What Taxpayers Want
I don't trust the government to make good business decisions any more than I trust the former leaders of GM. In fact it can be argued that part of the reason GM has struggled is because of the regulatory support GM has gotten from its supporters in Congress.
The government's role in GM should be to focus on ensuring good governance and business practices, and not business strategy decisions. In theory and practice, the long-term interests of GM and the American taxpayers should be the same - profitably producing high quality, reasonably priced cars that the public wants to buy. Protecting GM from competitors is not in the long term interests of taxpayers.
It will be a challenge for the management of GM and its US government overseers (and now owners) to find a way to balance the profit imperative with the long term interests of tax payers, and for the government NOT to resort to protectionism and regulatory measures to protect GM from its highly capable competitors.
This arrangement will require strong and competent leadership and business savvy from GM's managers and Board of Directors, and judicious oversight and boundary setting by the U.S. Government. GM has ceded much of the market for high quality, reliable, and reasonably priced cars to its foreign competitors. I and many like me have opted to buy Japanese, Korean, or German cars. GM needs to win me and those like me back. This will require a lot of sustained effort at trust building.
Unfortunately, the public trusts GM no more than it trusts the government. But GM is going to have to earn back my trust. I'm not going to buy a GM car until I trust that it will meet my needs better than a Japanese, Korean, or German competitor. I'm anxious to see if the U.S. Government will be able to help. We all remember that old line, "We're from the U.S. Government, and we're here to help."
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