• Apr 22, 2009
Bill Ford, Jr., executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, admits he was surprised at former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner being asked to step down by the Obama administration. Even as Ford applauded the White House, saying "One of the things we've never had in the past is an administration that wants to pull all the parties together and figure out an energy policy and how to make a strong automotive industry and he is doing that," he also told CNN's Larry King: "I guess I never thought I'd live to see the day where the CEO of General Motors was dismissed by the President of the United States."
Of course, Ford isn't alone in being shocked, but there is quite a range of opinion on the matter: Some say GM taking government loans (as opposed to private sector loans) changed the rules, and the government needed to protect its investment; others say it was government interference. Regardless, the way things are going, we would be surprised if that were the last "shocking" development in the car industry saga.

[Source: The Detroit Free Press]


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  • 48 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      @DKB_SATX

      Agreed, GM should have failed, as should most of the banks. This would clear out the playing field and we could start over. That's the theory, which I support.

      However!! It's not that simple. In both cases there's ethics involved. A lot of human capital is (with GM) depending on jobs to have a worthy existence. I don't know, do you want to take that chance? Do you want to impose that much misery and unimployement on the low tech workforce because of incompetent management that screwed up?

      Same with banks. Exercising theoretical capitalist rules is an option. The banks would have failed but society would have suffered tremendously. Millions of people would have lost everything due to the greed of only a handful of people. I don't think that's correct. That's not a price you want to pay for true capitalism. Specially because normal citizens don't have a clue about how the financial 'geniusses' gamble with their money for short term profits, thus creating bubbles and toxic products. It's higly immoral, and I don't see how anyone can oppose more strict regulations in the financial industry. It benefits 99.9% of the people, except the 0.1% at the top. Regardless, the people at the top succeed in spinning the story so that the base goes to the street, protesting something they don't fully understand or will even benefit from. Same with the teabaggers... It's not their taxes they're going to raise, but still they're on the street protesting the tax raises on the people that got them in their difficult position in the first place. I've got to say, kudos to the corporate level, it's machiavellian...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm with Bill Ford, Obama (not surprising) broke the rules of capitalism. And EU_reader, watch ur euro communism.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh really, throwing around another -ism, are we? That's the only way you people know to make an argument. Proving my point?

        Do you really think that's impressive in some godfearing hillbilly way? Considering the type of argument you make, i'd say you're even too dumb to really understand what communism or socialism is, let alone fascism. Cause that's the next best thing you'd want to throw at me next, right? In case communism wears out a bit for using it the way rightwingers do. And what's next after fascim, you might want to think about that.

        See? That's your problem. By using these terms for namecalling people you don't agree with, in a childish immature fashion, not even understanding what it means, you overuse the therm and make it a hallow accusation. Making it just laughable for everyone who made it out of highschool. If that's the way you righties want to appeal to your constituance, you've got a long way to go. But hey, since US education has been ignored for years, you might even get away with it.

        If you'd have half a braincell, you'd know that there are only five communist nations left in the world: China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam

        It may sadden you deeply, but none of them are European. "Heck allmighty... ! " What now?
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Oh really, throwing around another -ism, are we? That's the only way you people know to make an argument. Proving my point?"

        Oh eu_reader... your post is dripping with irony. Do you need a paper towel?

        Let's count it:
        1) "godfearing hillbilly way"
        *Unjustified insult of religious people and whatever "hillbilly" refers to. Do you also believe all of us in the US own ranches, hang out in swing-door saloons, and ride horses to work?
        2) "By using these terms for namecalling people you don't agree with, in a childish immature fashion, not even understanding what it means, you overuse the therm and make it a hallow accusation."
        *incredible irony.
        3) "If that's the way you righties"
        *Nice, another one!
        4) "If you'd have half a braincell, you'd know that there are only five communist nations left in the world: China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam"
        * That depends on one's definition of Communism, now does it? Anyone with "half a braincell" would know that there are no true Communist countries around the world. What many of us call "Communism" isn't theoretical communism, but the implementation thereof. What many of you guys call "capitalism" isn't capitalism at all, but rather corruption.

        No offense, euro reader, but you may want to educate yourself a bit more before you lash out at the US.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Be clear. The rule of capitalism that the government (say Obama if you want to personalize it) was that they should just have allowed GM to fail instead of bailing them out. If you think that it was a bad idea to invest in GM at all, fine... but once they are providing the gold, the feds can make the rules.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @DKB_SATX

        Agreed, GM should have failed, as should most of the banks. This would clear out the playing field and we could start over. That's the theory, which I support.

