Fall of the Big Three


I’m going to take this opportunity to revel in one of the most joyous moments of the entire business experience: joy in the failure of others.

I’m talking specifically about the imminent downfall of the big Detroit three: GM, Ford and Chrysler. And yes, I’m well aware very little good will come out of the failure of these companies and that thousands of people could be made to suffer greatly if they collapse. But the whole point of this blog is that I choose to ignore all that. I’m just going to be short-sighted for a few hundred words and gloat.

To be honest, big, wasteful cars bug me, they always have. I’ve never wanted one, even as a teenager. I recently did my part to support the transportation industry, spending a nice chunk of my salary on my sweet new ride, a Surly Long-Haul Trucker (https://www.surlybikes.com/lht_comp.html) – an indestructible, all-steel monster of a road bike in a gruff army green, for added testosterone. Take that Detroit! Although maybe I’d be feeling a bit more sorry for you if that SUV hadn’t cut me off at a bike crossing on a green light yesterday (jerk).

And aside from my own likes, dislikes and vendettas, the American carmakers are arguably getting exactly what they deserve. Were we surprised that oil got so expensive? Are we shocked that emissions restrictions are becoming a way of life? Is it any wonder metal prices rose as India and China developed? Detroit’s addiction to their big-profit tanks has been simply childish. And I feel perfectly justified in some uninhibited gloating because – unlike so many predictions of mine – I saw all this coming years ago.

But I guess that doesn’t change the fact that the U.S. and Canadian governments are likely going to shell out billions to save these suicidally short-sighted corporations. Nor does it change the fact that such a bail out would probably be for the best. Because the world just isn’t fair. Small companies get to live and die on their own wisdom and effort. Whole resource towns get to die slow, agonizing deaths as their lifeblood industries dwindle through no fault of theirs. But the self-destructive automakers are simply in another league. We arguably can’t have the economy we’re used to
without them. Sigh.

The idea of governments pulling them out of the mess they’ve made themselves with cheap loans grates my sense of justice, robbing us all of some well-earned comeuppance. When I bought my bike I felt elated that no dollar of mine was going to those foolish, destructive companies. But if they wind up getting those big government loans, I guess they get my dollar too.

Let’s just hope they learned something.