The Wagoner Freak-Out

Here is what I don’t understand about the freak-out (which I predicted, btw) over the government refusing to give GM money unless they get rid of Wagoner. Sully provides a brief comment that serves to summarize much of the commentary from the right:

I get the heebie-jeebies any time a politician makes a business decision.

My reliably conservative relative called me last night and asked me if I was not upset about this, and then got mad at me and told me I was just blinded by love for Obama when I said I couldn’t care less. Why would I? Few on the right have any problem telling welfare recipients what to do. I doubt Andrew has ever seen a welfare reform bill he didn’t like. Other than Josh Trevino, I don’t remember any opposition from the right about the Bankruptcy Bill and all the draconian demands placed on individuals.

This isn’t the government going to Microsoft and telling Bill gates what to do. This isn’t the government coming to your profitable small business and telling you who to hire and fire. Hell, this isn’t even the government telling GM what to do in the daily operation of their business. These are companies who have made decades of bad decisions coming to the government for yet another bailout, and as a requirement, the Obama team is demanding some leadership shake-up. Not only does it make sense to get rid of the guy who has been there for the last ten years as things went down the drain, but it would be politically impossible to bail these guys out unless some changes were made.

If GM wants Wagoner to stay, they can go without federal money. It is that simple. Hell, if I had my way, we would have leadership turn-over at every bank or institution receiving TARP money.

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98 replies
  1. 1
    Jen R says:

    Few on the right have any problem telling welfare recipients what to do.

    But..but… those are poor people. You know how irresponsible they are with money. Not like our Fearless Corporate Leaders.

  2. 2
    CatStaff says:

    The burr under my saddle is the way that every time the boots are put to the auto industry, there’s all kinds of self-righteous harrumphing for sacrifice on the part of labor, and getting rid of "old liabilities" (read "benefits for retirees earned over many years"), but the banks just keep getting billions of dollars and not even a harsh word.

    Starting to get on my very last nerve.

  3. 3
    BenA says:

    @CatStaff:
    I’m with you on that… and but what I think it comes down to… is the banks have a more valuable hostage to ransom (the whole f–king economy) than GM.

  4. 4
    khead says:

    If your relative lives in WV, ask him what he thinks about this:

    http://notwithmytaxdollars.com/

  5. 5
    Ash Can says:

    Hell, if I had my way, we would have leadership turn-over at every bank or institution receiving TARP money.

    There’s a brief but pithy post over at the GOS this morning pointing out that Obama can’t do the same with the Wall Street welfare queens because the guys who did all the real damage have already left.

  6. 6
    LorenzoStDuBois says:

    I had the same reaction to that comment by Sully.

    Seriously. Did the last 12 months not happen? How are people still thinking like this?

  7. 7
    Joshua Norton says:

    Hell, if I had my way, we would have leadership turn-over at every bank or institution receiving TARP money.

    I so agree.

    There ought to be 3 or 4 fuckups in India that we can hire at a fraction of what we’ve paid as a society for the CEO fuckups at:

    Lehman Brothers
    Bear Stearns
    Merrill-Lynch
    AIG
    Citigroup
    Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac

    and let us not forget

    GM.

  8. 8
    Zach says:

    Whatever, man. Once the first Volt rolls off the production line, it’ll be smooth sailing for GM.

    If I were more capable of making investment decisions I’d sell short on GM right now. No clue why they’re still trading 50% above their low this month when this is the first time it’s ever looked possible that they could totally collapse (ie, the first time a government bailout of some form wasn’t inevitable). Perhaps the short-term prospect of being bought out cheaply inflates the share price, but that doesn’t make sense since no one would buy GM and take on their debt and contracts, right?

  9. 9
    Graeme says:

    I see that they’re making Rick out to be a martyr…

    I’ve been completely disgusted by everything I’ve seen from our corporate ‘leadership’ class. I was listening to NPR last week, and they were talking about how the recent newspapers closing down didn’t reflect a lack of leadership.

    BULLSHIT! They’ve had 13 years to come up with some kind of profitable model, but they sat back and did the same things that made them piles of money in the 1970s.

    It’s the same deal with Waggoner. It’s the same deal with all the idiots getting bonus money @ AIG. NO ONE is taking responsibility for ANYTHING anymore. It’s all self-congratulation and featherbedding.

