This latest round of government bailout of big industry reminds me how history seems to repeat itself.

Tom Paxton wrote the song, I’m Changing My Name to Chrysler in 1980, after the U.S. government bailed out auto maker Chrysler Corporation, some 18 years before it was merged with Daimler-Benz. Here’s a short excerpt from the lyrics.

I am changing my name to Chrysler
I am going down to Washington D.C. …

…If you’re a corporate titanic and your failure is gigantic
Down to congress there’s a safety net for you…

… So when they hand a million grand out
I’ll be standing with my hand out
Yes sir I’ll get mine

Click here to listen to a performace of the song by Arlo Guthrie.

Other bailouts have helped Lockheed, Penn Central Railroad, New York City, and Continental Illinois National Bank. And so it continues with the current AIG rescue and $700 billion bank bailout attempt.

After the current bailout bill failed to pass the House of Representatives, Indiana congressman Mike Pence warned that the bailout ran counter to the principles of American government, (recent history notwithstanding).

“Economic freedom means the freedom to succeed and the freedom to fail,” Pence said.

Now, that’s not news to some businesses in the United States. The potential and “freedom to fail” is a reality, a constant care for the millions of small- and medium-sized businesses that form the basis and lifeblood of our daily lives, in every town across the country.

You won’t see national rescue bills being put forward for local restaurants, muffler repair shops, shoe stores, or book shops. Nope. Sorry. We are on our own. And short of all of us changing our names to Banks and heading off to D.C. to lobby for hand-outs, our recourse is to plan for our future, including how to weather our financial storms.

And I mean serious, concerted planning, on a frequent and ongoing basis. Planning cannot be a simple once-a-year budget exercise any longer. If you haven’t looked at your business plan, your marketing plan, and your cash flow in the last month, you are way behind the curve. The economic environment is changing daily and you are out of date. By neglecting to plan you are exercising your freedom to fail.

You have the freedom to succeed! Plan on it!

Steve Lange
Senior Editor
Palo Alto Software

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