The Big Three automakers went to Congress this week to beg for $34 billion in taxpayer support to bailout their failing businesses. That brought to mind the earlier words of Alan Mulally, former Boeing CEO and now president of Ford. Back in 2002, Mulally, responding to a slow economic recovery for Boeing, said he could not promise security for workers:
"Nobody can guarantee jobs and security in market-based economics."
Ah yes, the market. Convenient to conjure when you want to pull up stakes, outsource work, and squeeze your unions, but easily forgotten when you're in trouble and your hope for survival is the public trough.
This time around, Mulally isn't sure Ford will need bailout money, but he's asking for a $9 billion line of credit from the government. Plus, Ford is asking the Energy Department for another $5 billion. CEOs love to invoke the market when it suits them, but they're quick to demand favors, perks, tax breaks, subsidies and loans when the going gets tough. Any bailout funds should come with the requirement that all execs wear a tattoo on their foreheads that says "Screw the market. I am a welfare queen."