• Dec 1st 2008 at 12:01PM
  • 44
Shouldn't those auto/government hearings have been reversed?

Did it occur to anyone else that those oh-so-painful auto CEO/government hearings should have been the other way around?

Instead of the heads of America's three remaining automakers groveling, begging and enduring live public floggings trying to sell their case for government loans to get them past the global economic crisis and credit freeze that government greed, corruption and incompetence has created, shouldn't they have been vein-popping outraged and angry? Shouldn't they have pointed accusatory fingers at that sorry collection of arrogant, auto-ignorant Senators and Congressmen who got them into this mess and demanded their assistance?

Shouldn't they have looked those pompous public-trough pinheads straight in the face and demanded to know why investment firms, banks and big insurance get hundreds of billions of taxpayer bailout dollars no questions asked while what's left of America's once-mighty manufacturing muscle begs for loans totaling 1/28 of that initial $700 billion Wall Street bailout? Where were the public humiliation hearings and newly viable business plans for those guys?

(post continues after the jump)

Here is what I'll bet those long-suffering auto CEOs wanted to say, but couldn't:

"You ignorant morons! How dare you accuse us of building cars nobody wants? We sold 8.5 million vehicles in the US last year and millions more around the world. GM still handily outsells Toyota here, Ford outsells Honda and Nissan, and Chrysler sells more than Nissan and Hyundai combined. How many of our new cars have you driven lately? How many quality surveys and plant productivity reports have you reviewed? Have you bothered to check your own EPA's fuel economy ratings?

"Have you paid any attention in the last several years as we've turned our companies upside down, closed dozens of plants, shed hundreds of thousands of hard-working people who did nothing to deserve it, canceled slow-selling models and spent billions of hard-earned dollars redesigning the rest? Are you idiots even aware that we renegotiated our union contracts last year to make our US labor and health-care costs fully competitive by 2010?

"Would you recognize a good business plan if one smacked you upside the head? Have any of you ever run a business, made a business decision or even held a real job? Is there any more dysfunctional organization on the planet, any that more desperately needs a new business plan, than the US Congress? Let's compare our public approval ratings to yours.

"You scold us for using private aircraft? We run global companies flying people, parts and equipment all over the world every day. We use private planes for security and productivity and cost savings over commercial alternatives. If it were not cost effective, we would not do it, and we've been doing a lot less of it lately. Tell us, Ms. Pelosi, how much does that big private 757-200 of yours cost taxpayers to fly you home and back between your tough 3-day weeks?

"For decades, your national energy policy has been summed up by two words: 'cheap gas.' Now you want to punish us for building the big, capable, comfortable vehicles Americans wanted to take advantage of that policy...and for not building millions more smaller, more fuel-efficient cars that, until recently, almost no one wanted, and that we can't make a buck on if we build them here thanks to the high business costs you've imposed upon us through the years.

"You have blocked every avenue of domestic exploration and construction that could lead to eventual energy independence, preferring instead to pump hundreds of billions of dollars overseas to purchase the energy Americans need, much of it from countries that are not our friends. You have piled billions of dollars of unrecoverable costs on us with excessive taxation, overkill regulation and relentless litigation that our off-shore competitors do not have to bear. Then you have rolled out the red carpet to predatory, low-cost foreign competitors who come here to take our market and pump hundreds of millions more dollars out of this country.

"Is there any other country fortunate enough to have an automotive industry that does not support, protect and nourish it in every possible way? We are the only nation on earth too blind and stupid to recognize and treasure the enormous economic and national security advantages of having its own healthy, prosperous auto industry and manufacturing base.

"Now you have passed an enormously expensive new regulation requiring 40 percent higher corporate average fuel economy in hopes of someday reducing the less than 0.2 percent of global human-sourced CO2 attributable to US light vehicles. That will cost us an estimated $100 billion, and even if you believe that is really worth doing at such a cost, where are we going to get that kind of money? Talk about unfunded mandates!

"With recent resizings and restructurings and our new labor contracts, we were well on our ways to full financial competitiveness and profitability. We could have survived and the sudden $4 gas explosion - not our fault - that shifted buyer demand overnight from larger, more profitable vehicles to small unprofitable ones. We have millions of highly desirable, much more fuel-efficient small cars and engines in the pipeline for 2010 and beyond.

