By on September 23, 2006

x07st_vu0092222.jpg A hypnotherapist once told me that he began every session by asking his subject to close the door, hand him a pen, move closer, etc. He said that the sooner his subjects learned to follow small commands, the sooner (and more likely) they’d follow the big ones. When I read that Michigan Representative Mike Rogers wants the federal government to guarantee $20b worth of loans to help domestic automakers develop alternative fuels, hybrids and other “energy saving technologies,” I knew it was the same deal. Rogers is training Uncle Sam to bail out the Big Two Point Five.

Of course, Rogers was quick to distance his legislative efforts to clean up the planet and reduce our dependence on foreign oil from the “b” word. “This isn't the dreaded bailout word," the Wolverine State pol assured the characteristically credulous Detroit News. "This isn't a free pass for them to avoid painful decisions or restructuring. This is a chance for the automakers to compete on a fair playing field with access to the credit markets." Rogers said his bill will "level the cost of investment capital in the United States between domestic and Japanese auto manufacturers." Huh?

Was Rogers saying that the so-called domestics’ downgraded credit ratings– a result of their inability to put their houses in order– make it difficult for them to invest in “green” technology and, thus, place them at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis the Japanese (ignoring the Koreans and Germans)? Yes. In case you missed the point, “This [bill] is about supporting real jobs for real Americans through innovation" and “Ford's survival is in America's interest.” And yet, Rogers said the federal loan guarantees would also be available to non-domestics– as long as the research was conducted in the United States (preferably Michigan).

Setting aside the issue of which automakers would be eligible to save hundreds of millions in interest payments thanks to Rogers’ ability to manipulate the federal government on their behalf, the republican rep wanted his conservative constituents to know his bill is a hand up, not a handout. "This bill is fiscally responsible because it requires the loans be paid back," Rogers insisted. "I don't think this bill will cost taxpayers one cent." Note: “think.” Not even a seasoned politician can completely gloss over the fact that if one of the beneficiaries of his/our federal largesse goes belly-up, it’ll be sayonara to billions of bucks.

Which is why The Big Two Point Five gave Rogers’ proposal a lukewarm reception; they don’t want workers, suppliers, dealers, customers and banks to think they’re teetering on the edge of abyss. On the other hand… "It's an intriguing idea that merits consideration,” PR flack Greg Martin opined. “But right now our turnaround and our success rests on the advanced technology that we are putting in our cars and trucks today." (Pushrods rock!) "We find it encouraging that there is support from Congress to accelerate green technology," Ford spokesman Mike Moran said. DCX, whose existence owes much to federal loan guarantees, let its silence speak for itself.

Despite wrapping his $20b loan guarantee program in politically correct environmentalism and flag waving patriotism, Rogers’ bill doesn’t stand much of a chance. Not with an administration that can’t seem to reschedule a meeting between President Bush and the heads of America’s domestic automakers. Besides, staking our tax money on The Big Two Point Five’s ability to develop energy saving technologies? How’re those domestic hybrids selling anyway? Roger’s efforts are simply a bit more political grandstanding in the pre-election silly season; the obverse of California AG’s lawsuit against selected automakers for destroying the state’s ozone layer.

And yet Roger’s doomed bill presages the fun to come. Can/should/will Uncle Sam ride to Ford and GM’s financial rescue as it did for Chrysler? The bailout “debate” is on its way, pitting Ford and/or GM’s political muscle against capitalist theory. Most observers don’t rate the Big Two’s chances of sucking on the federal tit immediately before– or after– bankruptcy papers are filed. The imports' manufacturing beachhead on US soil and the domestics’ relatively small market share make their failure less of an issue than it was back when Chrysler was “too big to fail.”

Even so, the domestics’ end game will occur entirely in the political realm, where common sense plays second fiddle to emotions, and performances are orchestrated by people whose ability to maintain power depends on their ability to maintain appearances. In any case, if we begin drip feeding The Big Two Point Five now, it’ll make it that much easier to continue to do so in the future, which will make it that much more difficult for these companies to implement the fundamental changes they must make for their resurrection and long-term survival.

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45 Comments on “A federal bailout by any other name…...”


  • avatar

    All things being equal, I’d rather see my tax dollars being wasted by government idiots in Michigan, than my tax dollars being wasted by government idiots in Iraq. At least in the former the immediate beneficiaries are at least Americans.

    That said, your last paragraph is spot on, the whole thing is farcical. Especially the term “drip feeding” being used to describe TWENTY BILLION DOLLARS. In any rational world that would be called a firehose, not a drip feed.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    New2LA

    Another eye-opening story.

    As one who follows the economy closely, it’s always frustrating to listen to American sentiments, which are almost always wrong. In current days, the sentiment of our people is to hate the evil Wal-Mart (an efficient, well-run company whose success lies in its uncanny ability to GIVE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT) and at the same time feel sorry for our pitiful Charlie Browns of the auto industry-which include some of the most mismanaged big companies in modern history.

    Using the Wal-Mart example: out here on the coast, all I hear about is how Wal-Mart kills — competition, free markets, even people. I’m sure the parents of these knuckleheads had at one time complained that the Big 3 were doing the same thing to smaller, independent car co’s in previous generations. After all, they were.

    What all of the doomsdayers always ignore is the proven fact that whereas government intervention nurtures corporate ills, free markets cure them and life goes on. Robert, as you alluded to in your article, what sense does it make to reward poor business practices by throwing gobs of money at them?

    The good news to help calm the doomsdayer’s unsound whimpers is that change is gradual. That means hundreds of thousands of autoworkers have already either gone to work for another manufacturer or left the industry altogether to start a new career over the past 2 decades. This transition will continue on a measured basis and eventually level off, without causing harm to our robust economy or to people in general. Then, life will go on and nobody will fall off the face of the earth.

    And is that so bad? I argue it isn’t.

    How can I, an evil, selfish friend of Wal-Mart say that? Simple — things change. I speak from experience, as I once found myself in the same position as the autoworkers now do. I was going to be a 3rd generation small business owner in manufacturing. As I grew up, the US transitioned more into a global economy and now, companies like our family business are rare in the US. But that’s the whole point: it’s ok, and nobody’s crying. Because in the end, I was forced to change plans and find something else to do with my life. But knowing full well that all humans are resourceful and capable of doing more than one thing, I decided to branch out and become a lawyer, which has turned out to be a much better career than I could ever have hoped for as a manufacturer.

    So you see, that’s what the doomsdayers always miss – the possibility that something different or maybe even better lies on the horizon. It does.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    Wal*Mart is a bad example, as it used predatory practices to establish itself in markets with limited competition and then to kill off all that competition.

    Wal*Mart also works the other end, using its market weight to put the screws to suppliers (although all the bigger ones do that, now).

  • avatar
    New2LA

    dhathewa, actually it’s the perfect example. GM and Ford also used predatory practices in their day to squash their competition. But, like Wal-Mart, they had the products people actually wanted and they made them more efficiently than the other car companies did.

    One day, Wal-Mart too will fall to other competition. Please review American economic history for a rundown of what I’m talking about.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    I live in the Bentonville area, and I like the Wal-Mart comparison.

