I never believed I would agree with something Mitt Romney had to say but today I do. For the past two years most statements coming from him were mired in presidential campaign hokum. In today's Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, however, we were given the chance to read a lucid, succinct approach to sorting out the auto industry quandary.
While I write this CNN is on in the background. It reports that the executive buffoons begging for billions of our dollars arrived in DC on a fleet of private jets. What? Granted they're in a rush to state their case but did their PR firms even suggest that this may not impart a good impression? It's like walking into a soup kitchen wearing Armani, holding a tin of Beluga and asking for fresh crackers and a silver knife. The PR firms at GM, Ford and Chrysler probably did suggest this might send the wrong message, but the memo was obviously trashed by these bloated egoists. This barefaced arrogance alone answers the question as to how they have nearly flushed these once majestic companies into fecal oblivion.
Romney outlines it beautifully in his piece: stop the brainless waste, learn to make a superior product by way of a respectable business plan (just like every business 101 course teaches) and earn trust while honoring your customer--America. Humility is lacking to a devastatingly large degree in these Emirs of Ego. They solicit and inveigle with the best when it comes to the needs of their companies but what is in fact at the core of the plea is the fate of their own personal fortunes and importance. What is obvious is that this cry for 25 billion is simply lies wrapped around malodorous panic at the prospect of being dethroned.
The unhappy aspect to all of this is that many honest, hard working people will, unfortunately, have to fall along with the companies. There is no easy answer for that. The arguably innocent laborers without private jets will be left to their own pains, sacrificed. Here is where America, collectively, would likely prefer any monies go--to assist unemployed workers until their personal stability is recovered. We are a nation who does this--always has and always will. Unlike the greed-blinded CEO's we, as a nation, tend to take care of our own in the end.
As for the remaining dilemma, as soon as GM goes ka-put one can bet that within a year Ford and Chrysler will miraculously unveil new cars that get 75 miles to the gallon and better built than any Volvo, BMW or Honda. The shame of perhaps following GM down the path of obliteration will spark a new kind of American automobile company, one that could have emerged decades before but was stifled by corporate greed, wide-ranging negligence and unbridled irresponsibility.
Business is just another word for well thought out gambling. When one sits at the table and witness another player lose a fortune one learns quickly how not to screw up similarly. These overpaid, egomaniacal "players" begging us for house credit should heed Romney's counsel and start playing sensibly, like honorable men. And their first ante in this new game should be their own prompt resignation.