Nader and Moore: Don’t Bail Out Detroit, Buy It

As automakers return to Congress to plead their case for a bailout, two of the country’s leading voices for change in Detroit are speaking out. Ralph Nader’s ground-breaking book, Unsafe At Any Speed, led to historic reform in vehicle safety, fuel efficiency, and emissions standards. Michael Moore’s breakout documentary, Roger and Me, is a hard-hitting yet humorous look at the devastating impact of GM’s closings of auto plants in Flint, Mich., in the late 1980s.

Ralph Nader

“Put in people who know how to produce fuel-efficient, emission-controlled safe motor vehicles.”

“The automakers dangle the electric car, they dangle new kinds of propulsion systems, but it never happens. We’re still saddled with the infernal, eternal, internal combustion engine. And GM came [to Congress] yesterday with the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt is going to cost at least $40,000 to $50,000 to anybody who wants to buy it. That’s just more window dressing by GM. That’s why the management and the board of directors have to be removed completely, and put in people who really know how to produce cars that are in consonant with consumer needs and the environment.

“So, what I think should be done is for the government to say, OK, you want our help. We are going to own a part of you. We are going to be creditors and restructure you; remove the board of directors and the executives that are deemed not to be performing over the years; put people who know how to produce fuel-efficient, emission-controlled safe motor vehicles in place; and reform the whole area of shareholder rights, because the government will be a shareholder. And since the government is effectively an insurer, they can move to apply the principle of insurance and loss prevention and produce motor vehicles and alternative transit, mass transit, that will damage less people on the highway and the environment. So, I call it government capitalism, where the government plays the role of a shareholder, the role of a creditor, the role of an insurer, and restructures the entire industry.”

Appearing on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now.


Michael Moore

“Build cars that are not primarily dependent on oil.”

“The new president and Congress must do what Franklin Roosevelt did when he was faced with a crisis (and ordered the auto industry to stop building cars and instead build tanks and planes): The Big 3 are, from this point forward, to build only cars that are not primarily dependent on oil and, more important, to build trains, buses, subways, and light rail (a corresponding public works project across the country will build the rail lines and tracks). This will not only save jobs, but create millions of new ones.

“You could buy all the common shares of stock in General Motors for less than $3 billion…Take the money and buy the company! (You’re going to demand collateral anyway if you give them the “loan,” and because we know they will default on that loan, you’re going to own the company in the end as it is. So why wait? Just buy them out now.)

“None of us want government officials running a car company, but there are some very smart transportation geniuses who could be hired to do this. We need a Marshall Plan to switch us off oil-dependent vehicles and get us into the 21st century.”

From Moore’s article “Let’s Buy the Big Three” on TheDailyBeast.com.


  • Bill Cosworth

    Look

    Volt races Prius in washginton.

    Volt wins!!

    The volt is a perfect electric car for washington. No more smog..

    http://gm-volt.com/2008/12/05/volt-one-step-ahead-of-the-prius/

  • Need2Change

    Interesting idea.

    I see two problems.

    1. buying the stock doesn’t solve the problem. The U.S. will still need to spend billions to support the big three, and

    2. I’m not sure I trust the government to run the auto industry. I work for the federal government and politics impact too many decisions. Look at California. First they supported gasoline vehicles, then all electric, then fuel cell, and now they appear to be switching to who knows? And with the Dems in control, the government will cater to the unions. And if the repubilicans gain control, the gas companies will get a boost……

    I’m glad that Congress is running the big three through the wringer. But in the end, I believe we should allow the auto companies to run themselves, rather than nationalize the industry.

    The government will need to support the auto industry with loans and tax breaks, or the u.S. will have millions more on the unemployment roles.

  • Shines

    Bill,
    Like I said in the other thread. That isn’t the Volt winning a race against the Prius. It is the Volt mule stopped at an intersection with its front end ahead of the front end of the stopped Prius.

    No race, not a race.
    Someday maybe, the Volt will win some kind of race. It has to make it to production first…

  • Ross Nicholson

    Naw. We don’t need to buy GM. Even after two centuries, the post office is terrible. All the cars would look like handsome Henry Waxman. However, we could buy some of GM’s stock, though, and some stock of every company out there worth a dang, foreign companies too if they have plants or close partners here. Throw the stock into the Social Security Trust Fund and forget it until we can sell if we need to tackle inflation instead of the fed raising rates. The money sloshing around would get people buying cars again.

  • WompaStompa

    A purely electric vehicle could beat a lot of current gas only or hybrid vehicles in a race, if the aholes would actually produce them. The EV1 would go like a bat out of hell.

  • Anonymous

    As usual, these things have some good ideas, but are a bit simplistic. Our national goal is to get more fuel efficient cars out there, and to provide jobs for the American public. Only providing funds to Detroit for cars that get 40+ mpg is not a good business model at this point… the general public simply is not on average purchasing cars that get even 30+ mpg cars, and there will be a time delay to get those cars to market.

