Tuesday, June 2, 2009 Michael_Jackson_Talk_RadioMichael_Jackson_Talk_Radio

Michael_Jackson_Talk_Radiocapitalnce upon a time, just half a century ago, General Motors was the world's biggest manufacturer; the absolute symbol of our country's economic power. It used to be the country's largest employer and paid its workers fine middle-class wages with excellent benefits.  Now Walmart is the largest employer in America and Toyota is the world's largest car-maker.  An ironic twist, it used to be said that what is good for GM is good for America. And now we, the people, own the ailing, bankrupt giant. Could the corollary be accurate: what is bad for GM is bad for America?

In its heyday General Motors was the model of economic security. Just half a century ago, the prosperity of America's middle class was surely one of democratic capitalism's greatest success stories.

Robert Reich, the former Clinton administration labor secretary, writes in the Financial Times that he believes GM will eventually disappear and the bail-out is designed to give the economy time to reduce the social costs of the blow.

When I emigrated to this country one of the first lessons I learned from colleagues at the TV/radio station where I worked, in Springfield Mass., was that Americans aimed to get a new car every three years because of that horrendous line of logic, "GM, Ford, Chrysler all have built in obsolescence".

No longer.

Being an American taxpayer, I am one of the majority shareholders in the future of GM .I want to see a leaner company making the products that this society, and the world, needs. And the Hummer can go to China. Not that it is a bad vehicle. It'll almost climb a tree. But it is a classic example of GM missing the pulse of the market.

This morning the L.A. Times had 'photos of some of the many misfit vehicles the company turned out over the years. Let me select a few of the least memorable. The Cadillac Cimarron in the 1980s. The Chevrolet Corvair. "Unsafe at any speed". Just ask Ralph Nader. Bold design but dangerous. The Pontiac Aztek - That was a lulu. Ugly, ugly, ugly and has, since its 2001-2005 existence, been considered by many as the perfect example of design by committee. Performance was awful.

Over the decades I've owned a Buick, a Pontiac, a Cadillac and my hope is that they will somehow survive the bankruptcy and come back leaner and better.

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