The waning days of the Bush Administration see the Federal government extending public monies to every corner of the financial "system." It's ironic, in the opinion of this Ironist, that General Motors can't get a federal penny but Citi group gets all the cash it wants. This is not to say that General Motors deserves public funds any more than Citi does, but managerial competence aside, GM makes things, Citibank doesn't..
It has been obvious for some time that US manufacturers built large trucks and SUVs because they aren't covered by federal safety guidelines applied to passenger vehicles. Thus they were cheaper to manufacture and more profitable to sell. Never mind they did the environment no good, didn't improve the driving habits of their owners and promoted an unsustainable lifestyle. The manufacturers created demand with advertising and filled that demand..
Now they want taxpayer funds to keep them going while they slowly turn the beast around and build fuel efficient cars. Commentators blame workers (as usual!) for management failings and charge the line workers with making $80 an hour. Indeed auto workers make $28 an hour and the other expenses are the retirees the workers support. Henry Ford said, a century ago that workers need to make enough to buy the product, a dictum that has escaped the notice of modern captains of industry..
Citibank engaged in wild speculation with deposits and is now facing bankruptcy, however a Citi group failure they tell us would lead to systemic failure of the entire banking system so they must be "saved." Hallelujah! And our leaders, with a straight face, pledge our tax dollars to do the saving and no apologies do we get for this blatant reversal of the "free market" these same leader shave touted for as long as it was profitable for them..
Personally I don't want to see society collapse. Those that do, tell us we shall be the better for it, less consumer driven more neighborly and more considerate. I doubt it. When the chips are down and money is tight and an entire way of life has to change all I see is massive stress. I don't see people in Iceland pulling together and recreating the disciplined good cheer of World War Two. Take away television for most people and all you are doing is detaching them from 24 hour gossip channels and resentment is bound to follow. I want things to stay the same, electricity, air conditioning, gasoline, pay days, a pension plan and dignified retirement..
I am reluctant to let go of my middle class dreams but like the prospect of life after death I find myself ever less willing to lay bets on it. I watch the sunrise over a frost free landscape and I feel glad. I switch on the computer and I take pleasure as the screen reliably lights up and connects me with the outside world. I am angry that things have got so messed up, and at some level I guess we each of us have to take responsibility for a portion of the mess. But I'd like to think that the people at the top who fostered this global chaos take a much larger share of the blame and shoulder a much larger portion of the cost than the rest of us laboring masses..