I’m looking into the claims of the auto industry about all the bad things that will happen without a bailout, and I can’t help but think about that guy Milton in the movie Office Space.
The big car makers and their unions are making a powerful case for taxpayers (that means you, BTW) to pony up some dough and help them out of their troubles. They say too many jobs, too many towns, too many states will suffer too badly if their industry is not rescued. Anarchy will rule. Dogs will sleep with cats. Apocalypse now.
Problem is, making the case for a bailout seems to be the most popular game in DC these days, no matter what troubled industry is on the table. The argument is always the same: We’re too big to fail, and if we do, we’ll take all of you down with us. It’s like big businesses all over have wrapped themselves in a shield of taxpayer-hostages.
I’m not dismissing their arguments. There is a lot of truth in the notion that if we let some of these big firms fold, we’ll all feel the collapse in our own finances.
I also have no idea how many will ultimately be bailed out, but I’m pretty sure the government money train will screech to a halt right before it reaches my station…or yours.
Which is why I’m thinking about Milton Waddam. I keep seeing images in my mind of all of us normal taxpayers, struggling to pay bills, put kids through college, maybe save a little money, keep our jobs and our sanity; finally reaching the point where we say, “Enough! We need a bailout, too!” And at the moment, I suspect, we’ll be like Milton waiting on that slice of party cake. We will be polite, patient, and quietly dismayed as we slowly realize everyone else has gotten theirs, and nothing is left for us.
The thing Washington has to worry about, however, is not Milton’s disappointment, but Milton’s revenge. Don’t forget the end of the movie. The taxpayers who buy the bailout arguments now are expecting results. They expect the economy to get better, and if it doesn’t, Democratic and Republican politicians can expect those taxpayers to get even when the next election roles around.
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