An open letter to President Obama

Barack Obama  (Photo by Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images)

 

January 25, 2012

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

I noticed that you took credit for saving General Motors. I think it would have been best for everyone if you had allowed the free market to work. GM would have gone out of business but other automakers would have picked up the pieces and become stronger and hired more workers. 

Below is the conclusion Daniel J. Ikenson of the Cato Institute:

The objection to the auto bailout was not that the federal government wouldn’t be able to marshal adequate resources to help GM. The most serious concerns were about the consequences of that intervention — the undermining of the rule of law, the property confiscations, the politically driven decisions and the distortion of market signals.

Any verdict on the auto bailouts must take into account, among other things, the illegal diversion of TARP funds, the forced transfer of assets from shareholders and debt-holders to pensioners and their union; the higher-risk premiums consequently built into U.S. corporate debt; the costs of denying Ford and the other more worthy automakers the spoils of competition; the costs of insulating irresponsible actors, such as the autoworkers’ union, from the outcomes of an apolitical bankruptcy proceeding; the diminution of U.S. moral authority to counsel foreign governments against market interventions; and the lingering uncertainty about policy that pervades the business environment to this day.

GM’s recent profits speak only to the fact that politicians committed more than $50 billion to the task of rescuing those companies and the United Auto Workers. With debts expunged, cash infused, inefficiencies severed, ownership reconstituted, sales rebates underwritten and political obstacles steamrolled — all in the midst of a recovery in U.S. auto demand — only the most incompetent operations could fail to make profits.

But taxpayers are still short at least $10 billion to $20 billion (depending on the price that the government’s 500 million shares of GM will fetch), and there is still significant overcapacity in the auto industry.

The administration should divest as soon as possible, without regard to the stock price. Keeping the government’s tentacles around a large firm in an important industry will keep the door open wider to industrial policy and will deter market-driven decision-making throughout the industry, possibly keeping the brakes on the recovery. Yes, there will be a significant loss to taxpayers. But the right lesson to learn from this chapter in history is that government interventions carry real economic costs — only some of which are readily measurable.

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your committment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

 

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