How Are the Green Bay Packers Like General Motors?

June 10th, 2009
Sen. Alexander plugs in his Prius

Sen. Alexander plugs in his Prius

It’s not every day that one of our blog posts gets the attention of a U.S. Senator.

A post yesterday mentioned Sen. Lamar Alexander’s Auto Stock for Every Taxpayer Act, a plan to distribute GM and Chrysler stock free to American taxpayers. That post resulted in an invite to a conference call with the Senator this morning to discuss his plan (the full 16-minute phone call is below).

At the beginning of the call, Sen. Alexander got my attention by likening his plan to the Green Bay Packers, an NFL team owned by its fans. Under the Senator’s plan, the 120 million Americans who filed tax returns for 2008 would become owners of GM and Chrysler. Or as he put it:

120 million Americans who have a vested interested in their success.

While this proposed act is mostly a gimmicky political stunt, it’s a nice thought.

When I first heard about this plan, I was all for it, though admittedly only for the slight possibility that I might get some monetary gain. I have to assume the majority of Americans would be like me, since most of us were against saving GM and Chrysler in the first place. Give us free stock, and we’ll sell it as soon as we can to generate some free cash.

Of course a mass sell-off of stock might cause the value of the companies to plummet and could lead right back into bankruptcy court, only this time as a natural consequence of the free market rather than being forced into it by the government.

As a right-wing Republican, letting the free market decide GM and Chrysler’s fate is Sen. Alexander’s ultimate intent.

Getting back to the Senator’s football reference, here’s the difference between the Packers and GM/Chrysler: Packers stockholders are passionate and dang-near rabid supporters of their team. I’m not convinced American stockholders of GM and Chrysler would feel the same.

If you had free stock in GM and Chrysler, would you hang onto it or sell it as soon as it was worth money?

-tgriffith

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