With depression now a genuine risk, the U.S. has wisely put practicality ahead of idealogy.
Saturday, December 20, 2008; Page D01
At any other time, the day that the federal government stepped in to rescue the domestic auto industry would be a turning point in the history of American capitalism. The only reason it is not is that it was immediately preceded by similar rescues of Bear Stearns, Fannie and Freddie, AIG, and Citigroup. It was just another day in Bailout Nation.
Let’s be clear on one point, however: The story here is not that Americans have lost their stomach for the kind of “creative destruction” that is generated by open and competitive markets, which sometimes results in the big companies going under and thousands of jobs being lost. We never particularly relished it — who would? — but we tolerated it in the past, we are still tolerating it now (Circuit City, Lehman Brothers), and we will undoubtedly tolerate it in the future. Moreover, even when the government steps in to rescue these companies, it invariably involves a serious and painful restructuring that results in the loss of thousands and even tens of thousands of jobs. That’s not how you define bailout in French.
Workers leave the Daimler Chrysler North Assembly Jeep plant in Toledo,Ohio after their shift Friday, Dec. 19, 2008. Autoworkers took home an early holiday gift Friday with President Bush’s offer of $17.4 billion in emergency loans to beleaguered U.S. car makers.(AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero)