Obama Bailout Saved Union Power Not Union Jobs

Paul Roderick, writing inĀ Forbes, takes a fascinating look at the Obama bailout of the auto companies concluding that the bailout was needed, not to protect jobs but to protect the union and their power structure: Contrary to popular belief, bankruptcy does not mean companies close their doors and send employees home. This is the false message President Barack Obama tried to sell on his victory tour of Detroit. If General Motors had gone through a normal bankruptcy without taxpayer bailouts, there would still be GM jobs--maybe even more than there are now. We do not know because that was the road not taken. We do know, however, what happened to the airlines that went through bankruptcy. Their planes kept flying, and pilots, mechanics and flight attendants reported to work, even if there were fewer of them. Over the past decade, no industry has had worse breaks than the airlines. They took a huge hit from 9/11. They have been buffeted by fuel prices. The TSA's intrusive airport screening angered passengers. Furthermore, the airline industry is cyclical; it suffers disproportionately from economic downturns. Compared to the airlines, GM has had a cake walk. Indeed, four major airlines filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after 9/11 (US Air and United in 2002; Northwest and Delta in 2005). Each company was restructured by a bankruptcy court according to the rule of law. In each case, creditors took haircuts and employees lost jobs and agreed to concessions in wages and work conditions. Each airline emerged from bankruptcy and continued to operate as a going concern.