Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Be careful of what you wish for

I own a piece of General Motors ... and so do you. I hope not for long. I'll even let the company keep the money it owes me. You may not be as forgiving.

The issue for me is, whatever it takes to help the once-mighty auto giant reclaim some semblance of form, I am for. I just hope all of the people who wished failure on GM are happy, because I think that now, most -- if not all -- of them finally get it.

During it's heyday, as one popular executive of the company who was tapped by the government to man an important post once suggested -- what is good for GM is good for America, and what is good for America is good for GM. That once was true. Not so much anymore.

Now that the viability of thousands of dealerships across the nation is in question -- threatening the stability of suburbs far removed from Motown -- people are starting to take notice.

Dealerships across the nation not only provide income for tens of thousands of Americans, they support charities, sports leagues and other businesses in communities big and small, as well. So in addition to all of the companies in the supply chain, the jobs of folks who aren't tied to the "big, bad unions" are in jeopardy. In the balance hangs the nation's middle class, already shrinking at break-neck pace. More families are heading towards poverty, and fewer businesses (and their workers) are going to be left stable enough to provide donations. More people who never struggled before will find themselves needing help, with fewer places to turn. Now that those who wished the worst for Detroit's automakers when they had to go before Congress with hats in hand just a few months ago, probably understand the fallout from their struggles do affect the rest of the nation. I suspect that as they watch those around them face unfortunate circumstances, the importance of the survival of the auto industry is bolstered. I am encouraged. I am also sorry it had to come to this.

I hope GM spends less time in bankruptcy than Chrysler did. But I worry that this episode won't end as relatively well (it is after all, early in the game for Chrysler). Time will tell.

I am heartened by the fact that I believe that this sad chapter in the life of an industrial powerhouse has taught thousands of smug people across the nation a lesson. Be careful of what you wish for.

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