Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Woke up this morning to an inch or so of snow on the ground I didn't know was in the offing. What happens when you turn the news off before the weather report.
I did watch le tube long enough to see an interview on PBS, pro and con, about the new legislation coming out of the Obama Administration -- don't you just love not-hearing "the Bush Administration? -- regarding the auto industry.
Basically, the new and improved fed is going to hold the automakers' s feet to the fire if they want any kind of bailout.
The pro admin guy gave the change-or-die position. The anti-guy, who ran an online car 'zine, pissed and moaned, parroting the auto industry position: Aw, gee, all this gotta-get-good-mileage and pollution stuff is gonna cost money! We can't afford it! Cars are going to shrink, turn into plastic cans on wheels, death-machines! This is not what Americans want!
Detroit, in its heart, is still sure that Americans want eight-cylinder, three-hundred-horsepower, six passenger sedans, and all these other itty bitty cars are a passing fad.
I got your dinosaurs right here. These are the guys who went hats-in-hand to D.C. to beg for money -- wearing five-thousand-dollar suits and delivered by limo from their private jets.
When the taxman comes to your door, it's not a good idea to answer his knock in your best Armani.
I feel for the workers who have lost, and are going to lose their jobs everywhere, and I know the automobile manufacturers in the U.S., are particularly hard-hit. It's a bad situation.
I feel no sympathy whatsoever for the Big Three. Yeah, there is a recession, but they brought it upon themselves.
There has never been a safety innovation that the public needed in its rolling iron that Detroit offered freely. The government had to put a gun to their heads to make seat belts standard. Ditto air bags. Crash tests? Whatever for? We don't want the public to know that if they hit a squirrel in the road that will total the vehicle and probably kill them -- and not the squirrel.
The Big Three blew a gasket when they had to report mpg for their vehicles. They had seizures when made to add anti-pollution equipment. The idea of building smaller cars that get better gas mileage is still looked upon as heresy of the highest order. Detroit offered things as options, but they were so sure they had their finger on the pulse of the public -- people want these big and powerful cars, they do, they do! that they laughed at those funny little German bugs and Japanese roller skates pretending to be real cars right up to the time that the VWs and Toyotas zipped by and blew the doors off Detroit's dinosaurs.
There's a reason Tundra trucks are selling better than Dodges or Fords or Chevys, and it's not because they are cheap.
First car I ever owned with a seat belt was a 1967 VW Beetle. Lap-only, and many times it kept my head from putting a concave dent in the roof when I rolled over a curb chasing guys as a private eye. I learned to wear my seat belt when I got that car, used, late in 1969, and I don't leave my driveway without buckling up.
How could Ford, Chrysler, and GM not see it was coming? Why didn't they have the vision to notice the meteors were falling and it was time to get their collective ass into a cave?
They made Mr. Magoo look like Nostradamus.
Yes, the government has to bail them out, because of the impact their failure would have as it ripples through an already crippled economy. But dragging them kicking and screaming into the 21st Century? Fine by me. If ever companies deserved to be nationalized, they are them.