Like that hapless garbage barge which in 1987 sailed up and down the coast for months, reeking, rejected and ever-present, the bailout saga of the Big Three just won’t quit.
By now, I’m not sure the billions the car makers are after should still be called a “bailout.” We’re witnessing something much bigger than that — something more like a metamorphosis. The main argument we’ve been hearing for keeping the Big Three on wheels (or, let’s spare the more functional Ford, and call it the Big Two) is that the country cannot afford to have all those auto workers lose their jobs. In other words, the prime business of GM and Chrysler is no longer to make cars, but to serve as conduits for taking money from some Americans, and using it to support others. This is a process in which the cars themselves are starting to look like mere by-products (or maybe loss leaders).
In an America that once celebrated the deeds of daring individuals — Paul Revere on his midnight ride, the settlers of the West, the heroes of Horatio Alger — we now have new-age pilgrims rolling into Washington to plead for public money.
Will this really help save the American Dream? I have been trying to imagine how these recent events might someday be transmogrified into an American legend of corporate titans who, in an hour of need, saved the nation … by a determined assault on the public purse. First they flew in their corporate jets. Then they motored to the Beltway in their hybrids. Undaunted, they defied public opinion and haggled on until the politicians of Washington rose to meet them — designing a money-guzzling state vehicle that would come accessorized with a Car Czar, or, as the White House is now suggesting, a “Financial Viability Adviser.”
Financial Viability Adviser? What does that phrase even mean? Hard to say — but I’m sure of this: If America’s Founding Fathers had saddled this country with the idea that all men are endowed by their Creator with such inalienable rights as “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of a Financial Viability Adviser,” we wouldn’t be having all these problems with the car industry today. We’d still be riding around in horse-drawn buggies.