Big 3 bailout

Weighing in on the Big 3 bailout, I’m thinking about means versus ends this morning, and about the primary responsibility of being an adult these days, particularly in America.  Our understanding of that responsibility is changing drastically.  It used to be that individual professional achievement sufficed to earn both self respect, and the admiration of peers.  But we’re evolving, shaped by global forces, and we are beginning to see that responsibility means using your personal achievement for the benefit of others.

Michael Moore is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  He may be extreme, but his passion for his fellow humans is to be admired.  Here’s the takeaway:  he uses his talents as a filmmaker in service to society.

Many others do the same, of course, but many, many more do not.  The norm is to apply one’s talents to  personal enrichment, using whatever means to achieve the end, which is envisioned as a place of personal security and happiness.

Global realities, though, and such burgeoning threats as climate change, force us to reconsider.  It is not enough to be a good writer, or musician, or salesperson, speaker, mathematician or scientist.  If we do not apply these skills to the very pressing problems of our fellow man, we are not fulfilling our responsibility and we will not benefit in the long run.

So the Big 3 spent the past 50 years being attentive to the whims of society, but turning a deaf ear to its serious needs.  After 9/11, I remember, some people clamored for SUVs because they felt protected in these tanks.  The auto manufacturers were happy to cater to this silly paranoia.  They were happy to use their talents in service to our weaknesses, because that guaranteed them a large market, for another year anyhow.  They seemed to have no ability to see anything past the next year’s fashionable new styles.

(I find it interesting that my son, who is an awesome actor, refuses to have anything to do with the world of performance.  He’s spending his time seeking a way to work towards a vastly improved future for us all.  He does not view his talent as his ticket to ride: he senses that his happiness lies only in the happiness of us all.)

So, I do not think the government should bail out the Big 3, or any other private business.  Even though their demise could seriously impact the lives of a couple million people or more.  Something has to happen to awaken us to our responsibilities, and bailouts – as any parent will tell you – generally have the opposite effect, enabling, coddling, and obliterating any thought of improvement.

Instead of a bail out, we should let these companies find their own way; let them expire, and let others – such as those of my son’s generation, many of whom seem to naturally understand this new responsibility, lead us into the future.  And those many auto workers?  I feel their pain; I’ve had to re-invent myself several times in my adulthood, and it’s scary in the extreme.  But it’s a choice for life, as opposed to wallowing in practices that are sure to cause global depression and even possibly the extinction of the human race.

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1 comment so far

  1. Kristine Goad on

    Being an environmental activist from Michigan, I am really torn about this issue. I know how far the dollars reach when we’re talking about the Big 3. I also know how ruthless the Big 3 have been in burying American innovation that they did not generate or could not find a way to steal. In the end, I think I have to side with you and insist on tough love. If we are going to insist on being a free market economy, then we have to allow companies, no matter how large or respected or ingrained in our culture they may be, who make poor decisions and inferior products to suffer the negative consequences of their actions. They must either evolve quickly or be replaced by other companies with better ideas and/or more flexibility. If the Big 3 were to die (which they won’t), the void would quickly be filled by new, smaller, start-up companies (like Tesla) with innovative products and new business models. In death, there is new life. We as a society have to learn to take the bad with the good that comes with being a capitalist economy.

    That said, I’m worried that it’s going to be the retirees and those near retirement who will suffer the most if the Big 3 are forced into bankruptcy. I hope someone is going to be helping to safeguard pension funds.


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