THE AUTOEXTREMIST
Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 07:50PM
Editor

March 11, 2009


PMD Unplugged: The “Old Broken Down Piece of Meat” Edition.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit. Now that we have been blessed with a visit from President Obama’s auto task force, we can just feel the rush of Shiny Happy adrenalin running through our veins. Not. Unfortunately, there’s no amount of fact-finding and due diligence that’s going to get these people up to speed in order to save the domestic auto industry, no matter how well intended they claim to be.

With countless auto suppliers on the verge of total collapse, GM and Chrysler teetering on virtual bankruptcy, auto dealers closing left and right, and the car business veering close to coming to a complete standstill, it is difficult to see anything positive that we can grab on to, especially while we’re waiting for a plan from people who are trying to compress 35 years of recent auto industry learning on top of a century of auto industry history in a little more than eight weeks' time in order to make an “informed” decision about the industry’s future. In other words: notevenremotelygonnahappen.com.

Of course added to all of this is the growing national gloom-and-doom offensive that’s threatening to swallow this country whole. The relentless din of negativity in the media is infiltrating every nook and cranny of our society, and it is taking its toll, to the point that Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News has been getting slammed from viewers via email demanding that he come up with something, anything positive to say about our country right at this very moment. (And to his credit, each night this week he’s closing the program with a positive story.)

As for the doom-and-gloom thing, it’s something that people who live around these parts are unfortunately very familiar with. This state and region have been in a serious recession for three years now, and I think it’s safe to say at this point that we’ve now graduated to being in a full-blown depression.

The Motor City Meltdown and the ongoing economic calamity have absolutely decimated this region, with thousands upon thousands of people losing their jobs and their homes. And their minds are probably not far behind, too, for that matter. And in a state already widely known for its dangerously crumbling infrastructure – our roads are simply legendary around the country for their shocking state of disrepair – the reduced funds that go hand in hand with the declining tax revenues of a plummeting economy and the fact that there’s no money to repair them have left the citizens of this state simply begging for mercy, or some kind of respite of any kind, even though there’s no relief in sight. (How bad is it? Some major thoroughfares are approaching the impassable stage unless you have a vehicle with substantial ground clearance. Even the local traffic reports have switched from being primarily about the usual traffic tie-ups and such to a relentless stream of road-crumbling alerts. Grim doesn’t even begin to describe it.)

Several years ago, I called Detroit and the declining U.S. auto industry “the canary in the coal mine” for the rest of the nation. The lack of a national health care program, the nation’s growing uncompetitiveness in the face of a burgeoning global economy, the steady erosion of this country’s manufacturing base and so on were issues that were going to catch up to the rest of the country eventually. Add in the real estate fiasco and the egregious and rampant Wall Street misbehavior, and it’s no wonder “we the people” are finding ourselves in dire straits today. (I will leave that flat-out embarrassment masquerading as the “City of Detroit” for special commentary in this week’s “On The Table.”)

But all of that being said, I say enough already

I’m tired of the auto industry being treated like an old broken down piece of meat or something that should be taken out back and shot. Our so-called “leaders” in Washington - particularly certain senators and representatives who should know better - have relegated an entire industry to the dust heap. And why? So a few idiot southern senators can tout their states as the “new” center of the auto industry? Or is it because Detroit and the center of industrial America don’t quite fit into the new “Green” world that Northern Californian politicians want to shove down our collective throats?

I’m tired of this “Green” sickness that’s spreading due east from California like an out-of-control virus that there’s no known antidote for. With Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – those quintessential manifestations of vapidity – leading the charge and insisting on projecting their relentless lack of common sense and glaring inability to differentiate facts from outright fiction as the environmental platform that this nation must adhere to going forward, even if it means prolonging the national recession and darkening this country’s manufacturing future, it’s no wonder the rest of the country is finding it difficult to be optimistic about the direction we’re heading.

Memo to the Green Horde (and you, too, Mr. President, since you seem to fuel these blowhards): You will not have an auto industry to “reinvent” after you finish dismantling this country’s manufacturing base and crippling its ability to innovate because of your Byzantine declarations and manifestos.

Do I want cleaner air? Of course I do. We all do. Believe it or not there are citizens all over the country - not just in California - who embrace the notion and want to get there for the well-being of all Americans. But it won’t come by way of a simple voila! and a “finger snap” or by cramming increasingly ridiculous rules into law that will turn huge swaths of this country into vast wastelands of unemployment and futility. If the “Green” vision for our nation - at least as brought forth by Pelosi, Schwarzenegger and Co. - consists of a so-called idyllic future featuring a Shiny Happy populace peddling our way around in balsa wood smiley cars while whistling our way to work that we can’t find, well, then, you can include me out, as Sam Goldwyn once said.

