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Obama administration forces Wagoner out as Chairman of GM

March 30, 2009

The top man, Rick Wagoner, is out at GM, according to the New York Times, and the White house is behind the removal.

My reaction to this story is twofold: (1) it’s good to see the Obama administration visiting consequences on the executives of the companies that are reaping the benefits of the bailout. If another automotive executive or investment banking chief is overheard talking about how they’ll take the money but they’ll be damned if the government is going to make them change their ways or–in the case of the large banks– make them lend money just because the government has given them a few billion dollars, the American people’s support for the bailouts is going to wane and (2) if you were the head of one of these large companies that needed bailout money to survive, wouldn’t you rather just take your millions in salary and benefits, resign and go off to an island somewhere? Who are these guys that they even want to stick around to try and fix these companies while having to bear the brunt of political and public criticism? I’m not suggesting that it’s good for the companies that they work for, or for the country as a whole, for these CEOs and company Presidents to abandon ship, but from a purely personal stand-point, what kind of people define their accomplishments and sense of self so strongly with their jobs that they would fight to retain their positions at the risk of wholesale public embarrassment and industry-wide derision.

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