        However!! It's not that simple. In both cases there's ethics involved. A lot of human capital is (with GM) depending on jobs to have a worthy existence. I don't know, do you want to take that chance? Do you want to impose that much misery and unimployement on the low tech workforce because of incompetent management that screwed up?

        Same with banks. Exercising theoretical capitalist rules is an option. The banks would have failed but society would have suffered tremendously. Millions of people would have lost everything due to the greed of only a handful of people. I don't think that's correct. That's not a price you want to pay for true capitalism. Specially because normal citizens don't have a clue about how the financial 'geniusses' gamble with their money for short term profits, thus creating bubbles and toxic products. It's higly immoral, and I don't see how anyone can oppose more strict regulations in the financial industry. It benefits 99.9% of the people, except the 0.1% at the top. Regardless, the people at the top succeed in spinning the story so that the base goes to the street, protesting something they don't fully understand or will even benefit from. Same with the teabaggers... It's not their taxes they're going to raise, but still they're on the street protesting the tax raises on the people that got them in their difficult position in the first place. I've got to say, kudos to the corporate level, it's machiavellian...

        @paul34

        Are we getting somewhere here? By admitting that communist nations do not fully implement theoretical communism, (but make it work in a more practical way), maybe there's also some room here to admit that full-on theoretical capitalism doesn't work either? For the simple reason that at the base you're playing with human capital, which introduces ethics into the equation, and therefore inevitably regulation to some degree. If management and corporations can't act ethically and morally by themselves, they need to be forced to do so.

        You don't want to inflict misery on your society for short term commercial gain for management and to test out your theoretical capitalism to the limit. It's not a game!! It's gambling with your and my excistance.

        Off course, true capitalism WORKS! But it starts with the premise of intelligent participators and with a goal of long term durable sustainability. In that sense there's capitalist value in moral behaviour. But people have a tendency to be short term oriented.

        If we can't trust corporations to act intelligently with the capitalistic freedoms they are given, then we need to regulate. They brought it upon themselves. If your child abuses the freedom his given to joyride, you will ground him nonetheless. And to come to the point of the matter: if regulations include firing an overly incompetent CEO, so be it. Specially if the government has a financial stake in that corporation.

        And that's got nothing to do with socialism, not a bit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Showing Wagoner the door was a PR stunt; GM's problems run much deeper than Wagoner and playing musical chairmen doesn't fix anything. It was also within their rights being that the feds effectively bought the company. Government money, government rules.

      Staying elected is about pandering to the lowest common denominator, so PR stunts are what you get.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Or simple-minded EU_reader, labeling people with prejudicial remarks.

      Let's see:
      You have to close your most profitable brand (GMC)
      You have to make cars that don't sell well and that you can't see for a price that will make them profitable to make.
      You have give a third of your corporate income to the government.
      You have to use this labor even if you lose money doing it.

      And the reason you fail is because capitalism doesn't work.

      Love, Uncle Obama.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Jake,

        I don't recall anybody specifically telling GM they had to do anything in terms of selling brands, even if "getting rid of toxic assests" was strongly suggested. Nobody said "sell GMC or you're on your own," and nobody also said that GM was being forced to work with the over-priced UAW.

        On the contrary, the Obama Administration has been a huge fan of re-working the way UAW works with the Big Three, as well as looking down upon the pay structure the UAW has in place, pressuring them to lower costs by lowering wages.

        And I'm not sure what the idea of "Obama is trying to force GM to make a bunch of Aveos and sell them for a low profit margin" is about, but I hardly support that. The sole issue of the US government is the inability to recognize previous restructuring, and the fact that GM's ideals and previous actions are going to right the ship, it will just take more time than they curretly have without extra financing and/or Bankruptcy... they sit around and say GM "isn't making progress."

        I'm sorry, but lots of people who want to make a purchase can't, and even more are afraid to consider it given the economy, so don't tell me that GM doesn't make cars people want to buy. The G8/Camaro are arguably the best bang for the buck in their respective fields, as is the Malibu. The Astra is a great car, and (arguably) only Ford is better in the truck department than the Sierra/Silverado. The only thing GM is really lacking is a stellar small car, and even that is arguable.