    What I found amusing was an anti-Wal-Mart rally that was recently staged in this area. The leader of the pack was an “earth Mother” type who spewed venom over Wal-Mart’s tactics of using its size to deliver what shoppers want at a price they want. She then went on and on about how unfair this was to local farmer, and how we should support our local, domestic providers of food for our tables.

    The ultimate irony was when she got into her Subaru and drove off. Apparently, in her view the principle of “local support” doesn’t extend to our domestic auto industry.

    Don’t get me wrong, despite the clouded lines I’ve owned both “domestic” and “imported” cars, and I now drive a NUMMI-built vehicle, which is both. But it’s amusing as to how we narrow our focus to justify our positions.

    On a related note, the other night I listened to a commentary on NPR by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, in which he stated that Wal-Mart’s workers outnumbered those in all auto induastry jobs in the U.S. Is this lamentable? To me, and likely to many Americans, it more likely points to a desire for all of us to get the greatest value for our money, which is something that the Asian auto industry stands for, be it perceived or real.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    If you ask me, GM and Ford stand on their own…ie, there is NO comparision. But that’s just me :)

    I’m actually glad to be witness to the greatest downfall in automotive history. The closing of the plants, the laying off of the people, the financial ruin, the destryoed communities, etc.

    Why? Well, if you follow economic theory, it’s because the free market is punishing those who have failed miserable to perform and to uphold a certain degree of competitiveness. But ME…I simply think it’s cool, in an anti-establishment kind of way. Kind of like how GM smashed all those EV-1’s. Now GM is in between the plates of a hydraulic crusher…and this is ALL WONDERFUL!!

    Adapt or die. Seems GM and Ford are hellbent on destroying themselves…much like the junkie of the family. Well, then, …so be it.

    I hear there is a demand for enima nurses right now…I’m sure those line-workers can find work Somewhere!!

    And now we hear Lutz proclaiming the new “Hydrogen” automobile to be the next “Moonshot” (His term!). Funny how that works…this guy and his company now want to shoot for the moon when they can’t even overcome a Camry or an Accord!!!

    Lutz, you remind me of the class bafoon. You already killed your previous Rocket Division (Oldsmobile). What on EARTH makes you think you can achieve any altitiude with a Hydrogen full-cell vehicle when you can’t even gain traction here on EARTH with your E-85 crapmobiles you are peddling like a street corner huckster selling “Rolex” watches?

  • avatar
    CliffG

    I am sure creating an American Leyland will work out as well as it did over on the other side of the pond. As a small independent retailer that does battle with Wal Mart in a fashion it is not always easy for me, but you learn how to get into the niches that they can’t fill, and you keep your overhead low. GM used to be a Wal Mart but, like K Mart, it failed to adapt to the new environment and now faces the abyss. We can all name numerous large dominant companies that failed (remember Wang?) when the competition screamed on by them, and yet our economy has continued to grow at rates averaging around 3%. I would rather see Ford/GM succeed, the government bailout of the pension/health care plans will amount to a VERY tidy number, but if Ford isn’t going to bother to sell their best mid-size car (the Mondeo) in America, well, the hell with them. Oh, and Robert Reidchchchch, how does Germany with that .75% growth rate and 12% unemployment rate look these days?

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Funny how that works…this guy and his company now want to shoot for the moon when they can’t even overcome a Camry or an Accord!!!

    You know, I’ve always wondered how things would have worked out if GM has taken just 10% of their development budget for “pie in the sky” ideas and applied this amount to upgrading their current products. But then again, I suppose that efforts toward improved interior plastics and switchgear aren’t as sexy to investors as a car that runs on flatulence.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    The ultimate irony was when she got into her Subaru and drove off. Apparently, in her view the principle of “local support” doesn’t extend to our domestic auto industry.

    Illinois or Japanese built?

  • avatar
    Adamatari

    I feel like I’m the only one on the site willing to say this but green cars are a good thing. If GM had been smart they would have looked at the future and developed from the EV1 a line of increasing sophisticated electric cars. Look at how well the Prius sells and tell me nobody would want it!

    I love fast cars that handle well and it would only be better if they were more environmentally friendly. Maybe some of you guys need to drive your cars to a park, get out, and have a hike. That sort of natural beauty is incompatible with everyone having a 15 mpg, barely passing emissions car.

    That said, the government should stay out. GM has the sort of engineering ability to produce awesome cars that SELL, it just decides not to do that. Pushrods aren’t the problem either – GM’s best pushrod engines are pretty damn impressive. They just don’t make cars that are fun to own and drive. I shouldn’t have to pay GM because it’s “domestic” – if American car companies can’t do it they should fail. As for the poor autoworkers, I wouldn’t want to let go of a semi-skilled job like that where they make plenty of money and get just silly benefits. Let them move out of Michigan and get a job at Starbucks like the one I had.

  • avatar
    Steven T.

    Hmmm. This site has increasingly ventured into the realm of public policy, and the debates have tended to have a shrill, one-dimensional quality. Discussions about global warming and pensions seem to generate particularly large quantities of heat (rather than light).

    That’s too bad if you really want the title of this blog to be in synch with the actual content.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Steven T: For a site that covers not just cars but the car business to eschew public policy debate would be to forgo its’ raison d’etre. The uniqueness of this site is that it dares to cover both in an intelligent fashion, unlike the car mags that avoid business discussions like the plague, and business mags whose ignorance of automobiles is manifest. Of course, I like the comments, so…

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Subaru…Illinois or Japanese built?

    starlightmica, that’s EXACTLY my point. People obsess over whether something is “domestic” or “foreign” without paying attention to the fact that a desire for VALUE is what is hurting our good ol’ ‘merican businesses…

  • avatar
    Adamatari

    Steven T:

    Perhaps my comments about the autoworkers were a bit too much, but in any case it’s much harder to articulate a balanced opinion than an extreme one. Also, putting all the nuances down is quite difficult.

    As far as pensions go, the US auto industry strikes me as odd. What about all the other companies that offered similarly silly benefits? I suppose Bethlehem Steel is a good example – chapter 11 is probably somewhat hard to avoid, but profitability may be on the other side. There are established ways to shed these obligations when they threaten to destroy a business and the automakers don’t need any special consideration or handouts from the government. The autoworkers have suffered but so have many others and so it’s hard to see why they deserve special treatment.

    Additionally, GM wouldn’t be in this hole if they sold tons of competitive cars.

    Although I’m a total pistonhead I also think environmental concerns are important, not so much to save us from doomsday but rather because it’s a quality of life issue. That said I think government requirements are often over the top for cars. The car companies don’t need to be told to sell efficient cars at this point – efficient cars have a market, and that market will take care of it.

    Also, certainly AGs shouldn’t be suing car companies about their cars.

    In my opinion people should not NEED a car to live in any city. I don’t think even the people who think global warming is commie propoganda like to sit in stop and go traffic for hours every day. We also don’t want to have to take crappy public transport I think. The problem is that there aren’t simple solutions – cities now have been built up with the assumption people have cars, so putting in public transport that goes everywhere it needs to and can comfortable carry many people is an impossibility for many areas. Having lived in Boston without a car and loved it (the subway was actually easy to use and not humiliating, plus I could walk to work) and then having moved to an area where the distance between me and the closest grocery was longer than my walk to work in Boston and getting to work meant having a car, I haved lived the difference in lifestyle. Even more so I travelled in Europe and never once drove, they simply have built rail systems that are usable.

