01 June 2009

Government as Shareholder Counter to Public Interest

I have never supported corporate bailouts. I do not support politicos who hail market capitalism during the good times and harrumph, posture, and then hail corporate socialism during the bad times.

Now it is reported that Ottawa will become a shareholder of GM. While there are those who might argue that reaping profits (if there ever are any) could be advantageous to taxpayers in such circumstances, I disagree.

How does owning a stake in GM - an industry, not just a corporation, whose financial bottom line depends on a nation-wide infrastructure and a lifestyle based on private, individually-owned vehicles - encourage the federal government to invest in public transportation? Doesn't investing in the one contradict investing in the other?

What about environmental regulations which would challenge Ottawa's profit margin?

I anticipate all kinds of ethical dilemmas on this slippery slope. Unless, of course, the government should exercise foresight (which I've yet to witness) and insist - with its 16 (to reduce to 11.7) percent clout and single Board member - that GM put as much of its resources into producing railcars and buses as in private vehicles.

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