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It's time for Americans to take their blinders off

Rob

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It's time for Americans to take their blinders off

by Rob Loszewski
Sunday, December 7, 2008
©2008 Rob Loszewski, XLR Net
No use without permission

Over the last couple of months, as the U.S. economy has worsened and the fate of the Detroit Big 3 has darkened, I've remained quiet in voicing my own personal views of what should happen to GM, Chrysler and Ford. After listening to the Detroit Big 3's testimony on Capital Hill, and the opinions of friends and family, I'm not sure I can remain silent any longer.

The general consensus of Americans regarding the possible bailout of Detroit is, "let them go bankrupt." Really? Are you serious? Why? The reasons I've heard is because Detroit is old, stagnant, not keeping up with the times, and not building cars the American public wants.

If that's truly the case, then please try and explain to me why so many American families drive Suburbans, Escalades, Denalis, and enormous trucks?

In my opinion, Detroit built exactly what American's wanted. A company isn't in business to build, or provide a product or service that nobody wants. If Detroit has been building products that nobody wants, they would have gone bankrupt MANY years ago.

The next thing I hear is that Detroit's quality sucks. While I'm willing to admit, that some of what has come out of the Detroit in past years has been complete trash, and some cars and platforms to this day, are trash compared to the competition in their market, Detroit has come A LONG way in building fantastic cars with excellent quality.

Think I'm kidding? Spend a little time running some Google searches regarding J.D. Power and Associates Quality Studies and take a look at the cars from Detroit that have won that award.

Let's take a look at what type of car has won the well respected and coveted, "Motor Trend Car of the Year" award:

2008 Cadillac CTS
2007 Toyota Camry
2006 Honda Civic
2005 Chrysler 300
2004 Toyota Prius
2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe / Sedan
2002 Ford Thunderbird
2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser
2000 Lincoln LS
1999 Chrysler 300M
1998 Chevrolet Corvette
1997 Chevrolet Malibu
1996 Dodge Caravan
1995 Chrysler Cirrus
1994 Ford Mustang
1993 Ford Probe GT
1992 Cadillac Seville Touring Sedan
1991 Chevrolet Caprice Classic LTZ
1990 Lincoln Town Car
1989 Ford Thunderbird SC
1988 Pontiac Grand Prix
1987 Ford Thunderbird
1986 Ford Taurus LX
1985 Volkswagen GTI
1984 Chevrolet Corvette
1983 American Motors Renault Alliance
1982 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
1981 Chrysler K-cars, Dodge Aries/Plymouth Reliant
1980 Chevrolet Citation

In Car and Driver's "10 Best Cars of the Year" going back to 2006, Cadillac, Chevrolet Corvette and Chrysler have made the list.

I also found that the Cadillac CTS and the Corvette have been repeat contenders and winners; the Corvette for many more years than the CTS.

There is no doubt, even these cars have room for improvement, but if you really stop and think about it, what car/platform doesn't?

In my opinion, Detroit is in the situation they're in, NOT because of quality, and NOT because they refuse to build cars that people want. They are in the situation they are in because over the last several months, the cost of gasoline had skyrocketed - sometimes over night and the economy took a nosedive causing the credit market to run and hide.

Go do some research on what has happened to the credit market and take a look at how difficult it is to get a loan for just about anything now. If people are not able to get financing to buy a car, guess what....car sales take a nosedive.

All of a sudden, all the Chevy Suburban, Denali and Escalade owners are driving around in their land yachts wondering why it's costing them around $75.00 per fillup instead of $40.00. So the typical American belief is, "well, who's fault is this? It must be Detroit's fault because they continue to build these cars and refuse to build more fuel efficient vehicles." No actually, it's YOUR fault, because YOU bought the land yacht because YOU could afford the gas at the time. Why did you buy the land yacht to begin with? Oh, because you have 3-6 kids that you need to haul around and you couldn't stop at just 1 or 2 kids.

You get the picture....before you point the finger of blame at Detroit, take a cold, hard look at yourself in the mirror.

"Well....why is Detroit the only ones affected by this and why are they the ones asking for help?"

Again, do some research. I think you'll be surprised to find out that the Big 3 in Detroit are NOT the only ones approaching their government and asking for help.

