Meh Culpa

I’m not an economist and I don’t play one on TV

I’m just a mathematically challenged American, yet I,–yes, I!–have a plan for the banks.  And for that matter, the automobile industry.

I can remember way back  when the Former Husband was attending grad school for his MBA (*cough*in the 1980’s*cough*), the so-called logic of egregious salaries was gaining sway,  greed was all  good, and ethics were [possibly] questionable.*  Here we are, about 20 years later and  gone are the days when anyone can argue that executives are paid such vast sums because they’re the ones with the expertise, and if you want to keep them on the job, you need to  compensate them with astronomical salaries, bonuses, perquisites and parachutes.

Uhhh, hellooo?!

NOT.

Here’s the Plan: I think we should fire all the overpaid executives at the top.   C’mon, who needs retention?  When those narcissistic fools drove their companies into the ground, they planted all of us taxpayers as well.  Then too,  the automobile moguls drove a stake into the Big Three’s collective heart, the one pumping with the lifeblood of its distressed employees.   You know, the folks who had some of that $28 an hour lifeblood siphoned to keep the bottom line from bottoming out.  If any other American employee had done such a masterful job,  he  (or she) would have been pink-slipped as soon as the ink on the annual report dried red.  Hey, not even HP’s former CEO, Carly Fiorina, was spared when she failed to produce after the merger with Compaq, so neither Wall Street nor Detroit should off the hook.  Besides, the corporate cultures could use a little fresh air.  The thing is,  you can’t open the windows without throwing out all the upper level execs.

What, we can’t do that?

Sure, we can. They aren’t the only people in the world who know how to run a business, whether it be money business or car business.  Import ’em if you have to.

Next, do away with creative accounting. Let’s see those balance sheets balance without any fancy tricks. If they don’t,  then nationalize the insolvent banks.  (I’m sure Geithner and Bernanke already know which are which. They’re just not telling.) If shareholders have to take a hit, then so be it.  Shareholders know  going in that they’re taking a risk.  We shouldn’t change the rules of the game just for them.

Merge Chrysler and General Motors.   Sell off everything  that can’t make a profit, but keep GM’s parts business for all the used cars.  That’s a market that won’t go away.  Sell a line of Light Weight Classics that make 60 mpg for starters.  (If China can do it now, why can’t we?)   Bring in new design teams and Green Teams.  Let there be independent quality control.  Educate the workers, and along with them, repair techs, in greening the fleets.  Now that’s an investment.

(If I have any other ideas, I’ll let y’all know…  :D)


* I think the Former Husband’s class was asked a rhetorical question that went something like this: “If you had the chance to steal $40,000 (or $100,00) and get away with it, would you?” When the fundage increased, ethics decreased by an equal margin.  It was a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure no one said they would resist temptation.

February 13, 2009 Posted by | automakers, bailout(s), banks, Chrysler, Economy, Federal Reserve, GM, recession, Treasury | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Another scary moment

In which I agree with Michelle Malkin 😉 :

Democrats and the White House have reportedly hammered out an automakers’ bailout plan.

The snort-worthy promise: More “oversight.”

Because, you know, Congress has proven so competent at providing “oversight” of all the other bailouts this year.

Malkin’s got this cute little graphic of little  dark guy–probably an oversight, the kind with a different definition, but also the way Congress tends to do business lately–sticking up little blue guy holding a bag of cash.  It’s called “socialism.”  This is where Michelle’s opinions and mine diverge.  Although I’m not a Marxist sort of girl,  socialism, especially democratic socialism, doesn’t scare me so much.  It’s not like fascism, or the communism that arose from a vanguard party in Russia; nor is it like exactly like  direct democracy.  It’s a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. I don’t mind the community having political power or owning the means of production and distributing the wealth equally.  It’s very early Christian.  You know, Acts of the Apostles  (2:44 – 45) and such. Unfortunately, because of an innate human tendency towards corruption and greed, the distribution of wealth part doesn’t always seem to work out well in practice.  I think that was in Acts, too (5: 1 – 11).  As you might imagine, I don’t have many Ivan Boesky moments. I don’t think you can be greedy and feel good about yourself.   Not really.

Anyhow, like Malkin I’m not big on the bailing out the Big Three. I don’t think Congress will oversee anything at all, just as they haven’t with the other bailouts.  I also don’t think  two of the Three will survive  even, with a vast infusion of taxpayer dollars.  Ford is the healthiest, so maybe it should stick around. Not that I’m a big fan of Ford’s–my auto mechanic brother used to used to say FORD  stood for  “Fix Or Repair Daily”  and our family’s cars lived up to the acronyms– the automaker simply has the best chance of surviving.  I would hope, however, that Congress and any bankruptcy court worth its salt and pepper would remember to salvage GM’s parts business, without which no one will have parts to repair their existing cars.  But the rest of GM is probably just this side of moribund, while Chrysler might as well be in rigor mortis.  I don’t think they’re worth the cost of saving.

In my daydreams, workers will continue to provide for their families because the nation is funding the retooling of dead auto manufacturing plants as well as the development of vehicles beyond the our favorite hybrids.  B-E-Y-O-N-D.   That’s crucial.   Personally, I’m all for the air car with a prettier shell.

Just think about it.   The air car, which gets over 100 mpg,  has been in development since the 1990’s.  According to the manufacturer’s web site,  the car  can run on a variety of fuels–gasoline, ethanol, bio-fuel, propane–up to 96 mph for a range of 800 to 1,000 miles.  The tank takes eight gallons of gas, which currently runs about $1.70 in my town.  The car itself will sell in the US for under $18,000.  And the Big Three turned down a deal with the inventor of the Air car, Guy Negre, years ago.  (How dumb was that?!)  As Senator Bill Nelson (Dem – FL) said in November, “Why should we be pouring taxpayer money into an automobile industry that has continued to resist higher miles per gallon, which has led us in part to the problems we’re in?”

Update: A reader kindly provided me with several URLs on the subject: MDI, Zero Pollution Motors, the blog Pneumatic Addict (clever, yes?) by Joe in Brooklyn, and Compressed Air Powered Vehicles by the friendly reader whose gender I won’t presume to guess.


See also this August 2002 article: “The Quest for the Fuel Efficient Car” by Ralph Nader

December 8, 2008 Posted by | bailout(s), Chrysler, Congress, Economy, Ford, fuel efficient cars, GM, MDI, social theories | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments