Not all that long ago, there was a distinct line of separation between the government and the private sector-like the line of separation between church and state. Given the recent fiascos in the banking and auto industry, it’s beginning to look like that line has been permanently blurred. Today, various members of the House and Senate have seen fit to meddle in the operations of GM and Chrysler by playing the role of senior executive for these firms and telling them how to run their businesses. What’s more, these government officials are thoroughly enjoying this new role. For example, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is lobbying the auto companies to restore the 12 GM dealers and six Chrysler dealers in his state that had their franchises terminated. Representative Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, has lobbied GM to keep a parts distribution center, which employs 90 people, open in his district. Representative Frank M. Kratovil, a Maryland Democrat, has introduced a bill that would restore the franchise agreements to dealers who have them terminated. Other members of Congress are debating whether or not they should regulate executive pay in all industries, not just those receiving government financial aid. The list goes on and on, “…don’t close the assembly plant in my district; don’t build the Volt battery in Korea, build it in my state or don’t build pickups and SUV’s, make smaller, more fuel efficient cars.”
Where does all this stop? It doesn’t. When a group of people, who are in power positions, gets off on meddling in the internal affairs of major corporations, this usually leads to more meddling, not less. So, look out McDonald’s, Congress may soon dictate where you can locate your next franchise. As for the Big Mac with all those fat calories, it’s either history or it will carry a large “sin tax” and sell for $19.95 each. The Quarter-Pounder will probably be taken off the menu and replaced with something nutritious like McChard Pie and the compensation of your executives will be determined by your shareholders. A rosy scenario, don’t you think?