I find myself in no-man’s land defending (almost) the unimaginable action of a government official firing the CEO of a publicly owned company. Stormed at with shot and shell, liberals to the left of me, conservatives to the right of me, I hunker down in my foxhole and remind you of what Cal Coolidge said when the Brits whined about their World War I debt: “They hired the money, didn’t they?”
If the bondholders had “taken a haircut” (the current Wall Street jargon), it might not have happened. Certainly if the rapacious UAW had shown some mercy – maybe not even on bread and butter wages but only on healthcare – Richard Wagoner would still be screwing up and building 300,000 battlefield-size SUVs a year. But screw up he did.
Of course, his culpability is not the question. He works for the board of GM and ultimately a million or so shareholders, not for Obama and his minions. (Hmm, but as 01′ Cal said, they did take the money – and for money you always get power.) And I wonder if reptile-green Obama let his bigotry over those monstrous fuming SUVs get out of hand …
Further, GM belongs to the shareholders, and the Head SUV Builder works for them – not for the Man of a Thousand Faces.
But trouble is, their acceptance of the government money in a sense represented the sale of their prerogatives. At any time during the ride through Hell, the company could have reasonably chosen bankruptcy and dumped the taint of governmental interference for the rule of law. Obama-UAW would have hated that, though it still may happen. But it might have been better sooner than later.