8 Top Detroit Bailout Rants

First, we offer a sampling of voices from this week’s heated debate about a potential federal bailout of the US auto industry. Then, we provide our analysis of where things stand.

1Tom Friedman

Columnist, New York Times


“Any car company that gets taxpayer money must demonstrate a plan for transforming every vehicle in its fleet to a hybrid-electric engine with flex-fuel capability, so its entire fleet can also run on next generation cellulosic ethanol.”

NYT, “How to Fix a Flat”

2 Kevin Depew

Executive Editor, Minyanville.com


“With continued bailouts we will emerge from a lost decade with an economy and society crippled by the cost of bailing out businesses that operated with irresponsibility and a near total disregard for not just taxpayers but for their very own shareholders.”

Minyanville, “The Last Chance to Stop the Bailouts”

3 Jim Cooper

House of Representatives (D-Tenn.)


“It’s time for new management and stringent conditions. It’s Uncle Sam. It’s not Uncle Sucker.”

As reported inThe L.A. Times “Strict Conditions Almost Certain for Automaker Bailout”

4 The Wall Street Journal

Editorial Board


“Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi now want to bail out Detroit once more, while mandating that the Big Three build “green” cars. If consumers really wanted green cars, no mandate would be necessary. Washington here is just marching Detroit deeper into an unsustainable business model, requiring ever more interventions in the future.”

The Wall Street Journal, “Obama’s Car Puzzle”

5 Jonathan Tasini

Labor activist and UAW member


“Would I have liked the union to be more aggressive about pushing the auto companies a decade ago to move towards more fuel efficient cars? Sure. But, respectfully, the union does not control those kinds of decisions—it doesn’t control the board and, as recent history has shown, has struggled mightily to just preserve its wage base (and has had to agree to some painful wage and benefit concessions).”

Huffington Post, “The Right Way To Bailout The Auto Industry”

6Laurie David

Environmental Activist

Laurie David

“If Detroit needs more taxpayer bailouts to survive, we ought to demand some serious and real concessions in return, starting with an immediate cease-and-desist order for Detroit to drop its lawsuits against California, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico and any other state that passes clean cars legislation requiring more efficient, less polluting vehicles.”

Huffington Post, “Adding Teeth to a Detroit Bailout”

7David Brooks

Columnist, New York Times

David Brooks

“There seems to be no one who believes the companies are viable without radical change. A federal cash infusion will not infuse wisdom into management. It will not reduce labor costs. It will not attract talented new employees…In short, a bailout will not solve anything—just postpone things.”

NYT “Bailout to Nowhere”

8Joseph Romm

Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Joseph Romm

“If we are going to bail out Detroit, the deal has to be based on meeting the new fuel economy standards of 35 mpg by 2020, and meeting them increasingly with hybrids. The deal has to be for multiple plug-in hybrid car models. And most important, the deal has to include a management team that is wholly committed to that inevitable transition…The potential risks the bankruptcy of Detroit poses pale in comparison with the all-but-certain risks of continuing on our path of ever greater oil consumption and ever greater greenhouse gas emissions.”

Salon.com, “Is Detroit Worth Saving?”

Stripping Stipulations from $25 Billion Loan

After a week of heated debates over the federal government’s possible role in saving Detroit automakers from financial ruin, the likelihood of a comprehensive bailout package is dim. Instead, it appears that limitations for how Detroit spends a $25 billion loan package—signed into a law a few months ago— will be lifted, allowing the Big Three to raid the funds for the cash necessary to remain open for business, while continuing to lose billions of dollars each month.

The goal of the $25 billion loan was to help Detroit retool to produce vehicles with higher fuel efficiency. It’s uncertain how this transition might take place if the loan funds are redirected to helping the automakers survive the economic downturn.

The United Auto Workers’ Union and and a coalition of key Democrats warn that if the $25 billion, and more, is not immediately provided, one or more of the Big Three automakers could run out of money as soon as January and be forced into bankruptcy. The UAW and Democrats cite figures that as many as 2.5 million jobs are threatened.

Stalemate Until Obama

Despite the sense of urgency from all sides, it appears that President-elect Obama will be left to sort out Detroit’s predicament in January. Obama described the situation back in May 2007 like this:

“For years, while foreign competitors were investing in more fuel-efficient technology for their vehicles, American automakers were spending their time investing in bigger, faster cars. And whenever an attempt was made to raise our fuel efficiency standards, the auto companies would lobby furiously against it, spending millions to prevent the very reform that could’ve saved their industry.”

An Obama bailout would most likely force auto companies into compliance on labor, fuel efficiency, and the development of advanced auto technologies (like hybrids). Some politicians and pundits are also calling for a boardroom massacre—the replacement of current executives with new leadership chosen by the government to ensure that the auto companies comply.

What would happen if the companies cannot survive until January 20? Not everyone agrees that the threat of bankruptcy—real or exaggerated, now or years later—should be enough to force Washington into handing over yet another blank check to another failing industry. Many conservatives seem to be rooting for Chapter 11, as it would void labor commitments that they (and Detroit automakers) have held responsible for the failings of the American auto industry.

This debate is showing no signs of letting up. Yet, chances are good that an Obama administration will be left to figure out how to save Detroit, while at the same time guiding it towards producing a new generation of cleaner and greener vehicles.

More Hybrid News...

  • Bryce

    yea, cuz we should get rid of the people that made the malibu and the CTS and are pushing for the Volt and the Cruze….those guys are idiots clearly…..rofl.

    None of these people are actual professionals in the auto insudustry, or even the the economy at large. These are just journalists and writers that don’t understand the macroeconomics of the situation.

    Jim Cramer puts it best:


  • UAW Needs reform

    I agree entirely with the critics above. The US automotive industry has been stuck in the mindset of the 60s with creating bigger and faster vehicles such as the Yukon, Hummer H2, Suburban, the 300, the Charger, Mustang, as opposed to creating fuel efficient vehicles. Toyota and Honda have been utilizing greener cars for some time now. Many of the ‘foreign imports’ are made in the USA, anyways.

    A lot of the US made vehicles are made at such as higher overhead, that there is little room for improvements to move in line with the likes of Toyota. The greener technologies will take years before the US automakers can outfit, design and produce the technology. The UAW needs to back down on the salaries that have driven up the cost of making vehicles in the US. Management needs to be restructured, reorganized, overhauled and re-engineered.

