No. 992
April 17, 2019
 

About The UjianNasional@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of Ujian-nasional.info.

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On The Surface


Monday
Jun012009

ON THE TABLE

June 3, 2009

 


GM. On top of everything else, GM was kicked off the NYSE on Monday, replaced by DeVry Inc., a post-secondary education company. GMnext has turned into GMnotsomuch.

GM. Lost in the chorus out there shouting that this GM bankruptcy "thing" is going to go great and that the "good" GM will be up and running in no time - on its way to sure-fire success, no less - is the painful reality that this once-iconic American corporate juggernaut is now nothing more than tainted goods, with a giant "L" attached to it. It's ironic to note that at this point in time GM has produced the finest product lineup in its history, with more outstanding products in the pipeline to come. But it's a fine line between the newly reconfigured, reinvigorated and happenin' GM, and the end game example called British Leyland. As we've said countless times before on this website, GM must convince the American consumer masses that its vehicles are worth considering again. That isn't going to happen in 60 or 90 days - not even close by any stretch of the imagination - and it may not be achievable at all because the negativity and bad juju associated with GM now is that powerful. There, we said it.

The State of Michigan. We've been in a deep recession for going on four years here, and now, with the GM bankruptcy, another 8,900 or so jobs are gone out the window from GM facilities in Flint, Grand Rapids, Livonia, Orion Township, Pontiac (6,600 from Oakland County alone) and Ypsilanti Township. This state is absorbing 42 percent of GM's job cuts in this round. The "official" unemployment number in Michigan is somewhere around 12.6 percent, but the real number is somewhere north of 20 percent sources say, taking into account the people who have just given up looking. Let's call it for what this is: The reality for this state is that we're in a full-blown depression. And there's no relief in sight, no matter how quick this "quick rinse" bankruptcy goes. Not Good doesn't even begin to cover it. There isn't a bowl big enough, as a matter of fact.

The Arsenal of the Democracy. One of the plants affected by the latest round of GM cuts is the giant (5-million-square-foot) Willow Run transmission plant in Ypsilanti Township, the historic facility where B-24 bombers were built during World War II. Six hundred workers engaged in making six-speed transmissions were immediately let go on Monday. Five hundred employees will remain until December 2010. According to The Detroit News, the plant generates $3.8 million in annual tax revenue for Washtenaw County that pays for schools, libraries and other public services. The plant is now being pitched to battery makers and alternative energy manufacturers. "We were the Arsenal of Democracy. Look where we at now," Don Skidmore, a 30-year veteran of the Willow Run plant told the News. "I was angry, I cried, and now, I just feel numb." Numb is the operative word here these days. Amen.

The rest of the U.S. GM plans will eliminate 21,000 jobs at 14 plants, three warehouses, in eight states. All those in the rest of the country who think that the fallout from the hard times in the U.S. auto industry "won't affect me" better think again. Real hard.

arrowup.gifHummer. GM has found a buyer for Hummer that not only is in an undisclosed location but that doesn't want anyone to know - especially competitors - who it is (since onfirmed by the Financial Times as Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company). The one thing people forget about Hummer is that it is a prestigious, much admired brand around the world. GM didn't have the money to upgrade Hummer powertrains to turbo-diesels and such, but a new buyer might. And getting the H4 - the vehicle that could have saved Hummer - to market should be priority No. 1 for the new owners.

GM Ad Agencies. Advertising Age reports that GM's bankruptcy filing indicates that it owes a total of $166.5 million to various ad agency holding companies and agencies, making them in the top 50 of the largest unsecured creditors, Starting with Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, Chicago, which is sixth on the list, with a $121 million claim. GM also owes Starcom parent Publicis $25 million, which comes in at No. 18. The Interpublic Group of Cos. (IPG), New York, is owed $15.9 million by GM, making it No. 20. IPG's McCann Erickson, Calgary, Alberta, comes in at No. 47, with a $4.6 million unsecured claim. How's that "thank you, sir, may I have another?" account strategy working out for all of you guys right about now? Not so much, we'd bet. Memo to ad agencies doing business with GM: Carry a credit card machine in with you to every pitch meeting, verify that the funds are there, and only then agree to work on anything. Tell them "it's just bidness," as Dr. Bud would say.

GM. Speaking of advertising, GM is running its new corporate ad campaign about the "new" GM - as opposed to the flat broke and busted GM - all over the airwaves now. The big line at the end? "This is not about going out of business; this is about getting down to business." Wait just a damn minute, you guys are finally going to start trying to sell cars now? Halle-frickin-luja.

Toyota. The ultimate Shiny Happy People TV commercial is now running for the new Prius. Clearly inspired - okay, ripped-off from - last year's opening of the Summer Olympics, it has the Prius towing the sun through a Shiny Happy valley filled with Shiny Happy People actually portraying living, breathing parts of the Shiny Happy world, while wallowing in syrupy, Shiny Happy choral music vaguely reminiscent of a calliope on Xanax. It's simply breathtaking to behold. Not. As matter of fact, it makes us want to go find that Shiny Happy World and do donuts on their Shiny Happy Heads in our Shiny Happy Day-Glo Yellow Hummer.

