Daily Podcast: Purse-spective

daily podcast purse spective

My wife's South African. She knows a thing or two about bigotry. I'm not speaking about her up-close-and-personal experiences under The Republic's heinous system of apartheid. I'm talking about Sam's post-immigration experiences. As a white South African, she knows what it's like to have someone judge you before you open your mouth. For years, strangers would confront her about the evils of apartheid, as if Sam had a direct hand in its implementation. This, even though she left South Africa before she reached voting age. And, more to the point, the fact that Sam was born into a culture she did not create. Anyway, when we moved to America, Sam worried about how our friends and neighbors would treat her. She remembered America's economic sanctions against her country, and heard the harsh and unified rhetoric aimed at the ruling regime. And yet… there's never been a problem. Not one. She's been treated with nothing but kindness. Now you could say Sam's welcome is the result of a combination of political ADD and ignorance. Or you could say it's because Americans are, by and large, a tolerant and open-minded people. So when I hear that Detroit's woes are due to "import bigotry," I just have to laugh. When Japanese cars were still considered crap, Lexus was given a chance to prove itself. Why wouldn't Detroit be afforded the same opportunity? All they have to do is… build cars people want and sell them honestly. As Sam says, you gotta walk the talk before you can expect anyone to listen.

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  • Edgett Edgett on Nov 20, 2007

    Phil - It's sad that peer pressure is what drives many people; I suspect this is fed from advertising propaganda which works diligently to make people afraid of making their own choices and instead buying "the most popular" or "the most high tech" or whatever the "most" is. I was rolling through traffic today and came up on a XLR (or XLR-V; didn't get that close), and thought of your article. I took another look at the car without my "Well, it came from GM glasses..." and there's no question it's a handsome car. The same is true of the Corvette. Yet there were years when folks wouldn't buy a Japanese or German car because they were afraid of what the neighbors would think. I'm not sure we can change that behavior. I will say that a friend is looking at a new mid-sized car and I encouraged him to shop both the Fusion and Malibu after your arguments soaked in. He's not an enthusiast, but wants a solid car; he did ask if I thought he could realize the reliability of a Japanese car and I explained that with the exception of a few turkeys, the differences weren't any longer significant from an individual's point of view. The statisticians may continue to bicker... Nonetheless, I'm not sure I would have highly recommended he look at the GM and Ford offerings without your persistent arguments. As they say in Oz, goodonyamate!

  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Nov 21, 2007

    Actually, Phil, I think you may have understated the "import bigot" aspect of the market. It's not bigotry, i.e. irrational bias, in many cases it's actual antipathy. IOW, it's not that people don't care whether Detroit succeeds or fails, there are those who are actually delighting in Detroit's decline. A lot of those people who bought a US made car in good faith to support the "home team", only to be told by a smirking service manager that "we can't find that problem" or that this or that major catastrophe would not be covered under warranty, are now indulging in a little bit of schadenfruede as they watch Detroit wither on the vine, and are saying to themselves "Serve's 'em right!" It may not be rational, but it's quite understandable.

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Nov 21, 2007
    It may not be rational, but it’s quite understandable. It's perfectly rational to avoid doing business with someone who has screwed you or someone whom you know. If anything, it's highly irrational to do business with someone with a poor track record. If you are presented with an abundance of negative information yet refuse to act on it, it's clear who is the gullible sucker in that scenario.

  • Phil Ressler Phil Ressler on Nov 21, 2007
    Actually, Phil, I think you may have understated the “import bigot” aspect of the market. It’s not bigotry, i.e. irrational bias, in many cases it’s actual antipathy. IOW, it’s not that people don’t care whether Detroit succeeds or fails, there are those who are actually delighting in Detroit’s decline. There's that too. There is a continuum of rational to irrational buyer behaviors and antipathy is among them. If anything, it’s highly irrational to do business with someone with a poor track record. If you are presented with an abundance of negative information yet refuse to act on it, it’s clear who is the gullible sucker in that scenario. There's more to living well than indefinitely punishing those who failed to deliver value in the past. Changed processes, practices and efforts that deliver real improvements, combined with consideration of the larger context of social factors that benefit you, can be ample reason to put aside an old grudge. "Rational," in locally and temporally restricted terms, is often not the same as wise or smart. Phil

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