The Sage Grouse

Mad as Hell?

Remember the movie “Network”? Faye Dunaway and Peter Finch: “I’m Mad as Hell and I’m Not Going to Take it Any More.”

The housing collapse, Fannie Mae collapse, AIG $100-plus billion credit default swap collapse, Lehman Brothers vanishes like a Pacific coast  mansion falling into the sea, Bear Stearns turns into dust like an Evolution: Underworld vanishing-vampire image, banks refuse to lend to each other, every Wall Street institution except the giant-sucking-machine Goldman Sachs teeters on the edge of oblivion. Insurance giants, monuments of prudent investing, were staring, hypnotized, into a whirlpool. Mutual funds were melting like puddles of snow in a heat wave.

This was our reality in late 2008 and most of 2009. If you had cash you could steal cars from  dealerships populated only by a janitor and a service manager; everyone else had gone home. I bought a new $42,000-plus SUV for $32,000 and got a ticker-tape parade for the purchase.

Reagan’s “rising tide lifting ships” metaphor, never very real, was surrendering to “sinking tides.”

If the dealerships resemble mortuaries, the factories have no place to send the cars and trucks. Is it time to panic? Remember the images of huge storage lots filled with surplus Fords in early 2009 because no one was buying them?

The factories were making things no one wanted or could buy. But if they went down, they would drag a lot of detritus into the whirlpool: thousands of dealerships and their employees. A lot of people would be mad as hell if that happens.

Rocket intelligence is not required to quickly deduce that letting GM and Chrysler vanish into dust would wipe out suppliers, vendors, salesmen, dealers, families, sons and daughters going to college, retirees and janitors.

Clint Eastwood, whose wind-blasted craggy visage lends itself to exploitation as being genuinely earned, first opposed taxpayer bailouts of car companies whose primary sins were catering to customers, now takes money to lend his earnest endorsement to the renaissance of Chrysler. I could not help but like the ad; I too yearn for a better day in America.

People like Eastwood, who deplore government intervention at the time and then later celebrate the effectiveness of decisions taken by people who actually had the guts to take the risk, lack the very character which they retrospectively package for a cheap sale.

But what is worse is people like Mitt Romney, who had no skin in the game, basking in the sun of economic recovery because President G.W. Bush signed the TARP bill among other things to save our economy from the abyss, now plays both ends against the vanishing point. Mitt, whose dad governed a state prospering because our economic system had not yet invented WMDs to enrich Wall Street greedophiles as they destroyed our basic economies, finds a way after time has passed and the car companies survived, to pander to a political fantasy. After the fact, after the bailout saved GM, isn’t it cheap, pandering to Ron Paul’s supporters, to disavow the GM “bailout.” If he were alive, George Romney would kick Mitt’s ass, maybe not for the first time. He’d be mad as hell.

President Obama’s photo should be proudly on display at every GM and Chrysler dealership in the country. Why? Because he did what needed to be done.

I can’t prove the next sentence; history is what it is, not what it might have been. But if Mitt Romney had been sitting in the Oval Office with the Chair of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Secretary and a few other smart people in 2009, there is no doubt that he would have jumped in to save GM and Chrysler, just like the real President did.

You can spend your federal dollars on saving huge fundamental industries from collapse, or you can spend those dollars on welfare for the millions of people thrown out of work because huge networks of industries went down. I prefer the former, and history has borne this out.

Mitt, to what extreme levels will you abase yourself?  Do you want our economy to fail so you can be elected, or do you want it to succeed? Read last week’s Fortune Magazine, analyzing your platform. Then give us a real economic plan, not slogans.

As much as I  disagree with Rick Santorum, at least he has principles.

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Published on February 14, 2012

{ 6 comments }

lousewort rodgers February 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm

only took 5 posts to get to the “us vs. them” political “stupid vs. nuts” mentality. impressive

Bill Mitchell February 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

Ol’ Trail Dog sounds like so many of these thoughtless Rushites who for reasons of race or class or stupidity cannot accept the fact that decisions that were made by both administrations in 2008, 2009 and 2010 have helped this country to pull itself out of the mire of Wall Street greed and real estate manipulation in the artificial economy of the early part of the 2000 decade.

Bill Mitchell February 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

Very good piece, RT.

RT February 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Oh by the way, I owe readers an apology for foolishly portraying Rick Santorum as a man of principle in comparison to Mitt; they both oppose (after the fact and with no consequences) the government assistance to General Motors and Chrysler during the unprecedented credit freeze. They, absent with leave from their posts thanks to their respective voters, did not help (or refuse to help) anyone, nor, absent from duty, did they kill Osama bin Laden. Kilroy was here; Romney and Santorum were not.

RT February 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Old Trail Dog needs a bathroom break, because he is still full of it. Maybe he’s trapped in Mitt Romney’s rooftop kennel, gasping for breath. The bondholders lost it all about when Bear Stearns hit the pavement from 40 stories up, but if there was doubt, they certainly lost it all when the car companies filed for Chapter 11. Ol’ Dog needs to read his Bankruptcy Code. If he was a bond holder I am sorry for him, or her, he or she was toast as an unsecured creditor. If you buy corporate bonds you voluntarily assume risks as an unsecured creditor. The union was faced with a harshly imposed choice; let the company fail or cave in on your excessive pay and benefits. But, if you give on pay and benefits, you get a share of the company which you can then work your buns off to make successful. Only an idiot would portray a forced chokedown of the unions as a communist sellout to the unions. Time to change the vitamins.

Ol'TrailDog February 14, 2012 at 9:58 am

Sorry Son, but you must be nuts. The Obamunist’s take over of Chrysler-Dodge was by no stretch of your wide imagination a success. 1) The government confiscated the earnings of bond holders 2) The government gives partial control of C-D to the AW union. 3) C-D is sold to an Italian country. 4) The Obamunist leds the country deeper into debt to the tune of trillions of dollars at an unprecedented accelerated rate. 5) Like FDR the Obamunist continues to promulgate policies that deepen and prolong the economic problems we must confront by ….. less government spending.

A real success story and the fat lady hasn’t sung on this one yet. Unquestionably the best solution would have been to let bankruptcy take it course for C-D. I say that as the C-D truck owner. I don’t watch TV, but I’ve seen the ad. Clint’s theme was not necessarily about C-D flailing about, but more about this country really needs to get it’s act together. And the best first step would be to fire the dolt in the oval office.

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