Well, I was enjoying an increasingly rare moment of relative sanity in public discourse, when I heard that a bunch of people said that they won't buy GM products because the company is substantially owned by the government. Huh? I really don't understand.
We're are suffering through, perhaps, the second worst financial crisis in American history and trying to do the best we can to keep things going. As in the Great Depression, the government has given unorthodox aid to several of our crippled industries in the hope of preserving American prosperity for Americans. Right now, our government is the majority stockholder in General Motors. Apparently, the would-be boycotters now consider GM to be a government operated automobile manufacturer. Stranger still, they apparently won't buy from a government owned automobile manufacturer. I am guessing that the reason for this is that the boycotters believe government ownership of automobile manufacturers is "morally wrong."
Generally, opponents of public ownership are extreme capitalists. However, anyone reasonably familiar with the theory of capitalism wouldn't call it a "moral doctrine"—at least not without winking. And, even if it were, the members of the "capitalist cult" would be sworn to ruthlessly pursue their immediate personal economic interests, including patronizing government owned businesses if those businesses offered the best product for the best price.
Also, I don't understand the problem with "government run" industries. I assume these boycotters have never spent an afternoon in a public park, bought a postage stamp at the Post Office, or patronized a public library. Each of these places bears the evil mark of public ownership and operation (A curse upon you, Ben Franklin!) to far greater extent than poor GM.
I have the uncomfortable feeling this "boycott" is someone's ill-conceived idea to draw attention to their "cause." Although their cause is an extreme form of capitalism, they are not so well read nor well informed. If they were, they would know that their arch nemesis, the socialists, use boycotts—capitalists don't. Throughout history, capitalists have denounced boycotts for the doctrinal reasons explicated above. Boycotts are not capitalistic. If this is supposed to be a public relations/propaganda sort of move to attract attention to "the cause," the creators of this one need to be . . . replaced.
Finally, I really hate these outbursts because they are negative and destructive. I support and encourage the opponents of the GM rescue--to offer their criticisms. Now, that the "deed is done," I expect criticism to continue. However, the boycott is more than criticism. It threatens subversion ("we'll ruin your rescue attempt by not buying any automobiles from GM"), rather than offering constructive alternatives. It's the equivalent of telling GM, our government, and us, that "if GM's head bobs back up out of the water, we intend to push it back under until it drowns." I'm not suggesting that these people, or any other group, alone, could do that, but it's just what they are saying they want to do.
We are all going through a tremendous struggle in the aftermath of a terrible crisis. Many of the remedies we use may not be the best, and surely, we will make many mistakes. There will be a lot of heated debate. That's a good thing. But threats like the boycott aren't a good thing. They only hurt everyone and make every positive effort just a little bit harder.