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifThe Detroit Red Wings. Like the song says, we have a hell of a hockey team, and if cheering on the progress of our Wings through the Stanley Cup Final is all we have, then we'll take it. It's the only respite from this shit storm that we're in the midst of at the moment.

arrowup.gifP.J. O'Rourke. His brilliantly-written column - "The End of the Affair" - in last Saturday's Wall Street Journal, about America's waning love affair with the automobile and why it's happening was simply superb. We wanted to shoot ourselves after reading it, but it was really excellent. A favorite excerpt: "Pointy-headed busybodies of the environmentalist, new urbanist, utopian communitarian ilk blamed the victim. They claimed the car had forced us to live in widely scattered settlements in the great wasteland of big-box stores and the Olive Garden. If we would all just get on our Schwinns or hop a trolley, they said, America could become an archipelago of cozy gulags on the Portland, Ore., model with everyone nestled together in the most sustainably carbon-neutral, diverse and ecologically unimpactful way."

Michael Moore. From the sublime (P.J.) to the ridiculous - Michael Moore. The ubiquitous pain-in-the-ass displayed the full gamut of his hopelessly naive, half-cocked musings in his incredibly sophomoric diatribe that he released yesterday called "Goodbye GM." Whatever residual cred this guy had at one time has now been blown to bits by his gradual descent into a self-generated world made up of half-truths, abject mediocrity and the dulcet tones of the bullshit rattling around in his head. That he manages to keep unloading his "finger-snap" environmentalist crap on the American public - to obviously lesser and lesser effect - is our burden to bear, apparently. That is until the day he huffs and puffs and blows himself up for good. Pathetic.

arrowup.gifAE Headlines of the Decade. Here's a list of our favorites: "White Boy Culture" (AE No. 1, 6/1/1999). "Write Hard, Die Free" (No. 24, 11/9/1999). "In this 'Age of Entitlement' We All Get Screwed" (No. 71, 10/25/2000). "The Day The Racing Died" (No. 86, 2/21/2001). "Captain Zarrella, Your Space Ship is Waiting" (No. 98, 5/16/2001). "One Man's Passion - A Legacy Still Vibrant Today" (No. 102, 6/13/2001). "Hell Freezes Over, As Porsche Becomes Just Another Car Company" (No.167, 10/2/2002). "Memo to Chris Bangle: 'The Emperor' is Naked" (No. 175, 11/27/2002). "GM's Culture of Invincibility" (No. 184, 2/12/2003). "Detroit's Real Challenge? Selling the Idea of an American Car" (No. 220, 10/29/2003). "How much longer can 'Detroit' extract blood from a stone?" (No. 241, 3/31/2004). "Benchmarking - Detroit's Ticket to Oblivion" (No. 265, 9/15/2004). "Toyota's Shiny Happy People Peg the Stupid Meter" (No. 301, 6/15/2005). "Turn out the lights, the party's over - Detroit is officially out of ideas" (No. 305, 7/13/2005). "The UjianNasional self-help guide: How not to be a PR Weasel" (No. 311, 8/24/2005). "The NASCAR Bubble - Coming to a Boardroom Near You." (No. 312, 8/31/2005). "Soul Survivor or just Dust in the Wind?" (No. 336, 3/1/2006). "The Players, the Schemers, the Smoke-and-Mirrors Dreamers" (No. 361, 8/23/2006). "Interview with a Robot" (No. 383, 2/14/2007). "After the smoke clears, it's time for America, Inc." (No. 469, 10/29/2008). "Queen LaGreena and The Dunderheads." (No. 475,12/10/2008). The 2008 UjianNasional Year in Review: “The End of the World As We Know It” Edition. (No. 477, 12/17/08). "PMD Unplugged: The “Old Broken Down Piece of Meat” Edition." (No. 487, 3/11/2009). "State of the Motor City Nation: The “Polishing of the Pitchforks” Edition." (No.489, 3/25/09). "Going, going, gone." (No. 498, 5/27/09).

arrowup.gifAE Words & Phrases of the Decade. We've become known for words & phrases over the years (for better or worse) and we thought we'd remind you of a few of them. "The Tubes." "The Answer to the Question that Absolutely No One is Asking." "Shiny, happy, flatulence-powered balsa wood smiley cars." "The Green Horde." "Heaping, steaming bowl of Not Good." "The Rick." "Maximum Bob." "Dead car company walking." "Minimum Bob." "The Ghosnster." "The Jimbotron." "Klinkian nightmare." "The Trifecta of Not Good." "Halle-frickin-luja." "Starbucks Nation of Zombie Consumers." "Finger-snap Environmentalists." "Anti-car, anti-Detroit intelligentsia." "Queen LaGreena." "It's all over but the hand-wringing." "The Product is, was, and always will be King." "Bush League Bullshit." "Unmitigated Bullshit." "Racertainment." "Chrome-plated pitchforks." "Mo-faux." "Go Big or Go Home." "The more you know the more you just never know" (Dr. Bud). "Fu-King Motors." And of course, "notgonnahappen.com."

 

See another live episode of "Autoline After Hours" hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy, with Peter De Lorenzo and auto industry PR veteran Jason Vines this Thursday evening, June 4, at 7:00PM EDT at .

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