In other words, it intends to force Chrysler to sell exactly the type of cars that Americans have recently shown they either don't want or can obtain cheaper elsewhere. Americans want Vipers, Magnums, 300s, Rams and Grand Cherokees; Chrysler is going to sell them variants of the Toyota Priuses that, unsold, currently fill the parking lots of closed strip malls in my community. Good luck with that -- unless gas prices go over $5 per gallon … which may be part of the plan too.
Oh, did I mention that these new Fiat/UAW Chryslers and Dodges are going to be sold into a marketplace in which nearly half of all Americans, worried by this obvious government power-grab into private industry, are likely to soft-boycott any car or truck built by General Motors or Chrysler?
And yet, all of these likely fatal obstacles are going to be overcome by the fact that, over the next couple of years, Fiat will rejuvenate Chrysler with its superior small car technology and an exciting new line of green minicars. Seriously, does anybody believe that? I don't think even Marchionne does.
His downside is that he gets Chrysler for peanuts and with a guarantee that it won't fail for four years. His upside is that if rainbows turn into candy canes and Chrysler actually pulls off a miracle, survives and pays off its loans, Fiat will be allowed to buy majority ownership of the company. Call it a Marchionne win-win, all paid for by American taxpayers.
Sitting out here in Silicon Valley, Calif. (where we have our own problems, thank you very much), and watching from afar, I find myself thanking God that I still live in a business community where failures, no matter how big (see Sun, Netscape, Atari, Ampex, etc.), are allowed to die -- to be reborn, or replaced, by more competitive versions -- and where contract law is still in effect.
And I'm equally happy that Marvin Marschner doesn't have to see what's happened to his beloved Chrysler.
TAD'S TAB: With a growing number of Americans declaring themselves to be independents, TheAgitator.com may be for you. Editor Radley Balko is a senior editor at Reason magazine and former analyst for the Cato Institute, so you know where he's coming from: Inside the Beltway libertarianism. Antidrug laws, pro-deregulation of most everything else, and with the kind of coverage of government over-reach that will make you seriously paranoid. The Agitator is always an interesting read, even if you don't agree with Balko's politics.
This is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.
Michael S. Malone is one of the nation's best-known technology writers. He has covered Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than 25 years, beginning with the San Jose Mercury News as the nation's first daily high-tech reporter. His articles and editorials have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Economist and Fortune, and for two years he was a columnist for The New York Times. He was editor of Forbes ASAP, the world's largest-circulation business-tech magazine, at the height of the dot-com boom. Malone is the author or co-author of a dozen books, notably the best-selling "Virtual Corporation." Malone has also hosted three public television interview series, and most recently co-produced the celebrated PBS miniseries on social entrepreneurs, "The New Heroes." He has been the ABCNews.com "Silicon Insider" columnist since 2000.