    Every institution has failed us, from industry to Congress. I also find it amusing that Sullivan linked to that article in the Atlantic by Simon Johnson that looked at the bankers as our Oligarchs. Basically, he said that the IMF knows a nation is serious about reforming when they start getting rid of the people who got them into trouble in the first place.

    As much as I like Andrew Sullivan, I have to assume he didn’t understand a word Johnson was saying, because his belief in the oligarchy (aka our corporate masters) trumps all the conclusions of the article, apparently… Whatever.

  10. 10
    Incertus says:

    Weren’t some of these same people who are griping over this the same ones who were demanding that the administration put the boots to the folks in the finance industry, since we "own" AIG now?

  11. 11
    Zach says:

    Has anyone seen the new commercials pushing Saturn as "the same we’ve always been" or something like that? Saturn is GM’s least reliable brand and Exhibit A in my disbelief that they could ever repair their image. They had a chance 25 years ago with Saturn; they were aware of the reliability image issues; they fucked up.

  12. 12
    The Moar You Know says:

    Few on the right have any problem telling welfare recipients what to do.

    End of discussion, as far as I’m concerned.

    And the guy should have been 86ed a lot sooner – he’s lost double-digit billions of dollars. Fuck him and whoever he’s been paying to make a stink about this.

  13. 13
    SpotWeld says:

    The future of GM seems to have three (main) paths.

    1) Catastrophic failure.
    This is where the market, with it’s panicky heard-like mentality, decides that GM is not worth anything and it’s stock get’s delisted. The company falls over dead and all employees are left holding some empty promises are far as their future (and health insurance) goes. This would be accompanied by the market doing a lot of stupid things in general and lots of people on cable screaming about their need for “well stocked doom bunkers”

    2) Controlled failure
    Bankruptcy, followed by receivership, followed by the negotiated sales of the various components. Painful and ugly, but the least amount of damage that still results in shrinkage in at least on of the big three. Still plenty of punditry, but mostly complaining about the details of the government

    3) Major Re-sizing.
    GM shinks (further) to the point where they have only a small core of models and maybe a half to a third the number of dealers. Plenty of layoffs, and probably more bailout money, but it’s still GM, just smaller (but with some potential to grow again). As far as the pundits are concerned this is boring and would require some of their special brand of insanity sauce to get it to the “noise-machine” level of reasoned cable network discourse.

    Of the 3 I want the most boring. Hell of all the options for decisions going forward in the next four years.. I want the most boring. I want a slow boring economic recovery, long boring piece talks with dull people around tables and slow, well-modulated rhetoric coming from the White House.

    A nice bland fiber filled decade is just the thing to give our government apparatus a well-needed colon flush.

  14. 14
    Martin says:

    Honestly, the vast majority of the time I’ve seen legacy management leave an institution and new staff brought in as a promotion, the institution has improved.

    In the case of GM, they make fine vehicles, as do the other US makers, but they make shitty vehicle lineups. They routinely miss the pulse of what consumers want (with the exception of trucks) and they are almost always late to the game with other vehicles or let the competition too quickly overshadow them. There are plenty of exceptions to all of that, but as a general rule I’d say the workers are their best assets and their marketing/management their worst.

  15. 15
    Comrade General Stuck says:

    Aunt Milly Whitehead of the Kansas Church of the Pentecostal Geevus Beavers is seeing Reds.

  16. 16
    gopher2b says:

    They replaced the existing CEO with the existing COO. How is this better? It’s just meat for the massses.

  17. 17
    b-psycho says:

    If the Right had any true principles, they’d be equally as angry at the companies begging for tax dollars in the first place as the government for agreeing to it.

    Also, they’d at least see the point that within the (obviously terrible) status-quo of the State intervening in the favor of big business they might as well try to exert some control, rather than just hand out welfare, having ownership in all but name an’ all (and having to at least TRY to look like they give a fuck what the public thinks…).

  18. 18

    The Wagoner jettison will be epic win in most of the America that pays any attention. Some loyalists and not a few Republicans will try to make hay from it, but it won’t work.

    Wagoner, whether he deserves it or not, is the poster boy for the industry’s deafness to reality. His ouster is a warning to the people who now have to figure out a plan to win administration approval and be able to go forward. I think they will get this message very clearly.

