Before we bail out the car companies…

18 Nov

One of America’s great vulnerabilities in the coming years will be its poor public transit system.  The US has one of the worst in the developed world.  But how did this come to pass?  Here is what wikipedia has to say.

National City Lines, Inc. (NCL), was a company formed in 1920, reorganized in 1936 into a holding company for the express purpose of acquiring local transit systems throughout the country.[1] In 1938, NCL entered into exclusive dealing arrangements and obtained equity funding from companies seeking to increase sales of commercial buses and supplies, including General Motors, Firestone Tire, Standard Oil of California and Phillips Petroleum, which enabled NCL to buy out more than 100 electric streetcar systems in 45 cities (including New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, and Los Angeles). Those systems were ultimately dismantled and replaced with bus systems in what became known as the Great American streetcar scandal.

In 1949, General Motors, Standard Oil of California, Firestone Tire and others were convicted in the Federal District Court of Northern Illinois for conspiring to monopolize the sale of buses and related products to local transit companies controlled by NCL and other companies, but were acquitted of conspiring to monopolize the ownership of these companies. The verdicts were upheld on appeal. [2]

So before we begin handing out cash to these companies we should be looking at what they have done for the public good?  Are they worth preserving or should we let them fail?  On this issue (as with most) I am a capitalist.  Let the free market speak.  Let these dinosaurs go.

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