1. Anonymous says:

    I hope the airlines–the unions this time–borrow right back. It’s time the executives at struggling companies started making some of the sacrifices. After all, they’re the one making the management mistakes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s been a downhill slip for the past 35 years at GM, slowly, slowly giving way to imports that have increasingly become better designed, better engineered, better built, safer, more fuel-efficient and … sexier.

    Not just GM, obviously. U.S. automakers have shown a remarkable lack of vision for decades. What about that can-do spirit that is supposed to embue American enterprise?

    Take just one arena, fuel efficiency. Since the 1970s, U.S. auto manufacturers have repeatedly declared they couldn’t meet tougher mileage rules. Simply could not be done, they said. The Japanese, on the other hand, not only met but exceeded the rules and Americans bought their vehicles in ever-larger numbers. In the face of growing Japanese penetration of the market – not just with more efficient cars but also with ones on which the doors actually fit and repairs were less frequent than on U.S. models – the American makers dragged their feet throughout the 1980s and ’90s, with considerable help from Congress, as well as ideologues at Heritage Foundation and others who are always so quick to say how regulations hamper innovation.

    The same thing happened just a couple of years ago. That genius Wagoner declared that gas-electric cars were too expensive to sell profitably and that they only appealed to a few buyers.

    Meanwhile, Honda and, more significantly, Toyota brought their efficient hybrids to the U.S. market and haven’t been able to keep up with the demand.

    Engine Charlie Wilson, former GM CEO, said during his confirmation hearings as Eisenhower’s Secretary of Defense, â€I thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.†A joke for today’s consumers and bitter words, indeed, for those 25,000 GM workers.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Or, as my favorite auto journalist, Dan Neil said:

    If you ever despair that the U.S. auto industry is whirling, slowly but with gathering momentum, down the tubes of history, the second-generation Toyota Prius will give you no comfort. This is a car Detroit assures us cannot be built. No way. No how. A spacious, safe and well-appointed mid-size four-door with practical performance while returning more than 60 miles per gallon? For $20,000? Are you, like, high?

    Well, there it sits in my driveway, looking like a set piece from a Kubrick film but in other respects a straightforward piece of engineering. And it shames the domestic automakers and the Bush administration.

    Neil was a (call-in) guest when I attended the taping of NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me a few weeks ago. Neil was a little sheepish (over a loudspeaker to an auditorium full of people) knowing he’d be talking to a bunch of people who work on the cars he regularly slams. When Peter Sagal asked him what the Big 3 needed to do, Neil basically said, we need to have universal health care, so the managers trying to blame health care for their woes can no longer use that as an excuse for their shitty designs.

    Well, maybe he didn’t say shitty.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps, just perhaps, the Democrats can get over the heebie-jeebies they caught from the defeat of â€Hillarycare†and use GM’s propaganda about how health care benefits are doing them to push for universal health care as something that is good for GM (Ford, IBM, Microsoft) and good for America.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’d love it if it happened. But I doubt it will.

    BushCo seems to be taking that approach that, â€well, we’ve got lots of non-union auto manufacturing jobs now in our base, in AL and SC and TN. So why would I want to invest money in a bunch of people in MI? Why would I want John Dingell (D-Big 3) to assume a leadership position on a(nother) major piece of legislation? That’s so, um, 70s. Nah, let GM rot. We’ll just let that Japanese run the auto industry in this country.â€

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hah!

    Just as I posted this I got this email alert from the New American Dream, telling me to tell Rick Wagoner to push hybrids. I feel like they were reading this thread.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t be caught dead in a GM product, and have had that attitude for the past 30 years. Their SUVs are the ugliest of the ugliest design of vehicle to ever roll down the road, the Corvette’s been circling the bowl for 30 years – I haven’t seen anyone who wasn’t a moron buy one here in LA in that time.

    If America wants to save American capitalism, there are two things to do: close the B-schools and abolish the MBA (starting with the moron-in-chief, have you ever met an MBA who could find the zipper on his fly with both hands on a clear day with a 2 hour advance notice?), and then pass a law that Accountants can only ever work as accountants, never as actual decision-makers (have you ever met an accountant with more imagination than rock in the middle of the road?).

    Look at history: when the airlines were run by people who actually liked airplanes, they worked. When the car industry was run by people who actually liked cars, they made things people still like to collect.

    These pinstriped â€widget-makers†haven’t got the collective wit to get out of their own way.

    Oh – and a 99% no-deductions-allowed income tax on all income over $2 million a year. That’ll solve a lot more problems than just the auto industry and the airline industry (it would revolutionize my industry – Okeefenokee West, aka Hollywood). People who were actually interested in the job would be doing it.