December 6, 2008

"Imagine an America with no more Corvettes! No more Caddies, Trans Ams, Camaros or Mustangs."

"No Ford or Chevy pick up trucks; no Jeeps or Suburbans. Not one PT Cruiser. All gone, our shared national automotive legacy and collective memories stretching back a century, and millions of jobs, all looted by ultra-conservatives eager to punish generations of American workers for the sin of not voting for the GOP in acceptable numbers. Gone forever. In their place will be rice burning Nissons [sic] and Toyotas, maybe the occasional German model. Models that legions of newly unemployed Americans, standing on the precipe [sic] of Bush's Depression, will never be able to afford."

IN THE COMMENTS:1jpb said...
Who cares about the iconic appeal?

Losing Duesenberg and Packard (the early Packards, like mine) that was the loss of icons.
Don't get me started. My family's tragedy was the death of Pierce-Arrow!

134 comments:

Original George said...

December 6, 2008: A date which will live in infamy.

Paddy O. said...

They're not only going bankrupt, they're also going to go out and gather up every car they've ever made and destroy those too?

Seems like they would save a lot of money for restructuring by going ahead and letting the Ford and Chevy pickups, the Jeeps and Suburbans and PT cruisers continue to drive around.

1jpb said...

Who cares about the iconic appeal?

Loosing Duesenberg and Packard (the early Packards, like mine) that was the loss of icons.

Beyond the, imho, silly iconic chit chat, there are legitimate financial and strategic problems with the decimation of domestic control and development of auto production.

Freeman Hunt said...

Imagine an America with no more Corvettes! No more Caddies, Trans Ams, Camaros or Mustangs. No Ford or Chevy pick up trucks; no Jeeps or Suburbans. Not one PT Cruiser.

Is that supposed to be good or bad?

I kid, I kid. Who could stand to go without seeing the beautiful PT Cruiser in action?

Freeman Hunt said...

Why does this blogger think that these cars would be gone? That's not what would happen if the companies were allowed to go bankrupt. These cars would still be made.

Bender said...

Don't worry, our salvation is at hand.

Obama will save us all with his plan for a new Civilian Conservation Corps and Work Projects Administration, and that will revive the economy so greatly that we will all be buying up American cars.

Just imagine all the jobs he will create handing you unemployed people a shovel and telling you to go work a road gang, not to mention all the people working to change light bulbs!

So what if the day laborers down at the 7-11 will get all these new jobs building roads and rebuilding school buildings? Your medical records will be on a computer! So that in itself is going to super-charge our economy!

Yes, a new day is dawning!

Assumpsit said...

Who cares?! Honestly...the Mustang. Does anyone drive those? Anyone besides 16-year-olds in the South? And what's so damned special about the Jeep Cherokee? Chrysler has long since f-ed up the Jeep line. There's what? 15 models now. And they all look the same.

Get over it. American cars are crap. And not only because they are ugly. But because the people who make them are ugly, too. All those damned union workers making god-knows-what for driving a couple screws are finally about to get what's coming to them. Let them compete in the marketplace. Let them justify $25 an hour plus healthcare plus pension in any other industry.

General Motors is dead. Long live Toyota. Chrysler is dead. Long live Honda. Ford is dead. Long live Nissan.

Palladian said...

LOL

"No Ford or Chevy pick up trucks; no Jeeps or Suburbans. Not one PT Cruiser. All gone..."

Isn't that the "green" lefty's most orgasmic dream ever? I thought they hated all cars except for the Prius and those ugly little "Smart" cars? They should be happy about this! Better get in shape! That 40 mile bike commute is gonna be murder!

Bissage said...

I didn't click on the link because I'm afraid it might not be a joke.

Better safe than sorry.

Palladian said...

"I didn't click on the link because I'm afraid it might not be a joke."

Oh it's a joke alright. Not intentionally so, but a joke nonetheless.

Palladian said...

"What pathogens could possibly be responsible for KOS?"

Whatever it is, it certainly isn't the contagious happiness from the other day.

Chip Ahoy said...

all looted by ultra-conservatives eager to punish generations of American workers for the sin of not voting for the GOP in acceptable numbers

Simply the most ridiculous statement I've ever read in my entire life. The analysis of the situation is stunning. And by stunning, I mean stupefying. Analysis that slices like pliers!

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickenlittle said...

The marks, the brands, the styles and what have you, are tangibles that will survive, thanks to intellectual property. Sure it may all belong to somebody else, but it will survive. Move along now.

Ann Althouse said...

The typos are the clue that it's not a joke.

chickenlittle said...

Detroit faces many challenges. The biggest is: innovate or die.

Twin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prosecutorial Indiscretion said...

"Rice burning Nissons [sic]"? Sounds like someone's clinging to "antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment."

dbp said...

"all looted by ultra-conservatives eager to punish generations of American workers for the sin of not voting for the GOP in acceptable numbers"

I love the logical inversion demonstrated by the above. Yes, they are being "punished", how? By not getting the taxpayers to subsidize their excessive compensation packages. What is threatened is that they will have to depend on the health of corporations which their unions squeezed the lifeblood out of.

Melissa said...

Twin,
There are a lot of odd things about your post, but I'll just address one of them for now:

You wrote:
"The simple fact is that cars can be made just as well in 3rd world countries that aren't bound by obscene 40 hour work weeks, consumer- and worker-safety laws, and retirement plans.

The American worker is going to have to learn to compete with the cheap labor available in Mexico, Haiti, Bangladesh, and throughout the 3rd world."

Third world countries like, what, Tennessee? We're getting a Volkswagen plant in my town next year and couldn't be more thrilled. And we've lost out on at least a half dozen others who went to neighboring states. The South is just full of non-union, good wages, good benefits "foreign" car manufacturers. These are the folks that Detroit can't compete with.

dmfoiemjsof said...