    I do agree with a board shakeup. It’s fair for congress to ask what got Detroit into the current problems, and that’s a lack of vision. But, it was savvy business for Detroit to sell SUVs and trucks, WE wanted them. Toyota moved into that area, Nissan moved into that area.

    What can we (congress, the american public, etc) do? We can attach any string to funding we give. One string is an oversight board that has the power to review board members, and replace those that cling too hard on an obsolete vision. That oversight board should also have the savvy to produce a viable business. In the past years, we regularly rejected subcompacts. A business plan that produces only subcompacts simply isn’t practical at this point in time. A business plan that does tilt the mix to smaller cars, even beyond Japan, while keeping crossovers and luxury cars, has merit. There can be regular reviews that say “How are the hybrids doing?, How are the 40+ mpg cars coming along? Have you shed enough excess capacity, and excess dealerships?” If not, then why not, and if a board member or upper management is the problem, then question that person, or replace that person.

  • AP

    As an engineer in the domestic auto industry (and proud to be one, by the way), I am also glad we are being put through the ringer. The double standard applied to us (relative to the banks) is frustrating, but the banks will still have the same issues after this all ends (as well as 25 times the loan the auto industry is asking for). They are not learning anything.

    On the other hand, if everyone in our industry sacrifices a bit, we’ll come out of it stronger. It sounds like the pension burden from the “good old days” may be relieved some, and the UAW had already agreed to about $15 wages afte 2009. The government may facilitate this compromise, which is something the government is good at.

    But long term, the biggest thing the government could do for us is to be consistent in its message to manufacturers and consumers. Our “energy policy” needs to bring our customers and domestic manufacturers together.

    Requiring twice the current fuel economy from our cars while keeping fuel taxes low is hypocrisy. It creates a supply of economical cars (which will either be much smaller or much more expensive), while creating no demand for them. With today’s durable cars, people could delay their car purchases indefinitely, which defeats the purpose of CAFE requirements and will skewer the manufacturers. Just to move the cars, manufacturers will have to eat the cost of the lighter materials, exotic materials and technology, and the extra development work involved. This is like requiring fast food hamburgers to be made of filet mignon – no one would pay the $15 to make it profitable.

    To drive demand for the new vehicles, we need a higher fuel tax (phased in over several years and returned to income tax filers as a tax credit), which will “nudge” the average person to buy the new vehicles in their own best interest – they’ll see a payback. Then the profits will support the research and development. The government can’t do it forever.

    The main thing is to let the consumer speak with his wallet, and let the manufacturers figure out the most effective way to supply the fuel-efficiency the consumer demands. Even the currently established hybrids do not pay for themselves with current gas prices, and the domestics cannot afford to subsidize them the way Toyota does (Toyota may not be able to much longer, since their Tundra and Sequoia sales are down).

    The reluctance of our government to face up to the real solution for reducing oil consumption – producing demand for fuel efficiency in the marketplace with a higher tax (revenue-neutral) – has already had the unintended consequences of popularizing SUV’s, urban sprawl, and putting the domestic automakers at odds with quickly changing consumer demand. Nothing they do could be more valuable than steadying the consumer’s wavering priority on fuel efficiency.

    Oh, yeah, judging us by our current products would also be appreciated. Twenty years ago, I wouldn’t have recommended our own vehicles. Today, I’d buy any of them. Don’t be prejudiced.

  • veek

    How great. These two think they know everything but have demonstrably proven the opposite, now telling us how to run G.M. “They can’t even run their own lives, I’ll be ___ if they’ll run mine.” If either of these clowns were running GM or even Chrysler, those companies would have closed down long ago. Yes, there are nightmares even worse than capitalism gone bad.

    Buying the Big 3 would make each and every one of us responsible for every further misstep they make. Would you want Congress making the decisions for the cars you want?? Would you want Nader and Moore doing it????

  • DrP

    Finally an intelligent comment. Fuel taxes to maintain fuel prices at or above $3 per gal. and similar government actions are necessary. The idea that congress or the president can manage a major industry better than business trained people is an idiotic idea. Lack of proper oversite and implementation of stupid mortgage policies by Congress are major causes of the present problems. Taking worthless stock in essentially bankrupt companies is an other idiotic idea. Stockholder”s equity is wiped out by excess debt in bankruptcy with stockholders having no claim on assets.

  • Anon

    What is all this talk about the end of the American auto industry? Maybe the end of Detroit HQ auto companies, but there is as much US content in a Toyota, Honda, or VW. There will be suppliers that consumer demand and I’m happy to be a Honda built in the USA. Jobs will be lost at GM and gained at Toyota (in the US) under work rules that allow for efficiency of operations. Are my tax dollars supposed to support union work rules so we can have 3 guys watching one person do the work?