    And it’s a statement that when the auto makers came to DC with their hands out, they got they money they wanted …. but at a cost. The cost is, the government now decides what is acceptable going forward. Congress doesn’t have the chops to make that stick.

    Obama does.

  19. 19
    Karen S. says:

    I agree with John. If GM wants to keep Wagoner, then don’t take any federal money. If Wagoner wanted to stay at GM’s helm, then he could have just thumbed his nose at Obama like some Republican governors are doing. But I suppose Wagoner and GM have no free will because Obama is an anti-Christ Muslim/Muslin/Mooslim who can work all sorts of mind tricks and voo-doo magic on otherwise high-powered CEOs and bend them to his will. Who knew Obama could hold the corporati in his thrall so effectively?

  20. 20
    wasabi gasp says:

    This clearly now makes any vehicle coming out of Detroit a commiemobile. The resale value of used pickup trucks is gonna go through the roof.

  21. 21
    The Other Steve says:

    This isn’t the government going to Microsoft and telling Bill gates what to do.

    Naw, they tried that in 1998.

    And interestingly Robert Bork was one of the main champions of it.

  22. 22
    Shawn in Showme says:

    Note that Obama only asked for Wagoner’s resignation. Chrysler has two green vehicles in the pipeline and a white knight in Fiat. Ford has refused any bailout money. GM is the largest of the three and the only green car they have to sell is the Volt which just ain’t enough to keep that dirigible aloft.

    It’s obvious that the White House is only willing to fund a GM operation that is much smaller than the one that exists now. Wagoner still thinks this is the 1980s but the salad days of Buick and Pontiac have long since passed.

  23. 23
    The Other Steve says:

    In the case of GM, they make fine vehicles, as do the other US makers, but they make shitty vehicle lineups. They routinely miss the pulse of what consumers want (with the exception of trucks) and they are almost always late to the game with other vehicles or let the competition too quickly overshadow them.

    Case in point, GM has long made a pretty good V6 engine. It’s one of the most fuel efficient V6 engines on the market.

    But would the average consumer realize that? GM only started talking about effieciency about six months ago when they got desperate.

    Not to mention the innovations in the Northstar engine from Cadillac back in the 1990s, which would shut off cylinders that weren’t being used.

  24. 24
    AhabTRuler says:

    Robert Bork

    Ah, the father of the Opportunist school of legal interpretation. IIRC, the rest of the time he is promoting mergers and mega-conglomerates as being in the consumer’s best interest. How’s that working out in the financial industry, huh Bobby?

  25. 25
    Mary says:

    Andrew Sullivan is not as intellectually mature as John Cole. That is why he presents such a jarring and textbook case of cognitive dissonance. Everyone can see that.

  26. 26
    Rick Taylor says:

    It’s funny, because this administration has been making an effort to stay within the rule of law. Many on the left have criticized them for going to far. That’s why they didn’t block the AIG bonuses. That’s why AIG has been paying 100% to companyies like Golden Sachs on the insurance of their toxic paper without asking questions. Or at least that’s been the justification. And that’s why Geitner has been arguing congress needs to legislate new powers to allow the government to treat AIG like a company in receivership. Because they can’t just make up new powers for themselves.

  27. 27
    Jay in Oregon says:

    Few on the right have any problem telling welfare recipients what to do.

    The right had no problem telling auto workers and their unions what to do. But the shitty CEO gets a pass? That’s comedy gold.

    WTB a sane opposition party. Cut the Blue Dogs loose, make them the New Republican Party, and let the GOP fade into the dustbin of history.

  28. 28
    Lilly von Schtupp says:

    @Spotweld

    I could not agree more. I’ve always thought the best our country could hope for would be dull and uneventful. We need to get our bearings back.

  29. 29

    Has anyone tried to tie this to the evils of equal opportunity employment laws yet?

    Oh well, give it a while.

  30. 30

    If I were more capable of making investment decisions I’d sell short on GM right now.

    Just as an aside, you can’t. GM is on the RegSho list, which means that it’s almost impossible to short sell, because there aren’t any shares to borrow. You could buy puts, but they’re trading at something like an implied vol of 350. In fact, the vol is so stupid that I sold some puts.

  31. 31
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    Even if you cut Wagoner some slack as the cause of GM’s woes– so the fuck what? New blood, new thinking.

