Jim Manzi at The Corner on National Review Online makes a critically important observation about whether or not it is fair to bail out or allow bankruptcy to ensue.
Is this fair to the people who work at GM and will now have a deal changed after the fact? Well, when people sold parts to GM on credit, or employees (individually or via union negotiations) entered into labor contracts with GM, they undertook counterparty risk. That is, they were taking, in part, a bet about whether GM would actually be able to pay them what they are owed. This is also true for pension payments, which are simply deferred compensation, as much as it is for deferred payments on credit terms for parts. To act now as if they should be protected from this risk is to treat them as children.
Read it all for full constext, but that paragraph hits at the heart of the (free market) matter and warranted repeating here.