"Then came your mortgage meltdown and fast-frozen credit crisis, which no one in this credit-driven business can survive unaided for long: not us, not our suppliers, not our many thousands of independent dealers, not even our most cash-rich foreign competitors. They, too, are asking their governments for assistance. Will they get it? Of course! No other nation will stand idly by and watch its auto industry die.

"There was no end of election rhetoric about creating new jobs. How about saving several million of the ones we have? Can any of you begin to understand how this industry is a huge, fragile, interdependent house of cards? If GM should fail, or declare Chapter 11, so will most of its 3,690 suppliers, beginning with the 2,000 in the US that operate 4,550 facilities in 46 states. Since most also supply key components to everyone else, that will bring down all of us, including US transplant production. Don't believe us? Ask Toyota.

"Vehicle assembly, engine, transmission and parts plants nationwide will shut down. Have you seen a plant town whose plant has died? It's a jobless ghost town whose out-of-work residents, including owners and employees of the small businesses that depended on plant workers' incomes, can't afford to move because their homes – like their hopes and dreams – are worthless. How many of those communities will be in your states and districts? US dealers of all brands, with no new cars, credit or credit-worthy customers, will drop like flies. Without once lucrative auto advertising, many media will shrink and some will die? The predicted initial loss of 3 million jobs will be just the beginning. Can you spell depression?

"Yes, we have lost a lot of market share. Where did you think all those millions of cars and trucks our foreign competitors import and assemble here in taxpayer-subsidized plants in cheap-labor states would be sold, and out of whose hides did you think they would come?

"Yes, we have made mistakes, some bad products and bad business decisions in the past. And so has every one of our competitors. We are entirely different companies today with new leadership and new priorities. We have wide varieties of high quality, high fuel efficiency, highly desirable new products that Americans, as they get to know them, absolutely do want to buy. Why continue to punish us, and the millions of incredibly dedicated, hard-working people at all levels who still depend on us to feed their families, for the sins of our predecessors?

"Why punish the entire country and millions in other countries as well? If you can think of any good reason, we would like to hear it. And don't come back at us with your usual name-calling, finger-pointing, blame-shifting, uninformed opinions, decades-old perceptions and self-serving, grandstanding rhetoric. We have offered our business plans and all the facts behind how we got here and why we need and deserve to survive and prosper for the good of this country and every citizen in it.

"You know full well that this life-threatening position you have put us into is entirely your fault, not ours, and that our future viability depends completely on you. We're anxiously awaiting your business plan for guiding this country out of the economic morass you have created, beginning with the bridge loans we desperately need."

Award-winning automotive writer Gary Witzenburg has been writing about automobiles, auto people and the auto industry for 21 years. A former auto engineer, race driver and advanced technology vehicle development manager, his work has appeared in a wide variety of national magazines including The Robb Report, Playboy, Popular Mechanics, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend, Autoweek and Automobile Quarterly and has authored eight automotive books. He is currently contributing regularly to Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), AutoMedia.com, Ward's Auto World and Motor Trend's Truck Trend and is a North American Car and Truck of the Year juror.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I disagree with much of the thinking expressed by the author, he forgets that much of the recent MPG success of GM came from buying the failed Korean manufacturer Daewoo and rebadging as Chevys and Pontiacs. As a Canadian we have long preferred Japanese cars and both Kia and Hyundai have been improving their sales here. BUT the fact that foreign auto makers manage to run factories in the US, run by US managers, building cars with US autoworkers and US supplied car parts and most interestingly using California based design shops... One can only assume that much of the problem is both the weight of the retirees on the bottom line and the incompetence and short-term vision of the big 3 CEOs. Find a way to decouple health care and pensions from the US auto industry (use private/public solution which belongs to employee and not employer) and let the weaker of the big 3 collapse. American ingenuity and work ethic (in most cases anyway) can see the US auto industry through this crisis. And yes, there should be some money since it appears the initial govt investment was misplaced anyway.
      The US holds the fascination of the world with it's DELL, HP and Apple. I believe there is a Canado-US, green and viable solution waiting in the wings... let's make space for it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Of course, it's too bad that the components that create the products that Apple, HP and Dell sell are made in China.

        And mind you, the US-sourced Cobalt XFE (25/37) gets marginally BETTER mileage than the Aveo (manual - 27/34, auto - 25/34). It's only the price point that's different.
        • 6 Years Ago

        GM's recent MPG success has nothing to do with Daewoo (who bought nearly all their parts from GM for decades before GM bought them). The only Daewoo in the states is the Aveo. Nothing else GM has developed has anything to do with daewoo.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "recent MPG success of GM came from buying the failed Korean manufacturer Daewoo and rebadging as Chevys and Pontiacs"

        Daewoo has been a de-facto GM subsidiary and has used GM parts for decades. And it didn't "fail", GM bought so they could consolidate their bread-and-butter cars under the Chevrolet brand worldwide.

        So it's more like Daewoos were GM vehicles with a Daewoo badge, not the other way around.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think it's great that everyone uses this venue to open their big mouths. The main point of the article is.........Why are they asking for the auto industry for a game plan when they're NOT asking anyone else? That is the point. Ask everone for a game plan or no one!
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is autoblog GREEN, not a haven for pro-auto industry apologist propaganda.

      • 6 Years Ago
      I agree with the article. If it wasn't for the financial meltdown, the Detroit 3 wouldn't be asking for loans right now. They would have continued on with their new cost-saving restructuring plans that were agreed to several years ago. Changes scheduled for 2010 are supposed to reduce their crippling labour costs.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Actually I think the subject auto executives would be embarrassed by the virulent right wing screed put into their mouths by this unpleasant fellow.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'll stand with my unbeloved brothers in the big 3. First I want to take the opportunity to thank the big 3 for sticking it out as long as you could. They are the reason we exist. We have been blessed with a life no one in any other country can even imagine. I dont mean our wealth. That was a gift from us to us. We prospered, but we didnt take everyone with us. When banks and the government over inflated our economy we went from a depression where one man supported a family of 6 to a "recession" where it takes 2 people to support 2 kids. it has not been that long since the depression. We can support one less kid each decade.
      We demanded equal rights so our wives had to work too, and we could all fail at raising children together. I agree we are equal, but now twice as many of us have to work. Upton Sinclair wrote a book where we even treated children of 8 and 9 years old as equals. I hope we dont start doing that again. Two people can raise 2 kids. we went from a 1 to 6 ratio to 1 to 1. Our educational system lacked the tutelatory prowess for me to grasp string theory, but i think this maybe aint good.
      gm didnt do that. We all did. not banks. not the government. we need to point the finger at all of us and then shut up. it doesnt matter who is to blame. before i would blame the big 3 we might want to thank them for being the reason we contributed to every war we have been in. we can make tanks and planes. Thats why we have a military with strength. We cant order the tanks from china. our manufacturing potential is the reason we were given the bomb by Einstein. Germany could have made them. But luckily Germany was evil and we were good. So Einstein gave it to us.
      The big 3 pays our taxes. They outsold the rest of the world combined. They pay more for a persom here then anywhere else in the world. A lot more. They gave 10 million ea after 911. How much did Toyota give? How much do they pay their employees?
      We are the most successfull country because we are the most diverse. but with that success the dollar went too high for a sustainable world economy. We drove up the price of world goods to the point where we can barely support 1 kid each and most of the world can barely support themselves. When every one around poor countries buys up all the rice the people in poor countries can't eat. That is relevant because it opens up a slave labor force that can make our over inflated industries collapse. Oh ya and it is a little bit evil not to notice all the starving people when you just got done buying up all the stuff in the world. (even Hittler saw this obvious eventuality of capitalism. It is why he wanted to sterilize all the mentally retarded folks and kill all the Jews.) We watched the steel industry dissappear, we watched most of our overinflated economy dissappear and blamed each business as they went to china. but think about it. We blamed them for paying us too much.
      In 2001 the world had 36 trillion in savings worldwide. now there is 72 trillion. that means from caveman to 2001 we saved 36 trillion. Then we did it again in 6 years. the money doubled but the things to invest in did not. then someone made up a thing called a credit default swaps. no one really knows exactly what the hell that is, but somehow it lets rich people buy insurance against stuff they dont own losing it's value. kinda like betting against drunk or handicapped people surviving. Like what happened to Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd. So anyway if anyone can insure the drunk people that stumble closest to traffic when a drunk finally gets hit lots of people claim the same loss. There are 50 trillion dollars insuring 5 trillion dollars worth of stuff. 10 to 1. when one company fails 10 credit default swaps get payed by insurance companies. That is what happened to the world economy. it doubled. there is no gold standard. We de-regulated. not a great time for nafta , or the euro, or iraq, or Pakistan, or 911, Our country is so strong we endured all those things without sweating untill now.
      I'm not gonna blame the acrylics industry for having not been acrylicy enough, or the steel industry for having been less steely then they could have been. And I'm not blaming the greatest industrial base the world has ever seen for paying us too much money While we moronically stumbled through the traffic of inflation blind to the worlds poor people underneath each tire.
      It is simple. A manufacturing base is vital to national security and the economy. No bail out. each American gets a check towards an american car new or used. We get one every year. Buy whatever you want but the check is only good for American made. Then we buy the best minds in the world. whoever is the most respected in china, germany, italy, everywhere. Tell the world that no matter what they pay, We pay more. Whoever ran Toyota last year works in America now making American cars. If they come across another bright mind
      • 6 Years Ago
      The problem with the auto industry has nothing to do with the current general economy. The price of any auto is far above its worth. The UAW demands for wages and benefits for assembly workers is just plain ludicrous. When the assembly worker earns more and has better benefits than school teachers and emergency medical technicians we know that something is wrong. The list of under paid persons in this country goes on and on. But simple labor work pay in the auto industry is bringing down the wage of the skilled person in the form of the autos we buy. Wake up everyone, we need to pay people what they are worth rather than allow unions to bully companies into giving away the farm. First the automakers need to have the balls to say no when the unions demand ridiculous wages and benefits. Next legislation needs to stop the greedy masses from walking the picket line until the industry is crippled. The days of the unregulated free hand unions are over and the idea of a fair days pay for a fair days work needs to return to our ideals. It is only a matter of time before this greedy country destroys itself. The auto industry does not need this countries help to get it out of trouble. Let them manage the company without interference and they will do fine.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I thought this article was very well thought out and hit some very key points. Good to see someone has brains while others are so anxious to see three great companies fail when the country needs so bad for them to thrive.
      GM for one is on track with great product and great warranties.
      I do hope that the union and upper management give what they need to help the survival of GM, Ford and Chrysler.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Wit-less as usual !
      • 6 Years Ago
      Dear AutoblogGreen,

