Economics

In June 1993, Vice President Al Gore visited Spring Hill and said he wanted to "Saturnize" the federal government, or, After Cash For Clunkers the Trickle

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Curtains for GM Saturn, Equinox for Saturn-Saturn

The end of the federal Cash For Clunkers program also spells the end of a brief but tangible uptick in auto industry sales.

Bloomberg has the numbers, which are grim for both U.S. and foreign-flagged sellers in the American auto market:

GM's September deliveries tumbled 45 percent, while Toyota dropped 13 percent, both worse than analysts had estimated. Ford slid 5.1 percent, and Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler Group LLC plunged 42 percent.

Honda Motor Co. posted a 20 percent decline, and Nissan Motor Co., which like Honda is based in Tokyo, said sales fell 7.1 percent.

Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's largest automaker, bucked the industry slide with a 27 percent increase.

Though it's nice to see that Ford—the only one of the big three that has not been the beneficiary of heroic federal life support efforts—kept its sales from dropping a precipitously as the others, I don't know that there's much to be made of that statistic. (I suspect you can't read much into month-to-month percentage changes, but please pipe up if you know something.)

The other day I used the failure of General Motors' deal to sell its Saturn subsidiary as an example of why your fury at the federal government's open-ended automotive bailouts should never fade. But I must award the palm in this category to the Wall Street Journal's former Detroit reporter Paul Ingrassia, who today digs up a great story of the UAW's role in eclipsing Saturn:

Saturn's chief UAW apostle was Donald Ephlin, the visionary head of the union's GM department who passed away in 2000. Ephlin strongly believed that Detroit's auto makers and the UAW had to change from confrontation to collaboration.

Thus the Saturn contract, built on the Memorandum of Understanding, eliminated most of the work rules that strictly limit the tasks UAW members can perform. Workers would be called "technicians" and get just 80% of standard UAW wages but would share in Saturn's profits, allowing them to earn more if Saturn succeeded. Most Saturn executives and managers would be assigned a UAW counterpart, and the two would share in key decisions.

The latter provision was overly idealistic, but certainly an improvement over constant and costly combat. Nonetheless, Saturn's labor innovations were attacked by UAW traditionalists, who coined the term "Ephlinism" to describe Saturn's heresies. Ephlin retired, on the defensive, in 1989. Mr. Smith retired a year later, his reputation besmirched by GM's chronic underperformance, just before Saturn built its first cars.

Ingrassia refers to but does not explore the roles of management in the Saturn debacle, but there is a wonderful story just in the fact that destroying Saturn was the one area where worker and boss were able to join hands: Saturn was understood to be a brand for women, so nobody was under any pressure to take it seriously. Where else but in the Detroit auto industry could that kind of male pathology still hold? If Google discovered an intensely enthusiastic market for a hypothetical GoogleGrrl product, would it starve that product line into submission? If scientists discovered a healthy market for a chain of Lady WalMart stores, would WalMart's Razorback leaders miss the opportunity? I'll bet you the Marine Corps takes women's concerns more seriously than GM/UAW does.

And here's one more reason not just to let General Motors die but to kill it actively: Cash For Clunkers is already being studied as an example of successful market intervention, measurably obtaining a Greater Good with a relatively small cash outlay. The evidence was there going in, and now the evidence is there going out: As soon as the government turned off the current, the corpse stopped twitching. But everybody in the lab saw the corpse twitch. So if GM survives, the history will read that while free market extremists objected to the Cash For Clunkers program, even they came around when they saw how successful it was at saving U.S. auto manufacturers.

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NEXT: The Red/Blue Switcheroo (Continued)

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  1. GM’s September deliveries tumbled 45 percent, while Toyota dropped 13 percent, both worse than analysts had estimated. Ford slid 5.1 percent, and Auburn Hills, Michigan-based Chrysler Group LLC plunged 42 percent.

    Honda Motor Co. posted a 20 percent decline, and Nissan Motor Co., which like Honda is based in Tokyo, said sales fell 7.1 percent.

    Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s largest automaker, bucked the industry slide with a 27 percent increase.

    Who could possibly have forseen this coming?

    Yeah, the UAW and GM managed combine their efforts to screw up a decent idea with Saturn.

