Socialized Loss

Inevitably since Michigan has a Republican primary vote coming up, there’s a ton of gloating among mainstream liberals about stories like this, talking up record profits for GM post*-bailout.   While the hypocrisy angle due to the same people denouncing the bailout of the inaccurately-named “domestic” auto industry actually supporting the bailout of high finance is clear, and deserves to be called out regardless, there’s a curious subtext behind the enthusiasm over the auto bailout on the Left, one that I wonder if they realize how deep the implications of it are.

Consider: what was and continues to be the philosophical case against propping up high finance is that it amounts to rewarding terrible business practices, offloading the losses onto the general public while the ones who, if they had done similar in any business endeavor without the ridiculous extent of state backing that finance holds would’ve been fired, reap the private benefit.

While the auto bailout at least allowed for some light punishment (the CEO of GM was fired), for the most part the gist is similar: losses placed on the public tab, profits in private wallets.  How this doesn’t take previous, seemingly principled remarks against corporate welfare and throw them against a wall in the name of “…but we like THIS version of it”, I have no idea. A slightly less malignant form of corporatism is still, in the end, corporatism, and if I were among the rank and file of those who tend to cast Democratic party votes I would still, regardless of view of the worth of the auto industry, question whether it should be seen as a crowning achievement of the mainstream political Left to maintain a particular concentration of the means of production.  Besides, imagine what the other half of the official spokespeople of the ruling class could do in the future with such a mandate…

Being philosophically opposed to this, I’m not in denial of how politically unavoidable some form of intervention was.  There’s a right way to do anything, after all.  But that the intervention took the form it did without a peep from people who should be more inclined against this type of thing in principle, with no questioning of the centralization that led to a couple large companies being the end all be all of the domestic auto industry in the first place, is troubling.


(edit — a reminder: among the provisions of the bailout was a clause virtually banning strikes for the duration)


About b-psycho

Left-libertarian blogger & occasional musician.
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