Sunday, November 30, 2008

Jack Lessenberry, a Michigan journalist, wrote recently of the grim Michigan economy (click HERE), and had this to say about the auto executives in Washington:

The automakers arrived to beg for a bailout. Pasty and blank-faced, looking alike and lacking a clue, they flew in on their corporate jets. That's something like renting a top hat and tails and showing up at Cass Corridor mission and asking for Thanksgiving dinner.

They looked like jackasses, in short. They tried hard to add to the perception: Alan Mulally, the hired gun Ford brought in from Boeing, said his $21 million a year was about right. (Lee Iacocca asked for a salary of $1 a year when Chrysler was seeking a bailout.) None of them was willing to give up the corporate jets. And Rick Wagoner said changing the leadership of these companies wasn't necessary.

I heard Jack speak some years ago when Jennifer Granholm was elected governor at the end of 2002 - he said something like this: Granholm will inherit an economic mess that is not likely to be solved with any easy solutions.

Jack has always been able to put his finger on the essential nature of an issue, and I remember so clearly the sense that our economic mess, not only for Michigan, but for the nation, was going to take in some mighty dark places.

Jack's words have become painfully true for Michigan, for the United States, and because of us, for much of the world.

The Reagan House of Cards has come tumbling down.


  1. I grew up in Kansas, lived in Michigan (Detroit area) for 12 years or so, moved away (back to Kansas) for 6 years and then returned three years ago(west side of the state). I am struck by how little has changed while I was gone. And how different the attitude in Michigan is from Kansas. (I know Ks isn't much of a manufacturing state - more than you might think though- and the farming economy has had it's share of tough times as well.)

    I don't quite know how to put it, but there is this sense of helplessness in MI. It was there before we left and it's still here. A sense of powerlessness. And a sense of needing someone else to make things right, to make things work.
    The auto companies and the UAW have been short sighted, focused on what they can have today without planning for the future. And they have been this way for years. And the workers who are downsized and outsourced and laid off, seem to wait passively for someone to "fix"things.
    It's a mess. I don't have any answers- that will take smarter people than me. But at least part of the answer has to include people recognizing that change is inevitable and okay. Both individuals and corporations need to be able to say a fond farewell to what used to be, let that go and think creatively about the future.

  2. Globalization assumes, or is presumes, world peace. Losing the domesitc auto industry is a national security issue. Bill Ford had the forth-rightness to step aside and stack the company with outsiders, fresh perspective, and begin to turn things around. They have. Ford has enough cash until 2010. GM, however, essentially is asking for their first installment. Nancy above is right and makes some excellent points. If I were Ford, I would separate myself from the discussions with GM/ Chrysler to Washington. Ford may just come out on top of this all the stronger. Bill Ford walked into the Rouge plant and the employees stopped working and applauded him. Obviously, the famil name still carries weight.