Sweden opts out of US model; doesn't want to own Saab
Saab Automobile may be just another crisis-ridden car company in an industry full of them. But just as the fortunes of Flint, Mich., are permanently entangled with General Motors, so it is impossible to find anyone in this city in southwest Sweden who is not somehow connected to Saab.
Which makes it all the more wrenching that the Swedish government has responded to Saab’s desperate financial situation by saying, essentially, tough luck. Or, as the enterprise minister, Maud Olofsson, put it recently, “The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.”
Such a view might seem jarring, coming as it does from a country with a reputation for a paternalistic view of workers and companies. The “Swedish model” for dealing with a banking crisis — nationalizing the banks, recapitalizing them and selling them — has been much debated lately in the United States, with free-market defenders warning of a slippery slope of Nordic socialism.
But Sweden has a right-leaning government, elected in 2006 after a long period of Social Democratic rule, that prefers market forces to state intervention and ownership. That fact has made the workers of Trollhattan wish the old socialist model were more in evidence.
“I don’t think the government knows the situation in this town, how many people depend on Saab,” said Therese Doeij, 25, a clerk at a photo shop who has several friends who work at the company. “To them it’s just a factory. They don’t see the people behind it.”
Look, we're not heartless here. We feel bad for anyone in any industry or job facing tough times, but that doesn't mean the government should swoop in on some magic unicorn and save the day. The Swedish government is doing the right thing here. We have said it repeatedly, and frankly we're getting sick of it because we feel like no one is listening to us. The easiest way for these companies to get by in tough economic times, especially if they're in dire straits, is to declare Chapter 11, and reorganize.
Basically, you let the free market adjust. This was the problem from the start with the bailouts here, and those conducted abroad. No one wanted to be patient and let the market adjust itself. These idiot government types think that they can help speed along the recession, and everything will be all tea and crumpets shortly, and none of them understand that government intervention isn't the route to take. It should never be the route to take. If bad management is what got these companies into trouble, it's not the government's job to step in and reward such behavior with bailouts. Especially when the bailouts are further driving the government into the deepest debt it's ever seen.
Kudos to the Swedes for taking this approach. I just wish they were running the show here instead of Barry and his three ring circus.