    The writing was on the wall* for anyone willing to extract their cranium from their rectum. Fuck both GM and UAW who let their respective shoreholders and union members down with short term thinking. Fuck Bush and Obama for not letting them reap what they had sown.

    Any libertarian who buys a GM or Chrysler can suck my aged and leaking asshole. You don’t have to buy a Ford, but those two should be pariahs.

    * And the wall said the Japanese are kicking our asses and we have to change the way we do business.

  2. You want GM to fail, you want America to fail, you are a racist that hates the human race.

    Does that about cover it, leftards?

    1. So if I leave a tag open, I can mess up the entire thread?

      1. Seems not. And you are so racist!

    2. I think the Chinese can make a better car.

  3. So if GM survives, the history will read that while free market extremists objected to the Cash For Clunkers program, even they came around when they saw how successful it was at saving U.S. auto manufacturers.

    That made me throw up a little in my mouth.

    1. Some Guy, I would like to see anyone make that comment that you quoted, that has actually had to drive the POS vehicles that GM has been churning out for several decades now. My x wife worked for a GM dealership, and I was constantly being coerced into buying overpriced undependable vehicles. After about 10 years of this misery, I got a divorce and the first thing I did as a newly free man was to buy a Toyota. I want GM to die a horrible and agonizing death for the suffering and misery that their shit products caused for me. The fact that the Obama administration bailed out these pathetic losers makes me hate the current administration more than GM.

      1. I currently drive an 05 Malibu. It is the last GM car I will ever own. I’m also trying to avoid TARPed up banks, but that’s nearly impossible.

        1. To avoid a TARPed up bank look at any of your local Credit Unions. that should help. It’s what I am planning, once I make enough to have a bank account again.

        2. I gotta hand it to GM, the Malibu’s not bad.

          1. That is to say, the Malibus in my experience have been solid.

      2. I have driven nothing but Buick’s in my life (my Dad worked at a Buick dealership). He is retired, they sold the dealership off, I have no reason or interest in buying a Government Motors car ever again.

        However, 2 of 3 of mine were fine – the 1988 Regal and the 2003 Lacrosse. The 1998 Regal wasnt the greatest and then I put it in a guardrail and put it out of its misery.

  4. J sub D,

    We libertarians can still buy used GM and Mopars w/o “paying the penalty”,right?

    1. No, Libertarians can never buy Gubmit Motors crap.

    2. If you just go Ford you have no dilemma.

      1. After some googling, it seems that the Federal Reserve is still backing some $10 billion dollars of Ford commercial paper, so it’s not like your hands are clean.

        1. Yes, and the Japanese government is providing financial backing to Toyota and Nissan. Of course, we won’t get into the tax incentives such benighted locales as MS and TN provided those two, will we?

  5. That made me throw up a little in my mouth.

    Failure proves we didn’t spend enough. Anything spinnable as success proves they were right to make us spend the money. If GM goes down, its our fault because we clung to our outdated narrow ideology and let it die, because we hated The Chosen One so much we’d let GM’s saintly union workers suffer.

    1. Well, I’ve overestimated the long-term strength of Americans’ horse sense before, but I think if GM still goes down that will not be popularly seen as an indictment of free market ideology. People have a pretty good sense that Detroit automaking is a monster that combines the worst of rigid business, government support and organized labor. In fact, I don’t even think people will care much if GM goes under, because the individual brands people actually like will still be around in some form. Except Saturn. And that’s for girls anyway.

      1. Well, I’ve overestimated the long-term strength of Americans’ horse sense before, but I think if GM still goes down that will not be popularly seen as an indictment of free market ideology.

        Calls for a second stimulus and to not let up are just setting the stage for that very argument.

      2. Absolutely on the brands. I was looking forward to the Toyota Corvette. Probably would still be made in Bowling Green, KY.

        1. I have a 2006 C6 and it will be my last unless it is a Toyota. Sad as worked my whole life to get my dream car and now I want to put my last Gov Motors car sicker on it.

    2. Ever know any GM union employees? There really is not much that can piss someone off more, than to see the absolute dumbest inbred cretans on the planet make more money than you do after several years of college, going out and obtaining real skills through hard work, and actually being able to read and write comprehensibly in English.

