The Big Two

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Well, they’re still using the Dodge Brothers in ads. But they’re hired actors – like shopping mall Santas.Fiat logo

It’s an Italian-run operation now.

Chrysler no longer exists.

It’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles now – the order reflecting who owns whom.

Is it a bad thing? That depends on your perspective.

If it annoys you that “our” government (I prefer the editorially honest modifier, the government) dug its hands deep into taxpayers’ pockets to bail out a foreign company (Fiat) with huge infusions of cash, then you are probably even more annoyed by Fiat’s announcement about Chrysler’s epitaph.

On the other hand, there is ample reason to be annoyed that anyone was “bailed out” by the government – whether foreign or domestic.

A mugging is a mugging, after all.

I personally don’t give a damn whether a car (or any other thing) is built here or there – just that it’s a well-built product (if I’m a buyer) offered at a fair price and – the big one – no one forced me (or anyone else) to subsidize it. If people want whatever it is, leave them free to buy it.dodge brothers ad

Or, not.

And if not, don’t force them to hand over the money they otherwise would not have freely given to keep the company whose products or services didn’t make the cut afloat.

No one has a right to make a living at someone else’s expense.

There’s a quip I like that neatly describes the American “mixed” economy: Socialism for the rich … the free market for everyone else. And it explains why the Fiat Chrysler thing sticks in so many people’s throats.

Your or I – the proverbial Little People – stop paying our bills and at some point, our stuff gets taken away to help defray the tab. You or I make a shitty product or gyp our customers and it’s a certainty we’ll be out of business soon enough – and if our gyps were deliberate, we stand a very good chance of being criminally prosecuted. If we’re simply inept and mishandle our small businesses, not watching accounts, paying too much for supplies, accumulating excess debt, becoming over-extended… well, you know exactly what will happen.

And what ought to happen.       too big pic

But, if we get big enough… then we become “too big too fail.” And become insulated from failure. We acquire the power to filch people’s pockets when we are no longer able to convince people to freely buy our stuff. And we are almost never held personally accountable for anything, including egregious incompetence and outright fraud.

What a racket!

It gives capitalism a bad name.

But of course, it’s not capitalism. We live in an age of linguistic-conceptual flim-flam, wherein definitions of things have subtly become the opposite of what they used to be. “Liberal,” for example, now means – in practice – that everyone will be told what to do (and how much they’ll be made to pay for it) for the sake of establishing material equality.

But its original meaning was just the opposite: A liberal – in better times – meant a person who believed that everyone had an equal human right to liberty –  to pursue and do what they wanted, free from external coercion. That no special categories of entitlement or privilege existed.

Similarly, today, the average person today takes “capitalism” to mean a caricature of what it once meant: The bedding down of big business with big government, for their mutual aggrandizement of money and power. Which, unfortunately, is exactly what it has in fact become – on the macro level, at least. But capitalism – free enterprise – used to mean you worked and took risks with no guarantee of reward. Just the hope. And with it, the certainty of failure if no one was sufficiently interested in what you put on offer to pay you (freely) for what you produced. That’s been thrown in the woods, of course. And it’s probably why so many Little People are pissed about the bailout – and the buyout.

Take that factor away and who could raise a fair objection?too big 2

If Fiat saw value in Chrysler and made an offer to buy it out – using its own capital – and Chrysler deemed such a buyout to be in its best interests and accepted… what basis is there for objecting? It’s their business. Each company has an equal right to take decisions they each deem to be sound. And no one else – who doesn’t have “skin” in the game – has any business carping about it.

But the reality is we – taxpayers – all have skin in the game. And we didn’t have a choice. That’s the problem – not the buyout per se, nor the name change.

To draw a parallel from sports: I might not be happy if “my” team decides to change its name from Redskins to Native Americans. I might even elect to express my displeasure by no longer attending games (and buying tickets and merchandise). That is the free market, operating as designed.

But what if the owners of the Redskins had the power to force me to subsidize their oeuvre to political correctness? Then I might bristle – legitimately – about the name change.

