What’s the idea with all these bailouts?
A lot has been written about the differences between the federal bailout of Detroit and that of the financial industry. The automakers are being made to grovel and are under crazy scrutiny. The financial Machers (MAKH-ahs, for the non-Yiddish. It means big shots), not so much.
Here’s the thing: both these industries made stuff the American people bought. Cars are made of steel, plastic and electronics. Mortgages are made of paper. Both are high-end products — the two biggest investments consumers make, actually – and both were aggressively marketed. Since people kept buying them, companies kept selling them.
As to the predatory targeting of low-income families with toxic mortgages that didn’t require repayment for a year or two, that was beyond reasonable. But no one made people buy the freakin’ SUV de jour? That one’s on us.
Detroit’s problem was poor judgment mixed with a dram of stupidity. The automakers just never looked through the windshield to the future. The problem with Wall Street and Charlotte was avarice. They used creative product development, but it was predatory. Both industries were greedy, but only one was downright mean-spirited. Peace!