Ross Perot Died Today

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
ross perot died today

Among the broader masses, H. Ross Perot is probably best known for his third-party runs for the U.S. presidency. However, to us, he’ll always be the man who gave General Motors’ CEO (1981-90) Roger Smith a piece of his mind and the old the stink eye. He died on Tuesday at the ripe age of 89.

Perot sold his company, Electronic Data Systems, to GM in 1984 for a cool $2.55 billion. The General was eager to have EDS as a subsidiary, hoping to use the company to help modernize its industrial organization and product line. It even wanted to keep Ross on board to move things along. Unfortunately, Perot turned out to be a vociferous, no-nonsense kind of guy and found himself at odds with Smith — and the rest of GM — rather quickly.

By 1985, the marriage was already beginning to sour. Immediately disenchanted with automotive bureaucracy, Perot became openly critical of how GM did its business. Famous for being fiercely loyal to his company and employees (he once funded and dispatched commandos into Iran to pull out two EDS employees that had been imprisoned over a contract dispute in 1979 — read On Wings of Eagles by Ken Follett), he felt GM wasn’t respecting EDS’ autonomy and issued a letter to then-CEO Smith.

“If you continue your present autocratic style, I will be your adversary on critical issues. I will argue with you privately. If necessary I will argue with you publicly,” he explained.

The media quickly caught wind of the building internal tensions, creating negative some publicity for the automaker. Ross’ candid style didn’t help create any peace.

The following year, the company paid Perot to leave the board — earmarking $750 million to purchase of all of his GM stock. According to the Los Angeles Times, Ross put the money in escrow for two weeks to give the automaker time to reconsider a buyout plan that would close 11 factories and throw 30,000 people out of work. “I’ve got to live with myself,” Perot said. “Why should I take this money? It would be morally wrong.”

GM’s official position on the man has improved since then, with Automotive News quoting the carmaker as saying “Ross Perot was a patriot and an innovator. Our condolences go out to his family and friends,” following news of his death. However, executives present during his brief time with the company still remember him as cantankerous.

A true character within the industry, and at large, he decided establish a new computer services company in 1988 before making a run for the presidency in 1992 — under the banner of ending government deficits, bureaucratic red tape, and corporate lobbying. Highly condemnatory of Washington, he accused it of becoming a town of “sound bites, shell games, handlers, media stuntmen who posture, create images, talk, shoot off Roman candles, but don’t ever accomplish anything. We need deeds, not words, in this city.”

“It’s not the Republicans’ fault, of course, and it’s not the Democrats’ fault,” he said during the debates. “Somewhere out there there’s an extraterrestrial that’s doing this to us, I guess.”

Popular with voters from both political parties (and especially independents), Perot bailed out of the the race at the peak of his fame… only to suddenly return, earning 19 percent of the popular vote. His 1996 campaign fared comparatively poorly and he retired from political life — occasionally weighing in on issues or candidates after 2008.

An Eagle Scout, navy officer, billionaire tycoon, and one hell of an interesting man, Perot died at his home in Dallas after a five-month fight with leukemia.

[Image: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock]

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  • -Nate -Nate on Jul 10, 2019

    I guess no one remembers Mr. Perot said he wanted to abolish public education ? . An amazing man to be sure . -Nate

    • See 3 previous
    • Psychoboy Psychoboy on Jul 11, 2019

      @-Nate I've looked, and what little I can find only points to getting rid of the federal dept of education, returning public school control to the state and local governments, as it was for the first couple hundred years of this nation's history. I don't find anything that implies a wholesale abolishment of public education.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jul 10, 2019

    Our election laws are specifically set up to allow only Team A or Team B. Perot's greatest legacy was getting both parties to agree to NOT fight him at the "Board of Elections" level, because it would expose the way the system is rigged to allow only the two major players.....

    • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Jul 10, 2019

      Hopefully Howard Schultz will follow H Ross Perot's lead. Only the completely deranged will vote for a candidate from a party that has a field of twenty candidates who've said they'll provide free healthcare to illegals only a few years after they passed legislation to fine American citizens for being unable to afford healthcare. Schultz could pull the merely dim-witted away from the Kelloggs coalition of Democrat voters and doom them for another cycle.

  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.