In other words, imagine an America without a bunch of shitty, dangerous gas-guzzling cars and trucks, and without a huge bloated, whiny unionized blue-collar workforce.

Yeah, what will we ever do.

Twin said...

This is our chance to kill off one of the unions. Let's not pass it up, even if it causes further economic woes. We can ultimately lay the blame where it belongs: at the feet of the middle class. It's wake-up time for the overstuffed American comfort class. No more nanny state for the masses.

The middle class has to snap out of it's hippy dippy delusions about "the American Dream," or face the consequences. The global economy simply cannot sustain middle class incomes for a large proportion of the population. The lasting sin of big government/New Deal liberalism was creating the unreasonable expectation that middle class can be sustained at post-New Deal levels. Thanks to the Democrat Party, hundreds of millions of middle class Americans now feel entitled to live in their own homes, have access to world-class health care, and even send their kids to college. That kind of fancy living has never been sustainable for "the masses," as we are learning now. Compare this to India, or China, where 80% of the population lives in poverty, forming a dynamic labor pool that propels their economies.

The simple fact is that cars can be made just as well in 3rd world countries that aren't bound by high wages, 40 hour work weeks, heath care coverage, consumer- and worker-safety legislation, retirement plans, and other Democrat-largess.

The American worker is going to have to learn, like it or not, to compete with cheap labor from, e.g., Mexico and Haiti. And the American middle class is going to have to shrink back down to sustainable levels. That was the whole point of NAFTA and GATT and the other free trade agreements, and we're finally seeing a long-needed reordering of global economic priorities as a result.

Historically dynamic capitalist economies are able to sustain

— a small class of wealthy (1% or so of the population). This is the productive engine that drives investment, innovation

— a modest middle class, maybe 5%-10% of the population, to service corporations and the wealth. These are the professionals: doctors, lawyers, skilled tech jobs.

The only viable role for the remaining 90%, give or take, is service as a flexible labor market.

People have been doing fine under these conditions for centuries, but the American middle class is at a disadvantage, now, because they've come to expect (feel entitled to) a pampered yet unsustainable middle class existence. The transition to sustainability is going to be difficult for people who have come to expect middle class comfort.

So: Let's reorder the economy on a sound basis and take this chance to finally kill off the UAW, and with it the old liberal notion of a broad middle class.

This first step will lead to additional course corrections: Once the middle class shrinks down to sustainable levels, ignoring the internal contradictions of Social Security financing will become impossible. Within a few years, the entire system of federal entitlements will implode, liberating our economy once and for all from the restraints placed on it by 80 years of corrupt Dem leadership.

The said...

Yup. The end of the line for the big three. Yet Kos misses the point.
It won't be the end of the "American" auto industry. Just the end of three crappy, bloated companies that pay unionized workers too much money to make inferior vehicles that not enough consumers want to buy.

Once the Big Three are bankrupt and gone, the marketplace will have a vacuum. There will be a "pro-American" market out there for American-designed, American-built, American-brand cars. Someone will fill the void with a new company. And they will have the opportunity to do so with the benefit of lessons learned from the missteps of Ford, Chrysler and GM. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is Change You Can Believe In.

Taxpayer bailouts, on the other hand, hardly represent Change.

To people who still think unions are a good idea: this is the pot of chickens coming home to roost.

AJ Lynch said...

The Mustang is still a great car!

Daryl said...

The Big 3 is doomed. It is a rotting corpse. Let it die and replace it with foreign manufacturers on American soil.

Even if the stupid union contracts (including the ones paying people not to work) are torn up, the ultra-generous pension and healthcare plans cannot be supported. There is no way UAW or Congress agrees to cut those. Therefore, thee is no way those get cut. Therefore, they remain a millstone around the Big 3's neck.

The Big 3 is a rotting corpse, and Congress just wants to prop it up, maybe inject it with a little juice so it can shamble around aimlessly like some kind of zombie for a few years until it needs another hit of zombie juice (taxpayer dollars).

We can only hope that this infection does not spread to other industries. That's the left-wing goal--to turn us into a socialist country by destroying our economy and folding the broken pieces into our federal government. That's why lefties always oppose sound economic policy and always support hoaxes like "Global Warming." They know that to achieve their goals, they must bring America to its knees.

Of course, in any good zombie movie, you know the ending in advance: we're all f#cked. This is the same way.

Meade said...

Think about what a great country this is where one can go from potential heiress to the Pierce-Arrow dynasty to starving art school student to tenured law professor at a top tier law school to world-renowned Blog Goddess zipping around in a precision European sports car jobby all in the course of one short lifetime!

My country tis of thee!

MadisonMan said...

I think Congress should bring back the Studebaker, too, just for good measure.

Ann Althouse said...

"potential heiress to the Pierce-Arrow dynasty"

More like potential heiress to a mechanic shop.

AJ Lynch said...

And Meade has the bio and motion picture rights? You lucky bastard!

David said...

Pretend it's Cuba.

They have kept American cars from the 1950's and earlier going for half a century.

After you are done pretending, start dealing with the 21st century, where America is no longer ascendant in the auto industry.

It's called Change. Isn't that what the Kos crowd has been waiting for

Meade said...

"And Meade has the bio and motion picture rights? You lucky bastard!"

You may say I'm a dreamer... a lucky bastard dreamer.

I like to think of myself as an average ordinary blue collar premier myth maker babe magnet.

Mark said...

So we've come to the point where someone who thinks a business should stand or fall on its own merits, rather than being nationalized in part or whole, is an "ultra-conservative". Not just conservative, an ultra conservative.

I guess now if you believe in private property and free markets at all, that alone makes you somewhat suspect. I guess in the Obama Nation, the free market is just so yesterday.

Ralph said...

It's been at least 5 years since the last Trans Am was made.

Rick Brownell said...

