“I’m not telling the U.S. what to do, but the lessons of the British experience is don’t throw good money after bad,” Leon Brittan, an aide to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told The New York Times. “British Leyland carried on for a few more years, but they’re not there now, are they?”
Under government ownership, British cars were notoriously bad. We could expect the same thing here, once members of Congress are acting as automotive engineers. If you thought federal regulations hampered car makers, wait until the government’s in the room during the design process.
Detroit’s automakers have an opportunity, not a crisis. They should declare bankruptcy, rewrite unaffordable union contracts, and design cars that people want to buy. If they were smart, they’d especially focus on the emerging markets of China and India, where billions of people are going to want to buy cars in the decades ahead.
But there’s no need for a bailout. Government-owned roads are inefficient enough; there’s no reason to try to clog them up with government-built cars.