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Ed Driscoll

GE: We Bring Bad Karma to Life

April 24th, 2014 - 11:56 am

Like The Matrix, I’ve seen this movie before as well. It’s one of central leitmotifs of Amity Shlaes’s The Forgotten Man, her brilliant 2007 history of the New Deal’s long and painful impact on the country.* As Shlaes summarized in a 2011 Bloomberg News column, one of the reasons why America had a “Great” — read: interminably long lasting — Depression was an enormous sense of uncertainty in the minds of business owners as to what deleterious laws were going to come next from the entrenched and capricious Roosevelt administration:

The second under-discussed issue is what scholar Robert Higgs has called “regime uncertainty.” Roosevelt’s victory in 1936 had been so convincing that people believed he might do anything. FDR reinforced this suspicion with an inaugural address so aggressive that modern presidential advisers would never allow it on the teleprompter. Roosevelt told the nation he sought in government “an instrument of unimagined power.” That scared markets and small businesses.

Roosevelt relished hunting down big firms through regulatory action and blaming new sectors, such as utilities, for slowdowns — on some days. Other days, he invited business leaders into the Oval Office and talked about partnership and a “breathing spell.”

This inconsistency itself posed a problem. The diary of an Ohio lawyer named Daniel Roth, which was recently republished, captures the pervasive anxiety of the period. “We are having a bad steel strike in Youngstown and the mills have closed,” Roth wrote on June 22, 1937. “The state and federal governments seem to support the labor unions and there has been a complete breakdown of law and order. Business is very quiet.”

From the U.K., John Maynard Keynes wrote to FDR that it was all right to nationalize utilities or to leave them alone — but what, Keynes asked, was “the object of chasing the utilities around the lot every other week?””

Shortly before he took office, Time magazine declared Mr. Obama the second coming of FDR. Curiously, they meant it as a compliment, not realizing it was a warning of similar economic disasters to come.

* Coming next month in a “graphic novel” edition, a brilliant use of that format.

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Top Rated Comments   
Immelt is an A-hole. If GE's bottom line had improved due to DemocratCare, he'd be praising it to the sky and egging the Democrats on to socialize more of every American's life.

Screw Immelt, GE, and every individual and company that supports suffocating the liberty of Americans. GE can go to hell -- I couldn't care anymore if they went kapput.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
We are observing a repeat of history. German industries such as Messerschmidt and Henckel (aircraft manufacturers) got in bed with Hitler just as GE and GM have got in bed with Obama. This is fascism (crony capitalism) at its best (worst?).
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do no business with GE.

I buy no GE products. I tell everyone that I will not purchase GE products. Everyone.

Buy nothing with "GE" on it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (27)
All Comments   (27)
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17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Crony Capitalism = Fascism. What else is new?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama (and FDR before him) wants the power to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants to do it. That is the definition of capriciousness. That is the whim of men, and is the opposite of the rule of law.
*That* is why there's so much economic uncertainty...it is by design.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
What's good for [insert company name here] is good for America.
Might I suggest reversing the rationale, at least to some extent.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Methinks that GE CEO Jeff Immelt underestimated the uncertainty of candidate and then President Obama to act predictably (by GE standards).
When you get in bed with a political figure, it doesn't mean you don't get screwed.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Somebody at GE miscalculated. If I must buy short-lived corkscrew fluorescent bulbs, I don't have to buy the overpriced Chinese made GE-branded ones. There are other, less-pricey brands.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Not sure what GE was aiming at pushing high efficiency light bulbs, but they seem to AWOL in lamp technology these days.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Immelt is an A-hole. If GE's bottom line had improved due to DemocratCare, he'd be praising it to the sky and egging the Democrats on to socialize more of every American's life.

Screw Immelt, GE, and every individual and company that supports suffocating the liberty of Americans. GE can go to hell -- I couldn't care anymore if they went kapput.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Screw Immelt, GE, and every individual and company that supports suffocating the liberty of Americans. GE can go to hell -- I couldn't care anymore if they went kapput.[sic]"

The 300,000 employees of GE who generate $146 billion revenue per year were not available for comment. Probably because they're all out looking for jobs after the company went "kapput."

Good way to maintain your perspective.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once again the truth of an old proverb is confirmed:

Quien con perros se echa, con pulgas se levanta.
If you lie down with dogs, you will rise up with fleas.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
We are observing a repeat of history. German industries such as Messerschmidt and Henckel (aircraft manufacturers) got in bed with Hitler just as GE and GM have got in bed with Obama. This is fascism (crony capitalism) at its best (worst?).
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep. Just like Chrysler (M-1 Abrams) and Boeing/McDonnell Douglas (F-15) and General Dynamics/Lockheed/Martin (F-16) were "in bed" with Bush '43 during the Iraq war.

Yep. Youse guys really need to maintain your perspective here. :-/
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
One difference is that the government was buying "things" from those companies. Now, they are attempting to warp the market to tilt it in favor of their friends using other people's money.

Or, if we look at one of the crony capitalism failures, what exactly did the American people get out of the $500 million that Solyndra flushed in exchanges for the bundling of a few hundred thousand dollars for Obama's campaign. http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/specialreports/solyndra-scandal/

I know, it's not a scandal. Neither is Benghazi. Nor is Fast and Furious. Nor is the bumbling of healthcare.gov. Nor is the IRS targetting of conservatives. None of it is a scandal, it's just simple incompetence, right? Or a little graft, but not a smidgeon of corruption.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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