Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bailout Is No Public Good

Tibor R. Machan

One of the many benefits of realizing that people are most of all individuals is that they are unique or members of distinct communities, teams, families, etc., all very different, nearly all with their unique goals and attributes. So what is good for some won’t be for others except very rarely. Even medicine acknowledges that cures and fitness programs are often highly specific to those who are to be helped. Once one gets into even more complex areas, like education, careers, living spaces, vacations, nutrition, dress, and the rest of the zillions of concerns of people, uniformity is gone. Sure, all of us need to eat but exactly what is known but ourselves, a few intimates, special consultants, and so forth. There is no general good except in very general terms that need to be spelled out for them to have clear meaning and practical implications. (Of course the idea of a general good is tempting and places like the Third Reich, the Soviet Union, North Korea have had disastrous histories with trying to implement them despite the symbolism of uniformity in all their parades and such!)

The failures are a very good reason to stop all this wealth redistribution and government regimentation--those folks up there in Washington, Sacramento, Brussels, and the like just haven’t clue and thus all they can do when they insist on “doing something” is to muddle about, pose, pretend, or fake. The proposed auto bailout is a good example. It is entirely unclear that saving the Big Three is a good thing, even for those in Detroit. Sure, it can tie some folks over to be bailed out but if conditions persist and consumers will no longer want what the American automakers produce, this is folly on a great many fronts! Kind of like bailing out a failing restaurant or bowling alleys where people no longer want to do business. Sure enough, establishment of these kinds go out of business by the hundreds, even thousands, month by month and the only answer to earning a living for those involved is to find some other line of work, one for which there are costumers. (And those who love getting personal about these matters, yes I’ve held about a dozen different jobs over my more than half a century of life.)

All of us need to be entrepreneurs at times, taking up the task of discovering what we can do that others want. People’s buying practices and habits change, they develop and grow and discover new areas of life to explore, and those who can provide them with what they want will succeed in making a decent living while those who don’t won’t. That’s one lesson of the starving artists who keep producing works no one cares for--they must change their line of work or derive sustenance from the doing of it and not expect a sumptuous live style. That can, of course, be very rewarding but it will not generate a steady cash flow!

Why should autoworkers and executives be exempt from these simple laws of economics? And, more importantly, why should the rest of us be sacrificed to their unwillingness to realign their careers? Because bailouts mean nothing other than wealth transfers that are involuntary. A costumer decides to downsize his or her means of transportation but instead of saving a few bucks for the effort is then penalized by higher taxes and inflation and all the results of governments going into debt, basically prevented from making changes as a consumer.

This is really an obscene disregard of individual rights, a violation of one’s liberty to use one’s own labor and resources as one sees fit. If all those going out of business could just rob their neighbors blind with the approval of governments, that would be a truly crime ridden society. And ours, as many others, are becoming more and more crime ridden in this pseudo-civilized fashion, where the crimes are committed under the disguise of legality.

Consider, also, that under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U. S. Constitution the preferential treatment of members of the auto-industry has to be totally unjust. Why not the waiter who had to be laid off because costumers left the restaurant so as to save a bit? Why not everyone whose job evaporated because the economy changed? It’s the old but expanded practice of featherbedding, nothing else.

And who will foot the bill for that? How do these supporters of bailouts imagine that the funds used are created? Printing money is what forgers do and when government does it without the money having solid backing, they join a gang of criminals once again.

The supporters of the bailout just do not address these matters. No wonder--there simply is no way to allay the concerns involved. The only answer is to face the music and learn new steps for a new dance.

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