      1. I worked at a GM assembly plant as a contract engineer for seven years. I knew a lot of smart, degreed UAW guys that worked mostly in the skilled trades for the money and, mistakenly, for the job security.

        But yeah, they had their share of overpaid losers.

      2. Not a biggie, but if you’re going to impugn someone’s intelligence by calling him a cretin, you might want to spell it correctly. Elitist.

        1. He was actually referring to UAW workers originally from the island of Crete.

        2. Unfair shot, preview was off when I posted that. But, it is the first time that I’ve ever been called an Elitist. Interesting day it was yesterday…

  6. By the way: All respect and peace to any male Saturn owners/fans out there. I am only describing the popular perception of the brand, not impugning anybody’s manliness.

    1. Actually, I did a 2nd look more than once at the Sports car they came out with, SKY?, looks pretty ballsy really, not girlie at all. But then I realized GM was involved with the making of this car, and I was immediately turned off.

    2. No need to soft-pedal the obvious; there are just certain cars real men don’t drive. That list would include Saturns, Jettas, those ubiquitous (around these parts anyway) Subaru wagons and Mustangs (at least the modern versions).

      1. I know two men who drive a Subaru wagon. Does the fact they were married to each other in a Unitarian ceremony keep them from being real men?

        1. Not if they wear leather instead of makeup, heels and dresses.

        2. Not at all. The fact that they drive a Subaru wagon keeps them from being real men.

      2. My last 10 cars have been a mix of Subarus and Nissans. Currently sitting in the garage are a 2002 Exterra (which was Motor Trend SUV of the Year when it was introduced); a 2006 350Z (which shares a drive train with the Infinity G35 which was Motor Trend Car of the Year when it was introduced); and a 2009 Subaru Forester (this year’s Motor Trend SUV of the Year).

        You would be hard pressed to find a better, all-wheel drive vehicle for daily driving than a Subaru.

        I’ve never understood the “feminine” label attached to the Subaru. I used to put three Boy Scouts in seatbelts, fill the back end with camping gear, strap a bunch of shit to the top, and then head off into the Arizona desert. They’re great.

        1. Um, am I the only one that thinks that the PR flacks at Subaru aren’t going to be thrilled at Kinnath’s NAMBLA endorsement?

          What? You don’t think heading out into the desert with three boy scouts is going to necessarily end up with one of them being called “Canteen Boy” for the rest of his life?

          Sure….

      3. Subaru wagons

        Real men have been driving subarus off of dirt ramps for years.

        Old girly men get thier over priced H2s stuck in the snow banks of parking lots

    3. Don’t go all wobbly on us Tim. Non Ford drivers are fags. Well, except for beloved boyfriend, he is a MOPAR guy. And except for writer buddy John, he is MOPAR too. The rest of you are fags!

      1. Sorry, The Tim, don’t go all wobbly on us.

  7. We libertarians can still buy used GM and Mopars w/o “paying the penalty”,right?

    Sure. The corporations don’t see a penny of that cash. Try to buy rebuilt, not new, repair parts (always a good idea anyway).

  8. At a recent family gathering, I was lectured on the virtues of the wondrous government intervention which averted a total meltdown and Teh New Depression!.

    It’s not polite to tell your uncle he’s an idiot to his face (I didn’t; but I laughed).

  9. Oh- and he thinks Cash for Clunkers was quite possibly the Best Government Program Ever.

  10. Tim-

    Your link to Ingrassia’s story is Sugarfreed.

  11. Tim-

    Your link to Ingrassia’s story is Sugarfreed.

    Uh, P, it’s “The” Tim. Get it right.

  12. Uh, P, it’s “The” Tim. Get it right.

    And the link is “The Sugarfreed”.

  13. “The” Tim

    most humble appy polly loggies

    *kowtows*

  14. “As soon as the government turned off the current, the corpse stopped twitching. But everybody in the lab saw the corpse twitch.”

    Classic.

    1. Lol, good one.

    2. It must be exhausting believing in nothing all day long.

  15. I’m with Some Guy; it’s truly depressing to see people argue why CFC wasn’t such a disaster, and yet that’s what people are doing. 665,000 cars, many of which had nothing wrong with them, were destroyed. Thousands of auto mechanics and small businesses involved with auto repair are taking a hit, whilst tons of low income folks went from having a beater that was paid off to a car payment during a recession, and for what? A negligible change in emissions? It obviously didn’t help stimulate the auto market if sales are still down. Why are people saying this was smart?

