Naught for Twenty Years

Ice on the pond

There was this GM sales VP—a senior job, but hardly stratospheric. As I recall he was to attend a regional sales meeting, and his pre-visit specs called for a refrigerator filled with beer to await him in his hotel room. In this instance, there was no way to get the fridge upstairs, so the enterprising local sales types hired a crane, removed the exec’s would-be room window and inserted the refrigerator through said window. The tale was one of many of a similar sort in auto-industry analyst Maryann Keller’s Rude Awakening: The Rise, Fall, and Struggle for Recovery of General Motors.

The book appeared 20 years ago.

Needless to say, the story crept from the depths of my brain yesterday as I watched, upon arrival from a seminar in Dubai, the industry’s PR-blind execs describing the dire necessity of bringing their begging bowls to Congress on their private jets.

Have these incompetent dirtball idiots* no shame? (*My apologies for the gutter language—it is offered not casually, but after deep reflection.)

More important, since they have accomplished approximately zilch in two decades (see the Great Refrigerator Caper above), why should they reach into my wallet to fund their jet fleets—and extend their collective incompetence for a few more futile months or years?

Yesterday morning I supported the bailout. I hated the thought of giving these clowns the family loot—but I was extremely fearful of the wallet-closing effect on the economy as a whole if GM went into bankruptcy. Given the gross and utter stupidity publicly exhibited by Rick Wagoner, my fears of more national economic meltdown have not been assuaged, but the utter national negligence that this bailout would signify has flipped my switch.

My heart does indeed go out to the GM workers who will be dislocated, but it’d be wrong and, in fact, counterproductive to toss a lifeline to GM.

(I returned home from Dubai, temp 90°F, to the night the main farm pond froze all the way over for the first time this fall-winter. A frozen pond seemed a good image to accompany this tale of auto-industry woe.)

Tom Peters posted this on November 20, 2008, in Markets.
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