May 04, 2005

General Motors = Twentieth Century Motors?

Reading Random today, I was reminded how the blogworld recently noted, and analyzed, General Motors' decline.

The Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins, quoted by Virginia Postrel, provided this damning (to me) assessment of GM:

GM's boss should be the media's darling, running his company to provide job security and health care for its workers first, second and third. Wonder why GM invests just enough in new product to keep the game going, not enough to make its cars really sought after? Because the extra capital that would have to be invested goes instead to doling out gold-plated health care -- no copays, no deductibles -- to workers and to plumping up their pension fund, which two years ago required the largest corporate debt offering in history to top off....

Has anyone else here read Atlas Shrugged? Remember the Twentieth Century Motor Company, where the book's hero was originally employed? Remember how that company met its end?

"Were you familiar with the production of that factory? With the kind of work they were doing--or planning?"

"Certainly. I took a personal interest in all my investments. I went to inspect that factory very often. They were doing exceedingly well. They were accomplishing wonders. The workers' housing conditions were the best in the country. I saw lace curtains at every window and flowers on the window sills. Every home had a plot of ground for a garden. They had built a new schoolhouse for the children."

"Did you know anything about the work of the factory's research laboratory?"

"Yes, yes, they had a wonderful research laboratory, very advanced, very dynamic, with forward vision and great plans."

"Do you . . . remember hearing anything about . . . any plans to produce a new type of motor?"

"Motor? What motor, Miss Taggart? I had no time for details. My objective was social progress, universal prosperity, human brotherhood and love. Love, Miss Taggart. That is the key to everything. If men learned to love one another, it would solve all their problems."

It seems that GM might have gotten its priorities mixed up, much like Twentieth Century Motors. Let's hope they can find a way out of the trap their workers' union and social conscience have led them into.

Posted by JohnL at May 4, 2005 10:39 PM
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