Mark the calendar

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, November 12, 2008 23:50 EDT
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Megan McArdle is making sense.

Why bail out Wall Street and not GM, demand many people. Why do we care about bankers and not ordinary folks?

I think this misses the point of the financial bailout. Whether or not it works–and I sure hope it will–I don’t think very many people wanted to bail out the financial industry because we were so moved by the plight of those plucky traders on the mortgage desk. We bailed them out not because they deserved it–they didn’t–but because if we didn’t, there was a very big risk that they would take us down with them.

This is not generalizeable to other industries. Money is weird. Finance is weird. There is no other industry that is, first, so tightly coupled, and second, severely affects every other industry in the country. Moreover, there are few other industries that are so vulnerable to panic. Strategic injections of capital can actually salvage operations that are otherwise sound.

GM’s operations are not otherwise sound. They have been headed for this moment since 1973.

At this point, she buries herself in battles between management and unions that I’m not commenting on because it gets ideologically poisonous quickly. But up until then, she’s right, though she’s unwilling to take it to the next step and call for government regulations to keep the financial industry from pulling this stunt again.

Look, I have nothing but sympathy for all the people that will lose their jobs as the American auto industry falls apart. But Megan’s right. (gackgackgack) This will just keep coming up. Instead of wasting taxpayer money buying what is a mere stay of execution, perhaps we can take that same money and actually invest it in ways that will allow the people who are about to lose their jobs to move into more stable forms of employment? Or at least set up an alternative for younger people? Obama’s plans to start investing in alternative energy come to mind as a superior way to spend the money and create jobs to replace the ones lost by GM’s inevitable downfall.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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