The Business of America…

I’m going with “Doug Johnson” as a blog title until I think of something to replace “On the Beach.” By the way, there were 181 views Monday. Wow guys – thanks!

Working is a mixed bag. You’re earning, which allows you to live in the style to which you’ve become accustomed. If you’re lucky, you’re doing something you enjoy or something you’re good at, or if you’re really lucky, both. But you can’t sleep late, you have to clean up and you can’t spend the day watching the Game Show Network.

I’ve already got a couple of projects to work on at my new job, and I don’t even have a desk yet. Still, it’s the good side of the mixed bag. I’ll be inside, and there’s no heavy lifting. And it’s the kind of work that can’t be outsourced. As long as people need video production, they’ll need someone here to do it. Can’t really have a crew in China, India or South Korea put together a piece on your operation in Memphis… just won’t work.

gm-logoThe news coverage on GM’s bankruptcy brought that to mind. Katie Couric mentioned that at its height, GM had 600,000 employees and produced more than half the cars Americans bought. It’s projected that the company will only have 60,000 U.S. employees once it emerges from its current situation. So, the new owners of 72% of GM, the U.S. and Canadian governments, will put thousands of people out of work as the company “rightsizes.”

It’s very easy to feel bad for all the GM employees who have and will end up out of work. Same for the suppliers whose parts are no longer needed. And what about the GM stockholders? Every cent of every investment has just vanished. “Poof.”

The historic corporate arrogance of GM is amazing. They created the Saturn brand just to ignore it while thinking that buying Hummer was a good idea. The one really good thing to come out of GM in the last 50 years is On Star, and the company never really capitalized on that. They not only should have pushed the potential life-saving qualities of the product even harder than they did, but they should have found a way to market it to other car makers. Having a built-in warning system, locator, diagnostic tool, and door-unlocker is about the only reason I can image ever buying a GM car.

I’m not blaming the unions. If you’re charged with getting an even deal for workers in an industry that is raking in billions, you have a responsibility to demand as much as you can get. Of course, now the opposite is true, and the UAW has very little bargaining power.

Calvin Coolidge is quoted as saying “the business of America is business.” He tossed that one out in the 1920s, just before the business of America slid into the Great Depression. It doesn’t seem as the lesson has completely clicked, does it? I’ve owned 6 cars in my life, 3 GMs, a Volkswagen, a Mitsubishi and a Toyota. I’ve had the Toyota 10 years and expect to have it a few more. And will probably go foreign when it’s time to buy new.

While I want to see the auto industry in this country survive, I’m thinking that they’re going to have to find a way to cope with the fact that they’re no longer the only game in town (and will never be again), while figuring out a way to anticipate what the market wants.

Odds & Ends

Hey – I got my picture in the paper!

Photo by Mike Maple/The Commercial Appeal

Photo by Mike Maple/The Commercial Appeal

This section was inserted after I was done with the blog. I checked the CA website before signing off and saw the article by Richard Alley I mentioned yesterday. It’s a piece on coping with layoffs, and I manage to not come off sounding too dumb. If you don’t subscribe, here a link to the article.

Never happened, never will

I was at trivia Monday night at the Blue Monkey Downtown. The team (“the Producers”) won on the final question. I’m glad we knew enough about John Travolta movies. Anyway, one of the guys on the team (the smart one), mentions there’s two things he’s never, ever done.

The subject came up after we answered the question, who was a top-selling singer who was also one of the biggest movie stars of the 70s. Barbra Striesand was the answer, which led my teammate to note that he’s never seen any of her movies.

I said that “Funny Lady” was worth seeing, not because it was that good, but it’s funny to watch James Caan play songwriter Billy Rose. Look up a picture of Rose on Google; you’ll see what I mean.

Billy Rose in 1955

Billy Rose in 1955

James Caan in "Funny Lady"

James Caan in "Funny Lady"

Still, if Striesand ain’t your cup of tea, I can understand. Great singer, no doubt. Her acting is an acquired taste.

Oh, the second thing he’s never done? Eat at a Denny’s.

4 thoughts on “The Business of America…

  1. An end of an era for sure. Too bad we couldn’t have ended it last September before dumping billions of our dollars into this obvious black hole this was then and now before power-hungry politicians got a hold of this. Too bad taxpayers will now be subsidizing crappy cars produced by our friendly Government Motors for years to come through tax subsidies and GM consumer tax credits. Too bad we the people have allowed our elitist leaders in D.C. to run over us, our liberties, and our freedoms the last several years (Bush) and months (Obama). An end of an era to be sure.

    At least good deals?

  2. Great article in the CA! But what’s with the pic? You look so …bored. Did they tell you not to smile?

  3. Ohhh, yes of course….. guess you can’t really have a big grin when you’re talking about joblessnes….

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