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SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Why can't the government do the same with the banks that it did with SiriusXM radio?

Asked by SquirrelEStuff (9189points) February 24th, 2009

SiriusXM was in danger of going bankrupt last week. Liberty Media, aka DirectTV, came in and loaned them $530 million in exchange for 40% of the company. The government did nothing.

Like Ive mentioned before, if we are 11 trillion in debt, that means there is $11 trillion in money around. Liberty Media is worth approx $41 Billion, so they took some of that money, and invested it in a company it thought has some sort of potential or desirable assets.

My question is, if a company like Citi is in trouble, and it is or can be a profitable business, why does the government,which borrows money, have to take a stake in the company, rather than a private firm, who already has money available to invest in other businesses?

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17 Answers

bodyhead's avatar

Are you asking for mandatory volunteers? A private firm could step up and purchase any dying industry. They obviously just don’t think that the banks are a good buy.

fireside's avatar

I seem to recall Bank of America bailing out Merrill Lynch a few months ago.
Too bad the toxic mortgages didn’t disappear when that happened since now BoA is in a bit of trouble.

The only thing toxic at SiriusxM is Stern’s salary.

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

Bank of America also received $20 billion and $118 billion in guarantees from the government. They basically bought merrill lynch on us.

fireside's avatar

But the point is, what private capital is going to buy into a bank right now when nobody knows what will happen with the mortgages? And of course, the mortgages will continue to be troublesome if the auto industry collapses.

I don’t think anybody knows what the right step to take would be because there is just too much uncertainty. But maybe free market capitalism isn’t the be all end all economic system. Now we’re trying out a new idea. Keynesian economics may not work, but it also may…

ubersiren's avatar

Government should keep its filthy mitts out of our businesses. It should be corporation helping or destroying other corporations at their will. The government is doing no good by using tax payer money to uphold failing companies that made bad business decisions. The gov’t does not have the public’s best interest in mind. They have their own interests in mind. No Congress of Presidential administration wants any big company to go under during their times in office because they don’t want people blaming them for the fall. In reality, they’d be doing us a favor. Any government with its hands in its country’s pot has too much power and is deceitful. Controlling businesses is controlling the country. In other words, we’re screwed and will be as long as we keep electing presidents who dish out bailouts and stimulus packages without cutting corners somewhere else.

Smash the state!

laureth's avatar

So it’s bad to control businesses in any way?

I would have to disagree. Sometimes businesses need to be controlled. Businesses are not moral entities, they are profit-making entities. Something that exists to make money and has no internal control mechanism is dangerous indeed, and can benefit from a judicious amount of externally-applied control.

Please note that I am not suggesting nationalization, socialism, communism, or anything like that.

ubersiren's avatar

It would be in a businesses best interest not to become price-gouging, greedy SOBs. That’s what happened to Enron. These corruptions happen especially with government input. Corruption will always be an issue. But, without the government helping the biggest and baddest corrupt entities, the public (it’s customers) chooses who is doing good business and who is not. So, I happen to believe without a government there to wipe their butts when they take a dump on their investors with bad business morals/ethics/decisions they would crumble. And good riddance. Now up and coming good companies have a shot. Good companies who might have been held down before because of government support for the bigger, more corrupt companies.

laureth's avatar

Now, see, in a perfectly free market, customers would be able to tell which companies were ethical and which were not, and then spend their money accordingly. This would lead to prosperity for the “good” companies, and going-out-of-business sales at the poor ones.

However, businesses (in reality) are not always so transparent. They do their level best to hide the bad decisions, the corporate scandals, the lies and other bad things from the customer’s view. The public does not get enough information to make the decisions to support one company, and refuse to support another.

So, what is a customer to do? They want information, or failing that, a way to curtail the businesses of the most egregious offenders. So the People get together and write their government, which then places limits on the businesses that are too big for one consumer to tackle alone.

Yes, it would be in the businesses’ best interests to not become gouging greedy SOBs, but being greedy is often more profitable (up until the point it does you in). Therefore, it becomes in the companies’ best interests to at least hide it away from the public. That’s what I think you might not see here. Good (companies) always finish last, unless the bad ones are controlled.

ubersiren's avatar

Businesses are never transparent, especially when they have the government covering their asses for them all the time. They have no motivation to do good and fair business when they can just ask big daddy congress to bail them out. The “best interest” scenario doesn’t work when they continue to get government assistance. But, if that protection was cut, the public would see the entity for what it really is and the free market would allow the company to continue or not. All government help does is clean up after their destruction, allowing the bad behavior to continue and hiding the truth of the failure from the public. If there was nobody there to prolong the demise of these bad companies, they would die off and we would be rid of them.

