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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

December 7, 2008


The anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, sixty-seven years ago today, doesn't go unnoticed. This late Fall Sunday's Note From a Madman is dedicated to the memory of those who died as World War II began on that late Fall Sunday in 1941 and all those who followed. -NG


"Red Tag Event"

General Motors' Red Tag Event commercials talk about great pricing of GM cars and trucks. But the truth is that if you were to go into a GM showroom and bargain, rather than just take the Red Tag Price, you would make out a whole lot better in the end for your GM vehicle.

The biggest employer with the biggest need because they're the biggest boneheads are offering up their own kind of solutions to fixing their financial problems After testifying in front of the US Senate and House of Representatives, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors in particular are still offering us up the same old same old.

And I'm not even talking those plans and requests made in for and in front of the various sub-committees the Big Three big shots testified before.

With everybody on Planet Earth knowing about the trials and tribulations of the US auto manufacturers; and with it all being played out every night on every cable talking-head news show, the Big Three have decided to stay their course and change absolutely nothing, with the exception of making a car ride to DC rather than a private jet.

Last week I was sent to a multi-car auto dealership in South Jersey to work on their Email server. As I entered the showroom at about four o'clock in the afternoon, I noticed that there wasn't a soul in the place other than salesmen and a cashier. All I could think of was this: What are the Big Three doing to get customers (even if there aren't s many as there used to be) into the showrooms?

Over the past few days, I don't recall seeing even one Dodge or Chrysler advertisement in the New York Market. After checking out their web site, I can understand why. Other than the same "offers" which they were offering a year, two or three years ago ($3,000 cash back for this big gas guzzler; $3,500 for that big gas guzzler), the only other incentive made by Chrysler is the offer of a DVD system in their most expensive mini-van (featured on their web site's home page).

The only Ford commercial I saw while watching football was for their F-150 truck. Their pitch?: Boat towing capabilities! Are there a bunch of Americans worrying about towing their boats today?

Ford's web site offers up similar incentives as Chrysler's. On their only hybrid, the Escape SUV, you can qualify for zero percent financing providing that you can pay for the vehicle, in its entirety, by this time in 2011. And on one of their economy models - the Focus - Ford offers up a $1,000 rebate (plus another $500 if you happen to be in the active military or the reserves - sorry veterans, you're out of luck). Ford calls the current incentive program "Employee Pricing Plus", but it doesn't even sound as good as their incentive programs of the past.

Maybe they should call it "Employee Pricing Minus"?

As for General Motors, I'd like to ask CEO Rick Wagoner one question: Are you out of your mind? While watching the NFL on both Fox and CBS, the only ad I saw for any of the GM family of cars was for its Cadillac division. In commercials for the Escalade and then the CTS (a car I would buy if I had the money), they showed off these cars with pretty actors and actresses riding in cars prettier than they were. At the end of each ad, they showed off the "Red Tag Price". The Cadillac Escalade SUV was a mere $47,000 and some change while the CTS was priced at under the low, low price of $43,000.

Chevy's web site has pictures of cars changing on the screen, It starts with the Malibu, which is offered up as a hybrid as well as a gas-only powered car. But then it proceeds to show off Chevy's SUV's and trucks and their "stellar" MPG stats They even have the gall to "boast" of the Silverado's "best in class" fuel mileage - which include a whopping fourteen miles per gallon city rating.

In a time when the Big Three should be showing off their cars of the future, they're only offering up the same old gas guzzling machines which offer up the greatest profit for them.

And that's both stupid and undermines the arguments they're making to Congress.

Senator Chris Dodd suggests that executives such as Wagoner should lose their jobs due to the manner which they have ran their companies into the ground, and it's hard to argue with his logic.

Wagoner "has to move on,"

President-Elect Barack Obama has said the bailout plan should "hold the auto industry's feet to the fire" and agrees that those at the top of the Big Three need to pay with their jobs. And while we look at the ads presented by the Big Three, we realize that they haven't learned their lesson and probably never will - at least not with their current leadership.

Of course, GM doesn't agree, and with Bush-like "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" type logic offer up this endorsement of Wagoner:

"GM employees, dealers, suppliers and the GM board of directors feel strongly that Rick is the right guy to lead GM through this incredibly difficult and challenging time."
-GM spokesman Steve Harris

I wonder if that was a secret ballot?

While Tesla Motors of California - helped forward with the aid of PayPal geek Elon Musk - used limited amounts of dollars ($7.5 million) to put out a $100,000 performance plug-in electric car that gets 300 miles on a charge, Chevy's Volt plug-in hybrid will cost at least $40,000 and will allow you to drive less than thirty miles before heading to the garage outlet again.

Included in any auto company bailout, I'd lie to see an extra billion dollars offered up to the engineers at Tesla just to see what they could do.

The import auto industry is facing their own problems as well. They keep on shipping cars to our shores and, like our Big Three, see them sitting on the docks with no one to buy them. But the foreign auto manufacturers - even when they produce their autos in the US - are of less concern. For the most part, they manufacture their parts and stamp out their metal overseas, something done mostly in the United States by the Big Three. Foreign manufacturers don't use union labor and they don't have the legacy responsibilities which out home-grown automakers do.

However, one cannot argue with the awful job that the Big Three have done over the past couple of generations. And if it weren't for the quality brought in by the likes of Toyota and Honda, the American cars might still be considered poorly made.

If I were Wagoner (GM), Alan Mulally (Ford) or Robert Nardelli.(Chrysler), I would make a brand new commercial talking about what the US auto industry means to America. I'd inform my fellow Americans of the quality of a new Chevy, Ford and/ or Chrysler. Then I would offer up deep, REAL discounts and zero percent financing for up to seven years on my cars which are sitting and waiting for their new owner. And, finally, I'd make a plea and a promise: the plea would be to look at our cars and compare them to that foreign car they're going to look at; and the promise would be to only make good cars for a good price that get good gas mileage from now on.

-Noah Greenberg

And More on That US Auto Industry Thing

Greed is again the culprit in the auto industries woes. When a plug in hybrid is going to cost 40 thousand bucks you can forget touting that as some positive piece of information. It is overpriced, just as most cars are. The really bad thing is, once you have owned a car for just one year the value of the car so quickly diminishes that if you run into financial difficulties and want to sell it you can barely get half of the value and will still owe tons of money on the original loan. Either the price is too high when you buy your new car or the consumer is getting ripped off with the loss of the value of their car in such short time spans. Just like the housing inflated prices and the bubble busting there, so is it with the cars. No matter how low the mileage, how well the upkeep you still lose the value. I think the solution is lower the cost of the new cars, and regulate the percentage rate a new car's worth can go down each year.

As far as the bailout, of course, their biggest part of the plan they presented would be to cut the employees, benefits, and thousands of dealerships, which in turns means more job losses. Just like the banks and wall street bailout, it is the producer of the products, the little guy on the bottom that will feel the knife. However, losing the volume of jobs by not doing the bailout will be even worse. I foresee next week as a circus and Republicans tooting their horn about being conservative and not putting taxpayers at risk and nothing constructive being done. However, again, I could be wrong.


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-Noah Greenberg