    In Florida the voters put an amendment (later repealed the same way) in for rail connecting Tampa, Orlando and Miami but the government simply dodged instead of pulling through. Disney helped sink it by refusing to allow it to come near them unless it passed by Universal… In any case they simply didn’t try very hard. The lawmakers weaseled out of it rather than build infrastructure.

    ANYWAYS, there is a lot to be said about these things. Also, your definition of “light” on global warming or pensions may strike me as BS and vice versa. If car reviews are the only thing you want I’d say go for the glossies or a different site. Either that or simply skip the editorials.

  • avatar
    kablamo

    the fact that a desire for VALUE is what is hurting our good ol’ ‘merican businesses…

    You are saying American businesses are unable to provide value?

    I have no problem with discussions taking a political/public policy turn, these are without a doubt related matters, relevant and worthy of discussion.

    My general impression is that capitalism and a free-market economic system were promoted as sound by the US for decades; domestically it justified greed, predatory practices and oligopolies – internationally it justified US intervention both politically and economically under the guise of “economic development”.
    Now that more and more foreign countries are endowed with skilled workers, competent (internationally) industries and vast ressources, the mature and stagnant American companies are crying foul. People can’t accept that they are being beaten at their own game (or at least, the game they started).

    The sooner American companies realize that their first-mover advantage is already long gone, the sooner they ought to realize it’s more and more difficult to make up for running a poor business by receiving government handouts and favours. Plenty already have (some never forgot). Clearly, GM and Ford (and Chrysler) are still anchored in the 1960’s on some degree.

  • avatar
    Steven T.

    I was born with gasoline in my veins, and have always had a fascination with anything automotive. However, in recent years I’ve drifted away from the auto “enthusiast” mags partly because they have been so fixated on showing glossy pictures of the latest toys. Whenever they deal with anything vaguely relating to policy, they generally have acted as wholly owned subsidiaries of the industry pr shops. If I wanted to read a press release, why not save a buck and just go to an automaker’s website?

    I was hoping that blogs such as TTAC would break the mold and start dealing with automotive-related public policies in more thoughtful and even-handed ways than the mags. So far what I’ve seen has usually has been the typical enthusiast-vs.-everyone else polarizations. That’s too bad, because there is a great need to develop a common ground on issues such as global warming and worker pensions.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    You are saying American businesses are unable to provide value?

    Oh my gosh…absolutely NOT! The auto industry, and for that matter ALL American businesses CAN and usually DO provide value…but for whatever reason it does seem that the auto industry often chooses not to, by cutting corners on its products. My previous post regarding investment in “gee-whiz, pie in the sky” technology – as well as the acquisition of many stumbling competitors, suppliers and non-automotive industries (Jaguar, EDS, Frigidaire) show an incredible waste of resources that could be put into products. Certainly there needs to be some development, but one can’t help but feel that the quest to produce the first fuel-cell vehicle is based on bragging rights, not what’s best for all of us. Perhaps this is a conservative approach, but it is also one that is much more likely to bear fruit.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    One last thought:

    America, you have been FLEECED…MORE TIMES than you care to know about. We, the tax payers, have given GM and Ford money for Research & Development, to the tune of several Billion Dollars! That’s YOUR money!! Look at your paycheck next week and ask yourself if “you’ve paid”.

    You sure as hell have!!!

    Clinton’s 80 mpg car initiative? Sure!!! GW’s successor…the “FreedomCAR”???

    You sure as hell HAVE!!!!

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/10.08/fuelcellcars.html

    And yet what do we get? Suburbans and Hummers!!!!

    And you NOW WISH TO TALK ABOUT A “FEDERAL” *BAILOUT*!?!?!?!?

    If I didn’t have a little more respect for RF, I’d say “N*&&$#, you MUST BE CRAZY!!!”.

    Don’t come knocking, there GM and Ford, hear??? We’ve already given (Oh, how DEARLY, we’ve given!!!).

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    I am reminded of the time I was asked to attend a lecture by the head of Sony R&D at the University of Washington for MicroTimes, a computer magazine based in the SF Bay area. He started out by saying, with the polite “take no offenses at this bluntness” approach of a typical Japanese businessman, “You have too many lawyers.” Everyone laughed. Then after the speech, as if to prove that setting up guidelines is part of our problem, two head honchos of the UW Engineering school, literally got between myself and said head of Sony R&D and said, “He’s too busy now. You’ll have to interview him later.” Which never happened and I never got much to file – end of story.
    There’s another point to be made. People who think “the marketplace will take care of everything” live in a dream world. Of course, some have admittedly pretty good credentials; think Milton Friedman, Nobel winning economist.
    But the discussion on the table reminds me of some jerk-off little weasel who fancied himself a conservative, that I had the misfortune of working for (briefly, thank God) back in 1983. He fixed his steely gaze upon me one morning, during the coffee break and said, “Terry, name me one government program that has ever worked out, that has ever produced a profit.” I looked back at him and said, “The GI Bill.”
    He sputtered and said, “Name me another!”
    I replied, tried of his silly game, “You said one, Jack and that’s it.”
    The government guaranteed some bank loans for the former Chrysler Corporation, way back in the fall of 1979; and it got its money back, in 1983. Of course, in the long term, Chrysler almost went under again, in the early 1990s and might not be around if it was not for Daimler-Benz, now DaimlerChrysler.
    When Chrysler got those bank loans, they changed the product and made it through the 1980s. Admittedly, the K-car wasn’t anything to write home to mom about; but it did the job and was much better than the sorry cars such as the late 1970s Dodge Cordoba and its variant, the Charger (what a shame that proud name went on that piece of shit).
    But I digress. If I was in Congress, I’d consider giving the big 2.5 some money. It might work out or it might not. Surely Milton Friedman would be upset. But those of us who work in the real world know how hard it is to make ends meet and to transition out of an industry, that several generations have been involved in.
    If this country completely loses its manufacturing base, we will indeed be a third world country.
    But this is all academic. The Bush administration, in power until January 2009, is not going to allow Congress to give the big 2.5 a cent. Trust me on this.

  • avatar
    cthill

    This a HUGE stereotype but I am guessing that most of the people on this site saying GM and Ford disappearing will have no impact on the US are right leaning and therefore believe in a strong US Military.

    Twenty to thirty years after the “domestic” auto industry disappears I wonder the effect on the US ability to support the Military.

    Everyone seems to think that any government hand out to Ford and GM will make them lazy and more likely to ultimately fail however what is wrong with some government help to lesson the legacy costs to the business and level the playing field. If GM and Ford are as incompetent as people make them out they will fail anyway it will just take a little longer. If they are getting there act together this will give them a fighting chance. Also it will probably cost the same in the long run as someone will have to pick up the pension tab in the event of a bankrupcy. After all these legacy costs were incurred in a time when no one would have expected China or Korea to be exporting cars to the US.

    Having said that the government would have to ensure that the UAW does not just suck up the life line rather than it being used to better the company.

    I do not think this will happen as GW Bush is already distancing him self from the automakers so that if and when they fail as little mud will hit him as possible.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    I really don’t know why on this board and elsewhere on the web there is such virulent HATE for the domestic manufacturers . . . and now, seemingly, for American industry in general.