    So the outcry is that 10% of the jobs of America will be lost. Yes and no. There will be a ‘firesale’ of goods and the auto industry will dry but the cars on the lot will still sell. The corporate executives who live in their mansions and have elite country club memberships will go down. Why? Because of poor management and a lack of foresight.

    Many of the US automotive industry vehicles are less reliable than their Japanese counterparts. Just check consumer reports. Quality, reliability and even style are in question. Why are we re-hashing the US ‘musclecars’ in a time of oil scarcity? Why even ‘relive the past’ when we need to move forward with the changing needs of energy/technology?

    I will be glad when the US auto-industry goes down in flames. It is an old dinosaur working on life support. A short term aid will not help. It is a band-aid that will not stop major hemorrhage. You cannot treat a gunshot wound with a band aid and you will not save the US automakers from a deep hole that they dug themselves into.

    Why not subsidize the sale of the products already on the lot? It will help the dealerships and get more cars on the road. The bottleneck is not at the corporate level, it is at the car lot. Cars are not selling. Sales have been at an all time low. Have the government give incentives to the consumer to buy American.

    WAKE UP, CHRYSLER, FORD AND GM! Your days are numbered, and well deserved!

  • pineapple

    Why continue to bash the big three for mistakes made in view of many responsible ones? They can easily recover, and will with a good boost of American pride and capital.

    Why mess around with a mere 25 billion life raft ?
    Take the good suggestions of these responsible ones and
    fund it with, oh, maybe, 300 billion, of the 700 billion financial buyout.
    Paulson should see that a logical, viable, SUSTAINABLE, business model emerging from the present malaise of the big three would generate more capital than all the pump to the banks.
    He is master of the purse strings.
    Com’on get a clue!

  • steved28

    I can see it now. We provide a blank check to the auto makers so they can buy a million dollar superbowl ad telling us to buy a new escalade.

  • UAW Needs reform


    Look at the list of least reliable cars:

    Who manufactured them? Dodge, Chrysler, Mercedes (Daimler Chrysler) AND Ford.

    7 of 16 of the least reliable (Ford and Dodge/Chrysler)
    0 of 16 of the most reliable (Ford/Chrysler/Dodge)

    Sounds like big selling points to me.

    Signing off. L8R, AlliG8R

  • consumer1111

    10% of the workforce. This is chicken littel talking. The real number is somewhere between 0 and 10%, and most probably 6%. As most others have stated, the 3 traditional american manufacturers have been on shaky ground for some time. and they knew there were problems earlier this year. People are just doing what they should of done some time ago, and cut back on spending. We can not spend ourselves into prosperity, when we do not have the cold hard cash to spend. The dealers and manufacturuers have for a long time, been promting people to over-reach their income in order to sell more units. Used to be a 4 year loan was max, now I see in todays paper they are promoting 72 months ( 6 years !!!!). If you do not show up every 4 years for a new car, you are not a ‘good’ customer. Bullcrap. A car should last you at least 10 years, and over ypuir lifetime, you should only have to own 4-8 automobiles. That is still ( at todays average) about 150-200k dollars worth of steel and crap that you eventually throw away. Every 4 years is a joke. and you are throwing way too much money away. I will go on to state that the automobile is the single most expensive purchase that you will make in your life. At least for a house, you can generally recover your cash input, but for a car, you are throwing your money away.

  • Jerry

    The workers are alot better of getting less wage than no wage. Unfortunately capitalism can work but be painfull. To subsidize a dying business model is financial suicide. People need cars. If we need 11 million someone has to build them. I would just as soon see more American working for a Japanese company than subzidize fat cat overinflated , inefficient companies. I like the previous post let the oil companies give Detroit a loan.

  • Jerry

    25 billion loan = profit for the last six months for the oil giants.

  • UAW Needs Reform

    What did the $700 billion do for the banks? What did it do for the US economy? What is the impact on the World Economy?

    When do we stop preventing financial Darwinism? When will bailing out companies end? Why didn’t we bail out Circuit City? How about DHL? Why don’t we stop killing the American Taxpayer?

    Bailouts are not the answer. If Congress continues to support a lack of fiscal responsibility, they won’t be in DC for much longer.

    Government does not exist to bail out the weak.

  • BoilerCivicHy

    I hate to be the voice of doom, but to me this is just another sign of the decline of the US and the democratic way of life we live. Check out a paper written almost 100 years ago, the longest democracy to date at that time had been 200 years, we have surpassed that, but in studying the decline of democracies in history the author stated the stages they go through. The US is in the later stages of decline in a democratic government that is when the people figure out they can vote themselves entitlements and special privledges. Well, you are seeing it, we have voted ourselves people into government who are working to give everyone special things at government covered cost. Our economy is now suffering for this, and this auto company bailout is just one more example. If you need another, see the financial company bail out.

    These companies do not deserve to be bailed out. A capitalist society supports companies that provide good services and products people want. It causes those companies that do not, to go out of business. So if we are supposed to be living in a free, democratic, capitalist society, then let the big 3 go the way of the Dodo bird if that is what happens. If on the other hand we want to live in a socialist society, which the democrats seem to be all for, then bail away.

  • Anonymous

    Detroit has had more than thirty years to become competitive in the small car market. That Wall Street Journal quote is ridiculous, small fuel efficient cars are inevitable. Detroit lost out in the 1970s and they will lose again, those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. After years of miss management they simply don’t have the over head or practical innovation that can sustain them in a rapidly changing car market. They are stifling innovation from small upstart companies. Break them into small consumer dedicated companies that are appealing to venture investment and see who survives.

  • Bryce

    So I guess the Cobalt which is more fuel efficient that a Civic just ain’t fuel efficient enough. I guess since the malibu gets 33 highway and the Camry gets 30 isn’t significant either. I guess since consumer reports has rated the Malibu higher than the Camry doesn’t matter. I guess since Toyota just introduced huge gas guzzling trucks and SUVs that get worse fuel economy than a Chevy truck doesn’t matter. I guess since Toyota hasn’t introduced a hybrid in 3 years it is still the greatest, while GM has had half a dozen just in the last year. I guess since GM is developing plug-in tech before its competitors, it should be killed for its shortsightedness.