Here's an interesting article I ran across published on April 16, 2008:


Quote:
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=4 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=alt2 style="BORDER-RIGHT: 1px inset; BORDER-TOP: 1px inset; BORDER-LEFT: 1px inset; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1px inset">From The Times
April 16, 2008

European car sales plummet as the credit crunch takes its toll

Christine Buckley, Industrial Editor

Carmakers in Europe have suffered their worst month in more than four years as the impact of the credit crunch begins to be felt by industry....

Link to article: European car sales plummet as the credit crunch takes its toll - Times Online </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
I believe that you'll also find in your research that UK and Chinese car manufacturers have gone to their respectives governments and asked for help.

Folks, this is NOT a Detroit problem. This is a GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROBLEM. Why? Because the economy, just like everything else in this world, is subject to the laws of physics. What goes up, must come down. For as long as Man has walked this earth, we've seen it time and time again. We have seen it repeatedly in many facets of the American society for decades as seen in the automobile industry, the housing market, credit market, stock market, and overall health of the economy.

The difference between now and many decades ago, is that the economy is no longer affected by what goes on within the borders of the United States. It is a GLOBAL ECONOMY that is affected by situations that occur across the sea - something which the majority of Americans are still incapable of seeing. We're getting better, but boy do we have a long way to go.

So now that it's quite clear to see that Detroit is really a victim of a global economy that other car manufacturers have fallen victim too, do you still feel that Detroit should be allowed to go bankrupt?

Let's take a look at some numbers for a minute. In this thread:

Auto Workers Per State as of Dec. 3 2008

...I posted a breakdown of automotive related jobs per state as of Dec. 3, 2008.

The total number of jobs for all states: 2,201,955. That number encompasses auto parts, assembly and sales jobs. Nearly two and a quarter million jobs - gone. Don't think you'll be affected because you don't work in the automotive industry? Think again.

Take a look at what happened to the coast of baby food in the grocery stores when the diesel fuel went through the roof just a short time ago and that increased fuel cost trickled down to the cost of groceries. In fact, it trickled down to almost everything we buy.

Just imagine what will happen when the Detroit 3 collapses and that collapse hits parts manufacturing companies and they collapse. Then auto parts suppliers such as VIP auto or NAPA auto parts goes bankrupt because they are no longer able to get the parts they need to sell. Now, the cars and trucks that are used to deliver goods to market are no longer able to be repaired because - well repair shops are closing up because they aren't able to get the parts required to conduct repairs because the parts manufacturers went bankrupt because Detroit - their bread and butter - collapsed.

Before you know it, the cost of everything goes through the roof and we are no longer in a Recession - but we're seeing Depression rear it's ugly head on the horizon.

A pretty scary scenario and one that might not be 100% accurate, but I hate to say it, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Over the last few decades we've seen American jobs leave this country and go overseas? Why? Because of corporate greed in my opinion. This country has gone from a manufacturing nation to a nation of consumption. Detroit iron is the last great thing this country continues to manufacture.

Just imagine if Detroit crumbles and gets bought up by European and Asian car companies. Just imagine if the Corvette is no longer a "Chevrolet" but a "Nissan" or "Honda". Or just imagine if the car manufacturer that buys GM decides that the Corvette competes too closely with their one or two of their own products and decides to axe the Corvette platform all together.

Stop and think about the great age of cars and Detroit iron back in the fifties and sixties....hopping in that 1965 Corvette of yours, picking up your girlfriend, and heading down to the local burger joint listening to Wolfman Jack on the radio. Once you get your burger you head to the coast for some slush and sit parked at the beach listening to the baseball game on the Corvette's radio.

Times like that are going by the wayside quick and America is losing her identity at an alarming rate. If Detroit's Big 3 is allowed to go bankrupt, it will be the end of the United States manufacturing anything of significance. American Pride will have gone from pride in building and marketing unique American products to how much money we have in our wallets to buy the products we desire overseas.

The United States will become a country that is owned by all other countries, and American citizens will no longer be able to take pride in products that were built through American blood, sweat and tears. There needs to be a government representative or board that oversees the use of the money and insures that the money is paid back to the government within a set amount of time. Once the money is repaid, the government steps back and the representative or board no longer has a say in what Detroit does.

Detroit needs to be helped and should be extended a bailout. However, that bailout should not come without reservations or restrictions.