  • Consummate Skeptic

    To Need2Change:
    This is not a criticism per se, but I am sure I that I would not trust the government to run any industry. If we go down this road, we could see cars that are:
    1)Have high MPG with a price so high that no one will buy without taxpayer funded subsidies
    2)Extremely small and light – the lawyers will get in line to sue the manufacturers for selling such unsafe vehicles when the first accidents occur
    3)As high quality as any top of the line Russian car from 20 years ago
    To WampaStompa:
    As long as you accept either a vehicle that is tiny and/or has a minimal range and/or has a very high cost, you are right. Otherwise, please tell us where we can buy these new vehicles with at least 150 mile range that cost $20,000 and are not glorified golf carts.
    To AP:
    I agree to just about everything you said except, possibly, for the “unintended consequences” part. Many people just like big, heavy vehicles for safety reasons. And, especially when a heavy vehicle collides with a lower weight vehicle, they are right. Also, when gas prices were low, the fuel cost to drive a big, heavy vehicle was relatively low. And no, I am not arguing that everyone should drive heavy vehicles (I have a 2007 Civic Hybrid).
    To all:
    I have been following technological improvements in cars for over 30 years. I have read about many different ideas to improve efficiency. I have read about a car (a Corona?) that got something like 178 MPG quite a while ago. It was modified to be a series hybrid with a 20 HP gas engine, a very low HP electric motor and a truly awful 0-60 time. I can tell you that, for the most part, no one cared about this stuff for many, many years. The fact is that until maybe 3 or 4 years ago, very few people cared what a vehicle’s MPG rating was.
    The American public seems to have a very short attention span. I hear people complaining all the time about how the car companies are not producing cars that get high MPG ratings. These people don’t seem to know anything about product development cycle time and don’t care that they are demanding now cars that they didn’t even want 4 years ago. They don’t care about trade-offs of safety and power. They just think that they can have it all in one low priced package. It seems like that if it takes more that a minute to explain something, their eyes glaze over. Additionally, the news media generally does not seem to help the public understand the issues. I guess they figure that eyes that glaze over don’t stay tuned to their channel.
    As for energy policy, I would argue for a plan (agreeing almost entirely with AP) where the federal income tax would be very slowly replaced with a BTU tax. Theoretically, we should increase the tax on anything that we see as “bad” and decrease the tax on anything that we see as “good”. If the consumption of fossil fuels is “bad” (and I would agree with this only from a national security standpoint), tax it more. Don’t raise the price of vehicles by raising the MPG standards. People will figure out what is best for them if they understand the rules of the game (i.e., consistently rising fuels taxes).
    As for the Big 3, I am not sure what is best. I think that the management and the unions have shot themselves in the foot. The management only seemed to care about short profits, not caring that a low gasoline price is not a constitutional right and that it might be wise to have a product mix that includes smaller, high MPG cars. I don’t know what to say about the unions. They seem to have a system in place where they get more in wages and benefits than anyone else doing comparable work, and now they want help. I am sure that almost every worker would love to have the “jobs bank” that unions are reported to enjoy. My inclination is for the companies to declare bankruptcy, mostly because I think that they will be back for more money in a relatively short period of time.

  • klookenfooorter

    Chapter 11 is the best solution. It’s protection at it’s finest. It’s accountability at it best. It costs America about the same in the short term in lost tax revenue, but pretty much assures us that the automakers will be smarter, leeaner, meaner and ready to compete with a solid business plan in hand after they emerge from the mess. America has always loved the underdog…now only if they could move Detoit to Florida, Texas or California where real workers want to live…all will be well.

    Turksterker

  • cindy billton

    OH thats total HOGWASH

    The Toyota Camry has like 8% USA content

    Where a F150 has 96%

    also research and high tech engineering jobs go over seas

    People really show how stupid they are to believe when they buy a Toyota they are buying American.

    Toyota is turning the USA into sweat shops where the parts and the engineering jobs go overseas.

    Please who ever said that should be shot. Buying a Toyota is about American as the old Russia.

    Before people make blanket statements please read the facts

    http://www.levelfieldinstitute.org/files/scorecards/Ford_v_Toyota.pdf

  • greg smith

    Yes and the profits go to japan.

    So the money in profits are spent outside the usa.

    Makeing us poor

  • steved28

    Cindy, I’m not sure you get it either.

    I will buy a vehicle from one of the big 3 (I have an F150) when it makes sense for ME. I don’t go in to a showroom thinking “Gee, I wonder where the profits are going?”. “Joe six pack” doesn’t see these profits, and could probably care less who is getting the 21 million dollar salary as a result of their purchase.

    I do care about the the worker bee. I do want to see the jobs in America, but not at some inflated wage structure that is non sustainable.

    I’m so tired of the “buy American” argument. Wake up, it’s a world market. Give me a competitive product at a competitive price. You figure out how to make it price competitive, that’s not my concern.

  • AP

    Consummate Skeptic, thanks for the comments. The unintended consequences of CAFE I mentioned before were that trucks were allowed to get lesser MPG than cars. This was an obvious point in the 1970′s, when trucks were trucks and cars were cars. If people wanted a highway cruiser,they bought an LTD, Impala, or Fury.

