I hope that some day, we look back on this time hope that we never hear the word "bailout" (or is it/are it 2 words?). Much like I feel about "web 2.0"....well felt about it a few years ago before it kind of became it's own joke. It is said with irony, usually in the same sentence as "bubble" and most of us use bunny ears when we refer to it. Yeah, yeah, that is what I hope happens to "bailout". I certainly don't wish to hear it referenced on CSPAN again. Quoth the raven, etcetera.
I think I can speak for a large number of people in that I felt shanghai-ed when it came to the finserve bailout. A bunch of jerks made redonkulous amounts of money, screwed their people out of jobs and then went to the government for help. And we basically HAD TO help them because if we didn't, the credit markets would dry up and we would all be skee-rewed. Am I getting my money back someday? Maybe some big old stuffed shirts can sell off their vacation homes and pay some of us back. Crap, the horse has already left the stable. Well regardless, I see why we had to do that. Not sure I see enough accountability to make me feel OK about it, but it is what it is. Mildly sucky for me, maybe more so for others.
But watching the big 3 execs appeal to the government for their piece of the American taxpayers pie really makes me want to vomit (and we know how much I have been enjoying vomiting lately). Frankly, these companies in need of funds should be appealing to the American public by presenting an investment opportunity. People get a little cheesed off when the losses are socialized but not the profits. I mean, that is what is happening with the banking companies, right? And where the big 3 might share with those companies the common denominator of poor management, they have done nothing to convince me/us that after we re-line their pockets with our tax dollars, anything will change. I heard about oversight with the banking companies. Why am I not hearing that about the big 3.
And I totally get the impact on the lives of the folks that work the line in those auto companies. Their leadership has done them a disservice. I think that re-funding them is simply delaying the inevitable. And when does the American publics continued financial support of these companies equate to a hardship? I feel horrible for the people worried about losing their jobs. Horrible. The timing could not suck any more. I'd rather that we re-employ those folks in other work versus continue to sail a sinking ship. I just don't understand how we can keep rewarding poorly run companies with money. Warren Buffet's plan seems almost acceptable to me. I guess on some level, I am just looking for a pound of flesh. Man am I fired up about this today.
I think what we are missing here is "good sense". For example:
1) Execs asking for money should have the "good sense" not to fly to DC on very expensive private planes (and offer to only sell off a fraction of their fleet once they have been exposed)
2) Execs shouldn't ask for money when they, themselves, don't have much at stake. The people most impacted/culpable should put the most on the line. I'd like to see these execs downsize personally before a single job is cut. They caused this mess and before I see one tax dollar devoted to bailing anyone out, I think that these execs should sell of their vacation homes, mansions, planes, boats, etc, and start to work for the same salaries that middle management makes, with significant rewards for success but just a modest straight salary to start. They should have to shop at Walmart and Target just like the folks they are asking to bail them out. Frankly, I'd rather see control of these companies turned over to someone else who hasn't yet driven a company into the ground. But if we stay with these guys, I'd like them to tie up all their money in their companies as a sign of good faith that they are actually going to do what it takes to turn them around.
3) And then I want to see them focus on building a better product. I would love nothing more than to buy American. My grandpa spent most of his life working at Ford. And if he were alive today, I know how much compassion he would feel for the employees of those companies and I know that he would want to kick some of their competitors butts. You only do that by offering a superior product. And the only people that should be running these companies are the ones that are smart enough to figure out how to do that. Figure. It. Out. Then ask us for money (and give us our share of the rewards).
I just wonder what is that standard that has to be met for these companies requesting assistance. Does Circuit City belly up to the trough next? There are plenty of companies in trouble. The economy grinds to a halt if we don't help the banks (and trust me, I feel plenty of heart burn over how they got to where they are because there's some shady business there), but what about the auto makers? I'm open to a compelling argument.
We have a giving tree in our building at work. I really enjoy grabbing a few tags and buying some gifts, which I did today (the grabbing, not the buying....yet). It's really a selfish thing for me because it makes me feel good that I can share what I have been fortunate enough to have with others.
Let's set up a big giving tree in DC. All the bailout candidates can hang their names on a tag and let's see who wants to grab a few of those tags. Anyone?
I guess I have not yet heard a clearly articulated strategy by the government on behalf of the American people as to why this option should even be entertained. Like I said, my mind could be changed, but this one doesn't pass the WIIFM test.
Geez, I am feeling a little like Lewis Black today. I am going to start doing that hand-thrusting/shaking thing soon :)
Since Warren Buffett probably isn't going to respond to this blog post (and because I really want to know) does anyone have a different perspective or are we all equally cheesed off?