        I'd purchase a(n admittedly not very attractive) new Focus before I'd buy a G5/Cobalt, but they're not horrible cars. And before you try arguing interior materials quality, please sit in a Corolla or Civic and tell me there's a HUGE difference in the "quality" of the hard plastic between the respective cars - there isn't. The small car market is lacking "really nice cars" with possible exceptions being the Astra and Jetta, along with the Mini, if you can pit a car that starts at $20,000+ as a "small car" without adding "luxury" or "higher end" to the statement. Those two (Astra/Jetta) are the only two I can think of that use a decent amount of soft-touch and nicer styling cues (largely subjective, obviously) in them than the plan grey interior of a Cobalt/Civic. But hey, at least the Civic gives you that sweet SPACESHIP wedge/dash look thing, if you're into that?

        I digress. The point is, the Big Three make some nice cars, but public perception and the lack of financing/fear of the market is making people not buy cars. Everybody's SOL right now, not just GM. Give it a couple years ;) And honestly, why wasn't Saturn restructed into a brand that only carries fuel efficient diesel/small cars from Europe (Opel, etc) years ago? Then maybe they'd be worth keeping around...
        • 5 Years Ago
        GM could easily have avoided the problems you're complaining about, with the POSSIBLE exception of the bits about "you have to make cars that don't sell well" (assuming you mean smaller-than-SUV efficient cars) and "give a third of your corporate income to the government" (which *MIGHT* be reasonably accurate if you'd said "a third of your net earnings after your army of accountants have protected as much of your EBIT as you can get away with... a MUCH smaller number than their "corporate income.)

        If they'd run their business better, they wouldn't have needed a handout from Uncle Sammy, and the government wouldn't have had any say in the internal operation of their business. In other words, if GM management had been worth a tinker's damn as capitalists, they wouldn't be in this mess.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let the partisan flaming begin.

      Simpleminded rightwingers, not understanding the complexity of the modern day world, thinking only in terms of -isms... Here's your audience (again)
        • 5 Years Ago
        EU as in European Union? Perhaps facism works well in Europe where it was born with Hitler and Mussolini, but will not fly long here in the USA. If you are a foreign investor in USA--I would highly recommend pulling your money out of USA, do not believe how great Der Furher Richard M Obama is by watching the US Main stream media. And if you have money in a US bank, pull it out, the Fed is one ponzi scheme ready to collapse.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually, his spelling was quite good. The grammar needs work, but his username is EU reader so maybe it's not his primary language.

        At any rate, Obama only did what GM's boards should have done many, many, many years ago. I think Bill Ford knows plenty well how true that is, since he stepped down as CEO himself to let Mullaly fix the company and it's made all the difference.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Obama didn't "fire" Rick Wagoner. The president can't "fire" private-industry employees. What Obama did was tell GM that they wouldn't get a loan unless Wagoner left. It was always GM's decision to make. They could keep Wagoner, in which case the government wouldn't give them a loan, or they could fire Wagoner and get the loan.

        Any lending institution - ANY - could have struck the same bargain. The UAE could have swept in in its white robes and struck the EXACT same deal.

        Yes, you right-wingers honestly do not know what you're talking about. EU Reader is correct.
        • 5 Years Ago
        EU_Reader
        it's funny how you lefties always assume that all righties are idiots.

        either way...

        From my understanding the bailout to the automakers was a loan.
        Have you ever heard of a bank giving out a loan to a company, and then firing their CEO for them? Hell no, the CEO is appointed by the board of directors which is voted in by the stock holders. In essence, those that own the equity in the company elect who runs the company... Not the bank...

        Obama just reads whatever the media says, and then acts on it. He is all about PR, and that's it. He has no ethics of his own.

        Firing Wagoner was a pure PR move, there was no gain to be had here... All Obama did was cause GM trouble trying to select a new CEO, and finding someone to fill the new CEO's old position, etc. There are no new people at GM's management, it's still the same old thing... It has not and will not make any difference.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Your spelling and grammar are atrocious. Did you finish high school, lefty?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nationalization here we come! When a government steps in to tell you how to run a business when it can't run itself properly... you create a "Hugo" effect! Instead of "The United States of America"... we can be named "The States of Obama".

      All those troops sacrificed themselves for what... freedom? It's not about "left" or "right"... it's about FREEDOM. GM made a free decision to run poorly, they should be able to fail. Some other company(ies) would've took GM's torch and ran with it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What I am TIRED of is you ignorant folks that parrot everything that your bitter RW extremist nut jobs preach on radio and television.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Obama hasn't said a word about unions.
      He needs the momentum the unions have to take over.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bill Ford Jr is an idiot; of course he is shocked. This quote tells you all you need to know about him:

      Bill Ford couldn't hide his excitement on Jan. 9, 2001, after he and the Lions lured Millen away from the broadcast booth to lead the franchise.

