Bob Higgs on how the latest rendition of TEOTWAWKI, the impending bankruptcy of the U.S. auto industry, is a fine time for politicians to attempt to loot the taxpayers to help their corporate donor buddies:
Turned away by the Senate, the Big Three auto makers have resorted to begging the Bush administration to rescue them from the plight in which they now find themselves as a result of decades of poor management. Wailing and gnashing of teeth are all the rage in Washington as these wannabe plunderers warn us of dire consequences unless the government acts as the middleman in their attempts to raid the taxpayers' bank accounts.
Well, ho-hum, auto makers are scarcely unique in their lack of scruple and their desire to loot the Treasury. What strikes me in the latest reports on this sordid business is not so much the auto executives' undignified prostration and supplication before the Almighty Government, but the statements being spewed out by our ever-faithful public servants.
Perhaps the single good thing that might have been said about the George W. Bush administration is that its spokespersons sometimes talked as if they supported the free-market system, even if they virtually never acted accordingly. Now, however, even the pro-market talk has gone by the boards.
Thus, according to an Associated Press report, White House press secretary Dana Perino said: "Under normal economic conditions we would prefer that markets determine the ultimate fate of private firms." [But] "given the current weakened state of the U.S. economy, we will consider other options if necessary including use of the TARP program to prevent a collapse of troubled automakers. A precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy, and it would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time."
Everybody knows that the only way to find out who your true friends are is by noting who stands by you when you are down and out. Political principles work the same way. If you are prepared to throw them out the window when times are tough, then you never really held them in the first place. Principles are intended especially to guide our behavior in difficult circumstances. If they don't do so, then our proclaimed principles stand revealed as having been nothing but rhetoric in the worst sense of the word.
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