That money should be given to Detroit with the complete understanding that it is to be spent HERE on American soil and not overseas in the building of a new assembly plant on foreign land.

GM in particular should undergo a restructuring of it's platforms and assembly processes within a certain time frame in order to make it more competitive in a global economic market that can quickly change on whim.

Detroit has become a pro at product re-badging and it needs to stop NOW. The perfect example is the F-body platform of the late nineties. The Firebird and Camaro looked identical with the exception of the bumpers, some plastic body cladding and some interior components.

Another example is the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.

What about product ingenuity?

The Chevy HHR - a great car/crossover, but molded after the PT Cruiser. It took GM how long to come to market with that after the general public was getting sick of seeing the PT Cruiser everywhere?

The Chevy SSR - one word: why?

Other than Cadillac and Corvette, GM's styling has become disgustingly bland, boring, stagnant, and unemotional. GM Styling Dept. needs a major fire lit under their ass and they really should take lessons from Chrysler's Styling Dept.

Last but not least, Marketing. In my opinion, GM's marketing arm has completely dropped the ball and become quite pathetic in trying to market the products they're building. GM has fought long and hard to build cars that meet or exceed European quality standards, and yet, where is the marketing? They have cars that have won JD Power and Associates awards, but where are the commercials and advertisements? Maybe I just don't pay much attention, but they only play on JD Power and Associates I've seen recently is in a GM Truck ad on TV. Regardless, if I'm not paying attention to the ads, how much of the American public is?

Support what you build. If you think you're just going to bring a product to market touting it as the latest and greatest, and try to get people to forget about the crap that was built in the seventies and eighties....forget it.

In summary, Detroit should be bailed out, but they should be bailed out with stipulations that the money is used to rebuild and reposition Detroit in being leaders and innovators - not followers trying to play catch up requiring a bailout everytime the global economy suddenly shifts in one direction or the other.

We gave billions of dollars to AIG - the pinnacle of corporate greed and they didn't have to jump through all the hoops that Detroit has been required to go through. And yet, we, the American public are willing to let the last great American manufacturing industry crumble.

Talk about a sad state of affairs due to double standards, corporate greed and short-sightedness.

If you feel that Detroit and GM in particular should be helped, go to: Facts About the Auto Crisis - GM Facts and Fiction and contact your U.S. Senator and Representative. Let them know that you support a bailout, otherwise, continue to stick your head in the sand and watch as America loses its pride and identity it worked so hard to achieve.
 

Cadillac Tech

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Rob, I totally agree, America needs to wake up. If this country is going to continue, we will all need to work together and rethink how we do things.

I agree, the marketing sucks! The lack of marketing has really hurt the XLR. I have said for some time, that if the XLR fails, it will be because the people that were supposed to market it and oversee it weren't doing their jobs.

Thanks for posting the truth,
Bruce :patriot:
 

standby-V

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One hour meeting with the XLR marketing Director

I specificaly sought out the marketing director of the XLR in RII and we had a long talk and a few beers together.
Bottom line was..............his hands are tied because the XLR hasn't sold like they thought it would, therefore nulifying funds for adverstising.
I asked him if he would like another beer because that last statement didn't make a bit of sense to me.
His reply. "yes on the beer, and maybe you can see what I'm up against when I ask for video coverage of this event to air on TV". He also said that people who have put on this event on their own with a last minute help from GM have done more advertising for GM than GM had done. I left this converstation as frustrated as he did. Just sharing not knocking.:pat:
God knows this is not the time to knock our American made products.:patriot:
Rob, I totally agree, America needs to wake up. If this country is going to continue, we will all need to work together and rethink how we do things.

I agree, the marketing sucks! The lack of marketing has really hurt the XLR. I have said for some time, that if the XLR fails, it will be because the people that were supposed to market it and oversee it weren't doing their jobs.