    “No one” until the mid 1980′s drove trucks unless they had to. They weren’t “cool.” Then the price of fuel dropped like a rock.

    But CAFE required that every large car you made had to be offset by at least 2 small cars, which were less profitable. By making a pichup with an extended cab, or an SUV, a customer could get a large vehicle with a V8 and all the power equipment he wanted. It had a good range with a huge fuel tank that was now cheap to fill. Tightening CAFE on trucks doesn’t make sense, though: America needs trucks that are workhorses – we just don’t need people commuting in them.

    CAFE is and always will be legislation that will have unnatural consequences. No one in the 1970′s expected that fuel would drop again and people would commute (alone) in full-size trucks. Now, what a car is vs. a truck is hard to figure. You can try to plug the loop-holes, but you’ll never anticipate them all. You then reward the cleverest user of the rules, instead of reducing fuel consumption.

    Which brings up CAFE’s other major failure. A more efficient car doesn’t reduce consumption if it’s driven more. An American driver plus a 35 MPG car and $2 gas = “road trip! How much do you even think about car-pooling and combining (or even planning) trips? People have bought houses further from home, contributing to urban sprawl and destruction of more farmland and woods.

    To top it all off, the larger vehicles on the road have made other people think they need one, too, to 1) be safe, and 2) to be able to see around the truck in front of you.

    Actually there are more side-effects, but I think the point is made: CAFE has been a failed policy. The automakers themselves have fought it and said that a fuel tax would be a better way to reduce consumption, if we are really interested in solving the problem.

    CAFE may make it look like politicians are doing something, but it’s “feel-good” politics that will continue to produce collateral damage.

    And, oh, government-run car companies don’t work. Ask England, Russia, and (if it existed any more)East Germany. Especially with morons like Moore or Nader running them.

  • Not disclosed

    If you think the electric automobile is the answer, you need to read all the warnings about the electrical grid. It sounds like a good idea, but adding all of these plug-in autos to an already over taxed grid could be the next big crisis.

  • AP

    steved28, I understand your opinion. Every individual purchase has little effect on our economy, and the American way is to do what’s best for you.

    The unsustainable UAW wages you mentioned were already scheduled to drop to $15/hour in 2010, even before the economic collapse. The press doesn’t make much of this, since it would reduce sensationalism.

    But when you talk about sustainability, note that we can’t keep sending all our dollars overseas. Japan and China have ended up owning much of our government’s debt, and have gained political leverage on us as a result. Buying from them facilitates our government’s deficit spending on wars in Iraq.

    Sending money overseas should also make the dollar weak against the yen, but the Japanese government purposely buys dollars to keep the yen cheap, taxing their citizens more to fund this. This artificially keeps Japanese cars cheap (including ones “made” here, which are still engineered, developed, and tooled in Japan).

    Other governments HELP their automakers.

    The American automakers are the only ones that
    1) Have an antagonistic government to work with,
    2) Have a market open to products made with cheap labor (either in real terms or in a manipulated currency), government-paid health care, government subsidies, etc.
    3) Have low home-market fuel prices that provide no dependable demand for fuel efficiency, which has recently required huge reinvestments as Americans again “get religion.”
    4) Operate with an openly hostile, and largely ignorant, press, who seem to go out of their way to criticize their home team and neglect to criticize problems with imports (such as the hypocrisy of producing gas-guzzling trucks and using the profits to subsidize hybrids, becoming “green”).
    5) Are subject to many frivolous law suits brought by a litigious home society.
    6) Compete with foreign plants (usually just final assembly) that have been subsidized by our own states!
    7) Compete with foreign plants that have no older workers (i.e., lower wages, lower health care costs).

    Don’t get me wrong – some of Detroit’s problems are self-inflicted. Many people still think we make junk, which is an outdated, prejudiced notion. But Americans somehow think that if something is done somewhere else, it must be better (a certain panache?). Compare recent Cadillacs to BMW’s or recent Chevy Malibus to Toyota Camry’s, and you’ll see that we are as good or better, for less money.

    One thing that I hope comes out of these hearing is that the US government needs to cooperate with the domestic automakers to have

    1) a consistent, effective energy policy, and
    2) an industrial policy.

    If we can’t do that, America doesn’t deserve the economic power, technology, know-how, national pride, and expertise that comes with a strong domestic auto industry.

  • Chuck Lasker

    Moore – you are completely right. Your true straight talk is what this country needs more of. Here’s a thought – instead of the government buying GM, you KNOW you could raise $3 billion, Michael, so YOU do it! Nobody knows better about Detroit’s problems, and people would follow you. Go for it, man. Change the name from General Motors to General Moore! With General in front of your name, even the Republicans would respect you!

  • jack hoffman

    Two simple comments …

    First the electrical argument is flawed. To charge and electric car uses trickle charge. Its not all at once. It uses way less power than your Air Conditioner for your home at over 2000W. There was a carefull analysis done that if the entire USA bought a Chevy volt Ev1 or Toyota Rav4 electric etc for example it would not impact the grid what so ever.

