The Pnyx: General Motors and Corporate Subsidies

Joshua Schuetz
Staff Writer

The recent announcement by General Motors of a restructuring plan that will lay off 14,000 American workers has roiled the media and provoked an angry reaction from President Donald Trump. The president threatened to cut subsidies for the automotive company, noting that the U.S. government bailed General Motors out in 2008.

I would argue in favor of such a move, for two reasons.

First, there’s a moral argument to be made here: American taxpayers should not have to line the pockets of an automotive giant that slashes U.S. jobs in return. The government already bailed them out; let us not do so again.

Second, government subsidies, especially to large businesses, tend to favor established organizations over startups and small businesses, which weakens competition and hurts both workers and consumers as a result.

It is to be noted that GM saved quite a bit of money from the Trump tax cut, which was mostly reinvested into stock buybacks for shareholders. There are larger market forces at play here, of course, but that is not the point: the point is that American citizens have paid to give a large company bailouts, tax cuts, and subsidies. And what does the taxpayer get in return? Why, 14,000 lost jobs, of course.

If corporations are to be people, as the Supreme Court has ruled, then they ought to be held to the same moral standards that human beings are. With rights come responsibilities.

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