Well, well. So GM’s Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner has been forced to resign as part of the Obama administration’s bailout plan.
I’m not going to argue that he shouldn’t have been. Somebody needed to take the fall for GM’s downward spiral in recent years. And it’s certainly better for one man to lose a job than the thousands that will lose jobs if GM goes under. But come on. Seriously. Booting one man at this point can’t possibly make any difference. The die is cast. GM was likely a lost cause long before Obama was elected. Wagoner’s ouster now won’t make an ounce of difference.
If Obama wanted to make an example of some fat cat, I wish it had been one of those AIG guys (or whatever they call their little club now). Those are the heads the public is screaming for right now. Forcing one of them out would have sent the same message to unresponsive CEOs and would have tossed the public the red meat they want.
AIG and GM “too big to fail”? What kind of nonsense is that? As far as I’m concerned, you screw up big, you fail big. That’s fair. That’s life. That’s the breaks. Let the failure fit the screw-up.
Other than that, I just don’t like the whole bailout thing. When I first heard the Wagoner story today, my reaction was something like “hey, the government can’t tell a private citizen to resign.” Then I reminded myself that indeed it can. That’s the price you pay for taking money from the government — there are always strings attached.
I just don’t like seeing government messing around in business’s business. It’s kind of like the separation of church and state. Certain things ought to be kept separate.
More: In a Washington Post story this morning:
Wagoner’s resignation does not mean that he will leave the company immediately. He will continue to draw his $1 annual salary, because if he leaves the company he is entitled to a multimillion-dollar pension that the government does not want to pay, a source familiar with the matter said.
Whew. For me, being fired unexpectedly at 55 was an emotional and economic disaster; what a relief to know the 56-year-old Wagoner is prepared to survive any unforeseen reversals.