Not sure what the connection is between the GOP and the collapsing American auto industry. Ford, GM, and Chrysler have been dying of the same self-imposed illness for 20 years, through both Republican and Democratic administrations. Blaming their plight on anyone but themselves misses the real issue at hand. Forgive us for being skittish about dumping billions more in tax dollars to keep their lights on for another six months when these companies haven't even proven they can run themselves properly.

1jpb said...

That Pierce-Arrow background seems familiar.

My grandfather was a Packard mechanic, who went on to work for himself.

But, then the legacies diverge; I bought myself a Packard because I was inspired by pictures of my grandfather next to these big, beautiful cars from the past.

My grandfather only had joyful memories of his Packard days--contagious memories for me.

P.S.
Thanks for losing the typo, I noticed it, but didn't feel like deleting and correcting the comment.

rcocean said...

I love the wishful thinking in "let the Big 3 die, we'll all Buy Toyota".

First, why would Toyota build more plants in the USA if the big 3 are gone? They build them now because of the explicit and implicit threat of tariffs and quotas. A threat which will go away, when the big 3 go.

Second, once gone the Auto industry will never come back. Goodbye, millions of jobs. Who's going to hire them? Are to they all to be government employees?

Third, we are now running $500 billion dollar trade deficits with the rest of the world. What are we going to give the Japanese in return for all these shiny new Toyota's? US assets? More worthless dollars?

The same people who engineered the subprime fiasco, engineered the $700 wall street bailout fiasco, are now saying we need the big 3 to die. Hmmmm.....

10ksnooker said...

The big three should leave the US, find low tax countries with workers who want to work, build cars to sell to the world, be successful.

Seven Machos said...

Where to begin with RC's know-nothing comment. Treatises could be written.

They build them now because of the explicit and implicit threat of tariffs and quotas.

No. They don't. Foreign manufacturers build plants here now because they are profitable. That's why businesses are in business. To make money. Note where the plants are built. Are they built in Michigan, where unions have a stranglehold on the economy? Or are they built in the South, where labor is far cheaper?

we are now running $500 billion dollar trade deficits with the rest of the world

Why is that, RC? Why has the United States run trade deficits for decades? Is it some conspiracy? No. It's because our currency is strong and our labor is expensive. If your goal is truly to get rid of the trade deficit, the thing to do is to lower labor costs substantially and decrease the cost of our money.

I don't understand what the problem is with bankruptcy. These are failed businesses. They can't pay their bills. They need to completely change the way they do business. Bankruptcy allows that.

Finally, I read something the other day that was intriguing. The bailout, rightly, has involved banks. If you want money, go to a bank. That's where all the money from the government has gone.

Tex the Pontificator said...

Republicans did not destroy the American automobile industry, and the implication that they did is fatuous. It was destroyed by the UAW and management both assuming that they could be as inefficient as they wished as long as all American manufacturers were more or less equally burdened. It didn't work out. Life's a bitch. It only gets worse for America if we force our economy to drag along a zombie automobile industry. Both UAW and management made the bed. They should now be forced to lie in it.

AJ Lynch said...

I agree RcOcean. It is time to look out for our nation's self-interests.

Why doesn't Congress ever discuss the financial incentives the Japaneses auto companies get from their govt? Oh sure Congress delves into the national healthcare in Japan because Dems want that here too. But I an sure the Japanese govt gives plenty of other yen! Plus the Janps and Asians buy very few of our cars? Why is that?

Seven Machos said...

Let's have an economy that looks like Japan's. So free and growing so much.

While we're at it, let's get a criminal justice system like Japan's, too. Rights, shmights.

Seven Machos said...

I feel compelled to reiterate something: we will never, ever, ever erase the American trade deficit or even begin to start competing with foreign manufacturers in any industry where wages are high. It's basically a mathematical impossibility.

How can people not understand this? You can't expect to sell more of your stuff when it is far more expensive than other stuff that is the same.

If you want high wages, you cannot also have a trade surplus. To believe otherwise makes you a moron.

traditionalguy said...

I must assume that all the military's trucks/ airplanes/ and other assembly line produced stuff will always be available as imports from the friends we have e all over the world. But what if they cause Co2 and have been banned by the UN in the future?

Seven Machos said...

Traditional -- Certainly, because no American entrepreneur would fill that niche. Never. If these three companies go bankrupt, another American vehicle will never be made. Bankruptcy is death, and birth is not allowed.

Ann Althouse said...

"My grandfather only had joyful memories of his Packard days--contagious memories for me."

If you mean to imply that my grandfather was bitter and groused about his misfortune, you are wrong. I never heard him speak about it at all. I have had to imagine the disappointments he had. He never talked about anything like that.

Lisa said...

Precisely how does our Congress think we could handle another WWII without an auto industry to make the trucks, the tanks and the parts for repair?

How does our Congress plan to handle the 1 MILLION pensioners from GM who suddenly don't have a pension? That's one in 300 Americans.

How does our Congress plan on handling Michigan loosing another 800,000 jobs like we lost in the past 8 years.. but this time all at once?

What the hell are they thinking? They've given buttloads of cash without hesitation to the financial firms who have used it for bonuses and to buy other foreign companies but STILL AREN'T LENDING money to people to buy cars!

AJ Lynch said...

Seven:

Is Japan's standard of living significantly lower than ours? If not, how do they produce cars at a lower cost? After we factor in the elimination of the US disadvantage for pensions / benefits.

AJ Lynch said...

Regarding future pension promises that are not funded, Congress is to blame.

Congress has sat idly by for years while some big businesses and many many state and local govts devised overly generous pensions but did not fund them.

That was also a violation of the law of mathematics Seven Machos mentioned.

Maguro said...

Why is it always assumed that the only alternatives are to bail out Detroit as is, or watch GM, Ford and Chrysler disappear without a trace?

When United Airines went bankrupt did all its airplanes immediately vanish?