So, I don’t think people are mad at Fiat, per se – or even sad about the fading away of Chrysler. They are pissed about being made financially responsible for other people’s failures – and being looted for the financial benefit of anyone, foreign or domestic.

Count me in.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. My problem is parity,I ‘ve never had a real good job,because I was unwilling to relocate.However when the gummint takes our money to pay for others benefits, it gets to be rather irksome.I cannot afford to buy the wares produced by someone who makes 40$ an hour,a little different argument I know,but for me parity doesnt exist-because the gov’t employees have benefits out the wahzoo and I could never afford much in the way of retirement savings.Anyway the the chickens are coming home to roost and the rest of the world moves a little closer to parity with the US-but what galls me the most is,how could 80 or so individuals control Half the worlds wealth?(I depise the bailout of the S&Ls(you can about figure were most of that money ended up){always had to pay my bills} a little disjointed,but thats my rant-Kevin

  2. yall must remember that just because ford didn’t take the big bailout does not mean they have not been getting bailed out for years, by the likes of vehicles for the police military and other government agencies.

  3. I don’t think people understand bailouts. Sure ford did not partake in THE bailout, but they have been receiving taxpayer money for years, from the military, police, and other government agencies.
    Bailout is any form of money that is given to someone from someone else when the someone else did not approve it.

    • Hi Ray,

      This is an interesting point – and I partially agree with it. However, I do think we should be a bit less hard on Ford (and so on) for selling fleet cars to the government (and so forth). Because – unfortunately – we’re almost all tainted in the same way. For example, the person who accepts a tax refund and uses the proceeds toward the purchase of a car. Remember: It’s not your money that’s being returned to you. It is someone else’s money being given to you. Just like Social Security.

      • I partially agree as well. But it can also be thought of this way – a tax refund is a partial return of money that was stolen from ME. Unless you are one of those ‘Earned Income Credit’ low lifes, who gets back more than you put in.

      • A tax refund is indeed the money I paid, it’s the same fiscal year. Now I get the argument on social security because the money was paid many years prior and spent, SS is technically a pay as you go welfare program, but in the same fiscal year someone paid taxes, withheld from his paycheck, getting a little back, no. I pay a nice new car’s worth of taxes every year all said and done between all the governments with a hand in my pocket.

        On the business of selling stuff to the government, I don’t like companies that live on that sort of thing, but the government is going to buy cars from someone so I save my ire for those that develop new products to dominate us and then market them to government or develop them for a government wish list. Ford selling their taxi-cab car to police departments is pretty low on the list.

  4. One problem with modern businesses is the pension. Because of the pension (and to a lessor extent, the 401(k) matched in company stock), a company can’t go bankrupt without severe consequences for Uncle, in the form of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). This is a seriously underfunded government insurance plan that is supposed to bail out pensions in the “unlikely” event the company goes out of business. But as we learned when the steel industry went bust in the 1980s, pensioners end up with a fraction of what they’re promised.

    Until we as a country remove the “benefits” from employment and just give workers a paycheck that they can do with what they want we’ll never get away from the screwed up mess “working” has become.

    Oh, and for some unknown reason, governments love automobile manufacturers. Look at the great lengths Great Britain went to maintain their car industry long after it died in the 1970s and 80s.

    • Fringe benefits, or just ‘benefits’ as they are often called, were initially the result of wage and price controls during WW II. The federal gunvermin ‘froze’ wages, but they needed the production of the workers to wage war. So they allowed defense contractors, and other ‘essential’ industries to offer their workers compensation other than wages to keep them chugging along.
      In other words, like so many other things, the gunvermin interfered in the free market, and now they are stuck with part of the bill. “unintended consequences”
      BTW, part of the way ‘they’ sold Anti-Social Insecurity to the people of the 30’s was to say “There are only so many jobs. We should encourage the older men to retire so the younger men with families can have those jobs.”
      Of course it was the gunvermin’s fault that jobs were in short supply – just like it is now.

