Saving the Car Companies is a Giant Triple-Bottom Line Experiment

Despite car czar Steve Rattner’s protestations that saving GM and Chrysler is simply an investment decision, it seems to me that we are actually witnessing one of the largest triple-bottom line pushes ever made at major corporations. And not of their own volition.

Bottom Line 1: Financial. Obviously the goal is to get the GM and Chrysler back into stable fiscal shape if at all possible. The Obama administration doesn’t want to be in the car business, and would prefer to back out as quickly as possible, which means getting the companies back on their feet, financially.

Bottom Line 2: Environmental. The administration has made producing hybrid and more fuel-efficient cars a string attached to the investment

Bottom Line 3: Social. While there are no requirements, so my knowledge, to dictate social responsibility in the way that it is usually thought of (worker rights and pay, community investment, etc.), in a sense GM and Chrysler are both beholden to the American people, and have a responsibility to help get the economy back in shape, given their large economic footprint. Many workers would love to have the salaries and job protections that auto workers enjoy, so that’s not the issue, but more the larger social ramifications if the companies were to collapse. And because of the massive taxpayer investment, the companies need to do good, be good and act good, in order to show good return faith to the public.