    You guys are not actually following the facts on the ground. You are just going along with the hype. These pundits aren’t automotive insdustry professionals. Go research this stuff yourself, and you will find GM and other domestics are right on track with their competitors, and in some cases ahead of them.

  • Picky McPicky

    If GM can be bought for about $2 billion, then why don’t the Silicon Valley giants like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and ex players, but politically rising stars like Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, step in and buy them. That’s the type of innovative minds we need running Detroit. Didn’t these powerhouse titans survive the post 9/11, dot com crash earlier this decade? Didn’t they transform their companies into industry leaders? Didn’t they use their innovation to create jobs, excite a nation and make technology cool?

    $2 billion to this group of industry rock stars is pocket change. I’d put Steve Jobs in charge of hiring new minds and Ellison, who is notorious for perfection in charge of firing the brainless executives that created this mess. Whitman and Fiorina are out of jobs and should run the company.

    Silicon Valley IS America at its finest. Detroit is what we hate most about this country. Put Detroit back in the hands of people who know how to innovate, create jobs and do so in a way that helps America rally around it.’s growth, not despise it.

  • Picky McPicky

    One more point to make. Nobody has really liked Detroit and what it represents. They have always had this smug, rage against American values aura about them. They resist change, they resist environmental challenges, they resist giving America what it really wants…and do so while and gloating about it largess.

    Does anyone really hate Apple, Google, EBay, Intel, Yahoo, Oracle, Cisco, Adobe, or the hundreds of other tecnology companies that crop up every day in the paradise that is the Silicon Valley?

    Silicon Valley excites America and gives it hope that the future looks bright. Apple creates a stir everytime it introduces a product and there are lines outside of its stores evertime it introduces a new upgrade or new product. That’s how you run a company.

    Does anyone really care about the next generation of the Chevy Malibu? Does anyone really believe that Detroit is serious about the Volt? At a $40,000 sticker price, the answer is a resounding NO!

    The city of Detroit itself is an example of what the car industry has become.

  • Glen

    Mileage isn’t everything. A 10 year old Camry will as good as, or better, than a 4-5 year old Malibu or ANY cars made by the big three, and will have MUCH better resale value , too.

    While friends and coworkers talk about how their late-model
    (sometimes only 4-5 months old) American cars were ONLY in the shop for repairs 3 times this this year, I have owned 4 Hondas and 4 Toyotas, puttiing anywhere from 75K to 175K on them and have NEVER had to take one in for repairs.

    The Cobalt is a piece of junk and the Malibu is overly heavy, has poor handling over irregular road surfaces and develops lots of squeks and rattles in its first year of ownership. I drove a new rental Mailibu recently with only 3k on it and was NOT impressed.
    Even the Escalade is really just a Chevy Tahoe pimped out for the geriatric crowd. Fords products are no better and Chrysler lags behind with the worst model range and reliability.

    Lets wait and see how the Volt and Cruze hold up before we praise a not-yet-built car.

    Detroit does not deserve to be rewarded for building crap for the last 30 years. Let them go into Chapter 11 and reorganize. Maybe they’ll actually get it right this time.

  • Gerald Shields

    Hate to say this Bryce, but it could be a lot better. Right now, there’s technology out there which would allow for vehicles capable of doing over 100 MPG, so at this point even 40 MPG CAFE standards is lame, but a vehicle fleet average of 40 MPG wouldn’t hurt us a bit. While I’m not anti-union, it starts to get weird when the average autoworker at the Big Three makes about 75 dollars an hour when another autoworker works for 15 dollars an hour at the plants of foreign automaker. Then I hear stories about workers being paid for doing nothing but walk around in a shed outside the plant. So that makes me want to argue for a bailout less and less. I say if we can help the workers, that’s fine and if we can give more funding to Mass Transit projects, that’s fine and we can help companies like Telsa, Fisker, Aptera, and Phoenix fine, but no bailout money for the Big Three.

  • mik

    Detroit 3 cap is so small because of the tremendous liabilities they carry. That’s what you by for $2B.

  • Bryce

    that’s why I am going to buy a Volt when it comes rolling out. A little more affordable for me thatn a tesla roadster. lol. Actually, come 2010, with the tax credit in hand and the way Prius costs with any upgrades, it will cost less and save more gas. rofl Inflation is on my side.

  • Gerald Shields

    Okay Bryce, assuming that GM will still be around for you to buy a Volt. I wouldn’t make so quick an assumption.

  • Bryce

    assuming tesla and fisker will be around to ever make anything is an even greater assumption. Then comes the question of whether you could afford it. lol

  • DrFill

    As long as the aesthetic factor still matters to me, I would not buy a car made by GM, Ford, or Chrysler. Their new cars look the same as those made in the 80’s. Whoever put the Hummer on the road should be allowed to go into bankruptcy. And yes, I can afford it. I have no mortgage.

  • MNlove

    Why dont we give the twenty five billion dollars to the people that have been building plug in elec. cars, and hydrogen powered out of their garage for the past 10 years, but cant scrape together enough money to mass produce their product. These are the people we need to be helping out. We have had the tech. to be fossile fuel free for over a hundred years, but the people we have supported monitarily have use trained like seals. They release the latest SUV, or large sedan, and we rush out to by it. It took the price of gas doubling to open the eyes of these people happy with 15-20 mpg out of an auto. There are many great minds out there that are working two jobs, just so they can come up with capital to work on the vehicle of the future. Dont give another seal trainer a multi-million dollar bonus.

  • Grimshot

    No matter what the chatter on an enlightened site like Hybrid Cars, Obama and the Democratic Congress cannot withstand the political capital hit of letting a cornerstone industry go under. America is Baseball, Apple pie AND Chevrolet.

  • veek

    How ironic! The Big 3 are being bankrupted by the pensions, health care costs, etc. of the very same workers and managers whose abysmal quality control destroyed the Big 3’s reputation over the past 40 years.

  • Toyota Camry Hybrid Driver

    No matter what the chatter on an enlightened site like Hybrid Cars, Obama and the Democratic Congress cannot withstand the political capital hit of letting a cornerstone industry go under. America is Baseball, Apple pie AND Chevrolet.

    Tsk, tsk. Outdated slogans do not justify the death of a dinosaur. You wanna drive something classic? Horses have been around for thousands of years.

    Dodge has been dodging bankruptcy for long enough,
    Chevy will turn to dust,
    F-O-R-D – Fix or Repair Daily is finito.

