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.
Capitalism has no loyalties.
Everybody is replaceable.
Products. Employees. Employers. Services. Alliances. Joint Ventures. Financiers. Even the executives of multinational firms along with their board of directors are only as good as whatever quarterly numbers can be cooked up by their ‘independent’ auditing firm.
Capitalism is the ultimate “Let’s go!”, “Do it!” and “Screw you!” of economic systems. You name the angle or need in capitalism, and chances are that there is a market substitute that can immediately fill the gap. Even government regulations can be routinely challenged by trade organizations, international courts, and the all too common political handshake.
All this reality happens… on paper.
114 car dealers. Every single last one of them looking for an impossibly good deal among the 150 vehicles at the auction on a near-Arctic Monday morning.
Even if it’s a seemingly bad deal. It doesn’t matter during this time of year.
This is officially tax season… which means that cars that couldn’t even get a $500 down payment during the post-Christmas drought will soon be picked up in earnest by the sub-prime, debt happy public. A $1200 down payment as their first financial tombstone of 2014 will be followed by a long line of bogus fees, and a note that will hopefully be flipped into funny money (now known as sub-prime asset backed securities) before the drowning debtor becomes financial roadkill.
Everything is high. But surprisingly not as high as in years past. Orphaned brands are mostly cheap. Minivans are cheap, and everything from older luxury coupes to younger hatchbacks can be had for decent money if they’re not sporty or popular.
Speaking of popular. Let me show you a little somethin’.
Let’s say you had to move out of the country. Forever.
There are only so many things you can take with you. A few pieces of furniture. Family albums. Your antique collection of 1970’s beer bottles.
The play car you rarely drive… has to be ditched. So you unload it at a nearby dealership and hope for the best.
Why does TTAC roll its eyes at every proclamation of change, rebirth and renewal from automakers, particularly of the Detroit-based variety? To put it in a single French phrase, dèjá vu. In an industry as cyclical as the automaking game, the latest downturn always takes place within recent memory of the last downturn. As a result, the promises of reinvention and renewed focus are still ringing in our ears by the time each new PR offensive rolls out. One can only hear so many pleas and promises before they all start running together, creating the permanent, inescapable sense that we’ve been here before and it didn’t work out. No better evidence for this phenomenon exists than this series of videos from the 1988 edition of GM’s perennial campaign of renewal (especially in part two). The music may have changed, but the beat goes on.
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- ToolGuy "Having the dual sliders has been amazing as it let's me and my wife have our own "sides" of the van to prep for rides/races."Who goes on the traffic side??
- ToolGuy "I caught a little bit Saturday, but Sunday it seemed impossible to find on my cable. I think it was streaming on Peacock, which I have, all weekend, so I could've watched it that way. I'm not complaining, to be clear, since I could've popped Peacock on and yet I chose to watch something else."Being you sounds like a real chore. 😉
- ToolGuy If it is the longer-wheelbase version, good. (If not, it isn't.)
- ToolGuy "circumvent(ing) dealerships" should be illegal.Does "circumventing" mean spending my money there?
- ToolGuy If my head gets flatter I might consider this.