It’s like this. Wealthy boy goes to ivy league school because daddy is a public figure and “worked it out” for him. Boy is terrible student and an immoral person. Daddy talks his grades up, and supports him financially while in school. The public is none the wiser, and this “bad egg” is lead to success by the hand of this father. Hell, that’s how GW got through school and into office!

It’s not fair to those who really work hard and are good. There are good companies out there, folks! But we’ll never see them if the evil ones keep prevailing on our tax dollar!

Government handouts to these businesses don’t make them better companies, it only keeps them on the respirator.

laureth's avatar

When I say government regulation, I mean bits of legislation like consumer protection acts, health inspections, and the like. Even before bailouts, consumers needed protection from companies who were not always looking out for consumers’ best interests.

As far as bailing out failures, it does grate on the sense of fairness, but I think what the government really wants to do is not see the entire economy collapse. Keeping some crappy businesses in business is just the method to an end, not the end itself.

On a slightly unrelated note, we haven’t had a free market in a long, long time. Pure Free Market Capitalism looks more like the situation in Somalia, and I don’t think anyone here wants that.

fireside's avatar

I remember when the government decided that they should deregulate and get their grubby hand out of industry. Pretty sure that led to Enron and power grid failures. I also remember the government deciding they should intervene less in the financial sector.

Right now I think we are more along the lines of paying for the sins of our fathers by propping them up. But I think it is being done in a much better way right now. Look at the auto industry. They are actually gaining concessions from the unions and their creditors as well as asking the government for help. It’s a responsible course of action when nobody knows what is the correct way forward.

ubersiren's avatar

Yeah, and Enron failed. Now they’re gone. They failed after the removal of the governments hand. That means they couldn’t hack it on their own. Good riddance.

You see, it’s all about leaving life to play out naturally.

Roadside fruit stands are unregulated. Totally unregulated. You never hear of those going awry. Nobody is ever poisoned. Nobody ever bakes a finger into a pie at a roadside fruit stand. Or a school bake-off. Or price gouges at church bingo or garage sale. These are all exchanges of money for goods or services not regulated by the gov. in any way. It’s not like they have a load of money to cover up any mistakes that might happen. They’re totally exposed, and they flourish without rule. Just how a free market should work.

We are paying for what our fathers have done, but we’re also following the same path, thus not fixing jack. We’re simply putting a trillion dollar band aid on it that will eventually fall off and require another trillion dollar band aid.

Of course people are begging the gov for money… that’s the only way our sorry country knows how to survive. “The government will save us!” is what we’ve been saying since Woodrow Wilson and more so after FDR. Really, none of these socialist presidents and congresses are fixing anything or making anything better, they’re just keeping our tummies full so we don’t feel the reality of the situation. We’re not going hungry like some of those sad African countries, but we are just as poor. They might have no money in some of those dusty countries, but we are in more debt. If you have $0 and spend $1 trillion, you still have no money!

The author of this question said:
“Like Ive mentioned before, if we are 11 trillion in debt, that means there is $11 trillion in money around.” I’m assuming he/she means that if we’re 11 trillion in debt that money is in circulation. But, in reality that just means that we owe a bunch of it to China, and the rest was printed with nothing to back it, which makes it worthless. So, the money is really non-existent and it creates inflation.

If you have 11 trillion in credit card debt to Discover card, that doesn’t mean you’re 11 trillion richer. Yeah, you might have a big entertainment center, a new house, new car, the works, etc, but you’re still in debt. And long after you’re dead, your children will be paying that off for you.

I’m going to have to cut myself off here because I know there’s no convincing anybody of anything. It’s a whole philosophy you must adopt to know the root of what I mean, and it’s just not going to happen on some internet thread.

No masters. No slaves. Anarchy.

laureth's avatar

You’re right about small food producers being safer and more responsive to the customer. That’s one big reason I shop at the Farmer’s Market. It’s the big operations where you take in, say, peanuts from several states, make them into peanut butter, and then ship your salmonella-tainted product all over the country that generally make people sick and need government interference.

If all producers were like my local Farmer’s Market (or your roadside stand), I’d be right next to you on this bandwagon. But the bigger they get, the easier it is to mess it up.

fireside's avatar

I think that’s the point of the whole philosophy you must adopt.
No masters. No slaves. Anarchy.

We’ll all just fend for ourselves and reduce the economy to the point where we all shop from street vendors.

ubersiren's avatar

I’m about to write a book on all the misconceptions of anarchism. Nothing has to mean anything. It’s our perception of things that makes things true.

laureth's avatar

I would definitely read that, @ubersiren. I believe that some truth is subjective and some objective, and reading about utter subjectivity might enlighten me.

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