    The CEOs of the big 3, their million dollar homes and salaries, and an outdated design are destined to be devoured by their own shadows, as the light of a new age of vehicles and technologies bring us out of the Dark Ages and into the next millenium.

    Au Revoir! Sayonara! Adios! Goodbye!

  • ex-EV1 driver

    If, in the unlikely EVent that there actually is a Volt available for you to buy, then you’ll be right.
    I suspect reality will be more like this paraphrasing of your posting in the Tesla forum:

    EV1, RAV4EV, EV+, Altra, EPIC minivan, RangerEV, S10EV, Volt …

  • Gerald Shields

    Grimshot, you said:
    “America is Baseball, Apple pie AND Chevrolet.”

    Well sometimes, things change. As an Af-Am, I never thought a brotha would become President, but shockingly, it happened.

    Anyway,The problem with what you have said Grimshot is that it’s not the Democrats or President-Elect Obama who letting the Big Three die. It’s the Republicans and George W. Bush, even given that he was willing to bailout the banks and financial institutions that helped caused this recession. However, in this one situation, I’m siding with the Republicans. Let the Big Three get the 25 billion already promised to them, but give 25 billion to the other American automakers.

  • Joe Six Pack

    To the very first post on this thread, your an idiot. You bashed others because they were not in the auto field and bashed them for being journalist but then you linked Cramer who you said had a real grip on the situation. He is a successful hedge fund manager (not an economist or automotive industry expert) and tv personality. He also contributes to the New York magazine. That would make him a sudo journalist in my book. Anyways, I just had to say, your an idiot.


  • Will S

    The WSJ article shows how completely out of touch the editorial board is; it continues to spout ideological mantra, without foresight or serious analysis of any kind in this area.

    Laurie David and David Brooks make excellent points;
    – Have the Big 3 forego their lawsuits against energy efficient vehicles.
    – A simple bailout will not solve anything—just postpone things

    I would set the bar relatively high; CAFE standards of at least 50 mpg by 2020. The 5 seater Prius already achieves this, and Ford already makes the 4 seater ECONetic diesel that achieves 65mpg.

    Providing access to any bailout money to companies like Aptera, LiON battery companies, etc seems to be the best way to induce real change, not just prop up dinosaurs.

    Poster “pineapple” above wants us to throw $300 billion at the auto industry, without strings. That represents the utter height of fiscal absurdity. He must be someone heavily vested in the industry…

  • Nate

    You got it right Gerald. The only way the Big Three are going to have a chance is if they can break free of the union. Giving them more taxpayer dollars is not going to fix the problem. If the US government is going to start ‘investing’ in car companies why pick a guaranteed loser? If they’re going to spend money on job creation then I say spend it on something that will really give us some return like nuclear power plants and Phoenix Motorcar.

  • veek

    Will S: Yes, Ford does produce a diesel that gets great mileage, but the Sierra Club and its friends will not let it into this country. Supposedly, it puts out a bit too many particulates and a bit too much nitrous oxide (although it is far better than older diesels or even older gas autos), and the Sierra Club (and other self-proclaimed environmental groups) lobbied hard against it. Largely because of their efforts, California passed such high emissions standards that it has discouraged production of diesel vehicles by US and Japanese makers.

    We could have had high-mileage diesels years ago if the Sierra Club had not been so adamantly against them. This could have saved consumer dollars, American jobs, and fuel consumption, and the world would be better off for it (inclduing California).

    I’m a Sierra Club life member and am ashamed of what the Club has done to our country, and I’d like to see someone from the Sierra Club explain their decision to me.

  • Samie

    Everyone seems testy
    You can argue all you want about the company Gm but I’m worried about the million or so job losses that would result especially in a weak economy, if the economy was in a better position maybe I would take another view but stop and think about the real consequences of this, because rather you like or not it would have consequences on everyone so know you could hide in a shake for another year or so.

    To give a so to speak free check to the Big 3 is silly and irresponsible and people like Pelosi should wake up the government is in a great position to do what Joseph Romm says, but it is true that so far market choices for fuel efficient cars is somewhat lacking. It seems we the consumer and the auto producers love to have it both ways fuel prices up consumers want green cars when economy is good and gas is stable or cheap bring on the boat SUV’s. I say that a bailout can send a clear message through increased CAFE that can prevent the complacence in the industry that also includes Toyota. But CAFE needs to be more evenly distributed among the vehicles models and not excluded to some entry level or “green” cars.

    As for the bailout I agree management should be changed that needs to be spelled out. The only thing I worry about is a second bailout of the Big 3 which I would not support again I worry about the million plus jobs here so maybe if they ask for more money again we could take those car workers and retro fit gov building, build more wind and solar plants ect. . To green our economy with those losses of jobs.

  • Bryce

    I was saying that these people also lack any experience in the market either…..as you aptly pointed out, Cramer does. I wouldn’t say your an idiot, don’t know that for sure, but you sure are an A-hole. : )

  • Samie

    A point that Bryce brought up how does the Tesla’s fill the gap of becoming a major automaker when you let the Big 3 go down? Does anybody realize the implications of not having any major domestic corporate auto manufactures in the U.S? How about the massive unemployment or the extra debt that could occur say retraining or finding jobs for these people? (As I said earlier we would have to pump lots of resources into green jobs)

    I don’t feel sorry for the Big 3 but again as consumers and auto manufactures need to realize that we must move forward. And by moving forward we need to realize that Toyota has played the gas guzzler game has had most of the industry. Here is one of the greatest chances to motivate the industry and provide a clear long term energy plan. As excited as I am about hybrids and EV’s to this day they have reached 1-2% of the market this is what alarms me and the need to get the industry to start finding ways to standardize some of these technology especially in higher priced vehicles. The whole industry likes to kick and scream over any changes but now we have great leverage in our hands, which I hope congress does not screw up or maybe we will talk about another bailout in a few years.

  • RKRB

    -Wow! To see how foreign governments view the proposed bailout, look at business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/articles5158583.ece (in case I’ve misspelled something, it’s an article from the London Times about UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s concerns as expressed at the recent Economic Summit).

    -Basically, foreign governments seem to view the US plan to bail out its autoworkers as Protectionism with a Capital P. This could get nasty and could finally dethrone the deflating dollar as the Elvis of Currencies. For something really interesting, read what the French view is.

