11 November 2008

Car madness

Once again, it's time to ask: what is government for?

From 'the Australian', 11 November:

Car industry praises $6.2bn assistance package

Car companies and component makers believe the Rudd Government's [Australian]$6.2billion assistance package will help safeguard the future of the automotive industry in Australia.
Meanwhile Associated Press is reporting that
President-elect Obama suggested to President Bush that the administration immediately help struggling U.S. automakers, aides to the Democrat say, in the first face-to-face meeting the pair had since Obama's election victory.

And the BBC's Robert Peston reports on another possibility:

For me, the most interesting story of the past 24 hours is that VW, the stressed German carmaker, is trying to raise €2.8bn (£2.2bn) from the European Central Bank. It plans to raise cash from the ECB in exchange for €2.8bn of securities backed by car loans. In effect, the ECB - and ultimately taxpayers in the eurozone - would be financing purchases of automobiles. Crikey, is all that comes to mind. What next? [My italics]
Indeed. As I have said many times, it's the persistence of this sort of mad subsidy that defies explanation. We know they redistribute our scarce resources to large corporates at the expense of ordinary people and the environment. We've known this for decades, but at a time of crisis, we cannot stop ourselves throwing more money in the direction of what are some of the least socially and environmentally sensitive corporations on the planet. This is, it seems to me, a failure of our entire system of government.

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