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Bobbie Wasserman Headshot

The Death of GM: A Much Needed Wake-Up Call

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I came of driving age when gas was under a dollar and we owned two American cars -- both models made by GM. My father, who holds a doctorate, was raised in a union household and taught my brother and I to buy American products as that meant American jobs that kept our economy strong. Three decades later, my parents, their children and their grandchildren all own Toyota's, including a few Priuses. What happened?

If you look at the auto manufacturing and economic timeline over the past generation, American innovation lost out to ivory-tower group-think, short term profits that benefit a changed executive compensation structure based on stock incentives and the unwillingness by industry to lead and innovate. We all know this, we saw it happening -- why didn't Detroit?

This is not a worker problem, it's a management problem. Autoworkers produce quality products. It was management that decided what those products would be. This is not a union problem, this is a bond-holder problem. Unions gave concessions, bond-holders found it more profitable not to. And buying American no longer guarantees American jobs -- not because of the global economy, because our government doesn't fairly protect the flow of products coming into this country by having tariffs similar to those countries importing U.S. goods.

Americans are great innovators, but our success has made us lazy to address the layers of issues that keep innovation relatively flat and controlled. Let the Death of GM as we know it, give rise to a stronger U.S. manufacturing base that is not harnessed by lobbyists, unfair trade laws and weak industrial leadership.