    -Who cares what foreigners think about the US’s internal affairs? [obviously, not the editors, since not a single foreign view was presented] If too many foreigners seriously lose faith in their trillions of dollars in Treasury Bonds and decide that the US should indulge in a little fiscal responsibility itself, our current financial difficulties may look as important as coming up a couple of cents short on a restaurant tip.

    -Of course, April Fool ! There’s really no problem at all, because Obama has said he definitely has all the answers, and one of those answers is protectionism, and thinks he’s the Messiah, and he promised to support the autoworkers no matter what, and we voted for him (‘change you can believe in” and you can believe we will be getting some change), and the Europeans wanted him too, so all our problems will be over in another couple of months. Don’t mess with the Messiah. Yes, you betcha.

    -It’s time to realize that America is not alone. We can’t just keep printing money, doing whatever our lawmakers think is expedient, and hope no one will pay attention. We can’t keep calling for a level playing field and still demand the world’s highest wage scale, without something in return. No one, not even the Chinese or the French, probably wants to see the dollar become worthless, but on the other hand, perhaps ….

  • Stephanie

    “If consumers really wanted green cars, no mandate would be necessary. “

    With all due respect you sir do not know what you are talking about. There are many people trying to buy hybrids that aren’t available. Last year Ford said they’d up the production of the Ford Escape Hybrid. Did they? NO! Still producing only 25k. Check out blueoval.com and see how many people are trying to locate a FEH. I had to order mine and finally got it. There are people on that website that have been waiting for 6 months and still don’t have their vehicle. Ford could be selling so many of these vehicles but NO they have to make f-150 trucks and other low mileage vehicles. And yet through all this mismanagement and loss the CEO gets a BONUS?? A bailout NO WAY. The CEO should be getting $1.00 a year till he turns the company around! It is sickening!!!

  • sean t

    Wonder if the big 3 could sell any big, fast and inefficient cars in the last decades if there was no buyers. There are 2 factors: Manufactureres and consumers. Enough blaming the big 3, how about the so called “American taste”? “Mine is bigger than yours”? etc etc.

  • Big Abner

    The two posters that made the most sense are the most ignored in the responses. UAW Needs Reform has the best post and the most truthful answers. Detoit is an abyss of mediocrity and has the product ratings to prove it.

    Picky McPicky has the best solution. Detroit needs to think more like Silicon Valley where perfection, innovation and a general exitement exists everyday with new products and applications being introduced with hope and fanfare. There’s no recession in Santa Clara or San Mateo Counties…the heart of the Silicon Valley. Can’t say the same for the depressed Detoit area…even when Detroit was healthy.

    Steve Jobs running GM?

    He certainly has a Midas touch with everything he is invloved with from Apple to Pixar. Lary Ellison, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman are touigh as nails and would weed out the innovation challenged dolts (ryhmes with Volt) that litter the landscape at GM and it’s many subsidiaries and suppliers.

  • Jon

    American’s are consumerist gluttons. They like their cars like they like their junk food and yes the government needs to step in to save them from themselves. What the consumers want is irrelevant when they act so recklessly and only the government can step in and mandate dramatic changes in the american vehicle fleet at all levels and with extreme haste.

  • MikeyMan

    I know someone said it above about how GM is producing fuel efficient cars now, but the bottom line is this:

    GM, Ford, and Chrysler have for the majority of their stay, represented muscle in cars and larger sized vehicles. This presents a problem because first impression is always key. It’s VERY hard to sway people’s minds on these companies when they’ve been knowing for having gas guzzlers for so long. Heck, Jeep and Hummer are just that, all truck/suv like vehicles.

    BUT they still continue to producer a much larger amount of pick up trucks, and larger sized SUV’s. More so than any Japanese counterparts. Honda and Toyota especially only produce 1 larger sized SUV and at most 2 mid size to compact because no matter what, there still is a market for that. Honda and Toyota both will be releasing the 2 most fuel efficient cars in American history within the next couple of months (not counting the first version of Honda Insight). Lexus even announced a prius like model and that they will be making ALL of their models hybrids within the next few years.

    What has always gotten me with American Auto Makers is not just the lack of gas mileage, but the BUILD QUALITY. It’s horrendous for the most part. Especially GM. Ford is a bit better off. I love the way the new Cadillac CTS looks. But head to Edmunds.com and look at the reviews people leave. Many say that their engine just failed at 4,000 miles and Cadillac wouldn’t cover it under warranty. My brother has a Chevy Trailblazer. Not even a year after he had it, the paint on all of the controls on his console wore off. The plastics on the sides of the seats are cheap and are falling apart too.

    As for me, I own a 2004 Acura TSX. 75K + miles and going strong. All i’ve done is change the oil.

    But if we’re on the subject of just build quality, I’d throw Volkswagen into that mix any day. Once they started producing cars in Mexico in 1999, I don’t think they’ve made worse pieces of S***. Everything that could’ve gone wrong with my ’99 Jetta dide.

  • Bryce

    lol, so I guess what companies are actually doing doesn’t erase what has been done….that sounds fare. However….if we all followed that….

    No one would buy VW…..Nazi cars.

    No one would buy japanese imports…….they would all think they were un-american 70s era deathtraps

    The korean cars wouldn’t have an ice cubes chance in hell

    lets not even get started on Chinese cars….rofl.

    Companies change, the trend is towards the better for all of them. Focus on what they are doing for you today, not yesterday. Maybe this is becuase I am younger than all the old farts on this site, but every domestic in my family has done beautifully without any problems. We had Toyotas too. They were fine, not too refined though. I will take a Chevy anyday, and if I were going to buy an import, it would be Honda. (gorgeous interiors, and better styling than any Toyota)

    O, and the most fuel efficient car in American history is coming in 2010, and it is the Volt. It will blow a measly 50 mpg out of the water. I hope whoever wins that title enjoys the 50 mpg champ title while it lasts for that year. lol

  • Ruth

    Recently I watched the documentary “Who Killed The Electric Car”. GM manufactured the EV1 and leased thousands of these cars to people in California in the 1990’s. California built charging stations to accommodate recharging these cars. People loved these electric cars, they ran quietly, had almost no maintenance and were energy efficient and almost no pollution! But when the first Bush came into office (favoring big oil) GM refused to renew the leases or sell these cars to the people who wanted them. GM had ALL of them SHREDDED!!!!
    Now they want a bailout? NO NO NO NO NO !
    What happened to the tooling they had to build the EV1 ?????
    GM wasn’t our only auto manufacturer to build an electric car! What are these companies trying to pull? They chose to back big oil and not our environment! I choose to let them go to thunder!

