As is obvious to many new car shoppers, Michael Barone notes that “Detroit Automakers a Relic of the Past”:
The Detroit Three are taking advantage of the passage of the $700 billion financial bailout to argue that they, too, need government money to go on. But as Megan McArdle of The Atlantic argues, the finance firms are different. If credit coagulates, everyone suffers, while if the Detroit Three go bankrupt, their shareholders lose their stake, employee and retiree pay and benefits are cut, and real estate values go down in areas where the companies and their suppliers operate — but life for most of us goes on.
McArdle, native of a similarly bedraggled industrial area (Upstate New York) and an Obama supporter, further argues that the capital invested in keeping the hulk of the Detroit Three operating pretty much as they are, unprofitably, will not be available to those whose startups could morph into the Microsofts and FedExes of the future. We don’t know who today’s Bill Gateses and Fred Smiths are, but markets sure have a better chance of finding them than the federal government.
My take? When in doubt, let Airplane be your guide:
Update: The governor of South Carolina also appears to espouse the epistemology of Airplane.