      "I'm willing to stake my reputation on Matt's success," Bill Ford said after Millen was introduced at a news conference.

      Link:

      http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:za-a7xumhl0J:sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story%3Fid%3D3603062+bill+ford+jr.+stake+reputation+millen+hire&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm an evil capitalist Republican, but I think Obama was completely within his right to demand Wagoner step down. If you take government money as a bailout, it's only fair that the government attaches conditions to it. It's protecting the taxpayers whose money it really is. Seems fairly simple and straightforward to me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ben: +1

        paul34: Why is it, that when RIGHT Wing Extremists don't have another card to play, they always resort to fear mongering.

        Big Bad Barack is going to take your guns away.
        Big Bad Barack is going to hand our country over to the Commies.
        Big Bad Barack is going to ............

        Go ahead, fill in the blanks.

        You folks are pathetic. You are starting to sound like the "minorities" that always blame the "MAN" for their problems.

        ....and by the way, neither George Bush or Barack Obama gave away any tax payers money. Bail-out = Low interest loan.

        • 5 Years Ago
        I'm an evil capitalist free-enterprise Democrat and I don't even think GM should have ever been given government loans it obviously won't ever pay back seeing as how they can't even pay back their original creditors. It's one thing to give companies loans if they can pay them back someday, but with GM it was obvious from day one that there was no plausible way for them to pay us back.

        Anyways, I think the partisan crap has to stop. I don't know why people insist on parroting everything their party wants-I disagree with plenty of stupid "liberal" Democrat policies, everything from Affirmative Action (I really think it seriously harms people more than it helps them) to what I think is the rather questionable approval of over the counter emergency contraception since it's fairly likely that all we're gonna get is idiots relying on this as birth control. Why anybody feels the need to just parrot party lines and bash politicians from the other side is beyond me-I never hated or bashed George W. even though I thought the war was a horrible and stupid idea well before it ever started unlike countless idiot Democrats who supported the damned thing then went on to bash Bush after the fact-way to start whining AFTER we're there and you finally realize wars are messy. You wouldn't believe the number of idiots I know who were all gung-ho about the war before it started-including the memorable idiot who claimed that it would prove our superpower strength-yeah that's worked out real well, going trillions into debt with money borrowed from China to fund a war, then being broke when we actually need money to save our economy and having to go beg China for cash has really cemented our superpower status. And then of course I disagree with the people who think we should basically just set a date then leave no matter what, how is that gonna help us accomplish anything?

        Anyways, seriously, people should try to think for themselves on each issue-parroting whatever you read in the newspaper or heard on TV makes a democracy worthless-if you're just gonna listen to whatever other people you might as well go live under a dictatorship.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Mr. Oak:

        First, why am I speaking for "right wing extremists"? What makes you think I am one? What is even your definition of such a term?

        Secondly, and no offense, but its somewhat naive to truly believe that its just a "loan." More than likely, a large part, or the whole part, of these "loans" will be forgiven down the road.
        • 5 Years Ago
        -1

        Too bad they didnt make everyone take pay cuts and drop their bonuses BEFORE they paid them. Thats when they needed conditions. Like this Patterson moron, they are simply doing what any good magician does. Misdirection. As a soon to be Libertarian, both republicans and democrats have done nothing but give money to corporate America, while each side applauds when "their guy" is in office. Gimme a break. Suckers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The communist experiment is over. Why do they keep trying to cram it down our throats? Every country that has adopted communism has become a dictatorship. Is the argument that these countries just did it wrong?
        • 5 Years Ago
        It's not Communism, but its not right either. If you are going to criticize, please at least use proper terminology - otherwise you discredit everyone else.

        And @nadnarb. Have you ever watched Glenn Beck or do you just accept everything you hear on MSNBC?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I keep forgetting which one of the ist's Obama is today. Is he a Fascist a Socialist or a Communist. I guess I'll have to turn to Glenn Beck to find out.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Communist governments simply take control of private enterprises, they don't invest in them or buy into them, and they don't tolerate other shareholders. If you think it was a bad idea for the feds to loan money to GM, that's fine, but that loan doesn't constitute communism, even though it came with conditions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      He deserves to be commended for his 30+ years of service. That said, it's hard to forget that in the 8 years he was at the helm, GM's market share dwindled and dwindled. Some has to own that, why not start at the top?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is that a Panerai on Bill's wrist?
        • 5 Years Ago
        indeed it is, a Panerai Luminor.

        well then, +1 for Bill.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1 indeed. Man's got good taste in watches.

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