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  • Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off
  • Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off
  • Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off
  • Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off

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  1. #1
    Site Administrator Rob's Avatar
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    Default Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off

    It's time for Americans to take their blinders off

    by Rob Loszewski
    Sunday, December 7, 2008
    2008 Rob Loszewski, Corvette Action Center
    No use without permission

    Over the last couple of months, as the U.S. economy has worsened and the fate of the Detroit Big 3 has darkened, I've remained quiet in voicing my own personal views of what should happen to GM, Chrysler and Ford. After listening to the Detroit Big 3's testimony on Capital Hill, and the opinions of friends and family, I'm not sure I can remain silent any longer.

    The general consensus of Americans regarding the possible bailout of Detroit is, "let them go bankrupt." Really? Are you serious? Why? The reasons I've heard is because Detroit is old, stagnant, not keeping up with the times, and not building cars the American public wants.

    If that's truly the case, then please try and explain to me why so many American families drive Suburbans, Escalades, Denalis, and enormous trucks?

    In my opinion, Detroit built exactly what American's wanted. A company isn't in business to build, or provide a product or service that nobody wants. If Detroit has been building products that nobody wants, they would have gone bankrupt MANY years ago.

    The next thing I hear is that Detroit's quality sucks. While I'm willing to admit, that some of what has come out of the Detroit in past years has been complete trash, and some cars and platforms to this day, are trash compared to the competition in their market, Detroit has come A LONG way in building fantastic cars with excellent quality.

    Think I'm kidding? Spend a little time running some Google searches regarding J.D. Power and Associates Quality Studies and take a look at the cars from Detroit that have won that award.

    Let's take a look at what type of car has won the well respected and coveted, "Motor Trend Car of the Year" award:

    2008 Cadillac CTS
    2007 Toyota Camry
    2006 Honda Civic
    2005 Chrysler 300
    2004 Toyota Prius
    2003 Infiniti G35 Coupe / Sedan
    2002 Ford Thunderbird
    2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser
    2000 Lincoln LS
    1999 Chrysler 300M
    1998 Chevrolet Corvette
    1997 Chevrolet Malibu
    1996 Dodge Caravan
    1995 Chrysler Cirrus
    1994 Ford Mustang
    1993 Ford Probe GT
    1992 Cadillac Seville Touring Sedan
    1991 Chevrolet Caprice Classic LTZ
    1990 Lincoln Town Car
    1989 Ford Thunderbird SC
    1988 Pontiac Grand Prix
    1987 Ford Thunderbird
    1986 Ford Taurus LX
    1985 Volkswagen GTI
    1984 Chevrolet Corvette
    1983 American Motors Renault Alliance
    1982 Chevrolet Camaro Z28
    1981 Chrysler K-cars, Dodge Aries/Plymouth Reliant
    1980 Chevrolet Citation

    In Car and Driver's "10 Best Cars of the Year" going back to 2006, Cadillac, Chevrolet Corvette and Chrysler have made the list.

    I also found that the Cadillac CTS and the Corvette have been repeat contenders and winners; the Corvette for many more years than the CTS.

    There is no doubt, even these cars have room for improvement, but if you really stop and think about it, what car/platform doesn't?

    In my opinion, Detroit is in the situation they're in, NOT because of quality, and NOT because they refuse to build cars that people want. They are in the situation they are in because over the last several months, the cost of gasoline had skyrocketed - sometimes over night and the economy took a nosedive causing the credit market to run and hide.

    Go do some research on what has happened to the credit market and take a look at how difficult it is to get a loan for just about anything now. If people are not able to get financing to buy a car, guess what....car sales take a nosedive.

    All of a sudden, all the Chevy Suburban, Denali and Escalade owners are driving around in their land yachts wondering why it's costing them around $75.00 per fillup instead of $40.00. So the typical American belief is, "well, who's fault is this? It must be Detroit's fault because they continue to build these cars and refuse to build more fuel efficient vehicles." No actually, it's YOUR fault, because YOU bought the land yacht because YOU could afford the gas at the time. Why did you buy the land yacht to begin with? Oh, because you have 3-6 kids that you need to haul around and you couldn't stop at just 1 or 2 kids.

    You get the picture....before you point the finger of blame at Detroit, take a cold, hard look at yourself in the mirror.

    "Well....why is Detroit the only ones affected by this and why are they the ones asking for help?"

