These are not my particular views, but I feel that it is an interesting alternative that must be considered. I want to propose a Nietzschian analysis of the economic bailout.
According to Friedrich Nietzsche, we are living in a slave like (think feudal and pre-civil war slavery, if you are now conformed to Kevin Bales’ definitions) society. Society was not always this way, but as the many slaves began to resent and outnumber their masters, a shift occurred (this is a very brief summary of Genealogy of Morals, if anyone is interested). This shift placed what was once “good,” being a powerful and controlling master, to “good” encompassing weakness and meekness of the slaves. What was once “good” was now considered “evil.” A premium was placed on the weakness of the slave because they were in majority. This shift also led to a sensation of a “herd mentality,” and the need to conform to society. Nietzsche despises these shifts because they are life-denying values, because the weak feel that they will be vindicated in another life (think Christianity), so they are resentful of this life. Nietzsche feels that this is completely unnatural, in a literal sense. In nature, it is know that the weak do not survive, something Nietzsche feels should translate into human existence. He also asserts that we have no responsibility to help the weak or the downtrodden, because it is not a naturalistic action, and is only sprung from such socially constructed emotions like compassion and sympathy.
That being said, why do we feel an obligation to endorse a government bailout, especially for companies like Ford, GMC and Chrysler? If they were a bad business, then, like in nature, they are simply not fit to survive in this world. An analogous situation that comes to mind is Wal-Mart. This company effective eliminated a large majority of competition like mom and pop stores, and continues to thrive. While some are critical of Wal-Mart’s “tyrannical” practices, the majority supports them buy buying there goods because they are at a low cost. They are successful because they eliminated competition and are still going strong. In a natural sense, they were the “most fit” species of retailers to see another day.
Nietzsche would assert that it is when feeble emotions delude our mind to feel sympathy and a need to help these people who have already failed. When the government bails them out, they are effectively saying, “this is how your business ought to be: successful and sustaining jobs for Americans.” Yet this denies the reality that they are failing, and therefore fundamentally should face elimination without sympathy from others, according to Nietzsche. Any sympathy or need to empathize with those that lose jobs or suffer from a non-bailout situation is considered weak and slavish. The bailout is already ideologically at odds with a pure form of capitalism, but also in contrast if you subscribe to a form of social Darwinism that Nietzsche endorses.
This ultimately begs the questions: should ethical standards be ascribed to economy at all? If yes, where do ethics come into play when dealing with an economy?