Just two days after arguing that whether to close dealerships and which ones are decisions that "must be the province of private enterprise, not intrusive lawmakers," the editorialists at the New York Times now says that it is the job of "public policy" to "steer the choices of industry, and consumers, away from the preference for size and power" when it comes to automobiles. The paper says that "now is the time to do it" because "G.M. is majority-owned by the government."
No real explanation in the editorial of why what size cars to make is an appropriate matter for government involvement, but how many dealers to sell them through is not. Sure, there is a nod to the need to "slash carbon emissions" and "cope with rising energy prices." But it seems the Times's opposition to "intrusive lawmakers" meddling in "private enterprise" is as variable and situational as its willingness to acknowledge that G.M. is majority-owned by the government. If the majority ownership gives the government the right to decide on what size and power the cars should be, why doesn't it also give the government the right to decide how many dealers to have? And if the government shouldn't decide how many dealers, why should it decide the size and power of cars?
It's a perilous situation any way you look at it, because either the federal government owns GM but doesn't control it (in which case, who does control it?) or the government owns GM and does control it (in which case, it's run for political purposes, and the non-government minority shareholders are not having their company run for their benefit). Credit the inconsistent editorialists of the Times for highlighting, if unintentionally, the pitfalls of government involvement in the economy.