Friday, November 21, 2008

 

Open Postcards

I'm behind on my open correspondence, and busy enough to know that I can't really do justice to all of them. So in lieu of open letters, a series of open postcards.

Dear GM, Ford, and Chrysler,

You're kidding, right?

You people have been bleeding market share, and money, for years. This is directly due to your chronic inability or unwillingness to get a clue. Toyota and Honda have been eating your lunch since the seventies. This may have something to do with them building better cars.

Now you want a bailout.

Back in your profitable days, I don't recall a great deal of public spirited-ness coming from your corner. I recall aggressive lobbying for protectionism, against mileage standards, against safety standards, and against environmental standards. (I also recall the Bonneville, the Excursion, and the Sebring. Shudder.) Now you want a blank check to sustain you while you burn even more cash building cars and – especially – trucks that...follow my logic here...Americans don't want to buy.

Uh, that would be 'no.'

Yes, Michigan and a few other states would suffer in the short term, and that sucks. I'd be perfectly fine with some relocation and/or tuition assistance for the workers who lose their jobs. And I've gone on record many times favoring single-payer healthcare for all Americans, which would certainly include them.

But to go on building unwanted cars simply for lack of any better ideas? No. If you can't compete, clear out and make room for others who can. It's time to rip off the band-aid.

Sincerely,

DD


Dear XM Radio,

I have openly defended the practice of paying for radio, due mostly to my love of “Beyond Jazz.” Now you've dropped the channel, and replaced it with – excuse me, I have to vomit again – new age?

New age?

The other day, on the way home from work, I hit the preset for Beyond Jazz, hoping to hear something funky or challenging, per usual. Instead, I heard – and honestly, this should just be illegal – Tangerine Dream?

There is no excuse for Tangerine Dream.

Worse, look at what you kept. “Watercolors?” Kenny *&^%$#@ G? You drop Kenny Garrett, and keep Kenny G?

No, no, no. That's just wrong.

I pay for the #$%^^&* radio, and get Kenny G? Um, no.

Sincerely,

DD



Dear Senator Ted Stevens,

Karma is a bitch.

Enjoy prison!

Love,

DD

Comments:
a "ps" to the automakers...

You got a bunch of money from Clinton to convert to more fuel-efficient cars. It isn't our fault that you decided to change those same production lines to make Explorers, Expiditions and Hummers... You had your chance.
 
a. Don't say "But to go on building unwanted cars simply for lack of any better ideas? No" fact Americans were buying those cars in large numbers (and percentages) until just a year ago.

b. Most of the XM stations are "still there" they just moved. They sent you an email. Didn't you get it? Or just not read it?

c. Wow... you are just mean.
 
I would also add for the unions to stop being so greedy. Not everyone has their health care and full pension for life!
 
As a student from a UAW family it pains me to say this: Anonymous is correct, the UAW proves that no different than business, Union's with too much influence usually have an adverse effect on our political climate (please see NEA).

I'm curious about this: "Michigan and a few other states would suffer in the short term," where are you getting this?
 
I would also add for the unions
to stop being so greedy.
Not everyone has their health
care and full pension for life!




Shame on those pesky workers for trying to better their lot! It's downright unamerican.
 
‘Shame on those pesky workers for trying to better their lot! It's downright unamerican.’

I hope this wasn’t directed at me. Regardless, such sarcasm strikes me as blind. Is the UAW helpful to their workers if their industry ceases to exist? This is no longer a hypothetical.
 
The XM lineup no longer has anything like "Beyond Jazz." You can see the new channel list here. The closest they have is the holdover "Real Jazz," which is not very close at all. Sorry, man.

Me, I'm kind of annoyed they changed the names of "Lucy," "Fred," and "Ethel."
 
I still don't think the problem is UAW so much as the management that continued to make cars that people didn't like.

Anyways, GM's been bleeding forever, and Ford's not doing great, but Chrysler was holding its own until fairly recently.

source
 
You clearly have very little idea what you're talking about.

Fuel efficient cars have been in high demand for less than 2 years.

Previously the money was in trucks and suvs, which is why Toyota just built a new plant in Texas to make full size pickup trucks.

The domestics are high leverage companies who were restructuring and updating their product lines for the new demand when the market contracted by 30% (from 17million units to 11 million). The credit markets are closed so they can't get loans

What's the point. People have made up their minds. I agree, they made mistakes so we should let 'em burn. Regardless of the wider effects. In 5-15 years the market will be more efficient. I think we should apply this thinking in more areas. For instance, if you picked the wrong thing to study in college that's your tough luck. My taxes shouldn't help fund your continuing education.
 
So why was GM bleeding and Toyota expanding, if the money was in SUVs and Toyota hadn't gotten off the ground yet?

I'm actually asking; GM's decline is precipitous and well predates the runup in oil prices.
 
Okay, tracked down some info here.

First, Ford sells a lot of F-series pickups. Wow. Second, Toyota makes just an absolute pile of money off of its small and midsize cars.

SUVs don't show up until the CR-V. It's all about the pickups and the sedans until then. Hm. Seems like there was a pretty solid market for small and midsized sedans more or less the whole time. On the other hand, there definitely was money being made selling lots of pickup trucks. Hm hm hm.
 
I think my favorite postcard was to XM. If there was ever a reply from them, I would imagine they would point you toward the Spa channel -- just to mess with you.
 
A. I thought the most telling statistic I heard recently was that a GM-Chrysler merger would result in the loss of 30,000+ white collar jobs. This reflects the important fact that the cost differential between Japan and the US is in multiple layers of management in addition to pension payments. I recall reading an article in Forbes circa 1980 that said Toyota had 4 layers of management above the factory floor and Ford had 14 - and added another every few years.

The other major factor is that a new company in the US is not paying as much in retirement as one that has a huge number of people who retired on contracts (both union and non-union) that were not funded in an actuarially sound fashion. Engineers and managers got a pretty good deal also, but you don't see that analyzed by the pundits. (Back when I was a kid, an auto company VP lived in our neighborhood, the same neighborhood where senior auto workers lived, one where his house would probably sell for $150,000 today.)

You can't entirely blame the UAW, since they agreed to a major deal to take over health costs for retirees. The executives weren't even willing to fly coach (or drive!) to testify in Washington for some bailout money.


B. Just cancel it for breach of contract and become a pod person.


C. "NO!"
 
I recall reading an article in Forbes circa 1980 that said Toyota had 4 layers of management above the factory floor and Ford had 14 - and added another every few years.

I worked for Toyota for about a year. I had a boss named Johnny, He had a boss namaged greg, he had a boss whose name escapes me and than that guy answered to the plant manager. So there's 4 people and we're not even up to the corporate level yet.

That was the late 90's so maybe Toyota added a few, or you're wrong, or the paper was wrong.
 
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