Yesterday’s news that Rick Wagoner would be stepping down as chairman and CEO of General Motors was more than a news-cycle datum: it was an introduction to life in the brave new centrally-planned world with which the United States of Bailed-Out America is flirting.
When news of Mr. Wagoner’s departure first came over the the wire, it was couched in the beguiling “mistakes-were-made” rhetoric of nescience: “people familiar with situation did not say why Wagoner is leaving.” As I noted at the time, it wasn’t difficult to come up with reasons the GM board might wish to bid farewell to Rick Wagoner: what, except more red ink, did the company have to show for the $17 billion in government loans it had burned through in the last few months?
But within hours it transpired that the GM board was not really a player in this drama of corporate defenestration. No, Mr. Wagoner is getting the Order of the Boot not at the behest of the GM Board but at the insistence of Barack Obama.
Why, you might ask, is the President of the United States mucking about in personnel matters of a public corporation?
Good question. Politico touches on the essential issue in its report:
“The surprise announcement about the classically iconic American corporation is perhaps the most vivid sign yet of the tectonic change in the relationship between business and government in this era of subsidies and bailouts.”
The critical phrase is “the tectonic change in the relationship between business and government.” Remember it. When GM accepted those billions in government subsidies, it rendered itself beholden to the source of those subsidies–not the ultimate source, mind you: i.e., you and me: the taxpayers. No, in accepting that largess from the government, GM handed itself over to the bureaucrats writing the checks, ultimately to the bureaucrat-in-chief, Barack Obama.
A “tectonic change in the relationship between business and government.” Time was, the role of government in a capitalist society was primarily to secure an environment in which private enterprise could thrive. Today, the role of government is increasingly to nationalize private enterprise, i.e., destroy it in the name of a “higher” good, a “new era of responsibility” in which government bureaucrats tell you how to run your business and whom to employ.