Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jet-Pooling Please

The executives at the Big Three make it so hard to love them...
"The top executives of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler appeared in front of Congress for the second day in a row Tuesday, to make their case for an emergency government loan," reports:

"The three CEOs have said they don’t have the cash to operate next year without help and warned that the failure of the industry would have dire consequences for the U.S. economy.

"And yet GM CEO Rick Wagoner, Ford CEO Alan Mulally and Chrysler chief Bob Nardelli arrived for these historic hearings on private jets! That’s right: The men at the helm of an industry so crippled that it has to ask for taxpayer money to survive flew on private jets. And they wonder why the American public is so angry about these bailouts.

"Their choice of transportation dominated Wednesday’s hearing. Representative Gary Ackerman, a Democrat from New York said: '… there is a message here — couldn’t you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it.'

"'If you’re gonna streamline your companies, where does it start? And it would seem to me as the chief executive officer of those companies you can’t set the standard of what that future is going to look like, that you are really going to be competitive, that you are going to trim the fat, that you don’t need all the luxuries and bells and whistles … it causes us to wonder.'"


  1. yeah...let them eat cake, eh? part of me thinks a few well placed guillotines would help resolve this economic dilemma muy pronto.

  2. They have to ensure their bonuses for all that competent work they do somehow...

  3. It was a pathetically poor performance by three tone deaf executives who seem to have a death wish for their companies.

    "Sir, would you agree to take a $1 salary to get the buyout?"

    "I'm good where I am," said the Chrysler executive.

    Game over, you lose.

    For three guys trying to appeal to the country to save their companies they were remarkably poorly prepared.

  4. Technically, these guys are very bright, but they are prime evidence that the Big Three don't have a management system in place for the companies to succeed. The skills you need to claw your way to the top of these automakers are not the skills to make them successful. These guys really think they deserve all the money, regardless of the company's performance, because they jumped through all the corporate hoops to get there.

  5. I have always found that the car business is unique in that, despite its massive size, almost no employees of the company interact directly with their customers. Thus a sort of insular 'top of the food chain' attitude permeates the organization, and in the execs we see this amplified. I saw nothing in their tone or demeanor that indicated they were asking for anything at all. They basically said "look how good and important we are, we deserve your support". Regardless of where you sit on the issue, In terms of leadership performance every review I've read can be more or less summarized as 'choke'.

  6. "I'm good where I am" - I'm still utterly dumbfounded that Mulally had the hubris - or was it sheer idiocy - to say something like that. Man, talk about poor PR skills, not to mention such a pathetic display of executive inability. They couldn't have been any worse prepared for their trip to DC than that. It's beyond the lack of a management system and the usual hoop-jumping; there is a total lack of accountability and lived corporate governance at the executive level, and this applies to far more than just the Big 3. If there is going to be any bailout at all, then in addition to a concrete, viable plan I seriously think it should entail a complete structural overhaul AND the departure and replacement of current executive and top-level management. If the companies are allowed to go bankrupt, my fear is that it will just be more of the same, just on a smaller scale.

  7. Agreed, these guys are clueless. But it doesn't surprise me. My friends who have white-collar jobs at the Big Three describe a corporate world that is so, well, corporate it's like it comes straight out of a bad sitcom. No one dares to come up with any new ideas, lest they be mocked for appearing different. One friend gets crap because he doesn't like to wear polo shirts, which are apparently the expected clothing in his office. One day he wore a jacket and tie and got so much crap he never did it again. Everyone is afraid of rocking the boat.

  8. Well that explains the lack of new design in their cars. I will say one thing for domestic companies... they are the only ones who make cars for tall people. If they go under, I will become a hunched over old lady driver for sure...

  9. Can I get really picky? Every time I rent an American car, the seats are always very puffy. Too puffy. Like a Lay-Z-Boy. I hate that.

    Maybe I'm just used to my Toyota Camry that I bought in 1990 after my Buick Electra hand-me-down died in Columbia, Missouri. The Camry's still running fine, but there's not much padding left in the driver's seat these days.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at