    Second,

    Look at Apple in silicone valley. There computer are manufactured in China now used to be in USA. All the programming jobs and engineering jobs are still in cupertuno. Now if everyone bought Chinese I phones all the jobs in cupertuno go away. Cupertuno housing prices falls. If the Chinese came in then and put in a plant making their I phone here in the usa do you think the factory workers would be able to afford a 1 million dollar house. NO it lowers your quality of life.

    Buying any foreign product where every its made is bad for the USA. We purchase way too many products made overseas foreign the quality of our products lower. People buy a cheap TV sets therefor RCA had to lower the quality to sell.

    Same with CARS in some ways. Toyota and Honda spend the profits overseas where paying the American worker small amount of money.

    Research engineering and engine manufacturing says in japan.

    The real issue is the future you will lose the ability to manufacture because you design base is exported.

    The American public had been eroded for years from PR from Toyota making people think that 8% of a cars parts are USA. Labor to make a car is little and does nothing to make our future more competitive.

    But the huge 4000 profit goes to Japan.

    If you want to see the USA get worse just keep on buying foreign products.

  • Bruce

    Readers hear shoule read AP’s comments again and again. Raising gas prices will bring high efficient cars that people will want to buy. Adding a carbon tax will make then green.

  • O. Bruce Jones

    Almost 1,700 have signed on in support of Mike’s proposal. You can do the same by going to his web page. His suggestions are worth weighing as we look for the best solutions and giving these failures more money is certainly not the answer.

  • Consummate Skeptic

    To AP:
    I don’t think that your idea of a government having a consistent, effective energy policy, and an industrial policy will get very far. There are far too many voters that think that Michael Moore and Ralph Nader have something useful to say. For those who might ask, yes I followed the links and read the interview and article. The fact that there are people believe these two people’s opinions does not make either Michael Moore, Ralph Nader or their followers smart. It just means that they could have the power to get their way. The politicians make their points to get their votes. The politicians that fall in line with Moore and Nader are the first to criticize others for using private jets and putting out CO2, when many of the same politicians are guilty of doing the same thing! If anyone points this hypocrisy out to them, the “correct thinking” politicians and their followers will either forgive their “sins” (see Al Gore) or they will shout down the opposition using the media that largely sympathizes with them.

  • Dick Kaiser

    Yup. In a heartbeat. Nader and Moore actually care about this country and have an innate sense of the common good. Some things CEOs are not endowed with. It’s all about greed and fear for Wagoner, et al.

    Face it, half the country could run these companies better than they have. For decades, auto CEOs have thwarted stockholder initiatives, looked for corporate welfare from the Dingellberries in Congress, and REFUSED to offer me a decent car, let alone one with NEW technology under the hood.

    The newest thing in US cars in the last five years is…the GPS. Not even an auto product!

    Sheesh! Yeh, give Ford to Nader and GM to the homeboy. They would do worse? Where do I vote?

  • Dick Kaiser

    Nader has done more FOR this country than ANYONE who blogs here, bar none!

  • Ed Magowan

    Why do anything? The market has spoken, Detroit failed to respond to consumer demands over 30 years ago. I’ll thank GM, Ford and Chrysler to keep their hands off my tax dollars. Some of the newer big 3 vehicles really are nice (as mentioned above), but they still don’t justify the price. I’ll stick with my Kia, Nissan and Honda. I’ll buy an American built motorcycle, though….a Victory. I’m sure the gov’t will give Detroit their ‘bailout’……about as effective as giving a fiver to a wino.

  • Paul Barthle

    It might be better to use eminent domain to seize/buy the Big 3′s patents. That should be enough capital to keep them going for many years, with the understanding that they must use them or lose them in the short term. If, after a specified time the U.S. automakers are not producing clean, carbon friendly vehicles then those patents will be opened up for new American manufacturers. Imagine Tesla with the EV-1′s technology and not having to worry about patent infringement lawsuits dragging them down.
    If they continue to fail, break them up and sell the divisions to the workers and the shuttered factories to the local communities. The town of Green Bay, Wis. owns a NFL team. Cleveland, OH. owns the name “Browns”. Keep Pontiac in Pontiac, MN!

  • hellel bartos

    Just FYI

    Every car Toyota Makes GM has a equal car that gets better millage.

    The only car Toyota makes that is better than GM is the Prius.

    Soon the Volt will change that.

    IF you look it up Toyota is actually overall less green than GM

  • bill cosworth
  • AP

    Ed Magowan, you sound like Bush did when he so helpfully said that “Detroit needs to make a relevant product.”

    Guess what? When gas was less than $1/gallon 10 years ago, SUV’s were what was relevant. Personally, I don’t like them, but when it only cost $25 to fill a 30 dollar tank, when consumers complained about mileage, what they really meant was range (they wanted > 300 miles).