    Remember a few years ago Bill Ford tried to run the family car company? Then the man got smart and hired someone from completely outside the automotive business, Alan Mulally from Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

    And today, who’s asking for a bailout?

  32. 32
    BenA says:

    Why does it seem like we jump through every hoop and over imposible hurdles just to avoid single payer health care?

    It really is almost that simple.

  33. 33
    Calouste says:

    So, say you are an investor with $18 billion or so to invest. Warren Buffett or someone like that. You see this struggling company that has been going downhill for the last decade or so under the same CEO. You think the company has still some potential, so you are willing to invest. What is one of the first things on your mind?

    Indeed: get rid of the underperforming CEO.

  34. 34

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko:

    Yes. And you have to give Bill Ford credit. He knew he couldn’t steer the ship through the coming storm, and got a guy who could. Recruited, persuaded, and practically begged him to come and take the job.

    I like Bill Ford. I wish more bigtime execs were like him. He isn’t Superman, and doesn’t pretend to be Superman.

  35. 35

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber: You clearly aren’t a Lions fan.

  36. 36
    Robin G. says:

    @Zach: In defense of Saturn, mine is 11 years old and has 230k miles and still runs pretty strong. As long as you change the oil like clockwork, you’re golden.

  37. 37
    kay says:

    @BenA:

    Why does it seem like we jump through every hoop and over imposible hurdles just to avoid single payer health care?

    It really is almost that simple.

    I laughed when I read this. Absolutely. I don’t get it either. They’d rather pack up the whole manufacturing sector and ship it overseas than expand Medicare.
    We’re exchanging skilled trades for exciting and lucrative careers in handling claim’s forms. Who does this benefit?

  38. 38
    burnspbesq says:

    The question that nobody seems to be asking is where was the GM board for the last two years? It’s not like it hasn’t been obvious for at least that long that Wagoner was not the answer.

  39. 39
    Tsulagi says:

    Why the freak-out? In business a major stockholder or creditor can effect management change. Not uncommon. I thought they wanted government to act more like private business.

    But then one of their central operating practices is to reward failure. Yeah that would trump. Medal of Freedom then for Wagoner.

  40. 40
    JD Rhoades says:

    I see that they’re making Rick out to be a martyr…

    I knew the wingnuts had gone even farther into Crazyland when a right wing blogger I know insisted that the AIG executives were as persecuted as the Jews in Hitler’s Germany, pre WW2.

    In defense of Saturn, mine is 11 years old and has 230k miles and still runs pretty strong. As long as you change the oil like clockwork, you’re golden.

    Never owned one, but I’ve known quite a few people who have and they rave about them.

  41. 41
    Llelldorin says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko and ThymeZoneThePlumber

    And even then, Mulally damned near had to use a Taser on his own executives to get them to take the Focus seriously.

    Result? Ford doesn’t need bailout money. They won sanity musical chairs, this round.

    Wagoner was handed a technology lead of nearly a decade by John F. Smith Jr., and pissed it away to the point that it’s not at all clear GM will survive. Since "losing won games" isn’t really a business skill, it’s probably for the best that he’s moving on.

  42. 42

    Of course it didn’t give anyone on the right the heebie-jeebie’s when that disingenuous rat-fucker Bob Corker was trying to bring the unions down, did it? They have become so predictable it really isn’t even all that entertaining to point out their hypocrisy anymore, is it? Necessary, but not entertaining. Sigh. I would like to get a few yucks out of these turds just for having to wade through the steaming pile of shit they left.

    EDIT: Of course, if they get the money without strings that makes it all better right?

  43. 43
    El Cid says:

    Hell, if I had my way, we would have leadership turn-over at every bank or institution receiving TARP money.

    Pretty much my view.

  44. 44
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    Hell, if I had my way, we would have leadership turn-over at every bank or institution receiving TARP money.

    Agreed. Maybe it would be an easier sell if we called it "regime change".

  45. 45
    Leelee for Obama says:

    Has it occurred to anyone that the re-structuring of these behemoths leaving their legacy benefit retirees in the ether could be a fine argument for a health care proposal that HAS to include a public option?

    I was watching a Washington Journal piece yesterday with a Brit and a German reporter chatting about the G-20. Of course, the statement by Chancellor Merkel came up. The German reporter, with tongue so firmly in cheek it was amazing he could speak, said their social safety net had been the laughing-stock of the good-old US of A for quite awhile, but it was looking pretty good just about now.

