At this juncture I should note that my thought process is a bit different than what is often considered normal. As an example when I see a package of blue berry muffins with a banner that says “now with real blue berries” it is impossible not to wonder what was in them before. When I see political candidates proclaiming to be the answer for a nation in trouble the thought comes to mind that they are the reason the country is in trouble.
Now, with that off center foundation let me pose a few questions that need to be asked. Perhaps these things are no big deal and only I feel they need to be asked. Perhaps the old Range Rider has to much time on his hands or has simply spent to much time in the sun.
We have some fine folks running around the country asking us to elect (hire) them for the position of president. This is a pretty important job with a great deal of responsibility so we should be very careful about who we hire.
I use the term “hire” loosely in regards to elections and politicians. I may write their check and they in turn pretend they are working for me with my best interest in mind. However, as they determine their own salary, exempt themselves from many of the regulations they burden me with, make up holidays so they can have longer weekends, and will get a pension for life whether they “work” for me four years or twenty, or even end up in prison this is really an illusion, a case of me fooling myself.
As I was watching the honorable Hillary tear up on television (wonderful performance, I must say) a couple thoughts came to mind. The top candidates have jobs they are being paid to do, ones we “hired” them to do. However, instead of showing up for work they take money from friends to cover expenses, a paycheck from us, and then travel the country looking for another job.
Even crazier is the thought that they are asking us to hire them for a job with even greater responsibility when they are proving and have proven to be incapable to do the job they currently have, the one we are paying them to do while they are off trying to get this other job. If you, or I, were to do this who in their right mind would hire us? Who is doing their job while they are out looking for another one? So why are we cheering these people on as though they were our favorite sports team?
Would we cheer the pick pocket who lifted our wallet? Would we cheer the car jacker? I know this world isn’t perfect but if we really think about this it would be like the Indians cheering for Custer, the British cheering the American victory at Yorktown, and the Arabs dancing for joy at the 1948 formation of Israel.
This line of thought led to this one. General Motors and Ford is on the fast track to becoming this generations Studebaker and Hudson. Keeping these legendary companies company on the road to ruin are other American icons such as Kodak.
In an effort to stem the hemmorage of cash the trend is to bring in a hired gun , usually with the lure of a hefty sign on bonus that is equal to the wages an average worker would make in twenty or thirty years, to streamline operations and return profibility to the company. More often than not the first order of business is to cut costs through lay off and liquidation of assets. In my way of thinking this is like a garage owner giving himself a raise and then to ensure the company remains solvent lays off two of his three mechanics, sells various assets such as the diagnostic equipment, and slashes the advertising budget. Huh?
This is not a new phenomena. Corporate intrigue, hostile take over, merger, short sighted management, greed, fierce competitive atmosphere, rapid technological advancement, and flim flam, these was the hallmark of the American automtive industry between 1910 and 1930.
It is for that reason if we as a nation were serious about restoration of American manufacturing, if companies were serious about remaining competitive as well as profitable they would learn from the lessons of the past.
After leaving General Motors Walter Chrysler became a hired gun that commanded a staggering salary for bringing companies back from the precipice and restoring solvency to near moribund manufacturers. When given the task of salvaging Willys his first order of business was to dramatically cut the salary of John Willys, namesake and founder of the company!
Charles Nash, during the infancy of his company, often worked on the floor shoulder to shoulder with labor to install new equipment or on the line. This allowed for a ground level perspective that allowed him to manage the company so succesfully it was one of the few automotive manufacturers to avoid red ink during the darkest days of the Great Depression.
Management of corporations today seem to have overlooked these stories and instead have chosen to use the playbook of a certain Mr. Durant, founder of General Motors. Sadly if they skip to the end of that book they will find ruin, corporate as well as personal.
It would seem the golden age of swashbuckling entrepreneurs is past. We have become a nation of corporate wimps without a social conscience dependant upon the government to level the playing field instead of assuming responsibility, on a personal as well as corporate level, for success.
Ransom Olds established schools to ensure his emplyoyees were educated. Studebaker initiated father and son apprentice teams. Henry Ford established a trade school that also taught personal thrift. They did this because it was good business.
Okay, my intent had been to keep this light hearted. As entertaining as the political season is, however, it is difficult to keep the happy face when I reflect on the current state of what once was a nation that served as a shining light unto the world.
I will now climb from my soap box and with the words of Will Rogers who said, to paraphrase, we have the best politicians money can buy, ringing in my ear give a short list of what needs to be done to fix things.
1) Stop whining – I have heard it said the definition of an idiot is someone who does the same thing over and over but is surprised that the out come is always the same. Every four years we have an election and in the years between we whine about who is in office. Please give some thought to the first sentence.
2) Reinstate common sense – we are a nation of diversity. However, to function as a unit we need a common language and common goals.
I promise that, to the best of my ability, there will be a refrain from ranting in the months to come. I must warn you this will be difficult when the politicians talk of a budget deficit and spend a billion dollars to get elected.
Keep smiling and keep driving. And remember, if Cord had not gone bust how would folks be able to ask when seeing a Cord, “a Cord, isn’t that built by Honda?’