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President Barack Obama’s action last week regarding the government’s bailout of General Motors, including the ouster of CEO Rick Wagoner, drew a broad range of responses from GlobeSt.com readers. Last week’s Quick Poll results show that 40% call it socialism, while 29% refer to it as tough times demanding tough measures and another 23% say it’s the only way to send a message to big business. Only 8% consider it extortion. Craig Sher, executive chairman of St. Petersburg, FL-based retailer the Sembler Co., has a somewhat vested interest because his firm seeks to redevelop GM’s former factory in suburban Atlanta. Sher shares his thoughts on the matter:

“I firmly believe the automakers need to go bankrupt, then try to regroup in some manner. The shackles on them are incredible between the contracts, obligations and unions, and the lack of being very competitive. Their only hope in my mind is some sort of prepackaged bankruptcy.

“At this point, the government is lending companies much more money than they are probably even worth, so now it’s ‘he who has the gold makes the rules.’ Any sort of lender in that situation would have certain requirements, so the fact that the US government is the lender is irrelevant.

“Clearly the leadership of GM has not been wildly successful in recent times, and if one of the conditions of the loan is removing the CEO, then so be it. Otherwise, the company doesn’t get the money. Nobody is compelling GM to take the money; they need it.

“I would hope that isn’t the case with every loan or deal the government makes in the future, and I’m sure it won’t be. Those are pretty draconian measures.

“I wouldn’t think GM has a ton of vacant assets around–such as factories or dealerships– but I would hope that any company needing cash would either sell those assets to pay back loans or joint-venture them to make them more productive. By and large, it’s excellent real estate and someone needs to deal with it.”

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