    How true, how true. I actually felt good for him.

  46. 46
    Napoleon says:

    @Llelldorin:

    Wagoner was handed a technology lead of nearly a decade by John F. Smith Jr., and pissed it away to the point that it’s not at all clear GM will survive.

    Really? In what way?

  47. 47
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Wagoner obviously neglected to make the "I didn’t know what was going on in the company that I was being paid a shitload of money to run" defense. Had he done that and made a case for turning the UAW into indentured slaves he’d not only still have his job, he’d be the Republican frontrunner for 2012.

  48. 48
    Leelee for Obama says:

    Hell, if I had my way, we would have leadership turn-over at every bank or institution receiving TARP money.

    Agreed. Maybe it would be an easier sell if we called it "regime change".

    Winny win, win, win, win!

  49. 49

    I’ve known quite a few people who have and they rave about them.

    You have to rave over those old Saturns. Their motors are so loud you are risking permanent hearing damage if you drive them hard.

    I took a test drive in a brand new one one night about 15 years ago. When we stepped on it, I thought for sure a Liberator Bomber was landing on us, and that we’d strayed onto an airfield.

  50. 50
    NonyNony says:

    @Robin G.:

    @Zach: In defense of Saturn, mine is 11 years old and has 230k miles and still runs pretty strong. As long as you change the oil like clockwork, you’re golden.

    11 years old puts your purchase about 1 year older than mine, and I’ve had the same experience – 10 years, 170K miles, and no major problems. A few minor ones here and there as parts have worn out and had to be replaced, but nothing like the Chrysler I was driving before the Saturn.

    Of course, round about 2001-2002 GM started fucking with Saturn and their cars haven’t been the same since. No one I know who bought a Saturn prior to 2000 has anything bad to say about it, but no one I know who bought one after 2001 has ever had anything GOOD to say about it – at least after the first six months or so.

  51. 51
    Leelee for Obama says:

    Once again, President Jiu-Jitsu has done it!

    MSNBC just announced the merger with Fiat is a, dare I say it, a Fiat-accompli!

  52. 52
    Ed Drone says:

    It has occurred to me:

    This year’s "Welfare Cadillac" IS Cadillac.

    I just noticed that and thought it’d be fun to point out.

    Ed

  53. 53

    The question that isn’t getting asked is this:

    What’s his golden parachute?

    Don’t cry for Rick Waggoner. He leaves a very wealthy man.

  54. 54

    This year’s "Welfare Cadillac" IS Cadillac.

    lulz.

  55. 55
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    …a Fiat-accompli!

    Arrrrrgh!
    OTOH, if it means that I can soon buy a FIAT 500 Abarth SS I’m all for it.
    edit: A hearty "Bite me!" to the first person who says "You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!"

  56. 56

    OTOH, if it means that I can soon buy a FIAT 500 Abarth SS I’m all for it.

    Ohhhh, purty! Sign me up.

  57. 57

    @Leelee for Obama:

    They will rename the Chrysler Imperial the "Executive Fiat."

  58. 58
    Llelldorin says:

    Under Smith, GM had a working consumer electric vehicle available for lease, a year ahead of the introduction of the Prius in Japan, and several years ahead of its worldwide rollout. That gave them the technology and the experience that should have let them go toe-to-toe with Toyota. Instead, Wagoner axed the program in 2003, did nothing sensible with hybrids, and ignored the small-car market entirely. He did all of this on the basis that no-one could have anticipated that gas would eventually become expensive. Result? The moment gas surged, GM’s "SUVs now and forever" strategy cratered, and cleaned out the company. Now they’re finally working on the Volt—a car that could have saved them if they had it even three years earlier.

  59. 59
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @AhabTDefenestrator:
    They tested one on Top Gear. Looks like about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.

  60. 60
    Blogging in the Wind says:

    This year’s "Welfare Cadillac" IS Cadillac.

    POTD!

  61. 61
    jill says:

    There is more outrage then just on the right. Some on the left suddenly have a warm fuzzy feeling for the guy while ignoring that he got 20 million retirement.

  62. 62

    @Llelldorin:

    I don’t agree that any car with base MSRP over $25k can save anything, much less a company as big as GM. Even if the car is perfect, which is pretty hard to believe, it costs way too much.