    Hopefully there will be a side lesson on why Ford is doing better, and that could include the fact that Ford didn’t take tax-payer bailouts the way the others did. I’m sure this a minor factor, but it does appear many Americans bought Ford over GM and Chevy. In fact by some measures it appears that Ford cleaned up in the CFC program.

    I just bought a Fusion about a year ago (missed the program too, natch) and I would argue the reason why Ford is ahead has probably more to do with the fact that they are making cars people want instead of a stand against tax payer bailouts, but one can dream.

    1. You speak the truth.

  16. In June 1993, Vice President Al Gore visited Spring Hill and said he wanted to “Saturnize” the federal government, whatever that meant. The Age of Aquarius was meeting the automotive assembly line. Saturn sales peaked at 286,000 cars in 1995.

    But that year saw another, more menacing development. The UAW elected as its new president Stephen P. Yokich, a militant firebrand with an explosive temper who hated Saturn. Before his death in 2002, he opposed profit-sharing, the elimination of work rules, and the flexible factory shifts that improved Saturn’s efficiency.

    Yokich convinced GM to assign a new Saturn model to a factory in Delaware instead of Spring Hill. He worked to unseat Mike Bennett, an Ephlin prot?g?, as president of UAW Local 1853 at Saturn. Mr. Bennett was defeated for re-election in 1999.

    But the union is dedicated to craftsmanship, and has the best interests of their rank-and-file workers as their first priority!

    1. You know the whole reason I put up this post was because I was so moved by that reminder of what a mindless, fair-weather buzzword whore Al Gore has always been. Every good-to-great, cult-of-management, personal-growth-technology swindle that came down the pike Al Gore hitched a ride on.

      And I’m not even against stuff like that; Tony Robbins I think probably does some good in the world. But Al Gore was just such a fucktard about it. He’s like the guy at an Amway recruitment who, just as you’re deciding this Amway thing sounds kinda me, you look at him and you see how into it he is, and you run.

      1. …what a mindless, fair-weather buzzword whore Al Gore has always been. Every good-to-great, cult-of-management, personal-growth-technology swindle that came down the pike Al Gore hitched a ride on.

        That is going into my book of quotes.

        1. Beautifully put!

  17. Ingrassia’s story

    You’re welcome.

    (assuming my unpreviewd link isn’t Sugarfreed, too)

    1. That’s “The Sugarfreed”

  18. Ford has been doing well because they started restructuring prior to the crash. That isn’t to say they saw the crash coming. Mulally has his shit together and saw a need for fundamental change across the entire business model. To put it bluntly Ford got its head out of its ass. The company divested JLR (nice move there, poor Tata ate that turd), is trying to divest Volvo to Geely in China, they moved toward limited production models and started a more modular design theory across all markets.

    Ford and its leaders are just curb stomping the competition when it comes to business. The other two are sticking to dying business models. Oddly Dodge got its big start with WWI government contracts and suing Ford for not paying dividends which subsequently lead to Ford buying out the brothers stake in Ford. GM started when he realized Ford had a great business model and his horse carriages were not going to be needed anymore. He basically copy/pasted Ford’s business model after bashing the new automobile. Either way neither company deserves to exist in today’s market after both being saved in multiple forms by the US government. Ford, while taking government contracts, has never relied on them to survive or save their ass.

    Blue oval for life biatches!!

    Someone needs to deprive the IT department from food until preview is back.

  19. GM he = Durant

    PREVIEW, FIX IT.

  20. Ford also has one of the better company programs for closing and laying off employees. I know here they closed a plant and basically offered a buy out of a 4 year college degree. For the most part, with historic lapses, the company has been decent to its people.

  21. And the wall said the Japanese are kicking our asses and we have to change the way we do business.

    The US could never stand up to this level of awesomeness:

    Japanese Spiderman

  22. I’ll always have a fond spot in my heart for Spring Hill because it was on the way to Grandma’s house. Back then it’s bigger claim to fame was to be home to a Baptist orphanage. My best buddy’s dad, Baptist preacher, headed that orphanage for a few years. We never stopped. We did snoop around a bit when the big Saturn plant was under construction.
    Now no more orphanages and no more Saturn.