    I’ll be upfront and admit that I have worked at a domestic automaker as an engineer for the last 15 years . . . writing software or doing IT work. That being said, I really don’t consider myself a ‘car guy’ at all, but just an average Joe who needs to buy cars like everybody else. In my 25 years driving, I have only experienced a single ‘horror’ story with any Ford or GM vehicle . . . a blown head gasket on a ’88 Chevy Nova (i.e., Toyota Corolla, no?) from the NUMMI factory. And I never remember anyone in my family having one either . . . in spite of my dad buying stripped cheapos (Pinto, Gremlin) and driving them to death for years and years and years. Can’t really think of any major complaints from friends, either. In fact, probably the most complaining I’ve heard in my family at least is from my brother-in-law, who exclusively drives Nissans and now Infinities.

    I know this is totally anecdotal . . . but I’m afraid that so are all your stories of ruined lives (apparently) due to faulty transmissions and such. So why such venom? Why? I really don’t understand . . .

    OK . . . domestic quality numbers are not up to the Japanese, and never have been. But really . . . at this point a lot of this is really noise, or perhaps rather minor annoyances, or frankly good PR and an ever growing ‘halo’ effect that minimizes problems on one set and highlights them on another. Sure the domestics make some uninspiring, ugly vehicles. But can you tell me that the Japanese or Europeans have not done the same? The domestics have made mistakes in the past, and probably will make mistakes in the future. But show me any human endeavor that doesn’t . . . is that reason for a death sentence, though?

    Yet here you sit, discussing the best way for the domestics to ‘jettison’ their pension benefits, like that’s a good thing. And how you’re so darn glad to live in the glorious times when you can watch major employers go bankrupt. Hurray!

    What is your problem? Why would you want to see that? Why would you want to see companies ‘jettison’ their obligations to a bunch of elderly people? My father-in-law worked for 40 years at GM, raised four children and a grandchild, and now lives in a small house on his pension . . . you really want him and literally hundreds of thousands of others like him out on the street because you had a problem with your tranny? Those of you who love to argue that Toyota or Subaru or Honda are just as American as the domestics just because they have a plant or two here should acknowledge that they provide for a few thousand retirees at best, versus all those supported by the ongoing domestics. These are your grandparents, or if not then your neighbors or their parents probably. Should they all just curl up and die?

    And please don’t minimize the advantages the non-US companies have versus ours . . . piss and moan about government bailouts here, but in fact the governments of Japan and others provide for the retirement and healthcare of their (primarily) home-country workforce. Is that not in essence a ‘bailout’? We should be penalized because our companies choose to take care of their retired workers? And they’re living longer and eating up more healthcare dollars? What . . . it’s better to be a company that provides NO retirement money or healthcare, in a country that doesn’t bother to do this, either?

    I’m sorry, but I really feel that the people in the country are enormously short sighted and frankly quite disloyal. “Why should I buy from an American company when I can benefit myself a bit more by NOT, and also ease my conscience through essentially meaningless justifications?” That’s the new American way. In Japan and Korea and elsewhere they take PRIDE in their domestic industries and support them . . . and always have. Even back in the stone age, when they were actually making inferior products. Remember, ‘Made in Japan’ used to accurately mean ‘Piece of Junk’. But I guarantee you that at the time the majority of their population would NEVER think of buying anything else, out of loyalty. Something we don’t have a stitch of here.

    I would just like to know what all the self-righteous people here do to support themselves . . . and whether they’re so darn great at their jobs that they can afford to throw stones. I know that I certainly see my share of typos make it into the articles here . . . so is it not rather hypocritcal to complain about the quality of another? How about focusing on that bit of quality versus ‘pie in the sky’ technological whiz-bang like podcasts? Pots and kettles, I see. I hope the posters are all plumbers, I guess . . . then maybe you don’t need to worry about YOUR job getting shipped off to India when this inevitable downward spiral continues to kill our country.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    dk,

    I’ve heard more than once: “Your time will come…just you wait”.

    Let me tell you, it’s come about 3 different times!!!

    The first time was a doozy…and thank GOD it happened. An eye opener for sure!!! I hated it at the time, but I thank God it happened…and early on.

    Why? Because you are a “Rastus”. Don’t you think otherwise my friend….you are :)

    And so is every one ELSE who works for a living.

    So…the moral of the story is this: These “Corporations” dont’ care about YOUR grandparents …or YOU…or YOUR NEIGHBOR…ONE IOTA!

    Why kid yourself otherwise???? You tell me???…

    So…how does a “Rastus” of the world fight back against anyone who will, and Has, fired them at a moment’s notice???

    You DEMAND THE BEST!!!

    If you are so stupid to “Play Along”…then you not only DESERVE being fired, you ALSO Deserve your $1000+ repair bills, your 20% depreciation the FIRST year…the crappy treatment when it comes to “Waranty Repairs”….and on and on and on.

    Here’s another lesson: YOU (personally) can NOT give enough!!!

    EVER!

    Pay your taxes like a good little boy, pay to “employ” fools playing cards in the “jobs bank”…and soon enough…

    ..you TOO will be in the poor house!!!

    YOU CAN NOT GIVE ENOUGH!

    For GM and FORD and any OTHER BLEEDING HEART (such as YOURSELF…with your issues pertaining to grandparents, etc.) to ask for MORE…well, there comes a time…

    …a time to say “SCREW YOU”!!!

    Crass? You bet!! There’s no other way to put it.

    So go ahead, go down and sign a 5 year loan on an Impalla…

    …out of sympathy…

    …I guarantee you my friend, it’ll get you nowhere…

    …and nowhere FAST!

    Keep up the good job, you’re a good “Rastus” my boy!

  • avatar
    Terry

    dkulmacz:
    September 24th, 2006 at 12:52 am
    “I really don’t know why on this board and elsewhere on the web there is such virulent HATE for the domestic manufacturers . . . and now, seemingly, for American industry in general.”

    What I see in my job(Shop Foreman at a Mazda/Subaru dealership that also sells/services GMs is..
    People dont hate domestic cars–they just dont care anymore!!!
    Back in the day, EVERYBODY owned American cars and were proud of them. People switched to imports for a reason, and outside of the guilt trips and patriotism card, nobody has given them a reason to switch back.
    Even with recalls and the normal mechanical woes common to ALL cars, consumers think the imports are chic, up-to-date, innovative and efficient. They like the attention to detail and the service received at the dealership. Perhaps they blindly buy Toyota after Toyota….but didnt consumers blindly purchase Chevy after Chevy a couple of decades ago?
    Right now, Toyota, Honda, Nissan etc are looked upon as “WINNERS”, the domestics as “LOSERS” rightly or wrongly.
    Which would YOU rather buy from?

  • avatar
    tech98

    dkulmacz:

    In my 25 years driving, I have only experienced a single ‘horror’ story with any Ford or GM vehicle . . . a blown head gasket on a ‘88 Chevy Nova (i.e., Toyota Corolla, no?) from the NUMMI factory. And I never remember anyone in my family having one either . . . in spite of my dad buying stripped cheapos (Pinto, Gremlin) and driving them to death for years and years and years. Can’t really think of any major complaints from friends, either. In fact, probably the most complaining I’ve heard in my family at least is from my brother-in-law, who exclusively drives Nissans and now Infinities.

