By on October 30, 2007

1532-1.jpgI have been reading the comments to the post "In Defense of American Automakers" with ever-increasing fascination and mounting excitement. As of this writing, there are 828 comments beneath Mr. Ressler's rant. Yes, there's a great deal of rhetorical repetition. Yes, the same half dozen or so commentators have set up fortifications on either side of the "import bigot" issue–  which neither side shows the slightest willingness to abandon. But despite this intellectual intransigence, I'm getting the feeling that something radical is gradually emerging. I'm not entirely sure how to characterize this development; slapping a label on the interchange would be premature. But I am sure that this is exactly the sort of discussion this website was created to engender. The argument's longevity and vitality reveals a fundamental truth that I have been championing for the last five years: the American automotive marketplace is, at its core, engaged in a strange new war of ideas. Ideas that involve art, science, politics, culture, psychology, commerce and national security. Prior to now, if debates on these topics occurred, they occurred within industry enclaves. As I've said many times, we're still a long way from the time when the "barbarians" muscle their way inside the gates– where they belong. But reading this post, knowing that it's making the rounds inside the manufacturers' servers, I sense we're closer than we've ever been before. We're being noticed. And we will be heard. 

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7 Comments on “Daily Podcast: The Thread That Wouldn’t Die...”

  • avatar

    It would be nice to think the auto execs are reading the thread.

  • avatar

    “It would be nice to think the auto execs are reading the thread.”
    Yes it would!…but it would be most disturbing to know they read the comments and disregard them as irrelevant, wrong-headed, and not representative of the what THEY believe the market desires…only to continue producing passenger cars that with few exceptions, nobody wants.
    In my opinion, if ignorance is bliss, these auto execs are the most blissful people working today.

  • avatar

    I suspect that GM might file Chapter 11 before that thread dies.

    And throughout the entire thread, you will have a few diehards who believe that it is possible for a company to satisfy the needs of the market and make no sales simultaneously. The notion of putting the customer first is not a concept that everyone understands or wants to understand.

  • avatar

    pch101: I think that’s what Bob, er, Phil, is trying to avoid.

    seriously, I’ve been following the thread from the first page of comments, and I agree that it shows the incredibly vigorous arguments that people will bring to bear on their point of view. Sadly, one of Phil’s main points, that we each make a choice which goes beyond simply a product when we make a purchase, has been somewhat lost, and I think it deserves a voice.

    As much as I like some of the American offerings, I cannot help but think at the same time that to purchase these is to promote the wholly wrongheaded view that executives in any field deserve compensation in multiples of sometimes a hundred times that of the folks who actually produce something, be it parts, engineering, assembly, whatever. There is certainly a place and a cost for leadership, and it is increasingly difficult to rationalize the money that gets pulled out of our companies by a very small group of people who are simply not delivering on the strategic thinking necessary to keep companies alive.

    But good for you, Mr. Farago, for facilitating such discussion. The arguments on this thread are in large part thoughtful and have surfaced a tremendous amount of data, much of which points in different directions. And thanks to Phil for his energy and persistence in keeping the thread going.

  • avatar

    It’s funny that the thread talks about “import bigotry” when there’s a more fundamental bigotry on TTAC. And that bigotry is the “Shut the hell up criticising our car industry you haven’t got one any more!” I do encounter this strawman argument many times (look at the Euro CO2 regs thread).

    Could I make a plea that people not use this argument any more as it makes you looks stupid, illogical and a pseudo-racist (in that order). By that compelling logic, I’m not homosexual, therefore, I can’t advocate equal rights for homosexual and homosexual couples. I’m not a farmer so I can’t champion that farmers get a fair price for their produce. And I’m not from Burma so I can’t speak out against their oppressive regime. If we take this argument to its logical conclusion, then not many of us work for GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda etc, so we can’t tell them how to run their companies!

    Glad I got THAT off my chest!

    Now about this thread……

    I did mention to someone in that thread that I’m pleased that it generated so many replies because it shows how passionate we are about cars. It would have been worse if no-one replied. Naturally, he respected my opinion, took it on board and we discussed his side of the point*.

    * = and by that what I mean is that he told me not to comment on the American car industry and concentrate on the European side! Jeez……

  • avatar

    KatiePuckrick, please feel free to criticize Detroit. If we make cars that please you, perhaps you’ll buy them. I’m OK with that.

    As for that thread, I was contemplating e-mailing RF and suggesting he cap it, soon, lest it become “The Thread that Ate TTAC.” However, if he’s happy with it, who am I to say he’s wrong?

    I intend to buy cars that suit me. I have no plans to give Detroit a break because they’re the home team. The cars must measure up. Executives have been richly compensated all along for mediocre company performance and poor products and that offends me. I see no need to support that.

    Detroit is buoyed by the significant chunk of the market that admits “Don’t buy Asian” and it seems to me they’ve relied on that cushion for a while, instead of on equal product. Phooey on that.

  • avatar

    Agreed, I really think that blind, pseudo-patriotic loyalty has HURT the domestic.
    In psychology they call it “enabling”, and it allows the enabled party to continue their destructive behavior, or modify it inadequately.

    Just a thought.


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