    Politicians on both costs also parrot the mantra that they will make Detroit “build cars people want,” while Detroit still owns 50% market share. What they really mean is that Detroit doesn’t build the cars that the politicians want the consumer to want. It’s sort of like when a wife wants a husband to do something, but won’t tell them what it is:

    1) The government says it wants to reduce consumption, but keeps fuel taxes low, telling the consumer that fuel is expendable.
    2) The average consumer then says “I might as well buy something big and drive it A LOT. Maybe I’ll even move further from work, where houses are cheaper.”
    3) An auto manufacturer has the audacity to sell them the large vehicle they want, to make more money.
    4) The government tells the manufacturer it was wrong to sell the customer such a wasteful vehicle, and that it needs to be “taught” how to do it right.
    5) The consumers who bought such vehicles say they were coerced, that it’s the auto manufacturer’s fault, and they won’t ever “fall for that again.”
    6) The public and the government all agree that the domestic manufacturers are dunces, and feel very self-righteous.
    7) They all agree that the imports, who merely sold products they developed for a home market that always values fuel economy, are geniuses, and that that is the types of vehicles we will, as a people, always buy. The fact that what enables their “genius” is a government that manipulates currency, writes weaker union laws, and provides health care, is ignored. Anyone who points this out is called a whiner, or anti-consumer.
    8) Laws are written to require the manufacturers to make fuel-efficient cars, while fuel taxes are left untouched (the politicians would rather appear to be anti-evil corporation that employs many Americans).
    8) 25 years (or maybe less) go by, some of the players change, and the country forgets the whole thing.
    9) Soon, the whole process repeats. Each time, the domestic industry gets weaker. Imports increase, Americans lose jobs, etc.

    This cycle WILL repeat until we address the root cause: cheap but voltaile fuel prices. The hypocrisy of this situation would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

    If we don’t do something about this soon, so many people will lose jobs that even imports can’t sell, since no one has any cash (that they used to earn from domestic auto emplyees, although they didn’t know it).

    How about we change this?

  • bobby kay

    Government cannot compete with the private sector on cost in manufacturing. Your first problem will be the unions who will realize that they can extort any wage they want or they will shut down our car factories. I would say the idea has merit to buy it, and support it, is intersting however it would have to be thru a financing of a business entity with a proven track record that could be enticed to take them over (ie: say Mercedes or Toyota or Honda).

  • Cal

    A Modern Parable.

    A Japanese company ( Toyota ) and an American company (Ford Motors) decided to have a canoe race on the Missouri River Both teams practiced long and hard to reach their peak performance before the race.

    On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile.

    The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the reason for the crushing defeat. A management team made up of senior management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

    Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people rowing and 1 person steering, while the American team had 7 people steering and 2 people rowing.

    Feeling a deeper study was in order; American management hired a consulting company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

    They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while not enough people were rowing.

    Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another loss to the Japanese, the rowing team’s management structure was totally reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 2 area steering superintendents and 1 assistant superintendent steering manager.

    They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 2 people rowing the boat greater incentive to work harder. It was called the ‘Rowing Team Quality First Program,’ with meetings, dinners and free pens for the rowers. There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and other equipment, extra vacation days for practices and bonuses. The pension program was trimmed to ‘equal the competition’ and some of the resultant savings were channeled into morale boosting programs and teamwork posters.

    The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

    Humiliated, the American management laid-off one rower, halted development of a new canoe, sold all the paddles, and canceled all capital investments for new equipment. The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives as bonuses.

    The next year, try as he might, the lone designated rower was unable to even finish the race (having no paddles,) so he was laid off for unacceptable performance, all canoe equipment was sold and the next year’s racing team was out-sourced to India.

    Sadly, the End.

    Here’s something else to think about: Ford has spent the last thirty years moving all its factories out of the US , claiming they can’t make money paying American wages.

    TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants inside the US . The last quarter’s results:

    TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while Ford racked up 9 billion in losses.

    Ford folks are still scratching their heads, and collecting bonuses…

    IF THIS WEREN’T SO TRUE IT MIGHT BE FUNNY

  • Shines

    hellel you say
    Every car Toyota Makes GM has an equal car that gets better millage.
    This is simply not true.
    Looking at the link Bill Cosworth provided (in an attempt to agree with you) shows that your statement is false.
    And since this is hybridcars.com, your blanket statements leads me to comment: Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry hybrid, Toyota Highlander hybrid all get better mileage than their respective GM hybrid counterparts.

    As far as peoples concerns about all the profit from buying Toyotas going overseas – This is a global economy – you can buy stock in Toyota on the New York Stock Exchange – the symbol is TM
    Buy the stock then you get to keep the profit.
    As the saying goes – put up or shut up…

    btw – if the US Govt believes we need to be less dependent on foreign oil then we should tax it. Higher gas prices is a better incentive than cafe standards for better fuel economy cars. The tax revenie can be used for improving our infrastructure (both highway and electric grid) or to help fund the alternative fuels R&D.

