Bailout on Wheels Rolls Down Slippery Slope

Ah, that slippery slope. All of a sudden, Nancy Pelosi has come to the conclusion that ensuring union retirees receive large amounts of taxpayers’ money is central to the country’s financial stability. And after all, it’s only $25 billion (or maybe $50 billion, still nowhere near $700 billion, or maybe $2 trillion). As my colleague Sam Kazman commented, even though multi-billion dollar bailouts may no longer be the rarity they once were, that does not entitle either the auto industry or the UAW to Cole Porter’s Anything Goes status. Moreover, as Professor Bainbridge points out, all of the problems facing the Big Three would be better solved by bankruptcy than bailout. Yet it seems that Bailout Mania has crossed the pond, with the unions in Britain demanding a $20 billion bailout for the virtually non-existant British auto industry.

In this sort of climate, we should remember a simple fact about the free market, eloquently expressed by none other than PJ O’Rourke in his must-read, if controversial, essay “We Blew It” in the latest Weekly Standard:

What will destroy our country and us is not the financial crisis but the fact that liberals think the free market is some kind of sect or cult, which conservatives have asked Americans to take on faith. That’s not what the free market is. The free market is just a measurement, a device to tell us what people are willing to pay for any given thing at any given moment. The free market is a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on the scale. “Jeeze, 230 pounds!” But you can’t pass a law making yourself weigh 185. Liberals think you can. And voters—all the voters, right up to the tippy-top corner office of Goldman Sachs—think so too.

Indeed. And subsidizing food bills won’t help either. Someone near and dear to me has similar thoughts at her new blog.

Cross-posted from The Corner.