Autoextremist Hates TTAC– With a Vengeance!

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Walt Disney’s deathbed request to his brother Roy: don’t change my plans for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT). Walt spent his final cancer-fighting years planning EPCOT’s every detail, from housing to commuting to garbage collection. When Walt was cold in his grave, Roy did the sensible thing. He tore-up Walt’s work and built a cod-World’s Fair. The idea of EPCOT as a company-run city rather than an amusement park was fundamentally flawed, doomed to controversy and failure ( Celebration anyone?). Detroit reminds me of Walt’s unrealized Disney world (small “w”): a place where corporate culture dominates the community’s mindset. Brock Yates chronicled this “Grosse Pointe myopia. As does Autoextremist Peter DeLorenzo, in his own way. Or, more precisely, in a David Koresh kinda way…

“Unbeknownst to the legions of people out there in ‘fractured’ America, the ones who fill the Internet with bile and who project such a level of viciousness and unbridled glee at the thought of the collapse of our domestic automobile industry as if it were – amazingly enough – some warped opportunity for celebration, there are countless towns, big and small, scattered all across this nation that have grown up with GM as their main employer and the main source of income for thousands of American families.”

As some TTAC commentators have pointed-out, it’s Detroit’s that’s being selfish, not the “outsiders.” Why should the rest of America prop-up an insular, self-righteous industrial theme park that had every opportunity– and plenty of profit– to clean-up its act? An industry with a justified reputation for screwing the very customer whose paychecks they now seek to raid? And why should they do so when Motown boosters like Sweet Pete are spitting on them?

“Even though we as a nation don’t seem to have the stomach for hard work and sacrifice any longer – hell, I’m not sure those words and their meanings are even in the lexicon of vast swaths of our population – we must get tougher in the midst of this global economy, and we have to steel ourselves for the kind of battles we’ll face.”

We’re all in this together but you suck? Nice. I, for one, am tired of hearing all this Bill O’Reilly-esque “back in MY day” nostalgia about how America (i.e. the “fractured” bit) is becoming a lazy, contemptible, corrupted, stupid, amoral society where no one knows the value of a good day’s work. I look around me and I see people working their asses off to make ends meet, who wave me into traffic and stop to help complete strangers when needed. I saw the faces at my wife’s immigration ceremony, and I felt nothing but pride for THIS generation of Americans.

Americans are a generous people. They do not deserve the contempt that Lorenzo and Co. believe– mostly in their imaginations– that non-Detroiters feel towards them. If I was a trained psychologist, I might even wonder if Fortress Detroit isn’t guilty of “projection.” As an automotive journalist who wants to see a strong American automotive industry, I despair.

“As I’ve said repeatedly the time for all of the idyllic, ‘let the free market run its course’ hand-wringing is over. It’s far too late for that. This country’s leadership needs to get these loans to GM and the rest of the domestic automobile industry in the next 60 days, or life as we’ve come to know it in this country – and I mean every part of this country – not just here in the Motor City, will be severely and unequivocally altered.”

Threats. Is that all you’ve got? In truth, DeLorenzo’s increasingly hysterical rants do his cause no favors.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Nov 13, 2008
    “Even though we as a nation don’t seem to have the stomach for hard work and sacrifice any longer - hell, I’m not sure those words and their meanings are even in the lexicon of vast swaths of our population - we must get tougher in the midst of this global economy, and we have to steel ourselves for the kind of battles we’ll face.” I've said this before, but it still bugs me. Peter's writing smacks of ageism: somehow, gods walked the earth in 1962 and it was a golden age of powerful, decisive, supermen who dreamed big, talked loudly and killed bears with their teeth.** Somehow, everyone spawned after that point is a lilly-livered weakling. Must have been something in the water. It's very much angry old man syndrome. I'm sure people in 1962 were saying that America had totally devolved since 1932. Every generation thinks this, I'm sure that, when I turn 50, I'll do the same thing: music sucks nows, kids are ruder now, there's more crime now, the sun is dimmer and the stars don't twinkle. Except that it's not the case. People are people, and largely haven't changed their attitudes in centuries. Yes, there's no leadership in Detroit. Yes, America has moved away from them. Guess what? There are still larger-than-life leaders in American industry--quite a number--and they do demand and delivery success and innovation. But here's the trick: they don't work at GM, Ford or Chrysler; they work and Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and hundreds of others. I'm sure the next generation of business leaders is waiting in the wings in whatever's coming next, but I think the problem isn't America, or people in general, but that the existing leadership at GM, Ford and Chrysler has been dysfunctional for years, and the kind of up-and-coming talent that might have helped had long since fled elsewhere. ** There is a newly-enabled middle class as a result of the postwar boom and subsequent f_cking of the the rest of the world, but that's an exception, not the rule. Peter grew up in economic and social conditions that were largely unsustainable. But people were still people. To imply that people just aren't willing to work anymore ignores that a lot of people have it much, much tougher even finding gainful employment now than they did in Peter's day. When he was a young buck, it was relatively easy for dropout wageworker to walk in to any given company and get a good enough job to support a family of five; today it's much, much harder to get a job even with post-secondary education. That's one reason why the unions fight tooth and nail: the kind of jobs these people have just flat don't exist anymore. If Peter was just getting out of school and/or was in technology and not automotive or marketing, I think his take would be somewhat different.
  • Bunter1 Bunter1 on Nov 13, 2008

    psarhjinian : Pretty good thoughts. I got sick of "sweet Pete" and his attitude long ago. Here's a weird thought. What if we take the #$(^% 50bil and put it in a fund to help those who DO get laid off (50k per for 1 million people) and let the Debt3 work out their problems? It would provide help to bridge to new jobs (I frankly dout it will be close to 1 mil in need) and the money stays out of the paws of people who clearly have little ability to do anything usefull with it. Feel free to pass this on to Barry, Nancy and Co. Any thoughts? Thinking alternatively, Bunter

  • Probert A few mega packs would probably have served as decent backup.
  • Lou_BC Lead sleds. Now-a-days GM would just use Bondo.
  • Jrhurren This is a great series. Thanks Corey
  • Tane94 Not as stylish as the Soul which it is replacing but a practical shape and bonus points for EV only.
  • Ronin What is the magical white swan event in the foreseeable future that will suddenly reverse the trend?Success tends to follow success, and likewise failure. The perception, other than among true believers, is that e-cars are a lost cause. Neither government fiat, nor government bribery, nor even the promise of superior virtue among one's peers have been enough to push past the early adapter curve. Either the bust-out is right now for e-cars, or it doesn't happen. Marketing 101.Even subtle language-manipulation, such as deeming those possessing common sense as suffering from some sort of vague anxiety (eg, "range anxiety") has not been enough to induce people to care.Twenty years from now funny AI-generated comedians will make fun of the '20s, and their obsession with theose silly half-forgotten EVs. They will point out that, yes, EVs actually ran on electricity generated by such organic fuels as coal and natural gas after all, and then they will perform synthesized laughter at us.