  • Shines

    It’s funny you chose Ford Cal. Of the big 3 Ford is in the best position to survive – is asking for the smallest govt loan and has the highest reliability of the big 3.
    I would have thought you would have picked Chrysler which is already half sold to Daimler, has the least reliability of the big 3 and has only 2 hybrid vehicles of which both are being discontinued this month…

    I think Ford or GM should buy the Jeep brand and improve their quality and add some hybrids to the lineup…

  • Consummate Skeptic

    To AP:
    Regarding your comments starting with “Ed Magowan”, once again, I agree with you on all points with one possible minor exception. It appears to me that the Big 3 did abandon the most fuel efficient segment of the market. When considering fuel economy, in 2004, GM did not build a competitor to the Toyota Echo, and the vehicles from Ford and Chrysler did not complete well. By abandoning this market, it left the companies with less flexibility to respond to a change in consumer demand. Other than that, I agree completely with your comments.
    More than anything else, it seems that the American people want someone to blame. They are certainly not going to blame themselves for purchasing a 6000 pound vehicle to transport, say, a family of four people. They are not going to blame themselves for thinking that they had a constitutional right to low gasoline prices. The politicians and the new media are more than happy to allow the people to vent, and support their anger towards automobile manufacturers and oil companies. Where are these same politicians that were skewering oil company executives and threatening to nationalize the oil companies? Are they calling them back to Washington DC congratulate them for bringing gasoline prices down? No, they have moved on to the next scapegoat. The automobile industry (the Big 3, in particular) is that next scapegoat.
    We, the people, get the government we deserve (i.e., vote for). When you combine the average American’s short attention span with their apparent desire to blame someone else for their own choices, this is what we get.
    To your last question in the comment, “How about we change this?”, Based upon the way we behave, I am not sure that we want to change it. We appear to want the government to take away our choices so that we don’t do something that we could regret later. For example, there are those that say that the government should eliminate large SUVs so that the people cannot buy something that gets a low MPG rating. Another example is to support the government giving free health care. Even though many of the people can afford some kind of plan, they prefer to spend their “discretionary” funds on “needs” such as cell phone plans and cable television and just “roll the dice” regarding health care. I have seen this behavior personally.
    Though I have little hope of this happening, I would like to see the politicians and news media support a well rounded discussion of all issues of the day. I think that they need much more information about energy, vehicle and infrastructure life cycle costs to make an informed decision. This would demonstrate the trade-offs in all of these areas. I happen to think, by definition, that this is the job that the politicians have. It seems to me that they think that their primary job is to get re-elected, whatever it takes.

  • Cal

    I wasn’t necessarily picking on one or the other, just making a point. No Bailout! Ford just happened to be the one. They’re all wrong. I’ve been a business owner for 20 years and could never get away with running my business the way of the auto makers or our government. If I had a failed business plan, I would either have to restructure and try again, or close my doors.

  • srland

    LISTEN TO ME!
    Take over all failing automakers and set them all up to produce one basic model modular type vehicles. Two persons per unit, six persons you own 3 units go together or separately, tours of up to forty plus unit rapid transportation. Roadways could be designed to support via energy transfer strip and so forth.
    Trucks also should be modular design and possibly A.I. operated.
    Same parts used for all units joined on freeways reducing accidents, speeding and policing.
    Same vehicle for all people, simple and mass produced. We must get over this individual thing once and for all.
    Ideally all modular components so anyone could replace any part as needed…
    Super energy efficient and very low cost sizable for all needs.
    We can and must do this there are much more important things to argue over like healthcare and war.
    This futuristic model is all technically doable with much less effort then going to the moon was.
    The only thing getting in the way is CAPITALISIM. Do the right thing and fight for unified transportation NOW.
    Love to all,
    Stuart Smith.

  • crookmatt

    I’m not sure what planet these two come from, but since when has any government, anywhere in the world, ever done well running a buisiness? Have they completely ignored history in the past 200 years?!

    I think the only people less compitent to run the big 3 automakers are members of the US government.

    Secondly, all of the outstanding shares of GM represent 5% of the company, therefore even if the government bought every outstanding share they would own 5%, not 50%, (not enough to control the company.) (Do these guys have any idea how stocks work?, and should we really be taking advice from two who so obviously have no idea how the stock market works?)

    I would rather have GM, Ford, and Chrystler go out of buisiness forever than have them run by the government.

  • Vericona Jackiens

    YAWN all this arguing.

    I just bought a new Chevy Malibu Hybrid and love it I fell good too because the american content in the Malibu was way higher than the camery.

    I did my part to help out the big 3.

    I got a nice tax credit over the Camery Hybrid and the Malibu is better quality than the Camery.

  • RKRB

    Dick Kaiser: “Ralph Nader has done more for this country than any blogger here.”
    Well….he did manage to get W elected in 2000, and I guess that was, uh, a lot for this country, uh, right?
    Uh, good observation you made, eh?

