Contrary to popular belief, bankruptcy does not mean companies close their doors and send employees home. This is the false message President Barack Obama tried to sell on his victory tour of Detroit. If General Motors had gone through a normal bankruptcy without taxpayer bailouts, there would still be GM jobs–maybe even more than there are now. We do not know because that was the road not taken.

We do know, however, what happened to the airlines that went through bankruptcy. Their planes kept flying, and pilots, mechanics and flight attendants reported to work, even if there were fewer of them.

The White House estimates an eventual $14 billion price tag for the GM and Chrysler bailouts. What has the $14 billion bought us? It certainly hasn’t saved millions of jobs–more like 4,000, and probably fewer. If we dig deeper, we find that most of the taxpayer money went to protecting members of the United Auto Workers.

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