The auto (company) graveyard
Peter Klein: “The proposed bailout of GM, Ford, and Chrysler overlooks an important fact. The US has one of the most vibrant, dynamic, and efficient automobile industries in the world. It produces several million cars, trucks, and SUVs per year, employing (in 2006) 402,800 Americans at an average salary of $63,358. That’s vehicle assembly alone; the rest of the supply chain employs even more people and generates more income. It’s an industry to be proud of. Its products are among the best in the world. Their names are Toyota, Honda, Nissan, BMW, Mercedes, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru…”
The thought of the government rescuing a failed company makes a sound in my head like throwing bolts into spinning gears. As long as the cars are built here, I don’t give a damn what nameplate is on them.
And yet, thanks to the mismanagement of the so-called ‘fiscal conservatives’ we can’t afford to lose a major domestic company right now, let alone three. Not for the company’s sake – good riddance – but for that of their workers and suppliers.
I believe firmly that if Jimmy Carter had let Chrysler fail, GM and Ford would be in fine shape today. They would have seen the reaper and learned to fear it. But now? I don’t know what to do.
And no, I don’t believe a syllable of those jet-riding auto executives’ protests blaming the unions or CAFE or clean-air standards or any of that. The native instinct of a Japanese car company when faced with a new requirement is to pick up the phone and call their engineers. American car companies? They call their lawyers and lobbyists.
- The desolation of Detroit gives some clue to the human cost of resting on corporate laurels. No wonder the big three executives need such tight security.
- And bailing out the big three costs a fraction of bailing out the finance industry, with the same kind of high-riding, smirking executives.
- (Cartoon segment from old Charles Addams collection.)