Ross Mackenzie

It's Christmas time, and if you were Santa Claus -- well, let's see . . .

Would you tuck something under the tree of the Obama administration now forming up -- given that it apparently has all the money it needs to make everything better for me and thee and the country -- verily for the planet?

What would you put on your list to haul down the chimney for the Detroit automakers, which since oh, the 1970s, have been building cars that insufficient numbers of Americans want to buy?

What would you have in mind for members of the United Auto Workers, who in their dealings with management have refused to yield in hardly any demand or benefit to help save the companies and, by extension, their jobs?

Similarly, believing as you must that what's good for General Motors is good for America, what about for instance GM's Rick Wagoner, who did such a stupendous job in 2007 when GM lost $39 billion -- the largest single-year loss for any car company ever -- that his board raised his compensation 64 percent to $16 million?

And speaking of the 1970s, would you be contemplating a bailout -- as suggested by some woolly thinkers -- for the nation's newspapers? Since the 1970s, declining numbers -- and plummeting percentages -- of Americans have felt a compelling need for their product as well. (Ditto magazines: e.g., Newsweek is laying off staff; TimeWarner reportedly may unload Time.) Hardly any newspaper having figured out either how to stanch the circulation hemorrhage or how to make money on the Internet, not a few may have to be carried off the dance floor toes-up.

Just to be supposin', suppose you were Santa baby . . .

How would you gift the nation's leading financial and insurance houses -- those that are still around, it being too late for your goodwill and beneficence for those that are not? And how would you soothe, comfort, warm -- grief counsel, even -- those among the everyday rest of us who had nothing to do with the evaporation of $10 trillion in assets gone poof! in but a year of nights, and to whom little remains except lumps of coal?

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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