These companies have contractual obligations with their labor force and dealer networks that are unsustainable. If they are to regain profitability, they need to renegotiate these deals under Chapter 11 protection. Let the bankruptcy laws work as they were intended - there is no pain-free way for the government to "save" Detroit.

1jpb said...

Seven,

Ignoring the fact that a lot of folks won't buy a car from a company in bankruptcy, and ignoring the fact that bankruptcies drag on for a long time; are you suggesting that Chapter 11 (w/o the gov financing anyway) will not lead to Chapter 7 in our current situation? Then, add in the problem of selling cars while a long (likely Chapter 7) bankruptcy works through the courts.

If you don't care about the loss of the domestic design and development control in autos, what do you think will replace this work and innovation? Are you a promoter of the race to the bottom philosophy?

Austerity didn't work for Hoover, and it didn't work for FDR. And, we are blessed that the US is the biggest of the too-big-to-fail, hence the big money of the world is still forced to dump their cash into Treasuries. Treasuries provide a return, even if it's almost zero on the shorter stuff--that's still better than losing money. Treasuries are the way the world's big money gets stuffed under the proverbial mattress.

Let's quasi-arbitrage this cheap money to find a floor so that things can get moving in the right direction. Hopefully, the Fed will work to lock in the maximum amount of cheap money for the longest terms possible.

P.S.
Maybe the foriegn companies were worried about quotas, like we had while Reagan was president, so they started assembling here.

P.P.S.
We're like a developing country to the foriegn companies who assemble cars in the States. The home countries keep a lot of the high powered technology, innovation, and development: we do the grunt work.

They are getting better than us at the making advancements. That seems like it could be a long term problem. At least we're still blessed with a lot of domestic material resources, but we should probably look at our human capital relative to other developed countries. Maybe our material resources have made us overconfident; how much of our growth is the result of our commodity wealth versus our brilliance. Would Japan be so advanced if they had the crutch of a lot of domestic commodity resources?

P.P.P.S

Folks may want to read recent Sully posts (including dissents) about health care and pensions.

Joe said...

No PT Cruiser or Jeep Cherokee? Where do I sign up?

Seriously, those are two utter piles of shit. Until recently so was the Mustang; now it's just a half pile of shit. It may look nice, but the suspension is outdated crap.

That aside, Ford isn't going under. They are actually getting their house in order. The only reason they showed up in DC is they heard free money was being handed out. Truth is, though Ford will never admit it, they will benefit if GM or Chrysler go under. Not only will it reduce the [over] supply of cars, it will give them incredible control at the bargaining table--in fact, they may just tell the Union to go to hell and hire scabs, which will be easy as pie.

Chrysler is the worse of the three and should have already gone under. The only thing decent they make is the Viper (which loses money) and the Dodge Ram Pickup (especially with the Cumins diesel, which Ford would love to get their hands on since their diesel engine isn't very good.)

Somewhat recently I worked on a project that forced me to learn about GMs part distribution system. It's dreadfully "designed" and horribly inefficient. (By contrast, Ford's part distribution system is a dream.)

Seven Machos said...

People won't buy a car from a company that is in bankruptcy? Really? Did they not fly American while it was in bankruptcy? That seems a hell of a lot more perilous.

It's one thing to buy a car, quite another to put your life in the hands of a pilot.

This argument is absurd and spurious. Next, please. And, really. Try harder.

Seven Machos said...

Japan produces lower-cost cars because it has lower costs.

Hector Owen said...

traditionalguy at 2:41, a lot of the military's vehicles come from AM General, which is not one of the Big 3, and not, to my knowledge anyway, involved in the bailout negotiations. They build the H2 Hummers for GM and would be hurt if they lost that marketing channel, but would they be hurt enough to have to shut down production of military vehicles? I don't know enough to say, but I doubt it.

Bradleys are built by BAE Land and Armaments, an international company with its US HQ in Minneapolis.

It's not WW II any more, when the auto companies turned the assembly lines over to military production.

Airplanes, now, that might be another matter. Though the contract for tankers has not yet been given to Airbus; Boeing may yet prevail.

Eric said...

The auto companies are not going bankrupt - Congress will not allow it, except under some kind of hybrid bailout/bankruptcy that preserves union jobs and wages. Isn't it strange the auto companies have been bargaining as if they're in a position of strength? It's because they're as strong politically as they are weak financially.

The biggest benefit to bankruptcy from the auto companies' perspective is it allows them to renegotiate union contracts. There's no way the Democrats are going to cross the UAW like that, even if it means a permanent IV of taxpayer money into the sector.

The only real question is whether the Democrats bring enough Republicans along to make it a "bi-partisan" bailout.

Synova said...

My daughter tells me that the new ones are worthless and ugly.

I don't think she'd drive a new Mustang if it arrived at Christmas with a big bow on the hood.

She wants an 80-something Camaro.

Weird kid.

Michael_H said...

The Corvette is an amazing car; it's highest performance models are in many ways superior to cars manufactured by Porsche, Ferrari, Maserati and others.

I look forward to the day when I can buy a new Corvette at a price that reflects a restructured GM's labor cost.

That being said, I miss and still yearn for the Nash Metropolitan. Gone, but never forgotten.

rcocean said...

The new Republican Slogans for 2010:

"$700 billion for Wall Street but not one Dime for Detroit"

Or:

"American Workers Drop Dead - you make too much."

Should be a winner.

1jpb said...

Seven,

That you are someone who would make a major durable good purchase of a car from a company that is broke, with an uncertain resolution (Chap 11 or 7, and gov $ or no gov $, and unknown macroeconomic expectations), says a lot about you.

If there were more folks like you it wouldn't matter what kinds of uncompetitive cars were produced domestically, some sucker would buy them anyway.

James Williams said...

