George Will
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When the president was recently asked what had "humbled" him in office, he mentioned that "there are a lot of different power centers" in America, so, for example, "I can't just press a button and suddenly have the bankers do exactly what I want." Perhaps not a button, and not exactly what he wants, but in dealing with Detroit he pressed and they were accommodating.

It is Demagoguery 101 to identify an unpopular minority to blame for problems. The president has chosen to blame "speculators" -- aka investors; anyone who buys a share of a company's stock is speculating about the company's future -- for Chrysler's bankruptcy and the dubious legality of his proposal. Yet he simultaneously says he hopes that private investors will begin supplanting government as a source of capital for the companies. Breathes there an investor/speculator with such a stunted sense of risk that he or she would go into business with this capricious government?

Its chief executive says: "If the Japanese can design (an) affordable, well-designed hybrid, then, doggone it, the American people should be able to do the same." Yes they can -- if the American manufacturer can do what Toyota does with the Prius: Sell its hybrid without significant, if any, profit and sustain this practice, as Toyota does, by selling about twice as many of the gas-thirsty pickup trucks that the president thinks are destroying the planet.

Obama overflows with advice for Americans who he thinks need admonitions such as "wash your hands when you shake hands" and "cover your mouth when you cough." He also advises that this is a good time for Americans to put their hygienic hands on the steering wheel of a new car. He hopes buyers will choose American cars. A sensible person might add: Buyers should choose cars made by the Ford Motor Company.

This is so because Ford has, so far, avoided becoming an appendage of the government. And because the national interest will not be served by GM and Chrysler flourishing. It might cost taxpayers more in the short run, but in the long run it will be less costly for the country if the government finds its confident plunge into industrial policy so unpleasant that, sadder but wiser, the incumbent professors and others will flee from such adventures in extracting sunbeams from cucumbers.

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George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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