WASHINGTON -- Gulliver's travels took him to the Academy of Lagado, where "professors contrive new rules and methods" for everything: "One man shall do the work of ten; a palace may be built in a week, of materials so durable as to last forever without repairing. All the fruits of the earth shall come to maturity at whatever season we think fit to choose, and increase a hundredfold more than they do at present." There was, however, the "inconvenience" that "none of these projects" had yet come to fruition and "the whole country lies miserably waste." But "instead of being discouraged," people were "fifty times more violently bent upon prosecuting their schemes," which included "extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers."
At the Academy of Obama, professors and others devise plans for extracting a new and improved automobile industry from a semi-sort-of-bankruptcy arrangement that -- if it survives judicial scrutiny; that is not certain -- will give the United Auto Workers 39 percent of General Motors, with the government owning 50 percent. During future contract negotiations, will the union's adversary be an administration that the union helped to put in power?
The UAW will own 55 percent of Chrysler, so perhaps the union will sit on both sides of the table in negotiations. They should go smoothly, although the UAW may think it has made sufficient concessions, such as the one that says henceforth overtime pay will not begin until the worker has toiled 40 hours in a week.
Many months and many billions of dollars are being wasted by the administration's determination to spare the car companies, and especially the UAW, the rigors of a straightforward bankruptcy. The president's "surgical" bankruptcy plan for Chrysler requires some of the company's lenders, mostly non-banks, to receive less than they would as secured creditors under bankruptcy law.
The law may still make itself heard over the political thunder. Meanwhile, the president faults these "speculators" for not being as cooperative as are most of the banks that have lent to Chrysler. But the banks are compliant because they are mendicants: Having taken the government's money, they are the government's minions.
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