    If your family has no anecdotal horror stories about domestic cars, then I think either you are all extraordinarily lucky and atypical, your standards are low or you have little exposure to non-US brands.

    Realize that the Big 2.5 don’t give a crap about you. Corporations are not your friends, American or otherwise.

    I suspect a major reason the Big 2.5 continue to deliver substandard cars and crappy warranty service is because they know they have a built-in market who will buy whatever they produce out of a gullible, misguided sense of ‘patriotism’.

    Most of us grew up riding in American cars so they had the advantage of generational tradition, but since the 70s they have pissed it away delivering cut-cornered, near-enough garbage products in the short-term pursuit of profit, contemptibly assuming their audience was too ill-informed to notice and too parochial to buy imports.

    Hewy Big 2.5, deliver a competitive product, and maybe national pride will give you a slight edge. But I’m not willing to lose big on quality or repair bills just because you wave flags in your advertising.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    Corporations as instituted in the US are amoral, and were they actual human beings they would be considered psychopathic. I don’t care for or about the corporation as such. And the ‘nervous system’ of these entities are the financiers who care nothing about anything other than the next dollar in their pocket. Obviously the corporation would just as soon march people into a grave as look at them if they were able, and it meant another dollar in the till.

    But two wrongs don’t make a right. People seem to take the attitude that they’re going to ‘stick it to the man’, i.e., the corporation. But I’m sorry . . . I don’t think you can do that. Do they ever suffer, really? No . . . they pass the buck, and push the misery on someone else.

    The majority of people are NOT ‘the corporation’, and they shouldn’t take the behavior of corporations as the model to which they aspire. The *people* SHOULD care about the grandparents. And their neighbors. Forgive me for not being a ‘citizen of the world’, but I’d much rather hear about the success of my neighbor than of some guy across town . . . and I’d rather hear it of the guy across town than the woman in another state . . . but I’d still rather hear it of the woman in another state than some faceless person in a remote country.

    The unfortunate fact is that many people — be they retirees or workers — depend on the corporations for their livelyhood. So when the buck is passed, those are the people who enjoy the misery. So blame them for working their lives at a job instead of being independent businesspersons . . . is that it? For being ‘a Rastus’? (had to look that one up).

    I don’t consider myself to be a ‘bleeding heart’ because I disagree with the attitude of “the best for me, damn the rest of the you.” And that’s the way I see it operating in this country now. Everywhere. If you become a success, divorce the wife who helped get you there and marry a 20 year old. Walk out on the college who’s giving you a free education to sign that $20M contract . . . then go free agent as soon as you can for more bucks. Fire the call center people and ship it to India at 1/4 the wage. And pass on a ‘good’ product because a ‘better’ one is available . . . too bad your neighbor’s house is in foreclosure. Now we ALL act like little corporations, and aren’t we proud of it. After all . . . I DESERVE the best for ME.

    Like Terry says above . . . people just don’t care. They think the imports are ‘cool’ . . . they’re ‘winners’. And we all know that THAT’s what’s important now.

    So you blame ‘the management’, even though there’s what . . . maybe a few hundred who really have significant sway in what gets done. And you blame ‘the union’ and the jobs bank and there are maybe a few thousand on ‘the dole’. And great . . . you use that to justify your glee at seeing thousands of Rastus’ lives destroyed for the mistake of thinking that working hard at a job was the right thing to do.

    For goodness sake . . . if it’s now beyond you to NOT maximize your own pleasure for any reason, could you all at least put away your smug satisfaction at seeing the devastation laid down on your ‘neighbors’?

    As I said before . . . I don’t think there are many other places in the world that have our twisted attitudes. And I mean both the attitudes of the corporations AND the attitudes of the people. Both are just looking out for themselves exclusively any more, and are sure to get that extra dollar (or dollar’s worth of utility) for themselves regardless of the repercussions. You want to brag about that, go ahead.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    “My standards are too low”.

    My computer probably crashes once a week . . . and my cable internet access seems to go down every other day. Probably every 10th DVD or video game I buy either has a mispackaged or faulty disk, and I have to return it for an exchange. McDonalds and Taco Bell absolutely CANNOT get any order fully correct. Every PDA I’ve bought has died some type of death within two years . . . cell phones usually don’t last that long. My water heater is nothing but a big can with a glass lining . . . but it started leaking after three years. The builders put the extra-large basement window in the wrong place . . . right BEHIND the furnace.

    I’ve driven ‘inferior’ domestic cars my whole life, but I have NEVER had a car fail to start in the morning, or leave me stranded (unless I forgot to gas it up). In comparison it seems like every other product or service I use sucks . . . even though cars are probably the most complex and highly regulated piece of machinery most of us will ever touch in our lifetimes. So why all the hatred because you were recalled for a faulty window switch?

  • avatar
    CasterOil

    I’m sorry, but subsidising failing companies is a complete anathema to pure capitalism. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” and all that.

    Subsidies breed incompetence and mediocrity, as has been proven time and time again.

    Let Ford and GM sink or swim on their own merits. A bail-out is fundamentally wrong, and encourages a moral dilemma in the “too big to fail” category of corporation.

    No-one should be “too big to fail”. It is all part of the lesson.

  • avatar
    cthill

    I do not agree with dkulmacz sentiment

    “Forgive me for not being a ‘citizen of the world’, but I’d much rather hear about the success of my neighbor than of some guy across town . . . and I’d rather hear it of the guy across town than the woman in another state . . . but I’d still rather hear it of the woman in another state than some faceless person in a remote country.”

    I think one of the best things about the US is that it has lifted Japan and China out of poverty by its open market policies. This is not pure ultruism either it has lifted the standard of living in the US and made the world a safer more stable place.

    The best way to a lower standard of living is to start implementing protectionist policies. However I think that it should be realised that for a host of historic reasons that the US car industry is at a competative disadvantage. If I were the government I would be doing something to lesson the competative disadvantage so that if GM and Ford are world class they can survive and not be pulled under by legacy costs.

    The big question is will the US be better or worse of without an indigineous auto industry. I would say a lot worse.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    The US is likely the most ‘purely capitalist’ country on the planet, and we have probably the highest ratio of CEO to worker pay, very likely the greatest disparity between the pay of meaningless endeavors (pop star, athlete, actor) and meaningful (firefighter, teacher), one of the poorest performing group of children at any scholastic level, highest infant mortality rate, most people without healthcare, and the list surely goes on. Has pure captilism gotten us into this? You be the judge. And now, it seems pure capitalism can’t keep well paying jobs in the country, either. It seems to me that in it’s present form, our version of pure capitalism will ultimately take us back to a feudal state, where CEOs, pop stars, athletes, actors, and those that leach a living from them will live the beautiful life while the rest of the country scrapes by shopping at WalMart. Hurray.

    cthill,

    Just to be clear, I’m not supporting a government policy to protect the industry but instead whining about what seems to be the American public’s “let them die, good riddence” attitude.

    Based on the content and form of your post, I’m going to take a guess (no offense if wrong) and say that you’re either not living in the US or are at least not native born. Given that, I’d really love to hear your views on how the population of your native country view their automotive industry (if they have one). Perhaps my belief that there’s more support elsewhere is misplaced . . .

