Next week’s Inspection was rushed out because I heard GM is asking for more money and they apparently need it real soon. Here’s some advice, “Say, ‘Hell, no,’ and hand the rest a counter offer.
Back again? Need more money to flush?
My opinion has changed on this somewhat when it comes to American automakers. (If one can really call them that anymore, since they seem to like using offshore and South American parts and assemblers.) I have a bit more empathy since I now know that the government of Japan, for example, has been supporting their auto industry for a long time.
I said I have more empathy, but I still believe they have proved themselves horrid managers. That’s why I stated in the last edition of Inspection on this topic that it would be best they be sold off to companies who have proven they can manage a business based on building cars; but only if that company agrees to continue the brand and build it in the states with ever increasing US content; holding on to as many employees as possible: except CEOs and mid-level management.
But I was wrong; or at least partially wrong. I have come to realize that the failure of the American auto industry isn’t just a case of bad management: but evil management in the form of the usual whittling down of competition by whatever means; no matter what the morality of their tactics. And notice that just like the banking crisis, some use the slogan “too big to fail.” Perhaps the real problem is that industry monopolistic practices are so unregulated that they have become too big, and too powerful?
Even after the corporate die off during the Great Depression we had Kaiser, Studebaker, Rambler/Willies… There were plenty of options for eager buyers, even the upstart Tucker; probably one of the best examples of how innovation and true competition were crushed by anti-competitive forces within and outside the industry. Even the inaccurately named “big three;” inaccurate due to so much outsourced parts and labor, haven’t been immune. If you haven’t heard how GM’s EV1 was literally crushed, rent the movie: or better yet buy it.
Let’s encourage a little competition, shall we?
Let’s offer tax breaks, start up grants and unused manufacturing facilities to those who would start new companies: especially those who might recreate the EV1: corporate ownership be damned. If a company creates a vehicle, then quickly crushes it and refuses to bring it back: keeping control of the tech… in my opinion they’ve forfeited any rights to that tech.
Hell, let’s follow the advice of Conservative icon Saint Ronald: bring Studebaker back. Well, maybe help them to come back. Last time I checked Avanti; who owns the rights to the Stude name in the auto biz, off-shored their business because GM sued them. You see they attempted to produce the Studebaker XUV, which kind of; sort of, looks like a Hummer. But no more so than a PT Cruiser looks like a Chevy panel van, or the HHR looks like a PT. Gee, GM, where were your lawyers when it wasn’t some small upstart company? Oh, that’s right, chuckling about their success in crushing EV1s.
If that doesn’t work?
No money. Nada. Ramp up regulation that makes them improve or go belly up. Then when, or if, they do, sell their bums real cheap to the Japanese and other successful makes, with the stipulation that it’s made onshore, American labor with an ever increasing amount of American made parts. It’s time for upper level management and CEOs to go away. No golden parachutes for them. Confiscate all of that as payment for what we’ve given so far: use it to place employees; especially in the very companies that rise out of the wreckage.
Honk your horns, America, or give your favorite one finger salute aimed at GM, Ford and Chrysler if, you agree.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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