Friday, December 5, 2008

Car Crash: Truthiness on Parade

Jon Stewart gets it right almost all the time. Why not "loan" Detroit automakers $34 billion? Who's gonna notice? I have to confess that the immensity of the sums of money being tossed about like so many bags of peanuts at a ball game has just gotten me so flabbergasted that I can't begin to understand what is going on. It seems almost naive of me to have railed against a mere $700 billion grant by the taxpayers to Wall Street a few weeks ago. Oh, we're way beyond that now.

What we're talking about now is trillions of dollars to keep this group, this sector, this or that industry alive. Alive that is, because we're told that if they don't get these billions, the entire economy collapses. What visions does that conjure up for you? Are you scared? Of course. That's the point. We're all scared out of our wits about a catastrophe that looms on the immediate horizon unless we cast untold billions of dollars at the problem. Think of it like terrorists . . . we do the same to stave them off, too. Only, by comparison, keeping those filthy terrorists away is a frigging bargain.

So, despite my recent tirade against bailing out Detroit, I'm changing my mind. I hate to do it because it rewards profligate and stupid behavior, but do we really have a choice? Who knows whether these auto execs are telling the truth about the imminent collapse of their businesses without an immediate infusion of billions from the government? If they are, I don't think for a second that a mere $34 billion is all that's needed. They'll be back for more. But at least millions of little people, who don't travel in corporate jets and who can't live on $1 a year, will still be employed.

And if they're lying? Well, what's wrong with that? That's the way American business (not to mention the US government) normally operates. It floats on a sea of falsehoods and lies. Why should these car guys be any different? We've been told that whatever outrageous sum we throw into the maw of Wall Street or the banks is going to turn the corner on this ongoing financial catastrophe. How are we doing so far on that?

Either way: lying or truth, we taxpayers are going to clasp our own truthiness and continue to hemorrhage more billions into the black hole that now defines the American economy.
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