The NY Times reports that groups looking to get in on the government bailout action now extend far beyond the much reported Big 3 automakers to include car and boat dealers.
Then there is the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which is asking whether boat financing companies might be eligible for aid to ensure that dealers have access to credit to stock their showrooms with boats — costs have gone up as the credit markets have calcified. Using much the same rationale, the National Automobile Dealers Association is pleading that car dealers get consideration, too.
Airlines have benefited from the government’s largess in the past, as have trains. Which pretty much covers most motorized forms of transportation, with the notable exception of the flying car industry.
Now, the Washington Post is reporting the latest to step up to the trough is our very own Metro. Metro wants the Treasury to guarantee loans that will keep a Belgian bank at bay.
If the judge sides with Metro, “it buys us some time and either KBC can try to settle or they can go to trial,” Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said. The agency, members of Congress and industry groups can continue to press the Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve to guarantee the deals, she said.
Of course, my secret hope is that the Belgians come in, privatize the Metro, and put 8 car trains back on the Orange Line in the mornings.
I think it is notable that among all the many industries and businesses that think they are deserving of taxpayer dollars to continue in their uncompetitive ways, I have heard no one recommend we bailout the many flagging newspaper and print media companies. Just yesterday it was reported that the venerable Time, Inc. was seeking volunteers to accept buyouts and avoid layoffs. And it’s well known that the New York Times has been forced to cut staff. The NY Times is the largest metropolitan paper in the US and has been around since 1851, yet I haven’t heard the “too big to fail” argument there yet.
And while one could point out that newspapers don’t have the same kind of entangling relationships with the economy that AIG and co. did, there are nonetheless careers and families on the line.
But in the example of the dying newspapers, we see clearly an industry that is being forced to adapt to a new online world where information is shared via pixels, not dead trees. And many are doing so – U.S. News and World Report is going strictly digital, and practically every paper from national to local at least has a side-along website.
Why past bailout beneficiaries didn’t have to do the same is astounding. Should Starbucks be next in line? Or should they look to McDonalds where their affordable food means record profits, even in these tough times?
Or, even better, maybe everyone could take a page from Australian Treasury Secretary Ken Henry and just “put a smile on our face.”