  • Todd C

    Why doesn’t BIG OIL bail out the BIG 3? We know that they have the money, and it it would go a long way to repairing their reputation with consumers. Of course, they’re not likely to insist that the Big 3 set and build to higher fuel efficiency standards.

  • steved28

    Bryce, Buying a vehicle today is a commitment, and with all due respect, it’s not a commitment you have undertaken. When you sign on the dotted line to pay for something for 3,4,5 even 7 years, you don’t want to make a mistake. GM has had some of the most loyal owners I have seen over the past 30 years. A lot of it was blind loyalty IMO, but I’m sure many were happy to return. That trend has been bucked in the past 10 to 15 years. I have known lifelong GM customers who just had enough. It wasn’t Edmunds or Consumer reports that lost them loyal customers, it was the customer’s experiences. I agree that at some point GM woke up and began better quality control and build practices, but the damage had been done. Many former GM customers are not just going to go back after switching (and having positive experiences) with another car company, foreign or domestic.

    Did you know that a percentage of auto commercials put out are not even to sell a vehicle? They are made simply to make current customers feel good about their purchase. Customer loyalty is huge in this business. People never want to admit that they may have made a bad decision, which is why I usually take survey results with a grain of salt.

    Personally I have purchased many different brands, but I had settled into Fords for the past 25 years. Until this year, when they (or any other domestic mfr) did not have a competitor for the Altima Hybrid. (And please JamesSS, don’t insult me by saying I could have bought an Aura mild hybrid). I wrote Ford a letter at the time explaining why they lost a loyal customer. It’s a new ball game.

  • Dan L

    American car makers are being crushed by their obligations: Borrowed money that they must repay, pensions that they have promised, union contracts that they have signed. A bailout will just add more obligations to the list. It might be enough to get them through this economic downturn, but it is only delaying the inevitable.

    The real question is what happens after the bankruptcy? Instead of worrying about how to keep the big three afloat, we should be asking how do we pick up the pieces when they go under? There are three possibilities:
    Total Loss: Everyone working for the big three finds a new job in another industry.
    Toyota Shopping Spree: Foreign automakers snap up all the newly available equipment and workers in a fire sale.
    New American Auto Industry: New US automakers snap up all the newly available equipment and workers in a fire sale.

    Our government should be focused on making sure this fiasco is not a total loss.

  • Dom

    Since we bailed out the banks, why not bail out the automakers too?? Of course, I don’t think we should have bailed out the banks… they created a mess, they should have to pay for it. But it seems in general that Americans don’t believe in personal responsibility much anymore.

    But anyone saying that Americans want green cars is a bit delusional. The people represented on this forum, ie. people that want small fuel efficient cars, are a very small minority in this country. Most people I know want bigger and better everything, be it a car/truck/suv, a house, a BigMac/Whopper, a TV, or what have you. We are consumers, and we have embraced our consumerism society completely. Settling for less is on the same bad list as personal responsibility.

  • Ross Nicholson

    Unions have not crippled GM, Ford, and Chrysler. The American labor unions are completely innocent of any wrong-doing whatsoever. After all, a union is just a corporation to help and represent workers. What profit is there in that? Unions are practically charities. A good part of what a union does actually is charity.
    Unions have taught American managers how to be better managers by respecting working men and women. Do we really want to go back to the days of poverty wages, dangerous conditions, an American people exhausted and sick from overwork? Inevitably, if you allow unrestrained management caveat, large employer power can and eventually will crush people to lift the bottom line. Look overseas and see for yourselves. It is 2008 in Pakistan, too, but managerial depredation degrades those workers and cripples the overall economy, condemning millions to a stone-age existence. Lift the people and lift the bottom line at the same time. People are brains and emotions, not just hands and boots. I get so sick of people dissing unions, and why? Knee-jerk nazism. Hating unions is like hating races, hair colors, or head scarves. It’s stupid. You’re just getting yourselves all worked up over nothing.
    Money flows where money is needed, like water heads downhill. The crisis of trust we have after the recent political market manipulations is a short-term phenomenon, like a traffic jam on a long straight road.
    The press naturally exaggerates to sell more ads and panic is the best exaggeration. That won’t change without some leadership. Citi bank is tossing 75,000 workers, well, sure! Citi group just had a big merger. Companies merge to benefit from economies of scale. It doesn’t mean the economy is headed into the toilet.
    GM, Ford, and Chrysler are attractive, vigorous American companies, leaders of their industry and they have a bright prosperous future ahead of them. So let’s not count them out just yet, OK?

  • I am Sirius

    Silicon Valley should most definitely help reshape Detroit. While Steve Jobs is the face of the industry here, it’s the Sand Hill Road Venture Capital giants that have helped grow this area from small sleepy orchard focused towns to a bustling, wealthy, tech, and intellectual capital rich megapolis. Here’s a list of our areas finest:

    Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Menlo Ventures, Accel Partners, Bay Partners, Crosspoint Venture Partners (to solve the healthcare issue that GM has) , Draper Fisher Jurvetson (viral marketing gurus), Mayfield Fund, Oak Investment Partners, Platinum Venture Partners, Rosewood Capital, Red Rock Ventures, Redleaf Venture Management.

    Abner is right. What recession? The area from San Jose to San Francisco that is also known as the South Bay and Peninsula is the leader not only in computer tech, but is a world leader in Bio-tech (Genentech, Chiron) video games (Electronic Arts/EASports, SEGA, Atari, Jamdat) and animated movies with Pixar AND Dreamworks animation located here as well. There’s a lot of healthy spending households here. I was at the mall yesterday and there were lines into the parking lots just to find parking spots. It was also 82 and sunny.

    In order to have a climate for innovation, you need to have a literal climate for innovation. In order to transform Detroit you need to change the mindset. Old school, white collared, crew cut exec’s are out…Walk through the doors of Google, Yahoo, Apple, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Adobe, and Electron Arts. That’s the futrure of innovation. That should be the future of our automotive industry.

    Move Detroit to Silicon Valley and SAVE THE AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE!

