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Government Motors?

March 30, 2009 - Steve Murch
So has the government gotten into the auto manufacturing game?

It’s sad to see the White House pressure the head of a company to step down, not because GM CEO Rick Wagoner shouldn’t leave, but because it sets a bad precedent. Most of the people who follow the auto industry have said it probably was time for Wagoner to step down, but the government shouldn’t be the one making that decision.

What happens if Wal-Mart suddenly goes into a tailspin? Is the president going to ask the Walton family to give up control of the company? Wal-Mart employees more people than GM.

General Motors is a publicly traded company and the shareholders, board of directors, employees and even the public at large should be the ones who decide that fate.

While President Obama has pushed the executives at AIG to give back their bonuses, he hasn’t asked them to step down. The difference, of course, is that AIG has all of its bailout money, whereas GM doesn’t so the White House can put pressure on it for change.

It has been less than five months since the executives of the Big Three asked for financial help. In the eyes of the White House, they haven’t been fast enough to respond. Never mind that the economy is in the tank, they haven’t been fast enough.

Sure, maybe it was time for Wagoner to go. But a little discretion (and better timing) might have gone a long way.

The auto industry wasn’t going to heal itself in five months, just like the American economy isn’t going to recover in five months. In fact, the auto industry likely won’t recover until AFTER the U.S. economy starts its recover. Since Obama set the precedent, if the economy isn’t fixed in five months should we pressure him to resign? It’s a stupid question, but the president’s push for Wagoner’s ouster wasn’t much smarter.


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