  23. GM’s September deliveries tumbled 45 percent, while Toyota dropped 13 percent, both worse than analysts had estimated.

    What ‘analysts’? I’m an ‘analyst’ and I predicted just such a slide. I mean, here’s some free money, go buy some cars! Hey, an uptick in car sales! Look! It’s working! Doh! Free money ran out. Wonder what will happen now?

    Is government really this stupid?

    1. “Is government really this stupid?”

      The government we currently have in power? Yes.

    2. Is government really this stupid?

      Yes. DUH. And I am like new here.

  24. I never got the “Saturn is a girly car” thing. (Actually, until recently, I never recall hearing it). I mean this is exclusively a chick car? I can see saying that for some Saturn models or a Miata, the Pontiac Fiero, or that little coupe BMW makes, but the entire Saturn line? Apparently, I need more testosterone and more girl-on-girl porn or something, b/c I’m just not getting the Saturnafemme connection.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I was looking for a car in 2002, and was going to get a Saturn. I went to the dealership, and the sales guy was putting some bullshit costs on the sales sheet ($400 for the “racing stripe”), so I walked out (the look on his face was great).

    I went to get a used one, and brought the newspaper with a price quote, only to have the sales asshole quote me a price $2k higher than printed. As I walked away from him, he said “Sir, it said in the ad to get the full details from the salesman”. I replied “well, I got the fucking details now, didn’t I?”

    I wound up going right across the street and getting a new GM light truck. Although my problems with it have been few, I will never buy GM or Chrysler again.

    1. I’m just not getting the Saturnafemme connection

      I believe it’s called Schaturnfreude.

    2. I never got the “Saturn is a girly car” thing. (Actually, until recently, I never recall hearing it).

      I’d never heard it either. And I live in Detroit.

      1. Indeed, the linked article by Paul Ingrassia never mentions it. Tim states: “Saturn was understood to be a brand for women, so nobody was under any pressure to take it seriously.” Where’s the evidence? If Tim provided it, I’ve overlooked it.

  25. The government we currently have in power?

    Psst. The one we had previously was just as stupid. Srsly.

    1. This is seriously debatable.

      1. Anyone that can look at a program like Medicare hurtling off a fiscal cliff and say, “What this needs is a massive new entitlement like prescription drugs” is seriously insane.

        1. Or “what we need to ensure peace in the Middle East is to attack a country that hasn’t attacked us, but once had a biological weapons program, and might have one now.

          Even though we can’t find any evidence whatsoever.”

          1. Iraq WAS attacking us daily, in defiance of a score of UN resolutions. Or have you forgotten all the SAM’s they shot off at our flyers enforcing the No Fly Zones??

            As to whether or not they had a weapons of Mass Destruction program, again wishfull forgetfullness. I remember Colin Powell in front of the UN showing off pics of Saddam’s convoys to Syria and 5 years later Israel blowing a whole in the Syrian desert, without a peep of protest out of Assad.

            If you want to fault Bush and Co for being aggressive in our defense, please do. But I bet the next hole to be blown won’t be in our adversaries direction but in ours or our allies.

            Yea Penguin, this is a whole new era of stupidity, willfully blind to dangers to America, key word, “WILLFULLY’.

      2. Hyperion, if you want to say “the Obama admin is 20% more stupid than the Bush admin”, I can understand that, and potentially agree.

        I you want to argue that we’ve entered a whole new era of stupidity, I call bullshit.

        1. I am pretty sure the Aztecs had Obama in mind when they came up with the whole 2012 thing. Whatever Bush’s faults, trying to liberate 50 million people wasn’t one of them. I don’t care what Michael Moore says.

      3. Can a debate about the intellectual porcessing power of a pile of shit vs a bucket of piss be considered a seriouse one?

    2. I’ve already forgotten…

  26. And the one before that.

    1. William Henry Harrison had some good ideas. But since then, it’s been all downhill, I agree.

      1. William Henry Harrison? Bah!

        Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and Thomas Hart Benton had some good ideas — namely, to each secure two terms as president, and over that 24-year period, reduce the federal government back to a Constitutional level.

