Sunday

Detroit Plans Electric Caravan to Washington

First they flew in, each on their own private multi-million dollar plane, asking Washington for a bailout. Now, the word is that they're lining up their electric cars and planning a caravan trip to Washington. If it weren't so serious, I'd laugh out loud.

One day they are flush and flying private planes. When that doesn't work, they line up the 'lectric cars to prove they know how to make them. Maybe that'll get them their millions of bailout money.

Chrysler, for its part, is saying that it can't financially sponsor or back the caravan that their suppliers and workers are planning. But that won't stop it from happening, no doubt.

A caravan to DC? Folks, that's not enough. This isn't about jet planes or electric cars. It's not about the worker's union pay scale either. It's not even about the $25 billion. It's about cleaning house and we're not talking about the workers on the line. We're talking about the suits.

Did you know that most of the suits that run the auto companies only have a small (in some cases, far less than a fraction of 1%) invested in the companies they run? They want taxpayers to pony up billions to invest in a company that they themselves won't stand behind. Oh, they stand behind, alright. Way far behind.

To fix Detroit, the Detroit paradigm must change. We're not a genuis, we'll admit, but some things are obvious. And besides, there's no shortage of advice out there on fixing Detroit.

Warren Buffet thinks the minions that run Detroit should be required to invest their money in what they sell. Makes sense. After all, if they don't have enough faith in their business to invest their own money, why should taxpayers?

While trying to get union workers to help out sounds good, why treat them any differently than the way Wall Street workers were treated when the big investment companies were bailed out? Nobody asked them to take a pay cut. And their pay scale is a heck of a lot higher than a factory line worker in Detroit. Worse yet, has everyone forgotten what Ford did that caused unions to take hold in the first place?

Nonunion workers are an approach that works in some areas but it doesn't work everywhere. The Detroit Big 3 don't have the same belief system that made Toyota famous. After all, these are the car companies who own big private jets for their executives who don't have enough brains to know that you don't go begging wearing a tux. Workers need to watch 'em and be careful to protect themselves.

One more thing. It's okay to give them a loan, but it's time to force Detroit to increase the mpg rating of their fleets. Average fuel economy now is hardly any better than it was 30 and more years ago, in spite of all the so-called engineering and technology advancements. And we can't just trust them either. Detroit fought airbags for decades because it would cost a few extra bucks.

Some legislators are already talking about tieing any loan to mandatory mpg increases and they're right. Detroit ought to go electric and dump fossil fuel, but they won't do it voluntarily and they won't do it easily.

So, take the best ideas and marry them to a bailout. Start with requiring the CEO's to buy their own stock and freeze their salaries until the loan is paid off. And no stock options either. Next, leave union wages alone. Okay, don't raise them, but don't reduce them either.

Follow that up with a mandatory 50 mpg fleet increase within 5 years. Impossible? Hey, we went to the moon using computers that had less power than a Nintendo Wii. And when it hit the fan in Apollo 13 they saved the day with a roll of duct tape. Don't tell us 50 mpg in 5 years is impossible. If Congress had mandated it ten years ago, we'd of had it by now.

Will it work? Who knows for sure. But a lot of taxpayers would feel a lot better about the bailout if they did at least this much.

Maybe then they'll stop building lemons one day too. A pipedream? Not necessarily.

Burdge Law Office
www.NewCarLemonLaw.com

Because life is too short to put up with a lemon.