"all looted by ultra-conservatives eager to punish generations of American workers for the sin of not voting for the GOP in acceptable numbers"

Actually the problem was that Democrats forced the US auto companies auto companies to build small cars that no one wanted to buy at a price that would allow the companies to make a profit. (Foreign companies could make those cars profitable for reasons that had a lot to do with more amenable labor unions.) But, all of the great cars will not disappear. In fact they will be on the roads for decades to come as people refuse to buy the cars Congress is going to design for Detroit to produce in return for subsidizing them.

1jpb said...

Synova,

Does she need a theme song ?

Synova said...

"American Workers Drop Dead - you make too much."

Should be a winner.


Of course it's not a *winner*.

It's just true. And truth isn't very popular.

It's much more popular to tell people that corporations are evil and have unlimited funds and there are no down-sides to making them pay you more.

Granted, no one is saying that the auto-makers are victims. They dug their own hole.

The question is, should taxpayers bail out an industry that has been bailed out before?

The rant Ann quotes is pretty typical, it seems, of an argument that simply does not admit the existence of economic reality. No, it's just mean and vindictive motivations... the only reason that "conservatives" do anything. Hate.

James Williams said...

rcocean said...
The new Republican Slogans for 2010:

"$700 billion for Wall Street but not one Dime for Detroit"

You seem to have forgotten that most Republicans did not vote for the Wall Street bailout. You also should note that most of the money donated from Wall Street went to Democrats. Also consider how many from the Clinton Administration were on Wall Street making millions per year. Think of Raines, Gorelick, and most of all Robert Rubin. How much of the $700 billion will go to George Soros, not a friend of Republicans? But, I think you have nailed another Democratic Party big lie.

Seven Machos said...

I am pro-bailout. Lending is the basis of our free economy. Without banking, everything else falls apart quickly. See, for example, the Great Depression, when for years Roosevelt and Hoover kept money tight, further constricting a constricted economy.

I am convinced that people on the fringe left and fringe right simply do not understand economics. How else could you possibly believe that the way to save a struggling business is to keep it exactly in a position where it is losing money? If the unions and management wanted to solve their problems, they could do so, easily. They don't, though, so to hell with them. Bankruptcy law is there for a reason.

Finally, what's so special about the auto companies? Nothing. Not one thing. What about General Growth. They own malls. Mall are vital for shopping. What about Fred's Bakery and Big Schlong's Porno Emporium? Why not those businesses?

Meade said...

"What about Fred's Bakery and Big Schlong's Porno Emporium? Why not those businesses? "

Donuts and porn - there will always be demand.

Talk about too big to fail-- Fred's and Big Schlong's going out of business would truly be Black Swan events.

John Stodder said...

I'm finally reading Amity Shlaes' book on the Great Depression, "The Forgotten Man." Two of her complaints with FDR and the New Dealers were their insistence on making business the scapegoat, and the effect of his "bold, persistent experimentation," both of which frightened investors into keeping their money on the sidelines due to the persistent uncertainty.

Seems like the opposite is taking place now. We have people like this Kos diarist, a leftist, who gets teary-eyed thinking about GM, Ford and Chrysler and can't imagine life without them. It's Feel-o-nomics.

I suppose Feel-o-nomics creates another kind of uncertainty. Companies could make the tough choices to survive in this economy. Or they could create a wave of sentimental nostalgia and hope they can use that to get a bailout.

Which other businesses would the left give a sentimental bailout? Here are some "deserving" candidates:

Apple
Starbucks
The Simpsons
The New Yorker
Patagonia
The Boston Red Sox
Burt's Bees
CBS
Wham-O (makers of Frisbee and the Hula Hoop)
American Spirit Cigarettes
Nike

Trooper York said...

I have always thought that John Stodder was one of the most sensible and intelligent posters on the Althouse blog. But to suggest that the Boston Red Sox deserve a bailout can only mean one thing.

You sir are a communist.

Seven Machos said...

Whole Foods
Ben and Jerry's
MSNBC
Google
Harper Collins
The New York Times

Can't let any of these irreplaceable companies fail.

John Stodder said...

But to suggest that the Boston Red Sox deserve a bailout can only mean one thing.

You sir are a communist.


John Cusack and Ben Affleck love them and would be very upset if anything ever happened to them. I realize they're profitable now, but you can never be too sure. They deserve at least $2 billion.

Cedarford said...

Chip Ahoy said...
all looted by ultra-conservatives eager to punish generations of American workers for the sin of not voting for the GOP in acceptable numbers

Simply the most ridiculous statement I've ever read in my entire life. The analysis of the situation is stunning. And by stunning, I mean stupefying. Analysis that slices like pliers!


The basic analysis is correct, save the motive was not to screw the middle class, but enrich the wealthy further. The mechanism was the informal Bretton Woods II, where American Elites agreed to let cheap Asian labor wipe out manufacturing and depress wages in services and thus give themselves 10 digit GNP Growth. In return they would expect to honor the dollar's dominance and give America's Elites, particularly in the financial and real estate sectors, a cut of the action on the recycled Dollar.
It was a brainchild of ultraconservatives in the Reagan Administration. America would then be the "knowledge economy" where we would have all the IT workers and the experts the Asians needed to make their new ex-American industries prosper. And they thought we would dominate new technology, like cell phones, fiber optics, plasma screen TVs.

And all the Asian dollars ploughed back in could go into Gov't, which would allow supply side conservatives to massively grow the Government under Reagan AND cut taxes.

It worked, just like someone quitting his job to be a poker player and using his inheritance and home equity to get a big line of credit. Meaning - it worked for a while. The middle class was told, despite their huge unease about factory after factory closing, that "Exciting" new jobs were coming. The losses had little to do with the manufacturing or services jobs being union or not. The only criteria was if Japan, then later China, Pakistan, Indonesia, and India could do it cheaper than the American.

The trade deficit exploded. More unease. The masses were told "real estate!" was the answer - nothing need be made in America anymore but houses and "the small niche military market that needs domestic product."

Now the crap has hit the fan.