        But Harrison defeated Van Buren and fucked the whole thing up. By the time of the next campaign, slavery had split the ranks of the Jacksonian movement.

  27. And the one before that.

  28. I worked at a GM plant for years. I still have a lot of friends there. But anyone who was there when I was and knew the corporate culture isn’t surprised at what’s going on.

    1. I still remember when I was young and stupid. Hell, I could have been a liberal. Soon out of college I was all full of piss and vinegar(does anyone who has not lived in the south understand this tribal lingo?). Anyways, there was a Chrysler plant about 45 miles from where I lived and I thought I would just go on over there and give them my resume and go on to be CEO. I will never forget that day. Having arrived at their HR office, I proceeded to wait behind the mile long line of illegal immigrants. Once I was close to the front of the line 4 hours later, I was confronted by a man, that at first appearance it was obvious he had been the victim of at least 20 generations of inbreeding(not that this is uncommon in the midwest). He said to me ‘Hey, you here for factory work?’. I said ‘no, I was interested in speaking to someone in your IT department, I wanted to give them my resume’. Looking at me in a way that could only make ‘deer in the headlights’ seem more confused, he finally said to me: ‘You drive one of them foreign cars?, cause if you do, you better not park it on our property, cause we’re not responsible for what will happen to it’. I said to him, ‘Where can I submit this resume?’ He said ‘If you’re here for factory work you need to go to the back of that line over there… you drive one of them foreign cars?’. This is not a joke, I will never forget that day, the say I decided I would never work for a unionized company.

      1. You sound like a Jim Crocci song. Working in the Car Wash Blues?

        1. I remember him, but not the song. Dude with a mustache and crashed his plane?

          1. I think he was a passenger. John Denver is the guy who crashed his plane.

            “Working in the Car Wash Blues” is about a guy who just got out of jail for “non-support”, works in a car wash, somehow gets an interview with an executive and tries to the “the man” that he is a genius. The reply: “Sorry, we got all that we can use.”

      2. You probably had a better shot at line work, Hyp. I don’t know about Chrysler, but GM actively sought people with serious aggression issues for their personnel. I never met anyone at or above the departmental managerial level that didn’t have some deep interpersonal affliction of one sort or another, from extreme introversion to an almost violent temper. They were crazy.

        1. I’m not sure yet if it is a union thing or a midwest inbreeding thing. I interviewed with another company in the midwest, not unionized, but a large company with government contracts, and I clearly remember this. I was sitting at a table with 5 other people on the interview committee. waiting for a 6th, when all of the sudden, the director of the department that I was interviewing with said ‘Hey, where is Carla, it’s 3 after?’ Then this bald farmer looking dude said, ‘Oh, who the hell cares, she’s nothing but a fuckin whore and everyone knows it’. The room was silent for about 2 minutes, and then Carla, the fuckin whore showed up. A few days after the interview, I was talking to a freind of mine that worked for the company, and I said, hey dude, you know what this one guy said at the interview? He said, yeah, everyone knows it, he’s nuts, has a metal plate in his head from the Korean war. I said, ‘dude, did he get fired or what?’. He said, no, he got a big promotion. Fuck man, I decided to turn down the offer.

    2. I never knew Michael Moore’s dad was a Jeffersonian. The things you learn here.

      1. Relax, I was a contract engineer.

  29. day, not say, shit, I need another beer…

  30. I tried to get the no foreign car sign off the Chrysler plant that closed here. Someone got it before me or they took it off. I was bummed.

    1. I worked at the Wentzville plant, hmmm. They have a sign just like it. The only guy that drives a foreign-branded car is an electrician in the body shop (an old Toyota).

  31. Henry Ford himself understood how to treat his employees as well as understanding how to promote performance, retain and improve good workers and doubtlessly that ethic passed down into the culture at Ford today. Oh and Jaguar is the girliest car out there…

    1. Yes and no. Ford paid well, but blocked things like more ergonomic work lines (which was stupid, because they could have increased productivity even more, while helping retain employees). He also hired toughs to break up strikes. Whiles unions are plenty violent, Ford was more than willing to initiate or retaliate.