  • BSA_Jim

    I pull a Boy Scout troop trailer to campouts every month. What sort of vehicle “not primarily dependent on oil” should I buy to replace my truck? It needs to be capable of towing a 5000-pound, tandem-axle trailer at least 700 miles while transporting four people comfortably.

  • TD

    I quit buying American two years ago, because

    A) I got tired of the $1000+ repair bills even on new vehicles with < 30K miles. This was a 2003 Chevy Venture and it was costing me big bucks. I complained to GM and they said "suck it" there's nothing we can do. So I voted with my wallet.

    B) I didn’t want an SUV and they had nothing to compare to a Civic Hybrid or a Prius.

    Now with low gas prices and my Civic Hybrid I spend about $15 a month on gas!

  • Harold Green

    TD

    Most GM cars have a huge warranty so there is no reason you should be spending any money less than 30kmiles

    I have owned many gm cars with well over 200k and have the original drive train. Things like 1 alternator, brakes and batteries on my grand prix went out but they didn’t cost me 1000 dollars. You must be really stupid to pay that.

    Also Chrysler has lifetime warranty.

    I have a ford focus with 250k and cost me nothing to maintain.

    American cars are just as good as or better than foreign cars. In fact much better than German cars.

    This old augment of your doesn’t fly anymore its just fat out ignorance on your part because my neighbor with a lexus just paid $2400 dolars on there 2003 lexus for service.

  • TD

    Harold,

    When I bought the Venture the warranty was 30K miles or 36 months. The first repair was on GM’s dime. They had to replace several components in the A/C. I don’t know what that bill cost since it was theirs. The second was after about 2 years the brakes went out. Fine brakes go out, but also the rotors needed to be replaced, the brake cylinders on front and rear needed new seals because they were leaking fluids. Total cost was over $1000 on a vehicle < 2 years old. This was at the dealer where I bought the vehicle. I complained hoping that some of the labor would be refunded since seals on brakes should not be going out so soon. The next repair occurred just after the 30K mile warranty expired. The check engine light came on and I thought no problem something simple, probably cost me a couple hundred bucks. Boy was I wrong. Engine seals were now going bad and needed to replace. Ka-ching another 1K down the drain.

    All new cars I’ve purchased until a couple of years ago were GM. All my chevy’s have had problems. Oldsmobile was great. Had to replace a few things after 100K miles, but otherwise good. But GM no longer makes Oldsmobiles!

    >You must be really stupid to pay that.

    You must be really an ahole to say that.

    Thanks for the friendly attitude.

  • JLB

    A few questions. What does GM know about building trains? Shouldn’t we consider giving that business to people who build trains rather than to novices who, apparently, aren’t very good at building cars?
    When did FDR order Detroit to stop building cars and build tanks? It was my understanding that that step was kind of obvious to all, and, oh, by the way, GM had real financial incentives to switch production.
    What if people don’t want to buy cars that don’t use oil? Most common complaints I hear about US cars is “poor reliability” and “poor finish”, not “this darn thing runs on oil!!!” Will cars that don’t burn oil but are unreliable sell any better? I suppose we could put all our current engineers (the ones bringing us unreliable, gas burning vehicles) in the unemployment line to make room for new engineers who will learn the technology in schools over the next three or four years.
    Who are these mysterious very smart transportation geniuses? Why haven’t they made themselves know earlier? Just asking. Thank you for your answers.

  • D.W. McDonald

    Bottom line — The Big Three are in trouble because of the greed of management and the greed of the unions. Big Three Corporates should all slowly be replaced with people of vision. Start at the top, the three auto excutives should be fired and replaced by managers who can managed. Bankruptcy is really the best way to go, they would be able to restructure from the top on down. They don’t want bankruptcy because it interfers with their greed, restricts their ongoing mis-management and makes them leave their comfort zones. But most important WE AMERICANS need to stop all that talk about what can’t be done, the high MPG cars are not possible and all that nonsense! YOU WANT PROOF that I am right? Then LOOK UP! thats right there is a space station in orbit above your heads, that was and still is being constructed with American Know How! you same people did’nt belive in it and think it was possible, good thing no one had to ask for your help or opinions, Your cell phones and micro wave life styles you now take for granted. We are Americans and We Can Do, our problem is that we lack the will to do so and you nay sayers are the lazy ones because if you can’t see it, then you don’t belive it after all you people think know one can figure out anything if you can’t figure it out right?

  • tony

    what happend to kill a commi for your mommy?now were a socialist government ?fuck the bail outs someone bail me out!!

  • Ton Vit

    The electrical grid not handling plug-in requirements is a myth by those trying to deceive. Please do not buy it for a minute.

    This not just deceptive … it is flat out wrong. Please don’t just spew nonsense as seeming to be factual. GM themselves met with electircal companies to ask about the ability of future grids to handle the plug-in model in very large scale before they commited to the Volt. it was publicly stated that they agreed they not only could handle it going forward and welcomed it. They also stated that with minor upgrades they could in very short order handle anything they could put out in the next 10 years easy. This is not an issue and never was. It is a diversion from using electricity instead of oil.