This is not always the case in the Gazette). And both are wrong.
Those who believe President Barack Obama is a socialist are now convinced of it after he sacked General Motors Corp. Chairman Rick Wagoner and told Chrysler LLC to finish its deal with Fiat SpA in 30 days, or else.
Nonsense. What Obama did may have little precedent in U.S. corporate history. But someone needed to force GM and Chrysler to get real about fixing their problems–and fast.
Personally, I think it’s stupid to get hung up on the socialist label. But it’s simply not true that forcing GM and Chrysler to fix their problems fast says one thing or another about whether Obama is socialist.
And if Haglund really wanted the companies to fix their problems fast, he would have opposed Bush’s bailout back when Bush was president. At the time, opponents of the move were pointing out that the bailout would only delay the inevitable. Now the inevitable is making its agonizing approach, and people are justifying the Bush-Obama behavior by saying the companies need to act faster. The markets would already have forced fast behavior changes if only the Rick Haglunds of the world would have been willing to allow markets to work.
Back at the time of the first bailouts, the opponents were saying that there is always bankruptcy to deal with these things. Bush and the Democrats were opposed. So we got the bailouts and we got a new Putin-like precedent for takeover of corporations, and now Obama is threatening GM and Chrysler with bankruptcy to make them change faster. We already had that threat without the new and dangerous precedents, if only Bush-Obama had been willing to let it take the course they are now forcing on GM and Chrysler.
And to add error to injury, Haglund says Obama is acting like a capitalist.
But in pushing a gold, risky restructuring plan, Obama is acting more like a capitalist than the capitalists who would like the government to keep them in business for as long as it takes.
This of course is nonsense. The capitalist approach is what Bush and Obama have hindered. They were the ones trying to keep the businesses alive, and they said so at the time. It is simply not true that capitalists are the ones who insist that the government keep them in business. GM’s capitalists, perhaps, but not capitalists in general.
I presume the Gazette doesn’t have a fact-checking department, or this last paragraph of Haglund’s would never have been allowed to stand.