As the The The implosion of the global auto-motive industry continues, Vauxhall workers at Ellesmere Port have just been offered a degree of job security in exchange for a layoff at 30% pay. This is a grim echo of Bruce Forsyth's incredible 1968 propaganda single 'I'm Backing Britain', which urged patriotic Britons to work for nothing.
The demands of market economics on the industry, forcing it to produce ever more conspicuously wasteful models, have proved too much. As profit-making businesses, they are now almost worthless. Their immense investment in machinery and property is just so much scrap iron. The only asset which now matters is the workforce, and the lives which depend on it, including those dependent on the huge small business sector which would die if the car production line workforce stopped spending.
So the duty of the state is to the people, not the corporations, whose custody of the economy has proved to be a mistake. So before the proposal even arises - why should the state buy defunct car companies? They are worth nothing except the people who kept them working, so by any common law morality, the asset reverts to the ownership of society - the people. The short-termism of the corporations hasn't worked, they've had they chance and they blew it. In effect, the car industry has died without leaving a will. Its estate would, in a family situation, revert to the next of kin; in this case, the workers as represented by the state. Its assets are now the state's. Its workforce was only ever rented out anyway.
The industry wants the state to sponsor it through what it sees as 'hard times'. So that it can keep as many people in work until the 'good times' return, as they surely must.Then, they can carry on much as before. Not this time. A future auto-motive industry has to try its best to set back the clock and make the sort of machines they should have started making at least ten years ago. Ironically enough, Formula One racing has finally decided to provide an incentive to efficiency in their sport by barring refuelling from 2010 - one of several measures forced on F1 by the Crash. Perhaps this represents a start to whatever it is that Barack Obama is proposing, and whatever the common sense demands of the future dictate.