GM Should Not Stand For “Government Motors”

By Jim Baxter, NMA President

It’s now becoming common to refer to GM as “Government Motors.” From a realistic perspective, this is an impossibility.

If you have ever visited, or worked in, an automobile assembly plant you have to have an appreciation for the tremendous technical sophistication inherent in these facilities, as well as the facilities and services that precede the final assembly plant function.

We take the end product of this system for granted, and we expect flawless performance and service for many years and many thousands of miles into the future.

Does this seem like something the government can do?

Seventy to eighty percent of the components in a new car are assembled before they arrive at the final assembly plant, “just in time” to be fed into the assembly line process.  There are multiple iterations of every component; 20 different sound systems, dozens of engine-transmission-differential combinations, scores of upholstery-seating-gauge-HVAC variations, different body designs-wheels-tires-and color choices and other options that stress the imagination. Yet, almost every car that comes down the assembly line is a special order and when it stops at one of the assembly stations the first component in that station’s queue of components is the exact item specified for that single vehicle!

When you consider the planning, preparation, coordination, and timing of this whole assembly operation it is absolutely mind boggling. And, this hardly scratches the surface of this highly integrated and complicated process.

If this same workforce and technical expertise were put to work building space shuttles, the aircraft would cost a tenth as much, would be ten times more reliable and there would be scheduled flights around the planet leaving every 20 minutes.

We have living proof that this is something the Government can’t do!

We have a government, like all governments, that is “challenged” to deliver the mail or manage its own affairs. Does anyone seriously believe a government can build a car, a car that anyone could afford, or even want to buy if they could afford it?

As absurd as this seems there are Members of Congress and elements of the President’s administration that believe car companies like GM and Chrysler need their guidance and advice. That’s the equivalent of a “frequent flyer” telling Boeing how to build airplanes.

“Government Motors” is an oxymoron. You can’t take one portion of the population whose existence consists of taking (taxing), regulating, and living off the efforts of others and suddenly expect that it can become productive and technically sophisticated, or make tough, knowledgeable business decisions — that just isn’t going to happen. “Government Motors” is a myth.

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