  • avatar
    Terry

    I really dont see what a bailout would accomplish.
    In ’79-’80 Chrysler was about to drop off the face of the earth. Iacocca dumped ALL the huge Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth cars and basically started over with the K-Car, and all the various cars based on it. This was only 3 short years after the US Bicentennial, and patriotism was at an all-time high. You could even buy white “Bicentennial Editions” of US cars with American flags painted on them. The bailout then worked. But as I said, Chrysler totally changed their passenger car lineup.
    You think GM and Ford would do the same? Would they dump all their unsuccessful car lines and start over? I doubt it.
    Let’s say the government gives them a huge sum of $$. What then? Let’s say the government covers all their health and legacy costs. From that day forward, are they going to be selling cars that people want to buy and be proud to own?
    NOT A CHANCE.
    I purchase products I feel work best for ME. If I buy something only because my neighbor might lose his job if I dont , we’re both sunk. THIS is the incentive to build the best and have your customers feel they have purchased the best.
    And yes, we DO have an indigineous auto industry. It’s just that the grilles now have “Toyota” and Honda” emblems on them instead of “Chevy” and “Ford”. They have built plants here while the domestics have closed plants here.
    Dont EVEN start with the”Well, ALL the profits go back to Japan” BS. NOT TRUE. Profit is made every step of the way from the purchase of raw materials to the time the customer takes the keys and beyond in service and parts. Just how do you think these plants, parts suppliers, distribution centers, transport companies, dealerships and employees(such as myself) stay in business? To date, not one red cent of my paycheck has made it back to Japan.
    Bailout worked in ’80, wont work now–too many competitors building superior products. And customers happy with them. Products honed to(perceived) perfection while the domestics put all their eggs in the truck/SUV basket.
    I derive no joy from this, but I see no way out for GM or Ford. And again, the satisfied import buyers dont care.

  • avatar
    geeber

    Terry Parkhurst: If I was in Congress, I’d consider giving the big 2.5 some money. It might work out or it might not. Surely Milton Friedman would be upset. But those of us who work in the real world know how hard it is to make ends meet and to transition out of an industry, that several generations have been involved in.

    Sorry, but if Congress is using my tax dollars, the chances for success had better be more than, “It might work out or it might not.”

    Once the federal government has committed to assisting GM and Ford, it will be more likely to cough up more money for the NEXT restructuring after the first one doesn’t work out as planned…just check out the history of British Leyland.

    The Chrysler bailout worked because it was the exception. Congress forced sacrifices from EVERYONE – the CEO (Chrysler had to give up the company jet, which galled Iacocca to no end), management, suppliers, bankers and the union (which only went along because it had no choice and its normal allies in Congress were applying political pressure to agree to cuts).

    Remember that within a decade of paying off the loan guarantees Iacocca had run Chrysler into the ditch, because he ignored the Japanese threat and spent money on everything BUT replacing the K-Car (remember that awful K-based Chrysler Imperial?) and didn’t do nearly enough to improve quality.

    If we bail out GM and Ford now, will we be on the hook again in 10 years (that’s assuming this bailout works)?

    Terry Parkhurst: If this country completely loses its manufacturing base, we will indeed be a third world country.

    Considering that the Japanese are building plants here, and are willing to share their processes with GM and Ford (Honda has opened its plants to GM personnel), I’d say that our manufacturing base is in decent shape. It’s just that it won’t be located almost exclusively in the industrial Midwest and 100 percent unionized.

    Do not talk to me about a bailout of GM and Ford until UAW members make real payments for health care; bean counters are in their proper place (offering guidance, not exercising control, over new model development); management invests money in new model development instead of buying up other companies; the Jobs Bank is gone; and Dead-Brands-Walking Pontiac, Buick and Mercury have been euthanized and given a proper burial.

    It’s a waste of taxpayer money to prop up a business model that was outdated by 1985.

  • avatar
    kablamo

    dkulmacz, excellent posts. Let me say that although I disagree with your conclusion (about buying domestic), you make great points which have not really been challenged.

    (where to start?)

    -I agree that our fellow human *should* be the #1 priority, although realistically speaking, it usually isn’t; even when it’s your parents or neighbours or friends. That said, one thing we always have to keep in mind is that although we might despise the system we are in right now, the way things are, we are stuck in it and cannot expect it to change significantly soon, so our best bet is to deal with it as such.
    The problem with buying domestics to support our elderly pensionners and forefathers is that GM isn’t paying a pension because it wants to help people, it does it because it has to, and if it didn’t it would either be breaching its contract or going through bankrupty.
    Buying GM vehicles to support GM’s retirees is a non sequitur, you are supporting a corporation in the indirect hope it will treat it’s workers and retirees better. GM (and the big3, and essentially all unionized workers) didn’t enter these contracts out of social responsibility, they did because if not, they’d be faced with a worst business prospect (at the time) – the union taking action.

    *Here’s the big point: Most people (retirees, employees) have planned their lives according to the contracts they have had with their employers (and governments) regarding employement security, pensions, benefits, etc. These contracts/agreements/stipulations do NOT mention anything about the general populace’s responsibility to purchase product and keep revenue up, especially despite changing market conditions (no doubt that’s occurred over the last few decades). That is an outside factor that both parties (workers/unions and company/management) always assumed would stay the same. Clearly it hasn’t.
    Although these are big contracts – between some of the largest companies in the world and some of the largest groups of workers/retirees in the world, they are not infaillible. In fact, bigger agreements still (Social Security, for example) could also be doomed to failure, because of changing demographics. It’s clear that the environment in which these agreements were made is now very, very different, and they become much more difficult to honour.

    So – it is not everyone’s responsibility to get involved in contracts GM and its employees entered in decades ago, the purchasing public is an outsider, and always has been.

    NOW, you might say “well no one is really an outsider, if GM’s failure causes a massive economic downturn, we’ll all be the worst for it”, which is probably true, at least to some extent, so here is the continuation of this argument:

    Government programs like Social Security have similar fundamentals as the GM pension agreements. It’s no secret these programs are in trouble too, although the government has a big advantage over GM, which is the power of taxation. The fact GM has produced crap for decades (more on that later) and sales have been falling steadily also accelerates GM’s position versus the government’s on this one (that is, contracts for retirees).
    What we have now is a situation where the conditions have changed so much from when these programs started, that they are becoming no longer viable. Clearly, anyone who has planned their life according to these programs was doing so based on the assumption they were sound, which was short-sighted back then, assuming the world would stay the same forever, assuming baby-boom demographics wouldn’t affect things at all, basically assuming a permanent status quo. Now let’s be honest, most people were duped, so it’s nothing to take personally – but, we are left with the question who is going to pay? Should current workers pay for their predecessor’s shortsightedness or lack of vision? Should the current population be subject to purchasing goods they don’t want (rightly or wrongly)? As someone under the age of 30, I say no, simply because that flies right in the face of all the logic and economic wisdom imparted by those who got us in this mess.
    We are being told that capitalism is key, that it got us this far (farther than anything else has, I might add), but it now left us this mess…what to do? Well, aside from the fact that capitalism seems to encourage this type of short-term thinking at the sacrifice of the long term, what else can you do? *Someone is going to be treated unfairly.* There’s no way around that. Either the elder generation whose contracts are no longer viable will be out of luck, or the working stiffs will be stuck paying for someone else’s lack of vision.
    So how does this relate back to GM? Well, the wheels set in motion (import preferences for short) have been gathering momentum for decades already and you can’t just stick a branch in it and stop it. I’ve only ever had Hondas and Nissans, having experienced my parent’s GM nightmares I’m quite happy with them thank you.
    Let’s discuss a little something: based on most pension agreements, usually after 30 or 35 years of seniority and enrollment, maximum benefits and pension entitlements are available, so people are willing to retire. So far, that means plenty of people can retire in their early 50’s, by which they’ve had a good run and can enjoy a full pension. Of course, people routinely live into their 80’s and 90’s now, so that means they can be supported by a pension for up to the same amount of time they’ve actually worked. Here’s the million dollar question: Why should I buy a GM because of that?