    Besides a few rich showoffs, who do you know that will buy a $40k car in order to save gas?

    They are riding a technology that isn’t ready for prime time.

    GM executives have said the Volt could cost close to $40,000, although no official price has been set.
    "Fifteen thousand dollars would go a long way, but I think it’s a little optimistic," Gross said. "We think $7,500 per car is a great start."
    David Cole, director of the nonprofit Center for Automotive Research, defended government help for programs such as the Volt. "This is very expensive stuff," he said.

    Epic flail.

  63. 63
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    Or, perhaps, The Doge?

  64. 64
    Napoleon says:

    @Llelldorin:

    You are referring to the EV-1, I take it (or whatever they called it). I just have never perceived of GM ever having the lead on technology at all, even with that program, admittedly likely because I think GM long ago exhibited ADD tendencies that made me dismiss things like the EV-1 since I just knew they would not stick with it (just look at Saturn).

  65. 65
    Geoff says:

    Hell, if I had my way, we would have leadership turn-over at every bank or institution receiving TARP money

    …I tend to agree but you have to remember that not every bank that got TARP money actually needed it. Many banks got TARP money from the Treasury to get the credit markets moving not because they needed it to stay in business.

  66. 66
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:
    Kind of interesting that GM managed their "breakthrough" at an MSRP nearly twice that of the Prius.
    Green jobs, right. Next up "American manufacturer unveils solar-powered miner’s helmet."

  67. 67
  68. 68
    Stefan says:

    I get the heebie-jeebies any time a politician makes a business decision.

    Huh. I get the heebie-jeebies any time a businessperson lobbies a politician.

  69. 69
    NonyNony says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    I don’t agree that any car with base MSRP over $25k can save anything, much less a company as big as GM. Even if the car is perfect, which is pretty hard to believe, it costs way too much.

    Here’s the problem that GM is in:

    1) People don’t want to spend so much on cars. Especially small cars – if you’re spending a lot of money on a car it better either be huge or have luxuries like heated seats and a built-in coffee-maker.
    2) GM has enough overhead (due to legacy costs such as pensions for ex-workers and stupid dealer contracts signed decades ago) that unless they make cars with a huge sticker price, they lose money on every car.

    If you’re looking for the reason why GM and Ford long ago ceded the small car market to foreign companies (who only really came into the country in the 80s and have a lot less in the way of legacy costs) look no further than this dynamic. Yeah GM management has made a lot of dumb moves in recent years (especially choosing to go "all in" on fuel cell tech a while back when other companies were looking at more incremental tech like hybrids – WTF?), but in a lot of ways they’ve been playing the hand that previous generations of management had stuck them with – long term contracts and obligations that just won’t go away.

  70. 70

    @NonyNony:

    There’s one other big dynamic.

    You can’t just switch a frame-rail truck plant (where they build the SUVs, at least the legacy ones) into a unit body car plant. The entire build process and equipment landscape for the plant is different. It would be cheaper to build a new plant.

    When your capital assets are tied up in truck plants, you pretty much have to build trucks.

    When you are Honda, you don’t build frame-rail vehicles. Your legacy is the motorcycle. The small car was a perfect fit. They built small cars because their business model supported small cars at the production end as much as at the front end of the business.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    I like Bill Ford. I wish more bigtime execs were like him. He isn’t Superman, and doesn’t pretend to be Superman.

    It helps that, unlike the other executives, Ford actually has a motivation other than money to save the company. He really, really doesn’t want to be forever known as the guy who tanked the company his great-grandfather built.

  72. 72
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @NonyNony:
    A goodly part of US car makers legacy costs are for healthcare. The irony is that for years they bankrolled the anti-UHC crowd. Now the government wants UAW members and retirees to make concessions on their health care benefits on behalf of those same automakers. It’s like asking the UAW membership to to take another fucking so that they can take another fucking.

  73. 73
    Shawn in Showme says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber

    I agree that the Volt is too expensive. Whoever gets tabbed for CEO job needs to revisit the battery technology they’re using, maybe reduce the drive range from 40 to 30 miles.

    They’ve got to get close to the magic $30,000 price point or the other plug-ins will eat their lunch.

  74. 74
    Llelldorin says:

    NonyNony, I’d agree, but Ford hasn’t ceded the small-car market. They’re actually fighting for it, with the Focus, and they’re making money on the things.

