Thursday, November 20, 2008

DISHING, rather than DIGGING DIRT ON THE BIG THREE

Dear Crabby:

What’s your opinion on the snafu with the Big Three?

Dale in Detroit


Dear Dale:

I’m rather torn in my opinion on what’s to be done with the nose-diving automotive industry. Clearly, management at the Big Three (Ford, Chrysler and General Motors) have made some gargantuan missteps that have paved the way for the situation.

Big expense accounts, huge – and unwarranted - executive bonuses, misguided union bullying and a downturn in the local economy have all conspired to make the future of America’s automotive sector dangerously bleak.

I speak these words with all the regret as a former Chrysler employee – one of many sacked in 2005 – as well as from the vantage that my father (a retired GM line worker) is in danger of losing the pension he put all of his blood, sweat and tears into to earn.

The arrival in Washington of CEOs from these companies on private corporate jets left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I agree with the congressional backlash that has gone on record as stating that most of the Big Three’s woes and wounds have been self inflicted.

This is not the time for grandstanding or refusing to answer the question of what they – the CEOs – would be willing to do to save the companies they preside over. When asked such a question earlier, GM’s chairman and CEO, Rick Wagner refused to commit himself to a $1.00 annual salary until such time as his company might be restored to profitability by the suggested government bail out.

It is a genuine pity that Mr. Wagner doesn’t see the error of his ways and what accepting such an offer might have done to sway congress into thinking that their billions would best be spent on bailing out car makers at this critical junction in their precariously balanced history. Such smugness in the face of looming financial disaster is not only ill timed but entirely irresponsible. I think it is time for Mr. Wagner to reconsider his position as chairman of the company. I should point out that I’ve had that thought for some time.

If I were sitting on the congressional decision making panel, I would enforce certain stipulations on the Big Three as a requirement for the bail out monies.

First:

No executive bonuses and a 50% reduction in top income salaries across the board. Any money congress spends on restoring the Big Three to profitability has to go exclusively to producing cars and technologies that will benefit the future.

Second:

Enforced resignations of all executives who are proven to be, at least in part, responsible for this current crisis. There’s a paper trail at each corporate office of all the mistakes that have been made along the way and at the bottom of most memos is a signature. The Big Three cannot afford to maintain their ‘dead-headed’ dead wood any longer. Top heavy mismanagement ought to have been a thing of the past long ago. It has never had a place in business logic. It certainly has no place in it right now!


Third:

I would encourage congress to appoint an independent automotive committee to oversee allocation and distribution of the funds, and, to also oversee the operations of each of the Big Three with monthly reporting from management to this committee as mandatory.

Personally, I’d like to see someone like Lee Iacocca back in the driver’s seat – not inside any one of these companies but as one of the independent automotive committee members, if not, in fact its ‘Chairman.’

Without a visionary like Iacocca at the helm, The Big Three have proven that, left to their own devices, they cannot manage their way out of a paper bag. So much for MBA degrees, pie charts and market research! The independent committee I speak of would be responsible for keeping everyone in check and on track – period!

Finally, I am not at all entirely convinced that even with my stipulations put into play that the Big Three would enjoy a return to fiscal solvency in any foreseeable time frame, if, in fact, ever.

Yet, unlike the pundits who are out for blood, I am not of the opinion that Congress should just walk away from this crisis and let history reduce these companies to a pick n’ save bankruptcy sale. Those who have suggested as much, forget that if one or all of these companies goes the way of the dinosaur, it will decimate virtually every other sector of the U.S. and Canadian economy.

Not only will it contribute to another Great Depression – it may very well end a way of life that both countries not only have become accustom to, but utterly depend on for mere survival.

To those who demand ‘change’ for the industry and the economy, I defiantly say that turning up the nose on some sort of practical restructuring agreement is decidedly NOT the way go about reshaping the greatest nation on earth. It will instead lead to its’ utter destruction.

Sincerely,
The Crabby Critic




Dear Crabby:

…or maybe I should say, ‘stupid!’ Despite all your muckraking Obama won! Just goes to show you don’t know everything!

- anonymous



Dear Chicken-Liver:

I don’t usually respond to ‘nameless’ emails, primarily because I figure that if you haven’t the guts to ask me a question as one person to another, I’ll be darned if I spend the time to answer you as one person should to another.

With regards to being ‘stupid’ – personal intelligence has absolutely nothing to do with expressing a personal opinion in public. Mine varied from yours – obviously. That doesn’t make either less genuine or valid. Perhaps some day you’ll recognize this.

With regards to ‘muckraking’ - since when is reporting factual data readily available from major news media sources on a Presidential candidate in a clear and concise way ‘muckraking’? Check your dictionary. The definition of ‘fact’ and ‘muckraking’ are not indivisible.

Finally, Obama won. So what?

It doesn’t prove I am wrong in my opinion about his capabilities to lead the nation any more than it proves those who elected him into office are on the right track. Time will tell. I suppose, on that matter we’ll all just have to wait and see.

Yours truly,
The Crabby Critic

@The Crabby Critic 2008 (all rights reserved).