Government Motors

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on March 31, 2009

Last year, satirist extraordinaire Iowahawk wrote up some fake 1970's-era ad copy for Congressional Motors.

All new for 2012, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the mandatory American car so advanced it took $100 billion and an entire Congress to design it. We started with same reliable 7-way hybrid ethanol-biodeisel-electric-clean coal-wind-solar-pedal power plant behind the base model Pelosi, but packed it with extra oomph and the sassy styling pizazz that tells the world that 1974 Detroit is back again -- with a vengeance.

We've subsidized the features you want and taxed away the rest. With its advanced Al Gore-designed V-3 under the hood pumping out 22.5 thumping, carbon-neutral ponies of Detroit muscle, you'll never be late for the Disco or the Day Labor Shelter. Engage the pedal drive or strap on the optional jumbo mizzenmast, and the GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition easily exceeds 2016 CAFE mileage standards. At an estimated 268 MPG, that's a savings of nearly $1800 per week in fuel cost over the 2011 Pelosi.

What was funny then became a heck of a lot more serious yesterday when President Barack Obama -- an accomplished former automotive executive -- said that the plans presented by General Motors and Chrysler weren't good enough.

Obama may be right. The plans may be unrealistically optimistic and doomed to failure. Like many others, I thought the first bailout of the automakers was a mistake and that they should've gone into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I'm not a supporter of the idea that some companies are "too big" or "too important" to fail. Going into bankruptcy doesn't mean that all GM and Chrysler dealers will close their doors tomorrow, or that your factory warranty is no longer any good. Instead it would allow the companies to get out from under some of their unsustainable labor contracts and trim down and compete.

Instead, President Obama went so far yesterday as to say the federal government would back the manufacturers warrantees. Under exactly what constitutional authority Obama was using to make that declaration was unclear -- and no one seemed troubled enough to bother to ask it.

Background briefings on the ouster of GM CEO Rick Wagoner seemed to suggest that the Obama administration's auto task force may be more interested in forcing GM to make "eco-friendly" automobiles rather than ones people are actually interested in buying.

Wagoner joined GM in 1977, has had a senior role in GM management since 1992, and became CEO of the company in 2000. He is considered responsible for increasing GM's focus on trucks and SUVs—at the expense of the hybrids and fuel efficient cars that have become more popular in the last couple of years.

But have those cars really become more popular in the last couple of years or were they briefly popular when gas prices neared $5 a gallon? Once gas prices started back down, sales of SUVs and trucks rebounded.

I don't know what the right answer for the continued success of GM is -- small hybrid vehicles or SUVs and trucks -- but I'm pretty sure the answer is a combination of both. I'm worried that government bureaucrats will put the president's interest in "green" technology above that of actually selling automobiles and we'll end up with billions of taxpayer dollars wasted and no GM or Chrysler to boot. Only the government can bring you the worst of both worlds.

The government has a place in the capitalist marketplace -- to lay down the ground rules and make sure everyone abides by them. When the government takes off the referee's jersey and starts coaching certain players or allowing some players to continue playing with five fouls and not others, that's when everyone starts getting in trouble.

President Obama believes he can fix this. Of course, he hasn't been successful at "fixing" anything up to this point in his life, so one wonders if he is buying into his own hype.

In the end, the marketplace will figure all of this out -- no matter what the government does. The question we face is how many tax dollars will be thrown down the rathole before our enlightened political class figures this out.

0 comments on “Government Motors”

  1. Was it just me or did Obama's hawking of the government entering the auto warranty business seem to diminish the office of the President? He reminded me of one of those pitchmen on a late night infomercial.


Worth remembering that 427,205 Georgia Republicans refused to vote in two 2021 runoff elections because their then president and state GOP chairman told them the runoffs were going to be stolen. Made this legislation possible.

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