    2. I think Jaguars are pretty cars too.

    3. Yes, but in comparison to most big industrialists of his time he was very forward thinking.

  32. He’s like the guy at an Amway recruitment who, just as you’re deciding this Amway thing sounds kinda me, you look at him and you see how into it he is, and you run.

    Ah, Amway Recruitment seminars! I went to one in the early 90’s out of curiosity, and the guy trying to reel me in made the mistake of carrying a George Gilder book under his arm. I refused to talk about anything else. He humored me for almost thirty minutes before he realized he was wasting his time and politely excused himself.

  33. Al Gore is one of the most well educated, well dressed and intelligent people in US politics. It’s good he didn’t become the President, otherwise he would get his hands into the political dirt of presidency.

    http://next-world-war.blogspot.com

    1. C’mon. If his daddy wasn’t a senator, Al would be getting laid off from his job as a bolt turner at the Springhill plant.

  34. Al Gore is one of the most well educated, well dressed and intelligent people in US politics.

    Big fish in a small pond, eh?

    -jcr

  35. By the way: All respect and peace to any male Saturn owners/fans out there. I am only describing the popular perception of the brand, not impugning anybody’s manliness.

    I was under the impression it was more of a “Geek” car. Anyway, I would have liked to see what Penske would have done with the line.

    1. Girlie-geek, that is the term I was searching for!

  36. I suspect you can’t read much into month-to-month percentage changes, but please pipe up if you know something.

    I know that those aren’t month-to-month changes, but year-to-year. Those numbers given are comparisons to September 08. They aren’t comedowns from a C4C high, they’re massively decreased from the same month last year because most of C4C was pulling forward sales by only a month or two.

  37. It’s much worse than you think, Tim Cavanaugh, since those are year-on-year numbers. It would look much better if they were being compared the C4C-fueled high, but sales are that much off of Sept 08, which itself was a bad month (and a VERY bad month for GM and Chrysler.)

    We’re going to have a second GM and Chrysler bailout.

  38. Nothing like raping poor people in the ass to get Democrats excited.

    Cash for Clunkers was an awful program that targeted the poor by making used cars and key parts for used cars more expensive.

    It was nothing but a bailout for the middle class and wealthy.

  39. How ironic that the top two pieces on HnR this morning are both about the undead.

  40. The new H&R is undead. Comments swallowed whole. Zombie opinions. Hit&Miss; posts. Yikes.

  41. Nothing like raping poor people in the ass to get Democrats excited.

    I believe the correct term is “Polanskied.”

  42. Speaking of anal sex, I’m rather disappointed that Reason has not seen fit to comment on Ken Burns’ current homage to federal land-grabs, The National Parks. It’s Burns’ most propagandistic effort to date, the tree-huggers’ Mount Olympus. It’s Kelo v. New London on a national scale. And yet…silence.

    1. I’ve been watching with the volume muted. The series is very enjoyable once you stop listening to it.

  43. As for Saturn, I bought one for my wife.
    As for Lezbarus/Subaru, just because they are for women doesn’t mean they are necessarily feminine. Marketing is a mystery to me, but at least I know that women are not a monolithic market, and neither are lesbians.

    1. Actually Lesbians are a monolithic market. Have you ever seen anyone but a likely Lesbian driving a Forrester? This model specifically has become a badge among our somewhat silly sisters. True is true.

      I’d kinda like to buy one for utilitarian purposes (a Forrester that is) but I just can’t deprive a less than wealthy Lesbian of a Subaru. I buy used you see and have a very sensitive social conscience.

  44. Saturns are girlie cars? Never heard that one before.

    Actually, all modern cars are girlie cars. At least they look that way to me, peering through my customary testosterone fog. Tubeless tires and automatic spark advance were the beginning of the end.

    1. My first car was a Saturn, precisely because I didn’t want to have to haggle.

      1. And there is nobody more girliegeek here than you 😉

  45. Enjoyed this article and all of the comments more than anything I’ve read in a long, long time. I’m waiting to see how long it takes the state of Michigan (which is a beautiful state if you don’t go near Detroit) to wake up and make it the most friendly place in the world to free-thinking, entrepreneurial spirits who are fed up with California or Illinois or New Jersey.