  • Trying-to-defeat-the-idiots

    This is the respect the Big Three get? Employing hundreds of thousands of workers with good-paying jobs and all you people want is to see them fail.

    You are all very short-sighted and stupid. Your foresight is clouded. Your hatred toward American manufacturing is disgusting.

    I’m surprised you don’t do the same with John Deere, Caterpillar, Cummins, Boeing, Briggs & Stratton, Kohler, etc. Oh wait–you don’t know anything but your own little world and your opinions on the auto industry.

    There are a lot of idiots spewing their hate toward Detroit.

    I work in the industry. I work on fuel economy. We are doing very well and are more than competitive with Honda and Toyota on a lot of models.

    We also build big vehicles that people want. Toyota built a truck plant in Texas to do the same. they are no better than us. Nissan isn’t close either. honda stays small and that is their business.

    Reliability will take a long time to get over, but we are making great strides. You won’t have a reliability argument in 10 years.

    Our hybrids, though somewhat later than Toyota and Honda, are great. There are several ways to do it to get great fuel economy and “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet”.

  • I own very old American vehicles

    Thank you to Gov. Arnold for this post, but there are a couple points in rebuttal. One question, these technowonders sold to us by these wonderful firms frequently don’t last much more than a year, and offer maybe 90 days warranty. At least “Detroit” is offering 50K miles plus warranties and sometimes lifetime warranties. That said, where are these items manufactured? My guess is most are not manufactured here. Not exactly an accurate comparison. Plus, no offense, but I think it is overstating the case to call these pockets of “superior intellectual capital” or genius pools hehehe.

  • bennie

    one country, one emissions and fuel economy standard. you people who believe each state can regulate their own emissions and fuel economy should be forced to pay for the employees necessary in Detroit, not in cushy California, to put such a plan in place. PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS.

    For CAFE standards–put your money where your mouth is.

    For all who want small cars–why stop there–why not just stay home. you don’t need to go anywhere and you don’t need to carry anything, tow anything or move any equipment. you might as well just stay home and grow a garden for your survival. Hopefully for you there’s a job for you that can pay the bills within biking distance of your home.

  • Will S

    Trying-to-defeat-the-idiots said;

    >You are all very short-sighted and stupid. Your foresight is clouded.

    You are talking to the Big 3 management teams, it seems.

    > There are a lot of idiots spewing their hate toward Detroit.

    My, my. The Big 3 lobby to kill improvements to CAFE, over-promote SUVs and other gas guzzlers, seize and shred electric cars, and you are blaming people who are reticent to throw $25 BILLION at you? Not a sure way to make your point, much less acquire the cold cash. The unions also supported the stonewalling of CAFE improvements, so there are none in the Big 3 without blame.

  • I am Sirius

    Not overstating the superior Intellectual Capital of the Silicon Valley one bit. It’s fact.

    The Bay Area universities are a hundred time better than the overtstated and overated University of Michigan business school that pays big advertising dollars to Business week to have it’s laughable business school ranked every year. That’s inside knowledge fact BTW.

    41 percent of residents aged 25 years and over had a bachelors degree or higher. The San Francisco Bay Area population is near the top in the Nation for overall education level. The San Francisco and San Jose PMSAs rank third and fourth in college graduates, ahead of Boston and behind only Boulder–Longmont, Co PMSA and Stamford–Norwalk, CT PMSA. Santa Cruz PMSA ranks eighth and the Oakland PMSA eleventh.

    While only 26% of households nationwide boast incomes of over $75,000 a year, 48% of households in the San Francisco Bay Area enjoy such incomes. The percentage of households with incomes exceeding the $100,000 mark in the Bay Area was double the nationwide percentage. Roughly one third (31%) of households in the San Francisco Bay Area had a six figure income, versus less than 16% at the nationwide level.

    Forty-two San Francisco Bay Area residents made the Forbes magazine’s 400 richest Americans list. (2006 list more than that now, but don’t have time to count the entire list) Thirteen live within San Francisco proper, placing it seventh among cities in the world. Among the forty-two were several well-known names such as Steve Jobs, George Lucas, and Charles Schwab. The highest-ranking resident is Larry Ellison of Oracle at No. 4. He is worth $19.5 billion.

    For the record…Detroit is in the bottom third of the nation in education level. This is the pool of talent that is presently running our nations automobile manufacturers.

  • Allen

    @Ross Nicholson,
    You’re right in a couple respects…
    1. “Unions have not crippled GM, Ford, and Chrysler”
    They have also crippled entire industries.
    You will notice the level of Unions in the technology (and most other highly-skilled) industry. Very small.
    I agree that Unions need to exist. They also need to be realistic. As another pointed out, these workers are making more money than some in Silicon Valley, with better benefits (as well as having their entire family covered even after they retire) and the company still needs to hire someone to replace them once they retire.
    Not a good business model.
    2. “A good part of what a union does actually is charity”
    Unfortunately, they are using the money from the workers to do it. If the want to be involved in charity, they should be a non-profit group, instead a “representative” for the workers. Ask a few union employees how much gets pulled from their checks and then multiply that by the amount of Union workers and you’ll see the amount of money going into the Unions. This money is being pulled from the companies. The workers need representatives that will keep the workers’ interests (short- and long-term) as their primary goal.

    And now for my rant……
    I will agree that the Unions are not the ONLY problem. Just like in the tech sector, there are WAY too many people in executive positions that are only interested in their own golden parachute. ANY company that rewards an executive for flushing their company down the drain should be punished, or bought out.
    I don’t think there is an easy solution since the government has been so heavily involved in the Oil and Auto industries for so many years. All of this should have been addressed in the 70’s when this happened the first time. Now we have 30 years of dependence on the industries. I’m hoping any bailout will include the ability for smaller “upstart” companies to have the same rebates and incentives that the “big 3” would have.
    I also think Americans need to given the same opportunity to purchase vehicles on an equal footing. By that I mean that we should be taxing the imports at the same rate as they tax our products. Unfortunately, this will also cause these same countries’ other goods (read ‘electronics’) to increase in price. I feel this will make consumers a little more cautious in purchasing products that will last, instead of resigning themselves to “throw-away” products. I am a firm believer that we (Americans) will continue to purchase products that increase our independence and make us “feel good”. I owned a ’69 Chevelle (350-V8) that lasted for more than 200,000 miles and I had it tuned to get about 17 MPG with a modest impact on performance. While the mileage wasn’t great, it was fun and stylish. When the transmission went out, and gas was climbing, I got a Miata so that I could balance me needs. Given the opportunity, I would buy an old Chevy (30’s-40’s) that had been converted to hydrogen or electric. Unfortunately, all the electric motors that are strong enough, are still way too expensive and there aren’t any viable open-source controllers to help in the DIY field. I determined it would cost me over $15K to convert my Miata to a similar level of performance.
    Anyone implying that everyone should be buying small cars and use mass transit needs to touch on reality. With the right technology, we can have all the luxuries we currently have, and still help the environment.
    People need to stop saying that it’s Electric vs. Hydrogen and let both of them work. Get the large electric motors down in price and you’ll see the conversions take off just like the small-block Chevy did in the 50’s and 60’s.
    Sorry for the rant…it’s been building for a while. 🙂