    Again, do some research. I think you'll be surprised to find out that the Big 3 in Detroit are NOT the only ones approaching their government and asking for help.

    Here's an interesting article I ran across published on April 16, 2008:

    From The Times
    April 16, 2008

    European car sales plummet as the credit crunch takes its toll

    Christine Buckley, Industrial Editor

    Carmakers in Europe have suffered their worst month in more than four years as the impact of the credit crunch begins to be felt by industry....

    Link to article: European car sales plummet as the credit crunch takes its toll - Times Online
    I believe that you'll also find in your research that UK and Chinese car manufacturers have gone to their respectives governments and asked for help.

    Folks, this is NOT a Detroit problem. This is a GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROBLEM. Why? Because the economy, just like everything else in this world, is subject to the laws of physics. What goes up, must come down. For as long as Man has walked this earth, we've seen it time and time again. We have seen it repeatedly in many facets of the American society for decades as seen in the automobile industry, the housing market, credit market, stock market, and overall health of the economy.

    The difference between now and many decades ago, is that the economy is no longer affected by what goes on within the borders of the United States. It is a GLOBAL ECONOMY that is affected by situations that occur across the sea - something which the majority of Americans are still incapable of seeing. We're getting better, but boy do we have a long way to go.

    So now that it's quite clear to see that Detroit is really a victim of a global economy that other car manufacturers have fallen victim too, do you still feel that Detroit should be allowed to go bankrupt?

    Let's take a look at some numbers for a minute. In this thread:

    http://www.corvetteactioncenter.com/...-3-2008-a.html

    ...I posted a breakdown of automotive related jobs per state as of Dec. 3, 2008.

    The total number of jobs for all states: 2,201,955. That number encompasses auto parts, assembly and sales jobs. Nearly two and a quarter million jobs - gone. Don't think you'll be affected because you don't work in the automotive industry? Think again.

    Take a look at what happened to the coast of baby food in the grocery stores when the diesel fuel went through the roof just a short time ago and that increased fuel cost trickled down to the cost of groceries. In fact, it trickled down to almost everything we buy.

    Just imagine what will happen when the Detroit 3 collapses and that collapse hits parts manufacturing companies and they collapse. Then auto parts suppliers such as VIP auto or NAPA auto parts goes bankrupt because they are no longer able to get the parts they need to sell. Now, the cars and trucks that are used to deliver goods to market are no longer able to be repaired because - well repair shops are closing up because they aren't able to get the parts required to conduct repairs because the parts manufacturers went bankrupt because Detroit - their bread and butter - collapsed.

    Before you know it, the cost of everything goes through the roof and we are no longer in a Recession - but we're seeing Depression rear it's ugly head on the horizon.

    A pretty scary scenario and one that might not be 100% accurate, but I hate to say it, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

    Over the last few decades we've seen American jobs leave this country and go overseas? Why? Because of corporate greed in my opinion. This country has gone from a manufacturing nation to a nation of consumption. Detroit iron is the last great thing this country continues to manufacture.

    Just imagine if Detroit crumbles and gets bought up by European and Asian car companies. Just imagine if the Corvette is no longer a "Chevrolet" but a "Nissan" or "Honda". Or just imagine if the car manufacturer that buys GM decides that the Corvette competes too closely with their one or two of their own products and decides to axe the Corvette platform all together.

    Stop and think about the great age of cars and Detroit iron back in the fifties and sixties....hopping in that 1965 Corvette of yours, picking up your girlfriend, and heading down to the local burger joint listening to Wolfman Jack on the radio. Once you get your burger you head to the coast for some slush and sit parked at the beach listening to the baseball game on the Corvette's radio.

    Times like that are going by the wayside quick and America is losing her identity at an alarming rate. If Detroit's Big 3 is allowed to go bankrupt, it will be the end of the United States manufacturing anything of significance. American Pride will have gone from pride in building and marketing unique American products to how much money we have in our wallets to buy the products we desire overseas.

    The United States will become a country that is owned by all other countries, and American citizens will no longer be able to take pride in products that were built through American blood, sweat and tears. There needs to be a government representative or board that oversees the use of the money and insures that the money is paid back to the government within a set amount of time. Once the money is repaid, the government steps back and the representative or board no longer has a say in what Detroit does.