Trooper York said...

I don't care if John Cusack, Joan Cusack or your ball sack loves them, there is one thing that is perfectly clear:

BOSTON SUCKS!!!!!!!!!

Trooper York said...

And that dweeb Ben Afleck dumped a hot chica with a sweet ass for a skinny buck tooth sckank so what the hell does he know about the price of beans.

AJ Lynch said...

What is Burt's Bees?

chuckR said...

The 140000 UAW members don't make all that much more than the non-unionized workers at the foreign transplant factories. The bulk of the almost $30/hr difference is benefits, which I believe includes retiree benefits. If all the UAW members work a 2000 hour year, the aggregate extra cost to Detroit is around $8 billion per year. GM should have gone Ch11 a few quarters ago when they became technically insolvent but still had the cash reserves to get through it. Ford will probably be OK and its interesting that of the Detroit 3, they are the ones with a product guy in the lead, even though his signature product is the Boeing 777. Chrysler is private and not too big to fail. Their IP of any value - mostly Jeep - will be sold and soldier on.

And the US will still not get a clue that we need to make things and incent and respect who can and do.

1jpb said...

Ben and Jerry's?

Maybe not.

This place in Seattle had it's Ben and Jerry's replaced with Red Mango.

At least they still have two standalone Starbucks, plus one in the QFC, and another one in the Barnes and Noble--I did mention this is in Seattle.

John Stodder said...

What is Burt's Bees?

"Earth friendly Natural Personal Care for the Greater Good."

"At Burt’s Bees, our goal is to help create a world where people have the information and tools they need to make the highest ethical choices and do the best for themselves, their families and the environment."

Their signature product seems to be some kind of organic lip balm, but they also make shampoo, skin creme, cologne, etc. The lip balm works pretty good.

John Stodder said...

Interesting that liberals comprise most of Red Sox Nation, since the dirty secret is the Sox were the last team to be integrated -- fully 12 years after Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers.

Yet my Dodgers seem to have no cachet among the glitterati. Our most famous fan is Alyssa Milano.

Trooper York said...

Boston teams have always been the most racist teams in every sport. It is just typical of the liberal hypocrisy that they pretend that it isn't so.

This is of course not such a big issue anymore since black athletes won't play baseball anymore.

Trooper York said...

Oh and Alyssa Milano sucks!!!

But in a good way.

A very very good way.

Henry said...

If Cuba can have the same American cars forever, so should America.

Quick, Congress, put yourself in charge and make this wish come true!

Seven Machos said...

I am feeling the fuzzy, cooling effects of Burt's Bees lip balm as we speak. It's a miracle product, really, particularly in a cold Chicago winter.

U use it all the time. I have friends who are addicted to the stuff.

Seven Machos said...

I use it all the time. Typos can ruin a good joke.

AJ Lynch said...

I always get more edumicated here. It pays to ask if you don't know something.

Synova said...

I have a tube of Bert's Bees lip balm. The kids may steal my Chapstick but they never steal my Bert's Bees. My husband asked to use it once and was very sorry. I don't like it either. Bleh... smells like perfume.

Chap Stick is a lot better than it used to be.

Then there is good old Carmex.

Just never put it through the washer and dryer. Trust me. Worse than crayons.

downtownlad said...

Ford is anti-gay. I hope they go bankrupt.

Seven Machos said...

California, too, Downtown. And virtually every other state, and nation.

downtownlad said...

The auto industry is 4% of US GDP. Over $500 billion a year.

Sure you can let it go bust, but the cost will be a hell of a lot more than $35 billion.

downtownlad said...

Yes, I hope California goes bankrupt too. I hope your whole fucking country goes bankrupt.

downtownlad said...

I'm enjoying your Depression.

Seven Machos said...

Downtown -- What nation with stunning GDP growth do you call your own?

downtownlad said...

I've said it before - but I really do think that the bankruptcy of the Big 3 would be a great capstone in George W. Bush's legacy.

Please let it happen.

The worse shape the economy is in on January 20th, the more breathing room Obama will get to enact his agenda.

downtownlad said...

My country enjoyed double digit growth last year.

downtownlad said...

I'll start calling myself an American again on January 20th.

AJ Lynch said...

Sane people don't wish ill on their own country.

downtownlad said...

If you actually do care about the US economy though, it is important not to let these companies go under.

Nobody's buying cars because people are worried about the economy. They are worried about their jobs and their savings. So they make their existing cars go farther. That causes the economy to slow or shrink. But they can only make their cars go so far. Eventually they buy new ones and that helps the economy grow. Well if these companies aren't here, the US will never experience the rebound will. Japan and Korea will instead.

That might be good for the world's economy, but I'm not sure its good for the US. Those jobs, 11% of the world's manufacturing industry, will be gone forever.

I think they should do some sort of restructuring, maybe allowing one of them to go under and get absorbed by one of the remaining 2.

AJ Lynch said...

Here is a tip for you if you lost your job and need to make some money. Bet big on Oklahoma in the BCS championship game vs. Florida.

You can make some money too on Penn State in the Rose Bowl and I bet Texas Tech will win too though I am not sure who Texas Tech will be playing.

downtownlad said...

AJ Lynch - It's not my country. I've already left. US voters have made it very clear that they don't want gay people living there.

AJ Lynch said...

Hmm DTL I must have missed that ballot question....what did it ask something like "Are you in favor of gay people living in the USA?"

Seven Machos said...

Just what we need, to follow the economic prescriptions of a raving lunatic who believes that the world revolves him and his gayness.

downtownlad said...

Yes Seven - Your economic policies, practiced by George W. Bush - have just done wonders for this economy.

AJ Lynch - when you pass constitutional amendments that say "Gays are now second class citizens" that's exactly the message you are sending to gay people - that they are not welcome in your midst.

Fine. I listened. Now I get to laugh at your Depression. I had a smile on my face when I read Friday's jobs report.

