We have at last left the oughts and entered the decade of the what, not teens yet. Let’s just call it pre-teens for now. So, we get not only year-end reviews, but end of decade reviews. Some actually have been rather good. I enjoyed Sports Illustrated’s issue of the decade and montage that ESPN did this am. How quickly we forget things that make the news. Some of the all decade stuff seemed eons ago.Right now, Tiger Woods still makes headlines for sports and gossip mags.What will his wife do, when will he play golf, what sponsor will drop him, next(AT&T being the latest) and with whom will they replace him?
What strikes me most is two things. One I have alluded to about the transitory or near disposable nature of an event. Tiger will like that. Example,Charlie Sheen is arrested for alleged domestic abuse. another in a checkered career. Who cares, not his tv audience or his fans. The second and more compelling is how unpredictable the ” news” really is.
Look back at the decade at images that drew us. Of course, the 9/11 attacks come to the fore. What about the death of Michael Jackson, or the election of an unknown , minority senator as President. Global warming now dominates the news in many ways. Alas, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have come and stayed.
What about the rise of Google, You Tube, Twitter and Facebook and the fall of General Motors and the worst recession in many a day. No longer can one live without a cell phone and what you have no Ipod? What a heathen you must be, me too.But what about those things that began the decade with us and are still here. The intractable Middle East with its Arab-Israeli issue, how we relate to Russia and China and vice-versa. Those are still around but whatever happened to the doomsday of y2k?
So, another decade launches and those who purport to tell us with any certainty what will happen should revisit a quote from a former head of the U S Patent Office who offered to resign since everything that could be invented had already been invented. His name was Charles Duell and the quote dates to 1899.
Well, the other shoe has fallen, so speak. General or Government Motors , which it ostensibly is now, has filed for bankruptcy. It wasn’t the biggest corporate filing ever but is probably the most iconic. Time will tell us how far the rippling effects will spread. How many dealers will disappear, how many plants, how many parts suppliers, how many jobs, how many people will be be impacted.
There are many ironies and probably, significant blame to go around. A brief perusal of Michael Moore’s website almost seemed to say, they(whoever they are) got what they deserved. A picture on Drudge showed a high flying American flag above GM’S Detroit headquarters building, rich symbolism that. The President made the official announcement from Washington, which seemed a bit odd. He reportedly said that the government would not be involved in the day -to-day operations of the company. But , long term or major decisions were another matter entirely.
Many years ago, GM boss, Charlie Wilson, was famously quoted before the Senate as saying what was good for GM was good fort the country. He actually said something a bit different- “…for years I thought what was good for our country was good was good for General Motors and vice versa.” That quote is officially undone.
As one whose first first car, a 1962 Chevy on up to today’s 2005 GMC Canyon( and most in between) were GM vehicles, I will confess to a bit of sadness. My dad thought Chevrolet embodied good and Ford evil. So when i bought my first non GM vehicle in 1975, I was a bit chagrined. Later when I acquired a Ford product, I was almost glad he wasn’t around to see it.
It is now a new era, who knows what sort of GM will emerge or if it will last since the man the President put in charge is a 31 year old, almost Yale Law grad named Brian Deese. Good luck sir, you shall need it.
Many years ago, a talented country western singer name Tennessee Ernie Ford did a song named Sixteen Tons. If you must know it was 1955 and yes I was around then. In the song he says that”I owe my soul to the company store”. The company store in the song was owned by a coal mine. But the imagery always resonated with me since the textile industry (including Marshall Field nee Fieldcrest Mills for whom my parents worked) had the very same thing.
In those days , your house was owned by the mill, you shopped at a mill owned store and so on. Your rent payment grocery bill, etc were deducted from your paycheck. Now the name has been adopted and adapted by any number of businesses to denote a place where one can choose to buy that company’s products. There is even a business named The Company Store. You will search long and hard to find mention of the original company store that all but owned its employees.
Take heart, I believe we may be returning to those halcyon days and this time around we may all have a company store. Yes, folks, the new company store could very well be our beloved federal government, ole Uncle Sam, himself. We may look back in a number of years and wonder what in the world was a private sector.
Alarmist, perhaps but just consider a few things. Today’s USA Today headlined an article that said a majority of the revenue coming to states is from the federal government. More, OK. General Motors is well on its way to becoming Government Motors. Chrysler was basically told to merge with Fiat or else. Banks who have received TARP money are receiving specific dictates from the feds. That will no doubt accelerate.
And, what may be the most telling of all. There is great talk about health insurance reform. Everyone needs it, everyone doesn’t have it and says the President, we are going to do something about that. Like it so far? Hold on a bit.On April 18,, Democrat Representative from Illinois Janice Shakowsky had these things to say about health insurance reform. She is speaking to a group of government run health care supporters. By the way, theses comments met with loud applause.”I know many of you here today are single payer advocates and so am I… and those of us who are pushing for a public health insurance don’t disagree with this goal.This is not a principled fight.This is a fight about strategy for getting there and I believe we will,” so she said. I watched a short video from her speech and it was a bit scary. Wanna give up your private health insurance, you may very well get that choice. By the way, she will probably run for the U S Senate next election.
Check out Sister Toldjah’s blog for a ling to the video.
Reports are circulating that GM boss Rick Wagoner, will be soon, very soon, announcing he is resigning. So what, you say.At first glance, perhaps his resignation is a good move, considering General Motors precarious position. But that is not necessarily why he is stepping down.Basically, he is being told to quit by his new boss, President Barack Obama.Yes, friends now the U S government is telling businesses what to do. Look for this to continue as federal money flows into companies as bailouts or stimuli. Never for a minute think that the government will not exert some control. However, the man in this photograph still does not look very happy, does he? Reminds me of a phrase I heard as a kid,”someone licked all the shine off his sucker”.
And, Politco.com as well as the WSJ are reporting other concessions and/or actions may well be required. The President told Bob Schieffer of CBS that”They’re not there yet.” Where Obama’s there is , is as yet undetermined as are the reasons for the administration asking for Wagoner to step down.
I bet that Ford is thrilled they don’t need bailout money. Let’s see, they will replace the bow tie emblem, Jeff Gordon’s car will be renumbered 1600 and oh who knows, move GM headquarters to Chicago maybe?
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