    You’re right that the EV-1 turned into a victim of GM ADD, but it didn’t need to. They’d gotten a second-generation EV-1 out, and were slowly amassing engineering experience with electric cars. They could have done a lot of sensible things from there–moved the most successful technology from the EV-1s into hybrids, for example. Jettisoning the project put them back at square one.

    You’re also right that the Volt is much too expensive. I’d argue that had the EV-1 project continued, they might have had better engineering to play with in its design.

  75. 75
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Hell of all the options for decisions going forward in the next four years.,. I want the most boring. I want a slow boring economic recovery, long boring peace talks with dull people around tables and slow, well-modulated rhetoric coming from the White House.

    And so say all of us…

  76. 76
    The Populist says:

    Note to right wing:

    Explain to me how Obama fired Wagoner? Like a bank or a VC firm loaning money to a business they can get concessions in exchange for capital. Obama said he would not loan anymore money to a company with a failed CEO running things. Why is this wrong?

    See in the real world GM can pass on the funds and go away. They can’t do that so in the interests of the company Wagoner is gone. He made many mistakes and ran the company into the ground.

    Screw this thinking. I really hate the right.

  77. 77
    anonevent says:

    I get the heebie-jeebies any time a politician makes a business decision.

    And I get pissed off when businessmen make political decisions.

  78. 78
    Shawn in Showme says:

    Explain to me how Obama fired Wagoner? Like a bank or a VC firm loaning money to a business they can get concessions in exchange for capital. Obama said he would not loan anymore money to a company with a failed CEO running things. Why is this wrong?

    It isn’t. But the poor folks in Michigan, just like everywhere else have been weened on free market mythology. They honestly believe that the White House has no right to dictate terms on taxpayer aid to a mismanaged American relic that will be dead in 2 months without it.

  79. 79
    bago says:

    Weaned. Like a babby.

  80. 80
    passerby says:

    So here’s the question: Can anyone explain the differing treatment of auto companies and Wall Street firms? Is it just that there are far more Wall Street worshipers like Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in the Obama administration than auto industry representatives? Or is it something else?

    I’m genuinely asking this question, and not in a way aimed at defending Rick Wagoner. I just want to know what possible public explanation there could be as to why the White House would push auto company CEOs around while coddling banking CEOs? —David Sirota, Huffington Post

    A reasonable question.

    @Ash Can:

    There’s a brief but pithy post over at the GOS this morning pointing out that Obama can’t do the same with the Wall Street welfare queens because the guys who did all the real damage have already left.

    I enjoyed reading that post Ash Can

    Sirota acknowledged this in his piece but some of them are still there, the JPMorgan Chase guy, the BofA guy.

  81. 81
    Shawn in Showme says:

    Foreign countries finance our debt and wouldn’t react too kindly to our major banks failing. They don’t give a shit if our car industries fail so the same rules don’t apply.

  82. 82
    Simon says:

    Obama needs to send someone over to one of last remaining running GM plants, find the most respected floor manager, and give him the keys to it all!!!

  83. 83
    iluvsummr says:

    @Shawn in Showme: I bet Wagoner is kicking himself for jettisoning the EV1; his biggest demonstration of a lack of foresight.

  84. 84
    Don says:

    Why the freak-out? In business a major stockholder or creditor can effect management change.

    Yeah that was my reaction to this. I am highly ambivalent about how we’ve poured money into these various businesses, but we have indeed poured money. Obama’s the proxy holder for all those shares we’ve bought, and I’d be far more concerned about him spending money and NOT keeping an eye on how our investment is handled.

    I’d like to hear the big O say "Motherfuckers, you were all out for blood over the AIG bonuses. I’m trying to keep my eye on this buncha clowns ahead of time and now you’re freaked out? Which way you want it?"

  85. 85
    pharniel says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    yay more top gear heads.

    I totally think they should let Richard Hammond head up Ford’s design team.

  86. 86
    Adrienne says:

    Why does it seem like we jump through every hoop and over imposible hurdles just to avoid single payer health care

    Seriously, I would think that THE largest supporters of a single payer health care industry would be the car companies. They are being crushed by legacy health care costs but they all banded up 15 years ago to fight it. I don’t get it.

