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article imageOp-Ed: Big Three Land $15-Billion Bailout, With Strings Attached

By Paul Wallis     Dec 10, 2008 in Business
With the agreement of the White House and the Democrats, a deal has been more or less made. Ford says it might need the money in future. Chrysler and General Motors say they need it now. So does the rest of the country, but what the hell?
The lower figure indicates Washington may have Bailout Fatigue, but it’s still listening. Despite some very justifiable skepticism from the whole country, the Big Three have made a point.
As The BBC reports:
General Motors and Chrysler say they risk ruin without the aid, while Ford says it may need funds in the future. US President George W Bush is said to want strict conditions attached to any agreement to bail out the firms. He is said to be seeking tough oversight for the three car-makers to ensure that the money is accompanied by sound financial recovery plans.
The facts don't need any more funereal orations. The BBC article is a lot more polite than the American media, but everyone knows the story about how this delightful debacle occurred.
The money is perhaps the last gasp for the auto giants, and it's obvious tolerance is very low at the Washington end.
Actually, oversight is required with public money. That’s the law in every country on Earth. It’s just rarely done, and apparently never done in the US at all. It's called auditing. If it was done properly, in my opinion most US government contractors would be very much less "jolly" and a lot more competent and cost-conscious.
Automaker assembly line
An employee works on an assembly line inside a plant.
Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company
In the case of the Three Musketeers here, a history of lousy calls on market conditions and a stone blind refusal to catch up with the rest of the world would be enough reason to keep an eye on the till, until these guys prove they can handle money effectively.
There were alternatives. GM’s overseas operations, for example, qualify as collateral for loans or assets they could sell. It’s not the ideal solution, though. Making very small companies out of very big companies isn’t a great result.
The fact is that loans on this scale are going to be rarer than polysyllabic celebrities for quite a while. That sort of money used to fly around like popcorn, now it’s slinking around unobtrusively like gold bars on a pensioner.
The industry, if it goes down, will do a lot of instant damage to the economy of Michigan, and indirectly hit contractors and other related businesses throughout the United States in a few months. So economically there’s something to be said for a deal.
The car industry also represents the ugly face of a problem that’s been staring America’s business concepts, manufacturing and heavy industries in the face for a while now: Obsolescence.
The rest of the world doesn’t have a top heavy executive getting paid billions for destroying its economy.
In my opinion, this collection of useless geriatric clowns should have been the first out the door, long before the meltdown happened, when downsizing was a new word, instead of a common gravestone epitaph.
Automaker assembly line
An employee works on an assembly line inside a plant.
Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company
They’ve been sitting on the rest of the country, keeping out competition, innovation, and being paid ridiculous amount of money for doing that. They know nothing about technology, intellectual property, and can’t handle science in terms of concepts, budgets, or asset values. Intellectual property makes more money for the US than the Big Three every day of the week.
It’s been doing that for decades. This is just more proof: Idiots can’t run industries. Have a guess how much new technology, and priceless patents, will come with the new non-oil dependent auto industry. These guys obviously don't watch the news, or even what's on the road. They, and their time, should have been over 20 years ago.
In the car industry, any vaguely well informed 5 year old would know more about the economics of hybrids than they do. Any teenager could do their jobs better, and wouldn’t need 19 overpaid people to tell them what fuel cells and hydrogen power are. Any grad could do multiple theses on things in terms of manufacturing that they don’t seem to have ever heard of.
This industry isn’t the only one which should have been changing its managerial nappies a lot more frequently. The only way to control these iconic idiots is to give them short terms in management, and watch every cent.
The bailout means the industry is now officially on life support, like the financial sector.
Inspiring, isn’t it?
With any luck, Generation Y will eat these ancient fools alive.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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