Before the White House goes much further in nationalizing Chrysler and General Motors, someone in the administration should take a look at history and see what a disaster British Leyland was for the British government.
If you don't learn from history, you will repeat it.
In order to save jobs in England, the government supported the conglomeration of all sorts of automakers into a new company. It didn't work. After the British government poured billions of dollars into the new corporation, it died a quiet death.
Government ownership -- or direction -- won't work in the United States. Anyone who thinks the government knows how to run a large manufacturing company like GM or Chrysler just doesn't get it.
The acquisition of Chrysler by Fiat appears to be the best outcome for the Chrysler suppliers, dealers and employees. But please, let Fiat run it or Fiat will run away.
The White House says it doesn't want to run Chrysler or GM. But has anyone noticed how many seats the government gets on the newly constituted board of Chrysler if the court agrees to the federal government's proposal? Add the number of seats the UAW gets, and you can see who will run things.
Fiat must get control of the operations so the two companies can be integrated for the benefit of everyone, including the customer.
The government thinks that the loans to GM and Chrysler give the administration the right to intercede in the business operations of the companies. Nothing could be more unwise if they ever want the taxpayers' money to be repaid. President Barack Obama's initial management change vividly demonstrated that the White House has a different agenda than simply running a successful company and giving the customers what they want.
One reason Bob Nardelli failed as Chrysler CEO was what he inherited. But it also had to do with a lack of specific knowledge about running an automobile company.
Nardelli and Cerberus had plenty of general business experience. But the car business requires knowledge that simply takes time to acquire, something that they didn't have.
The White House and the Treasury Department have even less experience and knowledge of the automobile industry. It is dangerous to assume that an eight-week course in auto manufacturing gives those bright politicians any real understanding. Their knowledge is superficial, at best.
They've decided on the future of Chrysler. Next up is Government Motors. Does anyone expect it to be any different?