    Detroit needs to be helped and should be extended a bailout. However, that bailout should not come without reservations or restrictions.

    That money should be given to Detroit with the complete understanding that it is to be spent HERE on American soil and not overseas in the building of a new assembly plant on foreign land.

    GM in particular should undergo a restructuring of it's platforms and assembly processes within a certain time frame in order to make it more competitive in a global economic market that can quickly change on whim.

    Detroit has become a pro at product re-badging and it needs to stop NOW. The perfect example is the F-body platform of the late nineties. The Firebird and Camaro looked identical with the exception of the bumpers, some plastic body cladding and some interior components.

    Another example is the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.

    What about product ingenuity?

    The Chevy HHR - a great car/crossover, but molded after the PT Cruiser. It took GM how long to come to market with that after the general public was getting sick of seeing the PT Cruiser everywhere?

    The Chevy SSR - one word: why?

    Other than Cadillac and Corvette, GM's styling has become disgustingly bland, boring, stagnant, and unemotional. GM Styling Dept. needs a major fire lit under their ass and they really should take lessons from Chrysler's Styling Dept.

    Last but not least, Marketing. In my opinion, GM's marketing arm has completely dropped the ball and become quite pathetic in trying to market the products they're building. GM has fought long and hard to build cars that meet or exceed European quality standards, and yet, where is the marketing? They have cars that have won JD Power and Associates awards, but where are the commercials and advertisements? Maybe I just don't pay much attention, but they only play on JD Power and Associates I've seen recently is in a GM Truck ad on TV. Regardless, if I'm not paying attention to the ads, how much of the American public is?

    Support what you build. If you think you're just going to bring a product to market touting it as the latest and greatest, and try to get people to forget about the crap that was built in the seventies and eighties....forget it.

    In summary, Detroit should be bailed out, but they should be bailed out with stipulations that the money is used to rebuild and reposition Detroit in being leaders and innovators - not followers trying to play catch up requiring a bailout everytime the global economy suddenly shifts in one direction or the other.

    We gave billions of dollars to AIG - the pinnacle of corporate greed and they didn't have to jump through all the hoops that Detroit has been required to go through. And yet, we, the American public are willing to let the last great American manufacturing industry crumble.

    Talk about a sad state of affairs due to double standards, corporate greed and short-sightedness.

    If you feel that Detroit and GM in particular should be helped, go to: Facts About the Auto Crisis - GM Facts and Fiction and contact your U.S. Senator and Representative. Let them know that you support a bailout, otherwise, continue to stick your head in the sand and watch as America loses its pride and identity it worked so hard to achieve.


    Rob Loszewski, Owner & Site Administrator
    Corvette Action Center
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    "Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt." - Sun Tzu
    1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 , 350 Stock ZF 6-speed. Stock Bright Red

  2. #2
    Member gmjunkie's Avatar
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    "The Junkie" purdy much agrees with you 99.454,427,396,350,327,283%!!
    It's got so it seems to me that the Internet has created a lot more Horses A$$'s than we have Horses!
    junk!~!!
    Founding Member: 10 Corvettes Anonymous


  3. #3
    Gone but not forgotten XLR8's Avatar
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    Very well thought out and well written piece, Rob.

    I think a bailout with stipulations attached is a must. Bailout to prevent a total meltdown of the American economy (talk about ripple effect) and stipulations to insure taxpayer money is used in the best interest of the taxpayer.

    This nightmare reminds me of a post I made 2 or 3 years ago concerning the loss of jobs due to the movement of factories/jobs overseas.

    Eventually it would catch up with us. You cannot expect to move all the jobs and money overseas, at the same time expecting the American consumer to purchase your product. When you're out of work, the last thing you consider buying is a new car.

    Jane Ann

  4. #4
    Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off DRTH VTR's Avatar
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    Well said, Rob. The fact that Detroit builds what sells is central here. They built all those trucks and SUV's that are closer to locomotives than they are to cars because that is what people wanted to buy! The consumers chose that.

    I certainly support capitalism and the free enterprise system. But I don't support greed and theft. The robber barons of the early 20th century were an example of the excesses that can happen when free enterprise is abused. The mess with housing, AIG, etc is another one.

    We will run out of oil- perhaps not in my lifetime, but certainly in the lifetimes of my grandchildren. Things cannot continue as they have been, with ever-expanding energy use and ever-growing human population. We cannot drill our way out of this. The planet can only support so many people. There will be a population adjustment one of these days...
    Save the Wave!