    • One of the reasons gunvermin love automakers so much is that, in times of war, they can easily be converted to build jeeps, tanks, airplanes and similar military vehicles.

  5. What are you trying to accomplish by focusing only Chrysler, when GM was equally guilty? Only Ford refrained from partaking in that round of handout/bailouts.

    For what it’s worth, I think Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ future looks dim. The parent company is not adept at building the vehicles that most of Chrysler’s current customers want, namely, big trucks, SUVs and full sized sedans like the 300.

    Fiat is best at building smaller, relatively economical cars. But based on the lackluster sales of the Fiat/Dodge Dart, they seriously fail to connect with American buyers in these segments. I predict a similar fate for the 200.

    When this failure becomes undeniable, Fiat will bail, and spin off the poor truck division to yet another owner. Hard to say how much value that division will then have left.

  6. Fiat was not bailed out, as part of Chrysler’s bailout it was given to Fiat. This is how this centrally managed system operates in its efforts to preserve the status-quo. A much stronger example of corporate welfare to a foreign corporation is what has gone to Nissan for the Leaf and the plant that builds it in the US. Today’s automakers are a matter of degree.

    I put the late 1980s as the turning point for automakers in the USA. This is where they stopped fighting and became entirely creatures of the state. Not to say there wasn’t corporatism before this point, there was, this is just the point where the senior partner changed.

    But how far back do things really go? In early 20th century the US automakers owned the market in Japan. They were eventually driven out not by new upstart domestic competition doing things better but that competition being favored by government. By the 1930s the US automakers had been driven out of the Island nation. This is the earliest example of government interference in the auto industry of such magnitude I’ve yet found.

  7. The Belgian/Brazilan AB InBev now has a 25% share of the world market

    Who doesn’t enjoy an ice cold euro/south american ab-inbev after a long day?

    Budweiser Corona Stella Artois Beck’s Hoegaarden Leffe 10 Barrel
    Alexander Keith’s BagBier Bass Busch Cass Dommelsch Dutch Gold
    Goose Island Guaraná Antarctica Harbin Brewery Hasseröder Hertog Jan
    Jupiler Кlinskoye Kokanee Labatt Löwenbräu Michelob Modelo
    Natural Ice O’Doul’s Oranjeboom Premier Presidente Quilmes
    Rifyey Rolling Rock Shock Top Sibirskaya Korona Spaten Franziskaner
    Tolstyak Bacardi Monster Energy

    – corporations have managed to transcend the legal fiction of borders and nations. isn’t it high time we start doing the same? there’s no reason not to form your own voluntary association of productive like-minded people you enjoy being neighbors with. who cares what the PTB say, withdraw your consent, and they’re left with onerous and expensive process of molon labe by force whatever they claim of yours to be theirs.

  8. Whatever, USA – An #UpForWhatever Weekend | Bud Light

    Whatever, USA – tLife will never be the same after #WhateverUSA. It takes a special type of town to open their doors to whatever & go all in for an entire weekend. See the weekend recap from a little town that was #UpForWhatever in big ways: http://www.upforwhatever.com

    Woohoo. Now every small community can become a corporate shill company town. Guess you’ll need something to help you wash down the fish heads.

    Market share of world’s largest beer manufacturers

    • Tor, I’ll just have to hold my nose and continue to drink this Lobo Negro made in Fredericksburg, Tx. by the Pedernales Brewing Company or the Shiner Black Bohemian Lager brewed by, of course, Shiner….in Shiner, Tx…..and being a southern boy, the occasional Southern Pecan nut brown ale made in ol’ Ms. at the Lazy Magnolia and the occasional skip across the pond for some Young’s Double Chocolate

      • Interesting how there’s room for so many microbreweries and craft beers.
        But that doesn’t seem to be the case for motorcycles and autos. Must be the gunvernment at work.

        Not only do they take everybody’s lunch money every day. But they also threaten more severe beatings if you don’t spend your leftover money on a lunch the bullies approve of.

