“Last September, I was in a hotel room watching CNBC early one morning,” Thomas L. Friedman writes for The New York Times. “They were interviewing Bob Nardelli, the C.E.O. of Chrysler, and he was explaining why the auto industry, at that time, needed $25 billion in loan guarantees. It wasn’t a bailout, he said. It was a way to enable the car companies to retool for innovation. I could not help but shout back at the TV screen: ‘We have to subsidize Detroit so that it will innovate? What business were you people in other than innovation?’ If we give you another $25 billion, will you also do accounting?”
“How could these companies be so bad for so long? Clearly the combination of a very un-innovative business culture, visionless management and overly generous labor contracts explains a lot of it,” Friedman writes.
“The blame for this travesty not only belongs to the auto executives, but must be shared equally with the entire Michigan delegation in the House and Senate, virtually all of whom, year after year, voted however the Detroit automakers and unions instructed them to vote. That shielded General Motors, Ford and Chrysler from environmental concerns, mileage concerns and the full impact of global competition that could have forced Detroit to adapt long ago,” Friedman writes.
“Indeed, if and when they do have to bury Detroit, I hope that all the current and past representatives and senators from Michigan have to serve as pallbearers. And no one has earned the “honor” of chief pallbearer more than the Michigan Representative John Dingell, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who is more responsible for protecting Detroit to death than any single legislator,” Friedman writes.
Friedman asks, “O.K., now that I have all that off my chest, what do we do?” Freidman offers up some ideas that center around accountability in exchange for bailout billions, including, “Lastly, somebody ought to call Steve Jobs, who doesn’t need to be bribed to do innovation, and ask him if he’d like to do national service and run a car company for a year. I’d bet it wouldn’t take him much longer than that to come up with the G.M. iCar.”
Full article here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader "dla" for the heads up.]
“We need a hero, a giant… We need Steve Jobs to start an auto company. Hey, Steve, come on… I’ll place an order for one of your cars right upfront, and I bet there are plenty of others like me… I’m begging you, Steve Jobs, to start a car company. You understand that it’s not about being the cheapest; it’s about being the coolest by being the most functional and a joy to use. We need less Detroit and more California, and you’re the one for the job.” – Dale Dauten, King Features Syndicate, November 02, 2006