Some sympathy for the auto makers

Man everyone is just dumping on poor old Detroit these days. It doesn’t matter that for years government has done everything it can to make sure they got preferential treatment. It doesn’t matter that for even more years unions have been busting the balls of the companies for wages and benefits that even our teachers, firemen and police only dream of seeing. It doesn’t matter that we’ve been the ones pushing for bigger and faster with our redneck General Lee Charger attitudes.

Now though, because our lifestyles are being affected at the gas pumps we want the auto maker executives lined up against the wall and severely lashed to within an inch of their fat cat lives. Sure they haven’t helped themselves by flying in to appear before Congress on their private corporate jets. It also doesn’t help when GM executives act like rock stars with specialized demands from hotels they stay at; which was pointed out in an excellent post by the Urbanophile

I’ve heard a lot, but some of the most incredulous came from a college buddy who used to work for General Motors. He was a manager level employee in field operations, but was often called in to work auto shows and the like. What was his job at the auto show you might ask? Well, at one Chicago Auto Show, his first responsibility was to make sure the hotel room for the executive was prepped correctly. This exec had very specific detailed requirements as to the brands of soft drinks, liquor, chocolates and cigars that needed to be on hand when he arrived, so it was my friend’s job to make sure this happened. After that, he got his company Escalade and went to O’Hare to pick up said exec’s wife, whom he then spent much of the afternoon ferrying around on a Michigan Ave. shopping trip.

But hey, when you’re making millions of dollars a year in salary and perks while you drive your business to the junkyard why not take what you can get while the getting is still good.

Now that we have the Big (Dying) Three lining up like paupers at a soup kitchen everyone is climbing on the anti-big-automobile-we-all-really-wanted bandwagon. Everyone is coming up with suggestions or demands that the auto makers must meet before any cash heads their way. Of course we get as well the typical know-it-all diagnosis of why this happened and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

In other words – Yada, Yada, Yada.

What these bunch of knowledgeable dumb fucks keep forgetting is that we live in a capitalistic society where supply and demand are king. We demand a product and you betcha some company is going to provide it for us. Oh sure some will say that we’re only being marketed to but you know what – that argument is bullshit because if we truly didn’t want something no amount of clever marketing would make anyone buy a product – any product. Hell we’re a society that has 10 different types of toothpastes from just a single company and we still buy this crap. Why? Because we all want to use the newest and supposedly the best (which of course means new).

So who can blame the auto makers for cranking out all those SUV’s and big assed trucks. Even though 90% of the people buying either one of those gas guzzling air polluting (which we all know they were) don’t even need them for their intended purposes – we still bought them. Think not? Well the next time you decide to walk to the corner store instead of hopping in your shiny new vehicle take a look around for once and see who is really driving what.

Chances are you’ll see some housewife driving an Escalade or some other ridiculous SUV type vehicle and who knows, you might realize she’s your neighbour – so why does she need a vehicle like that. Chances are she drives it to work, parks it in some expensive parking lot, drives it home in rush hour traffic and then maybe takes some kids to soccer or some such thing. Or how about that kid whipping off the car lot in a hot new half ton truck that he got – not because he needed it for work but because he looks cool driving it.

The reality is that when it comes to our vehicles we are the ones to blame. When the gas is cheap we want our Shelby Mustangs but gawd help us when gas starts costing more than our food bill. Suddenly it’s not our fault anymore but the companies that <cough> marketed </cough> these gas guzzlers to us. It’s easier though to point the fingers at some nameless greedy corporation instead of ourselves and each other.

You want green – then start acting like it; even when time are good and goods are cheap because until then all we are doing is posturing and making someone else responsible for our own greed and egos. Gawd forbid that we be the ones responsible for throwing that empty water bottle in the gutter, or the ones that wanted that shiny new SUV because we look so good driving it, or that we are the ones who believe bigger is better.

You want the auto makers to pay the prices of giving us what we want then look in the mirror and see how green your life is before you start making demands of others.