Thanks for posting the truth,
Bruce :patriot:
 

PassionDiva5150

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Rob, I agree with you upto a point, having worked at Ford stores, GM stores, and now at a Toyota store for over 2 years. I have to say I have seen fewer unhappy customers at Toyota, than any of the others. Quality seems to be better, service customers seem to be much happier. At the Ford & GM stores, I can recall many times hearing service customers walk across the showroom floor, complaining about the service department. (I have done it myself, at my local Cadillac/Chevy store where we purchased our 2 XLRs and the Corvette, on my way to complain to the GM or Owner, "your service department has worked on my car several times for the same thing, and its still not fixed", (we did Lemon Law the 04 XLR).) Its like come on, JUST fix my car, and no more excuses!!!! :bash::bash::bash: I think the Big 3 need to work on QUALITY CONTROL, and BETTER TRAINING for their service departments!!!!!

But, the economy has hit everyone, not just the big 3, it affects everyone in the car business. Most salespeople are on a commission, if they don't sell, they don't make money. I have salespeople here that are losing their homes, because last year they were making $70,000+++, and now they will be lucky to make $30,000 this year. How will this bailout help them????? They are all taxpayers, so I am sure they are wondering the same thing.
 
M

mswaim

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I for one am disappointed to hear it is now the fault of Americans wearing blinders that has led the Big Three to their fate. :dunno:

Americans bought land yachts because they wanted them, plain and simple and Detroit was willing to crank them out. Yes, fuel prices spiked and people bought fewer of them; looking instead for more economic models. That is their choice, it is a free market afterall.

When times were good, Detroit should have banked a few more bucks, they should have spent more time researching the real market and preparing to meet its demands.

I think American automobiles are some of the best built anywhere - Doris and I have bought more than our fair share of them over the years, with only one complaint; the build quality and reliability of our 04 XLR.

The global economy is in a bit of a free fall; the end is not in sight yet and there will be many jobs lost before it is all over. That is the reality of the more complicated times we live in.

Our president-elect is talking of public works projects to get people working again. :( :dunno: :(


It is not the American public's fault Detroit is broke - it ist Detroit's fault they are broke.

In my opinion, they are the ones wearing blinders, thinking if they only get a handout they will forge ahead with a new spirit. Unfortunately, until the global economy improves, people will not be buying cars. Not electric, not hybrids, not even solar............they are holding on to their money as tightly as they can until the storm passes (and rightfully so)!!

Detroit's new plan better include a healthy dose of market reality :pat: THERE IS NO MARKET !!!!

They want our hard-earned cash to help them ride out the storm, salvaging auto-industry jobs while hundreds of thousands of other americans lose THEIR jobs. At the end of the day, who wants to play Solomon and make the tough cut?? Who works, who does not? Who retains their job thanks to a government handout?

If foreign governments wish to help their businesses, so be it; I cannot help that. What I can do is contact my representatives and make them aware of the fact there are idled construction workers, high tech employees, retail sales staffers, etc. ALL looking for their government to use realistic tactics as they attempt to turn the economic tide. I can tell them not to forget them in their mad dash to save the Big Three from themselves.
 
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Rob

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I for one am disappointed to hear it is now the fault of Americans wearing blinders that has led the Big Three to their fate. :dunno:

Don't read into what I wrote. I didn't say it was the fault of Americans. What I did say is that I have heard uneducated excuses by Americans for why Detroit should be allowed to crumble. Those uneducated excuses are due to the fact that the majority of Americans are too quick to believe what they read and hear in the media and are quick to put the blinders on when there are things going on overseas that have an impact on what's going on here. They fail to look at the much larger picture rather than just what's going on in their neighborhood.

The media, and hence the majority of Americans believe that Detroit has failed and has failed to build the cars Americans wanted but instead, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, BMW and all of the other European and Asian auto makers smell like roses. Well, not really. A lot of those manufacturers have been experiencing slow sales since April of this year, and some of those companies have gone to their respective governments and asked for help.

So this whole issue is NOT a Detroit problem only. It is a GLOBAL problem.

Americans bought land yachts because they wanted them, plain and simple and Detroit was willing to crank them out. Yes, fuel prices spiked and people bought fewer of them; looking instead for more economic models. That is their choice, it is a free market afterall.

Absolutely, hence the reason why I get irritated when I hear people tell me that Detroit should die because Detroit didn't build the cars they wanted.

Guess what....I believe that as of last week, there are 3 assembly plants working overtime right now in this country. Two of them are truck assembly plants - one of which builds the Ford F150. How ironic now that gas prices have plummeted. That F150 plant isn't working overtime because they have nothing else better to do...Ford's been marketing the new redesigned 2009 F150 quite heavily recently....I'm willing to bet, the demand is there in light of where gas prices have fallen.
When times were good, Detroit should have banked a few more bucks, they should have spent more time researching the real market and preparing to meet its demands.
Agreed
It is not the American public's fault Detroit is broke - it ist Detroit's fault they are broke.