    To protect that kind of standard of living?
    It makes no sense. It doesn’t. It didn’t when those agreements were drawn up, but things were different so it wasn’t a problem. If you are going to live until 90 you (anyone) are going to have to work more than 1/3 of your life.

    I am regretfully going to stop now because this whole discussion takes on a whole other dimension if you start to include the globalization of business, which is where we would be getting to right about now. Fact is though, we created this and you reap what you sow. While the world was changing, unions didn’t budge, neither did the Big 3, and now they are both anachronisms and their contracts just don’t work in the current world. [email protected] and whine all you want, we’re here, and there is no turning back the clock. Who will be stuck paying for all this? I don’t know, we haven’t gotten that far yet – I do know I don’t want it to be me because on some level I still believe capitalism has merits and I shouldn’t be paying for other people’s mistakes.

    How would I tell that to my dad or my friend? Well, I don’t know, but I would hope he or they would realize whose fault this is (no pointing fingers, but blaming a child for a parent’s mistakes is really low), and not expect the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if the government ended up picking the tab for this, meaning all of us as taxpayers, but sure it’s going to be a living adjustment, no doubt about it. Life was tough when you were a kid and now that I am, it still is. Sounds cruel but what can you say?

    PS: You can’t buy GM products to support retirees because buying a GM product means you like it, enjoy it, and believe it is worthwhile. I don’t believe any of those things right now, even if I did want to support every last GM retiree, I wouldn’t want to encourage the company to produce yet another gas-guzzling SUV, crap-tacular SSR, gawdy Cobalt SS or convertible without a trunk. In short, it’s a leap of logic.

    PSS: Although I strongly believe is supporting your fellow man, the above might indicate otherwise. I think you have to keep in mind when you try to support people through a company, you are supporting a company. Do you support the company whose people you want to support? There is a difference, unfortunately.

    Note: Regarding perfection in a vehicle – I don’t expect perfection and all of my cars have had problems, none of them major, thankfully. My beef is some problems are wear (all of my cars are used and had at least 100,000miles), whereas others are built-in obsolescence or just plain old crappy design. My parent’s last GM (which, incidentally, did not even make it to 100,000miles), demonstrated that. I don’t expect perfection, but I sure don’t expect anyone to sell me something that’s designed to break or designed so poorly it’s clearly going to break at some point. Add to that parts designed to be changed in unison (eg brake disc/bearing/abs sensor all in one unit) even though only one component has failed, the new one of which costs a small fortune, and I’m no fan of money grubbing GM/Ford. To me, it’s clear what their intentions were when they sold some of those vehicles.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    Well at least at this point it is more valid to be thankful for some thoughtful discourse on the subject here. Very thoughtful responses lately, IMO, versus the more shrill that tend to be seen.

    We’ve certainly gotten into a pickle with our current system in many ways, and the innocent suffer on many sides . . . whether they be the consumers who’ve bought poorly planned products or the workers who’s seemingly correct choices have turned out wrong.

    We all have our vision of what a perfect world would be, and I suppose it’s as wrong to foist one version on people as another. I am sad because I really think that this time we’ve done it . . . I know people have cried ‘the sky is falling’ in the past and it hasn’t, but now somehow things seem fundamentally different. I feel sad for my daughter and what the future holds for her . . . by all indications her generation will be worse off here than the previous, probably the first time in our history.

  • avatar
    New2LA

    I think the left-leaning indivuduals posting on this board need to chill out a little. No need to get personally offended at the fact that others may have opinions that don’t mirror yours. After all, isn’t tolerance and acceptance hallmarks of classical liberalism?

  • avatar
    kablamo

    I don’t know that things will be necessarily worse, but they’ll definitely be different. I think things are just changing faster now because life is going at a much faster speed. That means companies (among others) have a lot less time to change and adapt, which is even more of a problem if they have an underlying culture that is averse to change (something not only American companies have problems with!).

    We do seem to be coming to a point where some fundamental pillars of Western society (eg 40 hour workweeks, commuting, medical access through either affordable insurance or universal healthcare, pension plans, benefit plans, numerous social safety nets, etc) are in danger of collapsing, with no clear solutions. I’m not really sure what the future holds, but I think the old adage of “savings and wise investments”, or at least getting out of debt is probably a good start to lessening the burden should the worst occur. At the very least, it would be best not to take anything for granted; and I mean anything.

  • avatar
    cthill

    dkulmacz asked:

    Based on the content and form of your post, I’m going to take a guess (no offense if wrong) and say that you’re either not living in the US or are at least not native born. Given that, I’d really love to hear your views on how the population of your native country view their automotive industry (if they have one). Perhaps my belief that there’s more support elsewhere is misplaced . . .

    You are right I am Australian. The car industry here is structurally completely different to the US. We have a small population on the other side of the world from just about everybody. Therefore it is more economical for a company to build the cars where most of them will be sold and ship a few to Australia rather than building them here and shipping most to where they are sold. This means that Australia will never have a big car industry.

    Australians like big cars preferably rear wheel drive. The models that are build here are the (GM) Holden Commodore (designed here), Ford Falcon (designed here), Toyota Camry/Aurion (same as the US version) and Mitsubishi 3800 (similar to the US Galant).
    For the Commodore and Falcon the main reason they are still build here is that a similar car is not really available anywhere else.

    Having said that the government is actively trying to keep some form of car industry in this country. Currently the import tariff on cars is at 10% and due to fall to 5% in 2010 (I think). There is now a debate as to where it is in the national interest to continue lowering the tariff and risk killing the locally made cars. The government is also dolling out research assistance to the car companies to encourage them to undertake engineering and development here. The Australian government is running a sizable budget surplus so it has more money to throw about than the US government. Also Australians are far less hostile to government intervention in free markets than Americans.

    As for the sentiment of the general population I think that the majority of people are proud of the locally made cars but will not by them just because of that it must be the right car for there needs and the number of people that need a large sedan is shrinking. Although there are still a lot of people that think that the locally made cars a not prestigeous enough for them or to low tech or just big and inefficient.

    The media here is, I think, generally fairer toward the car industry in general however they do not give the locally made cars a free pass. You should have seen the media beating up Holden when the new Commodore did not better the old models fuel economy.