Seven Machos said...

Enjoy your "time abroad," Downtown. As someone who knows quite a bit about consular law, I can assure you that it's tremendously difficult to renounce American citizenship. So, when Obama becomes president, and everything automatically becomes rosy again, we'll welcome you "back" with open arms.

Palladian said...

"I'll start calling myself an American again on January 20th."

That's nice. We, however, will continue to call you an insufferable, needy, sociopathic faggot.

downtownlad said...

I'm not renouncing my citizenship. I still have to pay taxes, and even if I renounced my citizenship - I STILL have to pay taxes for 10 years.

That's why I still vote. But I don't have to live there. And my earnings and income are now helping the economy of another country.

Palladian said...

"My country enjoyed double digit growth last year."

What, in the sex tourism industry? They should offer you a medal for, uh, single-handedly causing that windfall.

downtownlad said...

At least I have a job Palladian. And I'm not fat. And I have friends.

Palladian said...

"And my earnings and income are now helping the economy of another country."

How many Thai boys can you buy on 45K a year?

downtownlad said...

Palladian - Next to gaypatriot - the most self-loathing gay person in America.

Palladian said...

"At least I have a job Palladian. And I'm not fat. And I have friends."

How much do you have to pay them? Is it by the hour?

downtownlad said...

How racist can you be against Asians Palladian?

We already know that you didn't vote for Obama, solely because he's black. Now we realize that you don't like Asians either.

Shocker.

Seven Machos said...

I am betting that Downtown is hunkered down in his efficiency in Chelsea right now, masturbating with seething hatred.

downtownlad said...

I feel sorry for gay people who are fat. Gay men care a lot about looks.

downtownlad said...

If I was in Chelsea right now - I'd be out drinking with my friends.

Now I'm heading off to the gym.

Seven Machos said...

Bye.

downtownlad said...

Bye Seven.

You might want to know that the mask you are showing in your profile is quite popular in gay S&M clubs.

Good day.

Seven Machos said...

Yeah, I'm sure my mask is popular at gay S&M clubs. You'll see guys wearing it all over La Lucha in Mexico City, just for example.

I thought you were leaving. What happened? You can't quit me, I guess.

Palladian said...

"Palladian - Next to gaypatriot - the most self-loathing gay person in America."

Haha. I'm not self-loating. I loathe you.

When did you finally come out of the closet? When you were 45? That's funny. See, I've been "out" since I was a teenager in conservative rural Pennsylvania, back when being "out" actually carried some risk. At the same time, you spent those years on your knees in restrooms and alleyways all the while pretending to be straight during the day because you were too much of a pussy to be honest with yourself and the world. And now that everyone responds to gayness with a shrug and a yawn, you're suddenly SUPERFAGGOT! Hurling SUPER POWERED insults with impunity and anonymity at those of us who dare "disagree" with you! Able to repulse and sicken people, straight and gay, with a single blog comment!

You're pathetic, Mary.

Palladian said...

"We already know that you didn't vote for Obama, solely because he's black. Now we realize that you don't like Asians either."

I know! I even wore my Klan hood and carried a burning cross to my polling station in a public school in south Brooklyn. And those fucking Asians! Man I hate them! I'm calling my Taiwanese and Japanese friends right now to tell them how much I don't like them!

John Lynch said...

I don't care. Every American car I've bought, including the Saturn, has been a disappointment.

The trucks were OK, but still not as good.

The sad thing is my Toyota Corolla was made in Georgia.

It's not American workers that are the problem. It's American car companies. If American workers are building Toyotas, they seem to do a better job.

El Rider said...

Jeeps have been built by: Bantam. Ford, GM, Willys, AMC, Chrysler, Mercedes (Daimler) and now a hedge fund. I expect that Jeep will end up somewhere, the more important issue for sports car and muscle car people is what will happen to the Connor Ave. Viper plant? I would also expect Corvette and Mustang to survive, with the high-end Corvettes as their American competition and Porsche as their primary European competition Viper does not have an easy road. Viper also doesn't seem a logical fit for any of the world's majors except for Toyota and their Toyota Racing Division, however Toyota has their own problems. I've been musing that maybe Viper could end up being owned by a group of (or individual) wealthy Viper Club members. Viper is no Pierce Arrow, but they are America's most outrageous modern cars.

AJ Lynch said...

I wish I were in Chelsea right now.

Palladian said...

"I wish I were in Chelsea right now."

London, New York or Clinton?

AJ Lynch said...

Pretending she was my intern heh.

Seven Machos said...

So this gay guy walks into a bar full of nine-year-old boys in Thailand. Chelsea Clinton is there. Bartender says, "Hey pal,..."

There's a punchline here. I'm just not able to think of it.

AJ Lynch said...

Have to be something like "Hey Pal see anything you like?" then segue to the punchline where the gay guy sees Chelsea and says "what a coincidence Chelsea Clinton is here; it was women like her mother who turned me gay!".

Ralph said...

Chelsea stomps out of the bar, and he says, "There goes the neighborhood!"

Joe said...

GM is becoming hysterical about bankruptcy. Yes, sales would decline, but Chapter 11 reorganization will give them flexibility they need to fix many of their problems. They know this and I could understand them being worried, but why do they keep acting like it's the end of the world?

My theory; GM is not only in far worse condition than they are letting on to anyone outside a tight inner circle and has committed criminal fraud hiding that fact. Bankruptcy will expose all the dirty laundry and people will go to jail.

rhhardin said...

My 88 Dodge Colt is suffering predictable breakdown. Piece of junk. Cars don't last 20 years anymore.

Made by Mitsubishi, which I chose because of their aircraft experience.
And try finding a Zero these days.

BJM said...

AJ Lynch said: Plus the Janps and Asians buy very few of our cars? Why is that?

Duh. The Japanese don't buy American cars because they drive on the left side of the road.

