Last September, my cousin David, a professional in the economic industry, railed against proposed bailouts as being socialistic and contrary to free enterprise. He strongly feels that those entities and persons that created the problems should suffer the consequences, regardless of the hardship. That’s how free enterprise works.
Late in 2008, Gregory Knox, president of a parts supply company for GM, received an email from Troy Clarke, President of General Motors, requesting support for the bailout program. Below is an abridged version of GM’s letter followed by Knox's “spleen-venting” response (his characterization of his response.)
The veracity of these 2 letters has been verified here:
Dear Employees & Suppliers,
Congress and the current Administration will soon determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in our nation's history. Your elected officials must hear from all of us now on why this support is critical to our continuing the progress we began prior to the global financial crisis. As an employee or supplier, you have a lot at stake and continue to be one of our most effective and passionate voices. I know GM can count on you to have your voice heard.
Thank you for your urgent action and ongoing support.
General Motors North America
Knox Machinery Company
Franklin , Ohio
In response to your request to contact legislators and ask for a bailout for the Big Three automakers please consider the following, and please pass my thoughts on to Troy Clarke, President of General Motors North America.
Politicians and Management of the Big 3 are both infected with the same entitlement mentality that has spread like cancerous germs in UAW halls for the last countless decades,and whose plague is now sweeping this nation, awaiting our new "messiah” to wave his magic wand and make all our problems go away, while at the same time allowing our once great nation to keep "living the dream." Believe me folks, The dream is over!
This dream where we can ignore the consumer for years while management myopically focuses on its personal rewards packages at the same time that our factories have been filled with the worlds most overpaid, arrogant, ignorant and laziest entitlement minded "laborers" without paying the price for these atrocities. This dream where you still think the masses will line up to buy our products for ever and ever.
Don't even think about telling me I'm wrong. Don't accuse me of not knowing of what I speak. I have called on Ford, GM, Chrysler, TRW, Delphi, Kelsey Hayes, American Axle, and countless other automotive OEM's throughout the Midwest , during the past 30 years and what I've seen over those years in these union shops can only be described as disgusting.
Troy Clarke, President of General Motors North America, states: "There is widespread sentiment throughout this country, and our government, and especially via the news media, that the current crisis is completely the result of bad management which it certainly is not."
You're right Mr. Clarke, it's not JUST management. How about the electricians who walk around the plants like lords in feudal times, making people wait on them for countless hours while they drag ass so they can come in on the weekend and make double and triple time for a job they easily could have done within their normal 40 hour work week. How about the line workers who threaten newbies with all kinds of scare tactics for putting out too many parts on a shift and for being too productive. (We certainly must not expose those lazy bums who have been getting overpaid for decades for their horrific underproduction, must we?!?)
Do you folks really not know about this stuff?!? How about this great sentiment abridged from Mr. Clarke's sad plea: "over the last few years we have closed the quality and efficiency gaps with our competitors."
What the hell has Detroit been doing for the last 40 years?!? Did we really JUST wake up to the gaps in quality and efficiency between us and them?
The K car vs. the Accord?
The Pinto vs. the Civic?!?
Do I need to go on?
We are living through the inevitable outcome of the actions of the United States auto industry for decades.
It's time to pay for your sins, Detroit ..
I attended an economic summit last week where brilliant economist, Alan Beaulieu, from the Institute of Trend Research , surprised the crowd when he said he would not have given the banks a penny of "bailout money."
"Yes, he said, this would cause short term problems," but despite what people like politicians and corporate magnates would have us believe, the sun would in fact rise the next day and the following very important thing would happen. Where there had been greedy and sloppy banks, new efficient ones would pop up. That is how a free market system works. It does work if we would only let it work."
But for some nondescript reason we are now deciding that the rest of the world is right and that capitalism doesn't work - that we need the government to step in and "save us". Save us my ass! Hell - we're nationalizing and unfortunately too many of our once fine nation's citizens don't even have a clue that this is what is really happening. But, they sure can tell you the stats on their favorite sports teams. Yeah - THAT'S really important, isn't it.
Does it ever occur to ANYONE that the "competition" has been producing vehicles EXTREMELY PROFITABLY, for decades in this country?
How can that be??? Let's see.
Listening to customers.
Investing in the proper tooling and automation for the long haul.
Not being too complacent or arrogant to listen to Dr.. W Edwards Deming four decades ago when he taught that by adopting appropriate principles of management, organizations could increase quality and simultaneously reduce costs.
Ever increased productivity through quality and intelligent planning. Treating vendors like strategic partners, rather than like "the enemy." Efficient front and back offices. Non union environment.
Again, I could go on and on, but I really wouldn't be telling anyone anything they really don't already know down deep in their hearts.
I have six children, so I am not unfamiliar with the concept of wanting someone to bail you out of a mess that you have gotten yourself into - my children do this on a weekly, if not daily basis, as I did when I was their age. I do for them what my parents did for me (one of their greatest gifts, by the way) -I make them stand on their own two feet and accept the consequences of their actions and work through it.
Radical concept, huh?
Am I there for them in the wings? Of course - but only until such time as they need to be fully on their own as adults.
I don't want to oversimplify a complex situation, but there certainly are unmistakable parallels here between the proper role of parenting and government. Detroit and the United States need to pay for their sins.
Bad news people - it's coming whether we like it or not.
Stop trying to put off the inevitable folks. That house in Florida really isn't worth $750,000. People who jump across a border really don't deserve free health care benefits. That job driving that forklift for the Big 3 really isn't worth $85,000 a year. We really shouldn't allow Wal-Mart to stock their shelves with products acquired from a country that unfairly manipulates their currency and has the most atrocious human rights infractions on the face of the globe. That couple whose combined income is less than $50,000 really shouldn't be living in that $485,000 home.
Let the market correct itself folks - it will.
Yes it will be painful, but it's going to be painful either way, and the bright side of my proposal is that on the other side of it all, is a nation that appreciates what it has and doesn't live beyond its means and gets back to basics and redevelops the patriotic work ethic that made it the greatest nation in the history of the world and probably turns back to God..
Sorry - don't cut my head off, I'm just the messenger sharing with you the "bad news". I hope you take it to heart.
Gregory J. Knox, President
Knox Machinery, Inc.
Franklin , Ohio 45005