Again, I'm not saying that it's the American public's fault that Detroit is broke. What I am saying is that the American public needs to stop sticking their heads in the sand and stop relying 100% on what they hear and read in the media. This has been an issue for years - as seen in what goes on with military and wars.

Don't be a lazy thinker. Do a little research and learn what's going on rather than just letting some journalist feed it to you.

In my opinion, they are the ones wearing blinders, thinking if they only get a handout they will forge ahead with a new spirit. Unfortunately, until the global economy improves, people will not be buying cars. Not electric, not hybrids, not even solar............they are holding on to their money as tightly as they can until the storm passes (and rightfully so)!!

I agree that Detroit isn't innocent in this, hence the reason why I stated that Detroit should be bailed out, but that bailout does NOT come without contingincies and government oversight to insure that the money is used properly and the companies are restructured in such a way that will make them profitable due to ingenuity and leadership rather than blind stupidity.

They want our hard-earned cash to help them ride out the storm, salvaging auto-industry jobs while hundreds of thousands of other americans lose THEIR jobs. At the end of the day, who wants to play Solomon and make the tough cut?? Who works, who does not? Who retains their job thanks to a government handout?

That's funny, I didn't hear an enormous American outcry after AIG was bailed out and they were caught squandering the money on lavish get-aways, bubbly and pedicures....
If foreign governments wish to help their businesses, so be it; I cannot help that. What I can do is contact my representatives and make them aware of the fact there are idled construction workers, high tech employees, retail sales staffers, etc. ALL looking for their government to use realistic tactics as they attempt to turn the economic tide. I can tell them not to forget them in their mad dash to save the Big Three from themselves.

If that's how you feel, then that's what you should do. But I will say this, where do you draw the line on who should and shouldn't be bailed out? For all those people that went out and bought homes with a 5/1 arm...in many of those cases, the details of those loans were spelled out clearly in fine print on paper....yet, the dotted lines were signed, because they took a CHANCE and ASSUMED all would be ok - not taking into consideration what analysts were saying - "we're at the height of the market and the bubble could burst at anytime..."

For the record....I'm one of those that have a 5/1 arm. Luckily, I'm not one of the millions of Americans that have lost their home because of it, but let me tell ya....I realize full well the consequences and my tide could quickly turn and I could easily become a statistic. I have no one else to blame but myself...I read the fine print, but I went ahead and signed the dotted lines ignoring what the analysts were saying because I didn't want to continue ****ing away money in rent and padding someone elses wallet.

If I lose my house, I will not be somebody walking up on Capital Hill with my hand out in front of Congress.
 

Little Woman

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Thank you Rob. I agree with you. Auto industry isn't the only ones asking for money and this is a global economic problem that is going on now. No one has said one word about the money that was given to the banks. That money was meant for line of credits and to lend to people. Just this morning it was on the Chicago news how another manufacturing company in Chicago is closing because the bank won't give them their line of credit. I believe I heard on the news when the Big 3 asked the first time for the money if the banks would be using the bailout money the way it was intended, Ford would not need to be there asking for a line of credit from the Government. I could be wrong. I have said before, the american public is currently in tough times, people can't afford to pay for their homes. They don't have the extra money to buy a car. Detroit is being blamed for a bad economy. Just my .05.
 
M

mswaim

Guest
It's very easy to know where to draw the line Rob; it is not Government's place to be bailng out ANY privately owned or publically traded companies. PERIOD!

No business should be in a position that they can dictate to the entire country that no matter how badly it is run, it is untouchable.

Let them fail, others will pick up the pieces and build a better mousetrap. That is what this country is all about.
 

Rob

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It's very easy to know where to draw the line Rob; it is not Government's place to be bailng out ANY privately owned or publically traded companies. PERIOD!

No business should be in a position that they can dictate to the entire country that no matter how badly it is run, it is untouchable.

Let them fail, others will pick up the pieces and build a better mousetrap. That is what this country is all about.
We'll have to agree to disagree and move on.
 

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