  5. #5
    Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off 67HEAVEN's Avatar
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    For me, it all comes down to a few simple matters.

    • I am unconvinced that any economy can last long when all it does is import. Are we simply going to sell things to each other, without making anything? More and more of North America's wealth is being exported.
    • North American (yes in my country too) automotive plants were converted to military equipment and munitions manufacturing during WWII. Imagine that scenario being repeated in the current situation?
    • Seven to ten (take your pick) spin-off jobs (sales, parts, service, trucking, rail, etc.) for every Big Three job in North America. I don't want to imagine the consequences if all those jobs are lost.
    There's little choice.............loan guarantees (on both sides of the border -- we've already provided 100's of millions here) with specific requirements and tight controls.


  6. #6
    Administrator Yoda's Avatar
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    Rob

    I’m not sure if I should put “From the Halls of Montezuma” or “Nocturne Violin” (Chopin) on the old reel to reel, for inspiration here

    Well written opinion and point of view. I don’t agree, but that doesn’t make me right either.

    I must be a bit more callus or maybe it’s just that I find it difficult to understand the nature of the beast. It seems to me, GM ~ Ford ~ Chrysler have squandered their future and the future of their stockholders, employees and affilated business’s with PPP (pisspoorplanning). Where was, where IS their Short-Range, Mid-Range and Long Term planning business forecasts. Usually a business will consider many things, but most are prepared for Short Term, Mid Term forecasts that include upswings, and downswings with a plan setup to go into effect when or if needed. In the Electric Utility Business we called it Planning and future forecast ~ looking at worst case scenario's ~ with corrective measures to address minor, major and castrophic events.

    Somewhere in all this hype and shell game, Flags, Whistles, Flashing Lights and a very loud Train Whistle has been sounding. I can’t believe the brain trust of the Big 3 didn’t see, hear or say anything until the bottom fell out. Can we really point at the price of Oil, or the Mortage minipulation as the cause of the Big 3’s troubles. It would be nice, but in reality how many Home Mortage’s out there (% wise) have gone into default(?) compared the Total number of Mortages? How many people walked away from their Primary Resisdence? How many walked away from “Investment Properties” ?

    The World ecomony may have more to do with the Big 3 than any of us would like to know about.. I believe manipulation of the Worlds ecomony is not as “Art Bell'ish” as some think.

    The entire Industrial Base of the United States has been under attack for years. Expensive Labor, Governmental Regulations, Enviornmental Agencies and Groups… is it any wonder why Car Manufacturer's in “North” America can NOT be assembled without imported parts… parts that used to be made (read: Manufactured) in “North” America.

    As you point out, and I agree.. We are becoming a Consumer Driven Nation.

    JMHO:
    Me thinks GM ~ Ford ~ Chrysler need to refocus and look inward at their Strengths and Weakness. Take a firm gripp on reality, look at a solutions not the problem. They need to take another notch up on their belts. Look at what works and get rid of what doesn’t. Quit looking for an easy fix or way out, and do some Realistic Short Range Planning with Labor, Plant & Facilities budgets. Consider re-negotions at EVERY level, and leverage their assets. Management needs Lead or be replaced! Stockholders, consumers, employee's and associates within the business world need to believe and have confidence in the management, products, service and sustainability. Throwing $$$ at the Big 3 does not provide the incentive needed for them to regroup or recover what they have fiddled away.


    I’m losing my train of thought and interest, before I ramble on too much more, I’ll just say "I respect your opinion, but I do not totally agree"

    Bud

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    I picked up a copy of Consumer Reports auto edition this week and was amazed at how unimpressed they are with regards to American cars with the exception of a few standouts. They thoroughly dislike Chrysler in particular - all poorly rated. But its not a surprise - Its been this way as long as I can remember - every year in CR.

  8. #8
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    I never discuss religion or politics because either is a never ending discussion. However, if anyone wants to know why the auto manufactures did this or that they should be asking that of the person who looks back at them when they are looking into a mirror. Detroit is nothing more than a mirror of us Americans. Detroit is over weight in many respects and so are 40% of the American population. Detroit is slow to predict and respond to change and so are most Americans. Detroit is buried by debt. So are most Americans.


