On Carl Levin

From this article, summarizing Michigan Senator Carl Levin‘s thoughts on the impending bailout:

“It’s amazing to me that there should be any question about this,” Levin said. “Every automobile-producing country in the world is supporting their auto industry.

Why is it the policy of the United States to be justified in our behaviors just because everybody else is doing it?  Following the lemmings off the ledge is never a good reason to get involved.

Still, Levin acknowledged the idea that American taxpayers might not want to help one group of workers at a time when everyone is struggling.

“But I think everybody wants the middle class to survive,” Levin said. “And the manufacturing centers of this country — wherever they are — have been a great source of the middle class to this country.

All true, but how does it therefore follow that it is the government’s responsibility to further increase the financial burdens on middle-class families to preserve the middle-class?  How is this even coherent?  How does it follow that without the automotive manufacturing center in the country, the middle class will inevitably die?

Or one could wonder, “Can governments really preserve a middle-class, a group they had little hand in forming?”

Levin also noted that U.S. autoworkers have already absorbed cuts in their pension and healthcare benefits.

The domestic airline and steel industries did this a few years ago.  Were they bailed out?

As for those who think the fate of America’s carmakers should be decided by the open market, Levin said the industry doesn’t operate on a level playing field.

“Are they kidding?” he said. “Do they think that the Japanese or the Chinese or the Koreans or the Europeans operate in a free market?”

I admit that I actually agree with Senator Levin here.  It’s true that a free market is not to be found in the world.  Most governments adopt protectionist economic policies.  But there was a time when most governments wanted to conquer Africa, or supported the slave trade, too.  Again, are we sure we’re not following the lemmings off the cliff?

Those governments, Levin said, support their manufacturers. “It has to do with the standard of living and the good jobs that are involved in manufacturing,” he said.

Government-support of industry may indeed relate to the perceived connection between government economic involvement and a high standard of living.  But again, how did this high standard of living come to be?  Minimal government involvement is almost always the answer.  Why, then, would increasing government control and power make sense to preserve what it had no hand in creating?

Government-support of industry is more related to the false perception that governments will solve all problems and fix all ills, regardless of cost or historical precedent.  It’s a sad reflection on our lack of self-reliance, independence, faith, confidence, mutual trust, self-respect, and work ethic.

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1 Comment

Filed under Austrian Economics, fiscal policy, Libertarian, politics, role of government

One response to “On Carl Levin

  1. Auto bailout makes me think of what happens when you remove accountability from a three year old. It gets ugly when they are 5 and it becomes a disaster when they hit their teens.

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