Domestic Protectionism

Illinois State Congressman Michael Zalewski (D), after consulting heavily with General Motors, wants car makers to be able to operate self-driving taxis—which, of course, those same car makers would make.


His bill, introduced February 8, would limit access to the business to companies that make their own vehicles. That means GM would be eligible, but not tech companies like Uber Technologies Inc that are developing their own self-driving cars and don’t make their own vehicles.

Nor would Google be allowed in.  Or Lyft, were they to want to get into the business.  Or an IBM, should it want to build a Watsonmobile.  Or….

After falling behind in self-driving cars, GM has unleashed its powerful lobbying team to cultivate relationships with statehouses. The largest US vehicle maker by sales has a long history of backing legislation to preserve its interests, including a bill in Indiana last year that would stop electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc from operating its own stores there.

What a surprise.

Of course, GM is denying ulterior motives, but this is just internal protectionism—anti-competitive and monopolistic.  Rather than competition pushing car companies to produce better cars, including self-driving ones, the fearful ones like GM are pushing to squelch competition.

It’s no wonder that a bare nine years ago GM was facing bankruptcy up close and personal.

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