Part of my head says that there may be reasons to nationalize the auto companies in order to insulate workers from the effects of the current panic. Another part of my head says that this ought to be possible via a bankruptcy workout.
In practice, of course, we are not yet ready to do nationalizations (give it a few months and tens of billions) but instead will give the shareholders and management a giant payment from tax money.
Which leads my heart to say something like this.
Auto industry bailout plan:
1. People don’t want to buy cars right now.
2. Take from taxpayers the money they would have spent buying cars if they wanted to buy cars.
3. Pretend cars don’t kill 40,000 people a year.
4. Problem solved.
5. Free markets rule.
Can we at least get a mass transit tax on luxury automobiles?