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The answer to yer auto woes

By Daniel M. Ryan
web posted February 23, 2009

The stock market averages are expeditiously collapsing, with the banking and auto sectors showing the most initiative in that endeavor. The American public is slowly coming to the tentative conclusion that something may not be quite right with the stimulus program. Evidently, a new and bold initiative is going to be needed. Since the entire Omaba administration seems to have taken everything out of the box, the only solution that'll do is an out-of-box initiative. What better way than to look into another box?

Thankfully, the neighbor to the north still stands somewhat strong. We Canadians are still in the shock phase, so it would be easier to slip a Japanesque maneuver past us in Parliament. We Canadians, after all, have a lot more nowhere. Plus, in our bones, we still trust our government. Yep, Canadians are still the same old polite, face-value bunch; what better people are available to help pull the United States economy out of its woes?

True, Canada is relatively small, but the government of Canada has one advantage that the U.S. government basically doesn't: a relatively unimpaired credit rating. The Government of Canada has had enough surpluses, in the last ten or so years, that any foreign creditor will think that Canada's national debt is actually going to be paid off a little. If the Chinese authorities decide to go a'walkin with their capital, what better place than Canada to plop the money into? The U.K.? The EU? (France?)

Canada is a small nation with a large credit reservoir. We Canadians are glad to help, and we have prestige needs of our own. Plus, we are sufficiently amenable towards government ownership of corporations as to rate the moniker "Soviet Canuckistan." This is the country whose government "invested" a ton of moolah up near a remote Arctic place call Tuktoyatuk, in the hopes that $200 oil would be pumped out of the frozen Arctic wasteland…in 1980. Yep, we have enough hopin' and dreamin' up here to help bail out our neighbors to the south.

So here's the proposition: instead of yet another bailout of the U.S. auto industry, instead of a so-called managed bankruptcy, howzabout selling both GM and Chrysler to the Canadian government?

As mentioned above, the Canadian government has had a long and solid track record of boondoggles. Not only Tuk, done in co-operation with a now-Americanized company called Dome Petroleum, but also Petro-Canada and Air Canada. Both proved to be prestige-enhancing, money-losing enterprises that us patient Canadians have put up with. We've put up with government-owned power, and even government-owned liquor stores in some provinces. Can we put up with Cars Canada? Yes we can!

And Canada can do it progressively, too. Our first multicultural programs hit the statute books at a time when President Obama was a pre-teen and I was just out of diapers. Air Canada has had a long record of fighting age discrimination in the flight-attendant department. It would be a straightforward challenge for a bureau to whip up a disparate-impact study on the line workers. After all, most of them would be American; American can't vote in Canadian elections. It would be a dispassionate process.

Of course, GM and Chrysler being two divisions of Autos Canada [whups; forgot about the bilingualism] may require a little antitrust adjustment at the D.C. level. Putting the fix in would be a reasonably co-operative gesture, especially since the "monopoly power" of both carmakers is akin to the "scare power" of SCTV's Count Floyd. There'd be little complaint about all the excess capacity undertook: Canada, after all, is the country of Mirabel Airport.

Imagine it…top auto executives taking orders from a Cabinet Minister in Ottawa. Senior executives being ordered to take cram course in French. Lotsa paperwork for the line guys to fill out as part of their daily routine. A C-130 as the corporate jet. And, as a bonus if both companies actually survive, a future privatization like the ones Air Canada and PetroCan went through. The legendary timing skills of federal bureaucrats will ensure an orderly and successful share sale. Seeing "largesse for Bay Street" will give opposition politicians something to complain about for a long time. It'll be better than the Free Trade Agreement in that way!

And, as a final kicker, all expenses would be assumed by the Government of Canada. As noted above, Canada's national debt load is the tallest blade of grass on the North American continent. What better way for it to be leveled with America's?

Actually, there is a way. Instead of selling GM and Chrysler to Canada's government, the leveling could be done quickly and straightforwardly by selling Citigroup. What better fate for Citi Field than to be renamed "Imprudence Canada Stadium"? ESR

Daniel M. Ryan is an irregular columnist for LewRockwell.com, and has an undamaged mail address here.


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