    In a sensical world, this would be the #1 area where I could see a large scale convergence of the wants/needs consumers and big business at a time when they diverge on almost everything else. In a sensical world, the two sides would get together and fight for what would be the most beneficial to BOTH sides in the long run – akin to what is now happening btw labor and environmentalists.

    Alas, there IS no Santa Claus and our world makes absolutely NO FUCKING SENSE.

  87. 87
    barkleyg says:

    I don’t remember any opposition from the right about the Bankruptcy Bill and all the draconian demands placed on individuals.

    I called this bill : Debtors prison without bars. You weren’t in prison, but your chances of being "successful" again were greatly diminished. But hey, you still had a house and a job.

    Today, debtors prison might be a preferred choice. Who can guarantee that they will have a job, or a roof over their head next week, or next year?

  88. 88
    Eric, St. Louis says:

    @Jay in Oregon:

    Few on the right have any problem telling welfare recipients what to do.

    The right had no problem telling auto workers and their unions what to do. But the shitty CEO gets a pass? That’s comedy gold.

    Even though I’m strongly conservative, I agree with you on both points – the government shouldn’t try to run the lives of welfare recipients. It also shouldn’t try to run the business of our big three automakers.

  89. 89
    Ash Can says:

    @Shawn in Showme:

    Foreign countries finance our debt and wouldn’t react too kindly to our major banks failing. They don’t give a shit if our car industries fail so the same rules don’t apply.

    I do believe you’ve nailed it.

  90. 90
    Adrienne says:

    It also shouldn’t try to run the business of our big three automakers.

    Well, if our big three automakers could run their own business they wouldn’t be coming to us hat in fucking hand to bail their asses out now would they?

    Also, correction. Government isn’t trying to run the big three. Obama is making government assistance conditional on their making certain changes. Don’t want the strings? Don’t take the money and die out. That would be the truly capitalist way to handle it. Survival of the fittest, bitch. Ford doesn’t need the money* so our gov’t isn’t giving them ultimatums.

    *Unless GM goes under in which case Ford is up Shit’s Creek without a so much as a raft much less a paddle.

  91. 91
    b-psycho says:

    @Simon: If he had the authority to do so, I’d agree. I’d prefer (and see as justified) syndicalist seizures of all remaining GM plants by their workers though.

  92. 92
    kay says:

    Just for the sake of accuracy, Obama isn’t dictating business practices at GM.
    Obama said change practices or we won’t lend you billions of dollars.
    That’s a condition. GM was free not to meet it. They’d then be in bankruptcy in 30, 60, or 90.
    I think it’s silly and dishonest to say he’s dictating anything. They can walk away.

  93. 93
    kay says:

    @Adrienne:

    Exactly. The welfare comparison is all wrong. Automakers can ACTUALLY walk away from the conditioned offer.

    Welfare recipients? Not so much.

  94. 94
    kay says:

    “These companies — and this industry — must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.”

    Obama said that about automakers, but this is how I feel about finance and lending.

    They basically wrote the bankruptcy bill, have half of Congress and the entire media in their pocket, STILL they can’t compete. They’re borrowing money at 0% and lending it at rates approaching usury, and STILL they can’t compete.

    Forget the automakers. I think I found the hapless business model.

  95. 95
    Adrienne says:

    Obama said change practices or we won’t lend you billions of dollars

    Exactly. They/We are LENDING them this money. Banks put conditions on their lending and if the gov’t is being used as a lender of last resort I see NOTHING wrong or even remotely "scary" about the gov’t putting forth certain requirements for this money. Don’t want the conditions, don’t ask for or take the loan. It really IS that simple. I mean really, I would be more pissed off if there were no requirements or conditions. See: Bailout, Bank.

  96. 96
    Rainy says:

    The right will complain about anything the government does when it comes to the wealthy and businesses. As far as the welfare thing, I know people who refuse to go on welfare after they lost their jobs even though they need it desperately. They think it’s embarrassing. These are people who were railing against welfare recipients for years.

  97. 97
    ronpaul says:

    This documentary has gone mega viral. Its called "The Obama Deception"… Its not a democrat bashing piece… but a "both parties are bought off" piece… check it out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAaQNACwaLw

  98. 98
    Channing says:

    Hey John,

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I referenced this post over at RaceWire today — thanks for the angle.

Comments are closed.