  • avatar
    Bubba Gump

    I for one have a serious issue with the terms Bankruptcy and bailout thrown around by the quote (itelligent press) like there is fact to it. There may be indications of a possibility of either or both there is no disputing that. But to write it as inevitetable or fact is boderline industrial espionage and criminal. The words Bankruptcy and Bailout have never been uttered by any GM of Ford Representative. However it is thrown around like they have. The pr damage done to these companies because of it is incalculable and it disgusts me. If they provided an inferior product then let the beatings commence but the afformentioned is reprehensible.

  • avatar
    dkulmacz

    Bubba . . . but don’t forget . . . the site and the comments are guaranteed unbiased.

    Like the next one up the list, telling us all about a drunk Henry Ford II, I believe. I’m sure the editors were there to see that in the flesh.

  • avatar
    whitenose

    New2LA:

    After all, isn’t tolerance and acceptance hallmarks of classical liberalism?

    Baiting statements like this will earn you epithets like ‘concern troll’ in some forums. There are always limits to tolerance when dealing with bullies and murderers…

    CastorOil:

    No-one should be “too big to fail”. It is all part of the lesson.

    Really? I wasn’t aware that originalist unregulated capitalism had antitrust provisions.

    Exercise: what would happen if WalMart were to keel over tomorrow? Microsoft?

    I’m not advocating a bailout. I would say that it would be unwise to let two of our largest corporations crash into the ground without understanding the consequences fully. If we think the economy will survive with minimal damage, great. If it plunges us into recession, probably not a good idea, given especially the already precarious financial situation the Bush/Cheney administration has placed us in.

    Let me point out that congress (yes, essentially the same wingnut-dominated and controlled congress as we have today) has already bailed out the airlines to the tune of billions of dollars. Was that a good investment? I don’t think so, but I haven’t studied the situation carefully. Seems to me the airlines have been teetering on the edge ever since.

    [Farago,

    Can I ask that you put a real discussion forum up? It’s just about impossible to follow the threads of conversation in this blog-comment format, which isn’t conducive to this sort of long-format commentary.]

  • avatar
    dimitris

    dkulmacz et al: You exemplify the type of altruist that expresses his support of his “fellow man” by robbing him.

    I, for one, have better “fellow men” to support with my taxes.

  • avatar
    New2LA

    Whitenose, I said that for a reason: I guess I don’t understand why I’ve heard people bash Bush about the war on THIS website. Talk about inappropriate! Many here have also asked why/how politics play into a site about cars…well, tell me what does the war in Iraq have to do about Ford and GM?

    I think it was your bretheren Steven T. (posted above) who complained that this website was taking a negative turn into one-sided political bantering. Again, since I’m big on facts and less on emotion, I think he has just been proven wrong with your statement about bullies and murders.

    The economy, by the way, is extremely vibrant. Again, I ask you to look at the facts, not emotion: record low unemployment (lower than when Clinton was in office), GDP fluctuating at or near 3%, inflation in tack, record housing prices, record stock market — and all of that despite the fact that gas prices are at record highs AND we are at war!

    The fed deficits are very high, but these don’t have as big an impact on the economy as doomsdayers might think – witness the above facts…

    I tried to keep my statements about the economy non-political, and just state the facts about it. If you disagree, please back up your disagreements with facts and not touchy-feely hate-statements.

    None of us will ever agree about everything. But this is America, and the fact that we can freely have disagreements is great! Who here can argue with that. Also, all of us pretty much agree on what we want to see change in the US car industry, which is why we love this site so much.

    So let’s stop with the hate lectures and get back to talking about cars!

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    hmmmm New2LA, check your facts, housing prices are dropping aswell as new constructions, usually the first signs of economic problems, and being confounded by high interest rates despite what you say.
    It’s still interesting that your commander in chief will see an American Idol winner but not the CEO’s of the big 3, who have probably a million or so current and ex workers under them, to discuss their problems?! Where are Bush’s priorities? You have to admit THAT is very odd.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    This thread is spinning out of control. But I’ll just add that people often need to be reminded (or need to learn): that the whole entire purpose of an “economy” and of its economic enterprises is to serve the needs of the consumer. That is the only reason an economy exists. If you make policy from the viewpoint of a producer instead of the consumer, you always go astray.

    This applies to cars and to discount retail stores. Wal-Mart is indeed a profoundly wonderful thing: you urbanites who sniff about how destructive Wal-Mart is should learn from those of us from small towns, who LOVE Wal-Mart and recognize what a huge economic boon it always is to a town. My hometown today has more other retail operations immediately surrounding the new Wal Mart Supercenter and riding its coattails, than previously existed in my town’s history. That’s great not because it provides a lot more jobs that previously existed in my town (though it does), that’s great because consumers are well served and don’t have to drive a half-hour to satisfy their needs.

    The Big 2.5 automakers tie up an enormous amount of productive resources. If they cannot satisfy consumer needs and desires profitably, then they should cease to exist. The sooner the better. Because their workers and capital can best be employed doing other things. (Perhaps for Toyota and Honda).

    I strongly suspect that we’d all be better off now if Chrysler had died rather than be bailed out all those years ago. We’d have one less ailing car company facing a 4th quarter death spiral; its demise might have caused GM and Ford to find religion; and a bunch of scared middle-aged Detroiters might today instead be in better happier careers doing something else.

  • avatar
    New2LA

    Boston, yes housing prices are definitely cooling…as they should.

    I hate to interject more facts into the emotional fray, but the entire history of our economy has been punctuated by highs and lows. However, if you do any trending analysis, you will see that it continues to rise as a whole.

    I’m glad housing prices are cooling off. Even after the cooling period ends, they will still be at historically high levels. How do you like that.

    As far as interest rates are concerned, what exactly do you consider to be “high”? So mortgage interest rates are in the 6’s – historically, they haven’t been this low since the 1960’s! If you want high, then think back to the late 70’s and early 80’s when they were well into the teens.

    Once again, several on this board have proven Steven T to be very wrong. The emotional political jabs seem to be coming from more from the left than the right. Why can’t we just talk about cars, and politics as they apply to cars, and leave it at that. I don’t want to spoil Robert’s excellent site with a “who’s right and who’s wrong” about President Bush.

  • avatar
    jackc10

    I find it interesting that when a subject like this comes up here, or on other bbs, there is the same post in different words that almost always appears.

    In this thread it is “dkulmacz”. His story might be true and he/she has a lot of cyber compatriots, but the version is always like this:

    1. I, and no one in my family ever had a big time problem with an American name plate car. Some of my family memebers drove Pinto/Gremlins/Chevettes at least 200,000 miles with no problem.

    2. The only family or friend who ever had a car problem was the in- law of a distant relative and he/she was constantly paying for expensive parts for the Nissan/Honda/Toyota that usually left him/her standing on the side of the shoulder waiting for AAA. That person could not wait to buy a new Impala and stop having those expensive Japanese parts fall off while going down the road.

    3. Oh yes, the author usually does have a connection to the Big 2.5 that allows for reduced price, a job, and an interest in the rest of us buying from the 2.5 so the Grosse Point people may not actually see a Camry go down the road in person.

    I will post again that it must be the other 98% of us that got the Big 2.5 made on Tuesdays after a 3 day holiday and we were the only ones with parts that wore out long before they should have. I will just keep driving and buying Toyota/Lexus thank you very much. At age 61, Detroit can keep their crap and when the next Tundra arrives, my Ram PU is gone too.

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