Yesterday, President Obama said that the beginning of the new General Motors would take “a painful toll on many Americans.” The question is, which Americans? The politicians and bureaucrats in Washington aren’t feeling any pain. The last I checked, they were all still getting paid. The senior executives running General Motors, many of whom helped get us in this mess in the first place, still have jobs. The people who are going to suffer are the 21,000 auto workers who are going to lose their jobs this next year and 2,100 dealers who are being let go from General Motors and their employees—these are the people who are stressing out, will soon be unable to pay their bills and who will be facing foreclosure on their homes. And let’s not forget the American tax payers who are going to have to foot the bill for all of these shenanigans.
There’s something very un-American about this picture. The people who are going to do all the suffering didn’t create the mess and they’ve have had no say in what’s going to happen—they’re victims of decades of bad decisions made by senior management—the people who still have jobs. Americans don’t mind sacrificing as long as it leads to something. However, if you take a close look at the rhetoric, it quickly becomes apparent that the success of the new GM is anything but a done deal. President Obama said yesterday that the painful restructuring “…will give the iconic American company a chance to rise again.” All this suffering and, in the president’s own words, GM only has a “chance” to rise again. Fritz Henderson, the GM president and CEO referred to yesterday’s bankruptcy as a “defining moment” in remaking the company. He actually sounded a little too upbeat, like he was still trying to convince himself that the new GM had a future. Again, something’s not right here and all the wrong people are suffering and paying the price.