During the post-war occupation and reconstruction it was decided by GHQ to retain Japan's left-driving to discourage the American Auto industry from flooding Japan with American cars.

Ironic, eh?

In the early postwar years, with passenger car production restricted by GHQ, motorcycles and three-wheelers played an enormous part in meeting the demand for motorized vehicles in Japan. In fact the Bank Of Japan didn't think an auto industry was necessary which gave rise to MITI and keiretsu.

GHQ also decreed that Allied vehicles would be rebuilt and repaired by Japanese firms to bootstrap the industry, who carefully studied our work methods and repair techniques, adapting and refining them.

Toyota developed JIT not from studying our auto industry but Piggly Wiggly, another irony.

Every competitive advantage the Japanese learned; we taught them. You might want to Google W.F. Taylor, Frank Gilbreth, and especially W. Edwards Deming.

Stupidly, we did not apply the knowledge to our own industry. The Big 3 crash & burn is way over due and as others have commented they did it to themselves.

BTW-Denso Corp is GM's top supplier, don't fret, the Japanese will take a hit as well.

AllenS said...

American vehicles needed to have been built better. I think that is the core of the problem. In 1984 I bought a Chevy truck, no frills, three speed on the column, probably the last one made. No air conditioning. Within 2 years the paint started to fall off. I mean big pieces after a rain. I painted it last summer, and there was no paint on the cab and hood. Some paint left on the bottom parts. I've had to replace the generator, starter and brakes, which was no big deal, and did the work myself. It's been reliable for 148,000 miles. Except for the paint, which limited the resale value, almost immediately.

Next up, I bought a 1998 Chev S-10, and had to replace the clutch after 80,000 miles, again, at 120,000 miles plus some transmission parts. Sometimes you could get it into 4 wheel drive, sometimes you couldn't get it out. Everything broke on the car, and by 1997, it was a piece of rust.

Because I had a 55 mile drive to work, and was closing in on retirement, I spent $8500 on a GEO Metro. Made in Canada it has been a blessing, and is still going strong at 168,000 miles. I have to replace the exhaust system about every 4 years, but do the work myself, so it's relatively inexpensive.

I remember when I got out of the Army in 1968, and my father bought a brand new Dodge truck. The worse piece of crap made. Needed a new engine after only 20,000 miles, and by 60,000 miles was a rusted piece of junk.

That's why Detroit is having problems.

AllenS said...

Dang! Make that "I bought a 1989 Chev S-10"

1jpb said...

That's why Detroit is having problems.

Quite a while back I heard Phil Condidt (of Boeing) tell a story about transmissions. Apparently the Ford Ranger and Mazda pickup used the same transmissions. Both companies had the exact same specs, but the Ford built transmissions had reliability problems. The engineers tore apart the two transmissions but their precise measuring tools couldn't detect any difference.

After further study they found that the Japanese transmissions were more perfect than the measuring tools could distinguish. This extreme precession was necessary for that particular transmission design.

P.S.
He also said that China told Boeing they would not buy planes unless a lot of the construction took place in China. We would never want to put pressure on foriegn companies who want access to our markets, that's not free trade.

BJM said...

1jpb: Exactly. This Deming page will further illustrate the point. Ford did not seek Deming's advice until 1981, the Japanese had a thirty year head start at that point.

Our auto industry is not competitive because we have not made it so, all of us are responsible, the customer who buys iconic marketing and accepts lesser quality as long as it is "cool".

Management, shareholders, unions and politicans are mutually culpable. They began to see the auto industry as a means to produce wealth and votes; the Milo Minderbinder approach.

When better quality, fuel efficient and/or hotter iconic alternatives were offered the public switched in staggering numbers. Still the Detroit dinosaur lumbered on, adding more overhead baggage and producing cars years behind the imports; unaware or incapable of accepting that the import asteroid was about to render them extinct.

Detroit had a serious heads up in the 70's. Ford responded with the more fuel efficient Taurus-Sable cars of the mid and late 80's. GM and Chrysler plodded on through the morass of too many badges, low quality and Congress grandstanding with unrealistic federal regulation time frames; all larded with executive merit bonuses, dividends and labor benefit packages until they finally reached the edge of the insolvency tar pits.

I have extended family members who will be negatively impacted if GM is forced into bankruptcy, but the cost per unit of management and labor must be reduced to make the industry competitive. They must then address the issue of quality control, CAFE goals and most importantly plant realignment and retooling, the mother of all of money-sucking tar pits on Detroit's horizon. Retooling alone will take 4-5 years. Our pockets are not that deep, soon the taxpayer, if not already, will be tapped out. Then what? Bankruptcy.

Do it now, accept the short term pain, before it becomes a Sisyphean task.

randian said...

People won't buy a car from a company that is in bankruptcy? Really? Did they not fly American while it was in bankruptcy? That seems a hell of a lot more perilous.

Not really. Once you've made your flight, you've received everything American owes you. If you buy a car from a company in bankruptcy, how can you guarantee a supply of spare parts and service? What about warranties? Ask Peugeot, Fiat, and Alfa Romeo owners what it was like when they abandoned the US market.

To those saying US cars are crap, have you been to an auto show this year? The latest batch of new GM cars, like the Pontiac G8 and Cadillac CTS, are light years ahead of GM's past efforts. Interior quality and design is top notch, GM's powertrains are a good as ever (never slam GM's engineers), and ride & handling is as good as anything out there. I currently own a Lexus, but I'm seriously considering a CTS, it's that good.

wadeaminute said...

"Rice Burning"? Very intelligent journalism there. How ignorant! The American auto companies have had plenty of time to correct their ways, but instead thought it best to rest on their pathetic American laurels. "We're Americans. We practically invented the car so we don't need to be taking advice from any other country's business practices." Typical American mentality. And now look where its gotten you. It's an eat or be eaten world and the American automakers have just been served up with a side of steaming rice.