      I have been looking hard, but I seem to be missing the punch line in all of his joke posts. He seems to be overly opinionated, but on the wrong side of the Green spectrum. He comes off as hostel towards your loyal reader base. I have a hard time reading the comments to his posts because practically NO ONE agrees with him. Please consider laying him off or not inviting him back for anymore guest posts. I am pretty sure he could get a great job working for Fox News. Please get rid of this writer.


      • 6 Years Ago
      Oh, and FYI, Lutz:


      "But Snow said on Thursday that the negotiations over Pelosi's transport have been conducted solely by the House sergeant-at-arms and the Pentagon, with no direct involvement by the speaker or her office -- or the White House"

      (That's Tony Snow, Bush's then press secretary)

      Anyways, did it occur to you that maybe, just maybe, CEOs coming to beg for money should consider cutting any appearance of extravegance, all practicalities aside? My father was the president of Shell trading up until recently, and he usually flew coach on domestic flights. A 6'5" Shell president in a cramped coach seat, and you're telling me that these people had no better way to go to a place where they were begging for money than *private jets*? Give me a break.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I honestly beleive that they should just file for Chapter 11 so that they can restructure the proper way. I am tempted to say they should file for Chapter 7 so that they can truly die and thier property can be purchased by companies that have proven themselves capable of creating good efficent cars.

      Serriously, Chrysler doesn't make a single vehicle that gets over 30 MPG highway but, my Civic gets better than that when driving strictly city miles.

      And, if you think any American companies consistently builds nothing but reliable efficent cars, you might want to pick up a copy of the 2009 Consumer Reports Buyer's Guide.
        • 6 Years Ago
        And a Chevy Cobalt gets better mileage than your Civic, just like the Malibu gets better mileage than Accord.

        In fact if you go down the line GM builds more efficient vehicles than Honda almost everywhere they compete. Honda's lame V6 Ridgeline can't even muster the same MPGs as a bigger and more capable.V8 Silverado Crew Cab. Honda's mommywagon (Pilot) isn't competitive with GM's mommywagon (Traverse).
        • 6 Years Ago
        I acctualy know several people with Cobalts and one person with a Malibu. One of the things you will find with most Hondas and Toyotas is that they do much better than the EPA determines. From my real-life of two Civics compared to 3 Cobalts, the Civic does 3-4 MPG better every time. Maybe this is due to the fact that the EPA claims 33 mpg highway for my 2001 Civic and I routinely achieve 36 mpg for city/highway (60/40) combined and about 42 mpg for pure highway.

        Also, the individual I know with a Malibu gets the same mileage that we get with my wife's 95 accord.
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X