Sunday, December 7, 2008

Put Me in Charge of the Auto Companies!

By Alan Caruba

Assuming the Detroit auto manufacturers will get their multi-billion dollar bailout, the question arises whether the men in charge of General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford should continue to run these companies or whether some elaborate government system of oversight and direction should be imposed.

I have the solution to this question. Put me in charge of one or all of these three auto companies.

The reason is obvious. I know nothing about running an auto company and, therefore, I would be ideal for the job.

Ridiculous, you say? Do you think a bunch of government bean-counters know any more than I do? Do you think a bunch of bureaucrats whose chief skill is the writing of an adroit memorandum can do a better job?

As a list of my qualifications, I would like to point out that I have been a licensed driver since the age of 17 which was over a half-century ago. I have, moreover, owned a number of cars over the years. Having always owned Cadillacs, for the past five years I have owned a Volkswagen Rabbit. The Rabbit goes forever on a teaspoon of gasoline.

Some people will complain that my qualifications are too slim, that lots of people own and drive cars. They will demand more experience to run an auto company. Well, I don’t have any experience. If the government put me in charge, it wouldn’t make any difference because I would have the same problems that the guys that do have experience are facing.

That means that every “solution” I would put forth would be met with either polite silence or open derision. This is why the presidents of these companies were forced to participate in the show trials before Congress.

Let’s understand one thing. Four out of every ten jobs in America today are tied in some fashion to the auto industry. That’s a lot of jobs. Suppliers, assembly line workers, the engineers, the sales force, accounting, dealers, advertising agencies, and all manner of other jobs that depend on a healthy auto industry.

We do have a healthy auto industry, except that it is in the southern States where unions do not suck the guts out of it as is the case of Detroit where a union “job bank” pays workers who are not working.

Part of the problem, aside from the unions, is the way Congress has insisted on requiring U.S. auto companies to meet a vast array of standards and even to build cars no wants because they are too expensive and are based on idiotic environmental notions that the world is running out of oil, that oil is bad, and that cars are bad because they pollute the air (cows pollute it far more), et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!

Charlie Wilson, the tenth president of General Motors and a long forgotten Secretary of Defense in the Eisenhower administration, once said, “I always thought that what was good for our country was good for General Motors.” He got into trouble for saying that, but now it appears that what’s bad for General Motors is bad for the United States.

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