        I guess in their minds, they’re helping us make better dietary choices by their thefts and prohibitions. Me, I don’t see it.

        I don’t have any kind of palate, so one thing is as good as another to me. But its certainly better to have lots of choices rather than only a few.

        Maybe some day, letting people have freedom of choice will finally catch on and go mainstream.

        • What you can get for beer and wine strongly depends on what state you live in. Many states control the choices people can legally buy. In Illinois they just control who can do the wholesale selling, more interested in the money, so we can get pretty much anything here. States like PA however can’t stop with the money.

          • Maryland, despite its official motto, is NOT the Free State. Especially bad is the People’s Republic of Montgomery County, adjacent to Mordor on the Potomac.
            Beer and wine can only be sold in establishments ‘serving’ food, although that can be a simple as carry-out sandwiches. Distilled spirits are only sold in county owned stores.

            • BTW, last I knew 18 was still the legal age for buying beer in Kansas. But it’s 3.2%, not 5% as most places. Still 21 for other beverages.

  9. Well, Eric – I view things a slightly differently. Today’s car companies are creatures of government. There are a few in the industry who oppose the reach of government into every aspect of its business, but more are acquiescent to its power. When safety standards were being deliberated, not one car company risked a lick and made the case to the public why these things were bad. Same for when auto emissions were being deliberated and emissions rules were issued. Silence and acquiesence. I will give big oil credit. They actually published advertisements on why oil prices needed to be decontrolled and have made the case for such idiocy as the Keystone Pipeline. Government regulation is the primary reason and ridiculous bargains with the Unions (such as paying for retirees Viagra and healthcare) is the secondary reason for their impending bankruptcy.

    I do care where the damned car is made and also designed. On the other hand, I can’t think of a single American car that I would buy today save for the Mustang, and it doesn’t meet my requirement for two more doors.

    They have virtually outlawed the type of vehicle I would drive: 4 door, 6 cylinder, manual transmission, rear wheel drive, and mid sized. Sure, BMW makes one, but it costs as much as a house. There just isn’t room in the domestic line up for a car like what I want to buy.

    I will not buy GM because of their tendency to force crap like On Star, DRLs and other crap down customers throats, not because they are “Governmint Motors.” I don’t give a rats furry ass. I just want to be free to choose my own car and would like it to be built here. Things like free trade have ruined this country. All of this swill that we are exchanging things of value and it doesn’t matter is a bunch of crap. You can’t have free trade when the other party isn’t free. You can’t compete with slave labor and no amount of money can fix that. Unless your name ends with LLC, Inc or Corp, you can’t change government policy in any meaningful way,

    The bottom line, free trade and regulation destroyed the car industry. I don’t give a damn about who makes the car, but I damn well give a crap about where it’s made. Despite the fact that I think Americans as a whole are a pretty crappy bunch (who largely vote for morons and traitors), I still want Americans to make the goods we consume, only because I have to live here, too.

    • Well, now that we’ve gotten the racist child’s opinion, …

      With intellects like this, I can’t understand why the US is so dysfunctional.

    • Hi Swamp,

      To be very clear: I am not defending what passes for “free trade” in the argot of the American powers-that-be. Because, of course, it is not free trade (or “free” anything). In this article I am defending the principle of free exchange as opposed to the system of “pull” (to use Rand’s wonderful term) that exists in day-to-day reality.

      The bailouts are an egregious example of “pull” in action. The whole thing was – and is – an affront to the concept of free trade.

      • Right Eric,
        Whenever you see the word ‘”agreement” in or near the words “free trade,” that means that 2 or more gunvermin units have colluded in a “trade agreement” and the word “free” has no place in it.

    • Great comment Swamprat. As you mentioned, BMW 5 series fits your bill. If you were willing to compromise on size, as that seems to be subjective for people, Lexus IS, 3 series, and Infiniti G35/37 would also work. Does assembly origin matter if you buy the car used?

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