Amerika 2009 with Apologies to Martin Niemoller

First they came for the heroin and crack addicts and I didn’t speak up because I don’t use heroin or crack.

Then they came for the smokers and chewers and I didn’t speak up because those are nasty habits.

Then they came for heavy drinkers and I didn’t speak up because speakeasies sounded fun.

Then they came for people who cook with trans fats and I didn’t speak up because I quit those years ago.

Then they came for the overweight and I didn’t speak up because I was too winded from the treadmill.

Then they came for me and they had to pry my bacon from my cold dead fingers.

Obama pledges to quickly sign anti-smoking bill

To hell with that, I’m speaking up.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Your life, your liberty and your pursuit of happiness are your own and the relative value you place on each are your business, not mine. For myself, I’ll take more life rather than pursue happiness with tobacco. But ultimately, my liberty to make that decision is exactly the same and in the same measure as your liberty to make the opposite one. Liberty doesn’t mean the liberty to make the choices someone else thinks are right for us. Real freedom means having the freedom to make bad decisions. It’s past time to really roll back the nanny state and get government off our backs, out of our pocketbooks, and out of our bedrooms.

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I'm from the government and I'm here to help the auto industry

As predicted, the Chrysler bankruptcy case has raised questions worthy of Supreme Court review and the Court has just temporarily stayed the sale of Chrysler to Fiat. It will be interesting to see whether the Court that surrendered the private property rights of homeowners in Kelo will be as quick to rewrite the long standing and clear cut rules of creditor priority when the parties are a union on one hand and a public employee group on the other. In any case, the possibility of a 30-day bankruptcy are out the window. Thankfully so, to be frank.

If the sale of American lemon maker Chrysler to Italian lemon maker Fiat wasn’t sufficient to do it, the proposed sale of Hummer to a Chinese heavy equipment firm gives the lie to the argument that government involvement in the auto industry was necessary on national security grounds. Hummer is the single brand most closely tied to national security – the HMMV was initially a military vehicle evolved into a consumer brand because of heavy demand. If government involvement doesn’t prevent the sale of what is ostensibly the closest thing to a tank making division in the entire auto industry to the single biggest potential military threat on the map, national security was clearly no concern of the Obama administration at all. Big surprise that.

The firing of GM’s CEO by the nation’s CEO clearly didn’t solve the poor management problem at GM, merely replaced it with government approved poor management. GM is selling the Saturn brand to Penske, a very well run organization with savvy management that is getting the brand at a steal of a price. Saturn’s best years were when it was a “different kind of car company” outside the main GM network and with something of a management firewall. I would not be surprised if ten years from now Saturn is the best selling and most profitable of the current GM brands.

Ford, meanwhile, has done an admirable job of pulling its own act together without resorting to the government credit line available to it, but is facing serious problems as competitor GM benefits from the bailout of GMAC. With GM now owned by the government, we can expect Ford will face even more unfair competition, but, of course, it won’t be called that – competition is only unfair in the liberal mind when it comes from a highly competent, highly successful private party. Here is a case where Congress should act – Ford investors should receive a breank on dividends and capital gains taxes and the company itself should receive a break on its corporate income taxes for the next several years. The company has shown a willingness and ability to raise its money in the private sector and its management, its workers and the investors supporting the company should be able to keep the fruits of their labors instead of being taxed to support their competitors. That won’t happen, but what did we expect when we heard “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

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