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Old 11-22-2008, 10:07 AM   #21
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Default Re: Find out about GM and government assistance

Despite the fact that the automakers' troubles are partly, not completely, self-inflicted, I am in favor of the loans. I am not sure it will be anything more than a stop gap, but sometimes just surviving is enough.

Americans need to ask themselves, "Do we want to be Britain?", where I don't think there are any British owned carmakers left.

That said, I think the self-inflicted part of the trouble needs to be examined.

For 20 years the Big 3 have made a pact with Big Oil in fighting against clean air, fuel economy, and universal healthcare, and it has turned out to be a deal with the devil. While the automakers are on the brink of oblivion the oil companies are smashing income records every quarter.

What has this deal brought the USA? No hybrids. Poor fuel economy. A far worse economic crisis. Not much wiggle room on energy: OPEC owns us, literally, that $2 Billion daily trade deficit is a chunk of the USA going into foreign hands. We are spending hundreds of $ Billions more on defense, a large proportion spent protecting our access to oil. The oil revenues increasingly head to countries like Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, that are both un-democratic and hostile to us.

American corporations, like everyone in Europe, never forgot the lessons of OPEC in the 1970s: a dollar saved through energy efficiency is a dollar in your profits - or in your retirement account. Americans use far more energy than other citizens of developed countries, at least partly because of a lifestlye that is now un-sustainable, and it was sold to them by the oil companies and the carmakers.

Despite the tacit or sometimes active support of these policies by the UAW, I think the real culprits are the managers of the automakers, and I think they need to go away for that. There are talented engineers and other folks in each of the carmakers who are dying to make better, fuel efficient cars, but they have been held back. We need to replace the senior management and unleash the talent in American business.

One final question: With the dual emphasis in US corporations on lowest cost and star CEOs, how come no board of directors of an American automaker has outsourced the CEO job to a Japanese CEO who knows how to make cars as good or better than American cars and works for a fraction of what the Americans make?
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