General Motors’ iconic if inadvertent “What’s Good for GM is Good for the Country” slogan was recently called into question by Ted Koppel during an interview with a GM exec in his “People’s Republic of Capitalism” series. Koppel was specifically discussing GM’s rampant investment in China, but with the news of GM’s bankruptcy filing the question mark at the end of the classic GM soundbyte is looming ever-larger.
The Chapter 11 filing constitutes the largest industrial bankruptcy filing in American history, and the fourth largest overall.
GM already has $20B in taxpayer money; it wants $30B more. President Obama says that the government has no interest in running what’s to be a leaner, scaled-down GM, calling their bankrolling participation one of “reluctant shareholders.“ He also noted that “GM and its stakeholders have achieved a viable, achievable plan that will give this iconic American company a chance to rise again.”
Part of the viable, achievable plan: ditch Hummer, focus on building hybrids and other more practical cars. Of course, it didn’t take a fortune teller to predict the demise of consumer demand for oversized, gas-guzzling SUV’s. If pushing the celebration of fuel consumption during a Middle East war effort seemed like a good idea at the time, perhaps a simple look at the T-shirts 4+ years ago might have been a better cultural barometer to foresee consumer trends. A simple search for “SUV” vs. “hybrid” show very clearly that, from this end, the voices have always been loudest against the “bigger is better” trend when it comes to the automobile.
And so we award a Fantasy T-Wearer Award today. May all senior GM executives (with the notable exception of ex-CEO Richard Wagoner, who was recently dismissed but enjoyed aggressive pay increases over the years even as GM lost money) enjoy the “Powered by Ramen” T-shirt, as seen above. Certainly, wearing that T-shirt will probably go over a lot better than, say, showing up to meetings in a $36M private jet.