The domestic automotive industry - much to the chagrin of its critics - is home to some of the most advanced technological expertise and innovative minds in the world today - yes, equal to if not better than any car maker from any other country too - and I am absolutely confident that they have the talent and the know-how to move this country forward when it comes to meeting the goals of environmental responsibility. It will take a serious commitment and incredible amounts of research and development time and money to get where we eventually want to go, but we will get there.

We won’t get there, however, if we leave it up to the people who have little or no understanding of concepts like production feasibility or the idea that a car company must deliver vehicles a.) that people actually want to buy, b.) that they can actually afford to buy and. c.) that the company producing it can actually make real money in the process. That last part is the real kicker for the Green Horde. Not only is profitability a dirty concept to them - after all, someone might actually make money by taking risks and delivering a desirable product (how radical is that?) - but I get the idea that after all of their pronouncements and hard and fast rules that they’re so quick to throw around they’ll feel “entitled” to paying less than ten grand for a car that will allow its passengers to walk away from a 60 mph crash into a bridge abutment while emitting nothing but the faint whiff of Pacific sea breezes going down the road.

For that and several other reasons I have zero confidence in the politicians from Northern California and other states and their green-tinged acolyte-activists when it comes to moving this country forward, and unless the din of misinformation that’s emanating from this environmental cabal is countered with common sense and reality – and soon – then this country is in for a horrendous period of mediocrity and ultimately a second-rate future.

As for the rest of what’s ailing this nation, not much of anything is making sense these days, frankly. Banks being gifted government money that they refuse to lend out; blatant, malicious dimwits with the title of “U.S. Senator” not even pretending to be “for the people” anymore while pushing their particular egregious agendas to the detriment of the rest of the nation; and our so-called government “leaders” standing around paralyzed waiting for something to happen as the U.S. auto industry’s infrastructure and supplier and dealer networks continue to crumble.

And now that we’ve all been brow beaten and scolded for months for being bad, wasteful Americans for using our credit cards and living our lives – and we all actually listened for once and stopped doing anything – our esteemed leaders are now telling us not to go into duck-and-cover mode, that it’s fine to spend a little bit of money, that it’s all going to be okay.

Oh, really? When is that going to be, exactly? The end of the fourth quarter? When our Green Snuggies are aligned with Nancy Pelosi’s emerald chakras just so? When the grand pooh-bah, aka Warren Buffet, declares victory and says it’s okay for us to play outside again? When Arnold and Nancy do a two-step on the ashes of what’s left of the domestic automobile industry? Judging by what passes for public discourse in Washington and around the country these days, let’s just say the nation won’t be collectively holding its breath.

While I’m at it, since when did Americans turning on fellow Americans become a sport in this country? The abuse that the domestic auto industry and the people who work tirelessly in it has received from the legions of two-bit pundits and instant auto “experts” out there over the last six months is unconscionable and despicable. Even those words don’t come close to describing the kind of out and out hatred that has been aimed at our own automobile industry over the last 12 months. Hell, even Bernie Madoff has gotten more of a break than the U.S. auto industry, and that’s just disgusting.

Why is it okay for thousands of Americans and their families to become expendable for being aligned with an industry that not only forged this country’s manufacturing base and to this day is responsible for much of this nation’s technical innovations, but fueled our country’s ability to meet global military challenges throughout history while powering the emergence of the American middle class?

Why is okay to dump on an industry that still either directly or indirectly employs one out of every ten Americans?

Why is it okay for some asshole in a New York TV studio to pontificate about an industry he knows absolutely nothing about, and then have his unmitigated bullshit be taken as “gospel” by another hundred TV pundits who know even less?

I say enough. Enough to all of it. I say enough to this country’s mass embracing of this collective “mope-a-dope” mentality as I like to call it. And I say enough to the media’s crucifixion of our own domestic automobile industry as if it and all of the hard-working people in and around it somehow deserve to be put on trial for war crimes.

We can do better. Much better. And we will get better, too, individually and as a country. As more Americans discover that fear mongering and negativity for negativity’s sake is not a good look for us - and that waiting for our esteemed politicians in Washington to adjust our attitudes, or waiting for them to do anything, for that matter, is a fool’s errand - I absolutely believe we will rise above this.

In the meantime, thanks for listening.

Article originally appeared on Autoextremist.com ~ the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high octane truth... (http://www.autoextremist.com/).
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