The saying used to be, What's good for Detroit is good for America.
These days Detroit is a barely functioning city, one of the few major American cities whose population has actually dropped sharply losing half its population since 1950 and whose Mayor is awaiting a prison sentence. It also highlights the future of Obama's New American Economy... and this time what's going on in Detroit, isn't good for America.
No matter what it says on paper, Chrysler and GM are no longer American corporations. They're now government subsidized job banks for Obama's union supporters and eventually providers of paid corporate positions for Obama's political allies. Capitalism is dead, meet the future of the American auto industry built on the same model as the planned car companies of Russia and Eastern Europe.
Chrysler and GM no longer exist to make cars. They exist to make jobs for Obama's supporters. They exist to show the "virtues" of a planned economy, and to provide graft and payoff opportunities up the corporate ladder. That's how the Russians used to make cars. That's how we make cars now. Ford may hold out for now, but it can't hold out forever. Government money is too tempting and for corporate CEO's a cushy position that doesn't demand anything in the way of performance, beyond kowtowing to the unions, seems like a good bet.
That's now how American business was supposed to work, but GM and Chrysler created the problem themselves, when they got out of the business of selling cars-- and got into the business of selling debt. As the car companies took selling auto loans as their business model, they became banks who happened to provide cars. And they began selling an increasingly worsening product in exchange for loan obligations.
A credit centered business model meant that the quality of the car didn't matter, because the car wasn't the product, the loan was the product. Car salesmen grew sleazier than ever, because they were selling debt, not product. The old American auto industry that depended on hard work was gone. The new American auto industry was nothing more than a scam wrapped around a few brand names. Now it's a whole different kind of scam.
Yet this problem is not unique to the auto industry. The creditization of America meant that most American companies were in the business of selling debt to consumers. The actual American industry was increasingly outsourced to China. The products grew shoddier and cheaper, the profit margins grew higher and so did the debt margins.
The American people came to think of themselves as consumers, a word that might be better applied to cows grazing in the field. Not workers, not citizens... but consumers. Credit rating became a vital part of their identity, more important than reputation, honor or integrity. Debt ceased to be shameful, and became something casual. Everyone now owed money without worrying about it. One credit card paid off another. Mortgages were paid off with credit cards too. People who did not own small businesses found nothing wrong in balancing several loans and debts at the same time.
And then the system crashed and all the loans came due. Observers like Soros had understood for a long time how flawed the current economic model was. Where in the days of the USSR, Western industry had drawn its strenght for labor and production-- the present day West no longer had industry or labor, it only had debt, which it in turn resold and passed along down the line to everyone, who in turn passed it along to China.
It didn't take much to make the whole thing come crashing down. The government itself had gotten into the debt business with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Debt had become a national right, which means that even people who couldn't afford the debt they wanted, had to have it anyway. Backed by the government. Their debt itself became an investment, and the investment was no good.
All the while endless scams were taking place inside the great financial system of debt, like rats in the walls, men like Madoff, Pang or France's Kerviel were moving around billions of dollars, unnoticed. Unnoticed while the tide was rising and floating all boats, but when the tide began to recede, suddenly the scams were visible, and the scams themselves helped bring down the system.
The cynics of Capitalism, the Lenins or the Soroses, had always argued that greed was capitalism's weakness and would bring it down. Capitalism had been invulnerable when it provided opportunities for individual economic advancement, when it connected resources, production and labor. But the so-called service economy marked the shift away from actual labor and industry. And what was left were imports, services and debt.
That is where the 2008 Communist Revolution came in. GM and Chrysler are not the only companies that have committed themselves to debt based economic models or that sell shoddy products. GM and Chrysler counted on consumer stupidity to keep buying cars filled with Mexican parts, put together by overpaid union hacks, while driving themselves deeper into debt to do it. Had they dispensed with a debt based model, with the dealerships and their whole disastrous business model, they wouldn't be an Obama owned enterprise. But they're just the beginning.
Lenin's revolutionary model called for seizing the banks and means of communication and transportation. These days communication means the internet, and a tall order. Instead the banks came first. Then the auto companies. The airlines will probably be on the list soon enough, when they're in need of major bailouts.
The point of all this of course was to control the population. Banks hold the public wealth. Transportation defines the limits of personal mobility. Communication controls what people see and hear and say. So far Obama holds 2 out of 3. And the worst is yet to come. The more public debt the government has control over, the more power it has.
Mortgages are an excellent tool for resettling portions of the American population. And that was exactly how the FDR administration used them. Auto loans are a factor in the lives of a large number of Americans. Being able to selectively drive the right sorts of people into debt, while making life easy for others, is about as good a tool of social control as possible.
Welcome to the New American Economy, one that will have more than a passing resemblance to the old Soviet economy. One where products are not built for consumers, but exist to create jobs in a planned economy. One where "Green" shortages and scarcities insure that people will buy whatever is being sold. Where the loans are always coming due and never coming due. Where industry and the dignity of labor don't matter, where jobs are payoffs for political support, and where being a party member is all you need to get ahead in life.
Welcome, because if we can't get it out by 2012, it may just be here to say.