  46. Maybe the UAW can resurrect the company with the name Uranus.

    Not only have they doomed two of the country’s automakers, but they’ve brainwashed a large number of people into thinking like Michael Moore.

  47. It’s even worse when you consider that GM and Chrysler didn’t actually benefit much from the Cash for Clunkers program in the first place. Ford, Toyota, and Honda got the biggest bumps. (Reason posted something about this last month).

    I’d argue that GMs sales dropped, not because of the end of Cash for Clunkers but because the publication of the C-for-C sales figures alerted consumers to the fact that GM was doomed, so they started dumping GM cars even faster.

    1. Hyundai is near the top of those benefitted the most from CFC, based on # of cars sold stat.

  48. So if GM survives, the history will read that while free market extremists objected to the Cash For Clunkers program, even they came around when they saw how successful it was at saving U.S. auto manufacturers.

    A) Cash for Clunkers was sold as an emissions reduction program.

    B) You actually think GM is going to survive?

  49. OK, so I’m conflicted here. When I was newly married in the late ’70’s I went looking for a new car. I’d grown up in a GM family, so I looked there first. I was shocked by the crap they were selling (that I could afford). Same with Ford and Chrysler. I ended up buying a Toyota and have stayed with them ever since. Until this summer, that is. I was fully aware of the state of the American auto industry but I really, really, really wanted the new Camaro. I had a ’95 Supra TT but Toyota doesn’t make anything like that anymore. So I ended up buying an SS. So far, I like it. And it gets a lot of attention.
    So here I am thinking: What if GM goes under. Will this increase the value of my toy? I really hate GM. And don’t get me started on the dealership I dealt with. I guess it’s hard going somewhere else after dealing with Lexus for 10 years.
    Anyway, should I hope GM dies for my own selfish reasons? Or should I hope they die because, with a few exceptions, as a car company, they suck?

  50. I’d take a Mark IV over a new Camaro every day of the week and on leap day.

    I hope you sold the mark IV outright, the things are gold on market, probably only bested by earlier model GTRs as far as imports go. The I6 in the Mark IV models was damn near bullet proof out of the factory and just waiting for as much boost as you could push through them.

    Now I’m sad someone sold a Supra for a guido mobile. At le

  51. When is the new GM going to go back to the table with the UAW and DEMAND that the people who were in the UAW JOBS BANK pay back that money?

  52. For those of you who do not know what it is.The UAW JOBS BANK program payed all UAW members 100% of a regular 40 hr payceck at whatever the persons hourly wage was.FOR FREE!When the UAW member was in the JOBS BANK they WERE NOT REQUIRED to WORK in order to recieve their FREE MONEY!Plus they got 100% FREE health care for their ENTIRE family.There was no limit on the amount of dependants that they could have.That’s right, they could have a family the size of THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY plus THE BRADY BUNCH combined and EVERYONE of them would be covered!Plus,each UAW member could sit back and relax and watch as their SENIORITY would CONTINUE TO BE ACCRUED.This means that when the UAW member was getting their FREE paycheck and their FREE healthcare for their little brats and ex-wives or ex-husbands that their SENIORITY was still being counted as if they were actually working and EARNING it!When in actuality they were doing nothing of the sort.Now I shouldn’t be too negative on the UAW because TOYOTA and HONDA also have their own little version of the JOBS BANK too!They just don’t call it that.The point of this is why isn’t the UAW being made to REPAY this money back to their respective company?The next time you go into a DOMESTIC dealership and are being hassled on the purchase of a new auto why don’t you ask the salesperson if the UAW still has people in the UAW JOBS BANK and see what they say!

    1. Now I shouldn’t be too negative on the UAW because TOYOTA and HONDA also have their own little version of the JOBS BANK too!

      Care to explain what you mean by that?

  53. Job BANKS are USUALLY 70-90ish% OF pay.

  54. Your missing the real story. Why did GM’s sales benefit more from stimulus than Ford, the collapse when Government dollars vanish while Ford remained stabile.
    Who pushed the buyers to buy GM??
    I smell a skunk, a black and white skunk that lives in the White House. If the government did push consumers (or maybe ACORN workers) to favor GM, then a CRIME has been committed & needs to be investigated!
    But that won’t happen, investigations of Democrats has been banned.

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