    How many of you paid cash for your VETTE? I’ve seen one and two year old Vettes advertised as “just take over my payments” and the payment is $900 per month or more. The person who bought that car obviously had no money down and did not “plan/save ahead” for that purchase and now they are in trouble. Now you get the idea. If GM only sold vehicles to people who had cash in hand, as I think they should, then the industry would have folded or changed fifty years ago. It would be smaller but more responsive to changes in the industry.


    Most of us have learned to live with immediate gratification relying on future expectations and when those strategies fail to come to fruition we do not want to take blame for it. Detroit does the same thing and we blame them for poor planning. Detroit suffers from management issues but I’ll bet most Americans have similar difficulties just managing their personal and family needs. When was the last time you opened the refrigerator and found that you had run out of one staple item such as milk or another. Hey, doesn’t that indicate bad planning? Now you know what Detroit goes through.


    Someone talked about Detroit building the vehicles that Americans demanded. I believe that statement was right on the money. I was associated with two Arizona dealerships around 1996 when Suburban’s were selling for over list price. In response, Chevy converted another plant to build Suburban’s. You think they would have done that if buyers did not demand it?? Many local residents thought he/she needed a big four wheel drive Suburban as a status symbol. This continued till the present time and now I find many of these sitting in drives with for sale signs.


    As far as quality, I believe that it is a relative concept. I have put 180K on a 1984 Monte Carlo SS and after 23 years of ownership sold it for half of what I paid for it. Try that with you foreign import. Totals items replaced were two alternators one water pump and one power steering pump, two ignition coils, one radiator, four sets of brakes and hoses and other normal wear items. All done by me. That car still had the original floor mats when I sold it.


    I drove 1994 & 1998 turbo Pontiac Sunbirds convertibles for 160K and 170K. My 94 Vette roadster currently has 100K and all with minimal upkeep. I think this shows that Detroit can and does turn out a good product that provides value for the money.


    I think most people are concerned about Detroit because they do not have their own house in order. If they do then what happens to Detroit will have an impact but other alternatives will present themselves. However if you’re over extended on credit and worrying about loosing your job then who can you blame for that?? Poor management in Detroit or poor management at home? I am sorry if I offended anybody but I think it’s time we stop looking for someone else to blame when we, through our purchasing/spending habits, are the primary cause of what is happening in this country.

  9. #9
    Site Administrator Rob's Avatar
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    ^^^^ An excellent and quite valid response.
    1990 Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1 , 350 Stock ZF 6-speed. Stock Bright Red

  10. #10
    Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off Bob Chadwick's Avatar
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    Its a three part disaster. I agree that Detroit needs to be saved; either through a bailout with strict conditions or a controlled bankruptcy.

    The problem is that no one seems to address the other two pieces to the puzzle. The UAW and government regulation. Unless something changes that reduces the labor cost and government regulation, think of the two tier CAFE standards, the situation will just continue indefinitely.

  11. #11
    Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off 6 Shooter's Avatar
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    Default It's pretty simple: Buy American or...


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    While there is plenty of blame to go around and all of the above posts hold some truth, the difference maker has and will be the UAW. They have bled those three companies dry and have been doing it for years. Free health insurance for life, Job Banks, free legal for life and a general abuse of the system has doomed Detroit. I have relatives from Michigan and those that do not work for GM have nicknamed it "Generous Motors". Those that do work for GM feel that there is some great big, mean entity that owes them a living. For those of us who work hard every day to ensure our jobs for tomorrow, this attitude is offensive.

  13. #13
    Dec. 2008: It's time for Americans to take their blinders off 6 Shooter's Avatar
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    Default WRONG - Who gave the ...

    Quote Originally Posted by dim View Post
    ...the difference maker has and will be the UAW.
    ...UAW the contracts they currently have, the Big 3!

    L8TR - D

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    Default EXACTLY

    With a gun to their head! I can't imagine anything worse than being a large corporation with union employees, particularly the UAW.

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    Rob, very well written. I concur with your opinions 100%.

    Time for our country to take back the manufacturing and the innovation we have allowed to leave.

    Time to tell the UAW they will have to start playing by the Big 3's rules, not theirs!

    WHILE ALL THIS IS GOING ON, WILL SOMEONE PLEASE SAVE THE ?
    An attendee at all the CruiseFests including the one which never happened.


    Autosig (Shadow) A

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