With General Motors bankruptcy, the Federal government has become it’s partner. Now corporate control has gone from the company, to the unions, to the feds, who have all well demonstrated that they can’t operate a toy top within a budget. So now the blind are leading the blind, and who gets the worst of it? The American public, once again.
General Motors, like most of the Big Three, has been building a duplicity of vehicles that could have been so much more efficient and inexpensive. They all demonstrated fiscal irresponsibility and wasting money and manpower on overproducing ever-repetitive lines of cars and trucks that self-destruct or fail to perform, sliding ever farther down the slippery slope. Probably the last time you found an even remotely attractive vehicle that got good gas mileage, wasn’t weighed down with excessive gadgets, was comfortable, and you could afford to purchase, was at the Toyota or Subaru dealer. All of Detroit’s iron horse plants have been playing to the ‘bigger is better’ mentality far too long. Like our politicians, they have no clue what the average working taxpayer wants and needs, or simply refuse to produce it. Detroit has the technology. They have the skills. They have the means. They also failed to recognize the trend of the economy and prepare for the underemployed working class folks who struggle to find a decent product they can afford, so they can eek out their meager earnings. Like any other company that fails to plan, and fails to operate with fiscal responsibility, they should fail. And now they’re crying ‘poor little us’, and want our sympathy and our tax dollars. And since so many of us are out of work, tax dollars are getting to be slim pick’ens, too.
So who loses? Certainly not the overpaid executive fat cats with their ‘golden parachutes’ and their million dollar severance packages. Not the unions, who have collected their dues and made their demands, like a rich kid in a candy store. Not the stockholders, who write off their losses. The real cost gets exposed in the lost jobs of workers at the auto plants, the parts manufacturers, the lost pensions. The working guy gets it again. While the executives walk away with millions, somehow no one funded the pension plan for the rank and file workers or made good on the benefits. Sounds like the Feds. Business as usual.
The winners here are defined by the market that rises to fill in the gaps. Folks can’t buy new cars, either they can’t afford them, can’t get credit, or don’t trust them, so the only alternative is to fix the old one. Auto parts stores and their suppliers will do best. Detroit’s competition has a larger edge than ever. Toyota, Honda and Nissan have been winning customers and gaining respect for the last twenty plus years, and they can reap the rewards now. Even the newer companies that provide an affordable product, the public is so pinched between the rock of Detroit and the hard place that is finances, even these upstarts like Kia don’t look so scary any more. We’ve got so little to lose. Small lenders may take up the slack where the big guys won’t give you a loan.
Crude oil providers will still – and always – come out on top. They shrewdly control their market with a ruthless hand. And that hand is in the glove of the auto manufacturers who refuse to make reliable and economic vehicles. Without a balanced approach to domestic harvesting of oil and ecological responsibility to the environment, we are at the mercy of the oil barons, and best prepare to deal with the consequences.
The highest and best solution? Make a simple, quality product, make it affordable, make it equitable across the white and blue collar lines. Elect and employ persons of integrity and responsibility, who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and truly participate in making economic recovery a reality. Yes, we can. But will we?