  • Phil

    What I would like to know is what the Big 3 will do differently if they get the money. From everything I have read I can’t recall what exactly their plan is to turn the companies around.

  • Anonymous


    It”s interesting that guys like yourself (a union guy maybe) are so quick to call anyone who expresses the general feeling of holding domestic makers accountable an A-hole (live in a glass house?). As for the Prius, if you had shopped for one you would know that it will max out in price at least $5-10K lower than the pie in the sky Volt. As for comparisons of Cobalts and Civics, lets drive one then the other. Better yet, lets drive a 3 year old Civic and a 3 year old Cobalt and see which one has held up better. I’ll never buy another domestic again, not just because of their poor reliability and residual but because of overpaid, underworked union members and simple-minded people who try to browbeat me into being an “American” by buying an “American” car. I do buy the “American” way, I buy the best product at the best price, which happens to be Hondas made right here in the USA. Let the big 3 die off like the rest of Detroit has.

  • bill cosworth

    I am going to make this simple because to many people write too much….

    GM does not make the cars people want???

    GM sells almost twice as many cars in the US as Toyota.

    Bailout ::you be an absolute fool not to. The USG spent 90 Billion on the Aubrey V22 that was a horrible investment.

    GM= good for USA puts people to work.

    Also people face the facts the HOME business is OVER hello!!!! Your home is no longer going up.

    Time to get back to work making goods. Cars are the most expensive good right now.

    Why let your money go overseas.

    Toyota is Consumer Distorts largest Contributor

    Toyota Historically is the most unsafe car sold and has killed more people.

    Ford is the safest car company and currently all there models are safer than Toyota.

    I have owned Both Toyota And GM cars and I find the GMs to cost less.

    Toyota PR is strong in the USA including this blog.

    But facts are Facts Toyota cars are no better than GM in fact they are unsafe and cover up problems.

    Try buying a Lexis hybrid getting 20 MPG and people complain about a GM suv getting 20.

    Get some pride Americans and stop basing American industry.

    OR maybe the anti-gm and anti American here are not Americans.

  • Bryce


    I can tell you, as someone that attends one of those prestigious bay area schools (UC Berkeley, the highest ranked public Universitey on Earth) that the people here are good Engineers and nuclear physicists, but tend to be lacking in macro-economic understanding and real polical situations. They are blinded by their own self-righteousness and usually unwilling to listen to opposing views. Then again…..I guess I only go to Berkeley….can’t be that smart right.

    Sorry Mr. Anonymous, I don’t work for any union.

    As far as I am concerned……Toyotas are old people cars. Old folks holler about old cars they loved when they were young and sexy, and now that they are falling apart, they fall back on what the remember to be solid….but it isn’t anymore. Honda, chevy……hell, even Nissan is beating them in consumer reports over the past few years. I don’t hate foreign competition, in fact, I love it and think it makes us better for it. I do however hate seeing you guys swindeled by an old undeserved reputation. Then again, you will probably be dead soon anyways, so what do I have to worry about. Hurry up, I would rather save some of that Social Security for myself, and hell, maybe my kids…..instead of robbing us……my generation.

    I too buy the American way. For the best product I can find. When I graduate, the Volt will have been out for a year, and I will take advantage of that opportunity. It being the most fuel efficient option on the market….by far, I will take it up. IF….and IF someone else can come up with something else…well…..I am waiting competitors.

  • I am Sirius

    The reason I have such disdain for Michigan is because I went there and I am not sure they have a beat on macro-economics either. I was turned down at most other schools I applied to and was accepted by Michigan and received my MBA there. It was a joke. My dog could have gotten at least a C average there. I am now a Californian and you couldn’t pay me enough to ever want to go back to that state ever again. The talent at Detroit automakers is mediocre at best. They do have a tough time recruiting.

    The IC out here in the Golden State is 100X what it is anywhere in the midwest. Only New York, Boston and Washington can compete intellectually.

    Cal’s Haas Business school is an outstanding school, although Stanford’s is better by a long shot and I’ll bet a Big Game showdown on that one.

  • Bryce

    eh, Stanford is going down my friend….go Cal!

    O, and you should probably include Texas. Actually one of the fastest growing places for use of alternative energies and hybrid vehicles. Now has more wind energy production than California and expanding rapidly. Just sayin…..

    I can’t attest personally for anything midwest, but I can compare to SoCal. Having that comparison, I would question calling these bay folks the smartest on Earth. They holler about their diversity and acceptance….but I look around…..and hey, I am the only white guy. There are no black folks, and no mexican folks. Back home there is real diversity and acceptance, not this facade of it like here. And, back home, everyone isn’t all regionalized and segregated like in Oakland. (unless you count Arcadia, which is pretty much all Korean folks) They are caught up in what was decades ago, but just can’t get into the now. When they realize what they really are….they will cry. What they are is a segregated society without any real understanding of anything outside of their little (highly polluted) bay. I mean, why does a place that is so socially equalizing like Berkeley have a population with 21% below the poverty line. That is 75% above the national average. Don’t even get me started on San Fran….sketchy as hell.

    Anyways, this places offers a great school, and maybe a nie vacation spot, but certainly not a home or a place to raise some kids…….except for maybe Pleasanton….or San Jose…lol

  • tapra1

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  • altonalvin

    But these bailouts are not that. Both the auto industry and the banking industry are insanely inefficient. They have been for decades. And rather than being saved from a shock, both need a significant shock to management to radically change how they do business. lifestyle