The inconceivable is about to become reality as GM is expected to declare bankruptcy on Monday. It's one of those days when you can't help but think that the world has shifted just a bit.
One of the first cars I ever drove - my mom's - was a Pontiac. It was a miserable piece of machinery whose parts meandered down the road in close formation and guzzled gas in between extended periods sitting outside the mechanic's shop. I was privileged to have the occasional moment behind the wheel because, frankly, when you're a teenager, driving yourself beats waiting for a bus. But in retrospect, this single vehicle epitomized everything about the North American automotive industry and the roots that eventually took hold and resulted in the implosion we're witnessing today.
I've seen a lot of anti-Detroit sentiment in recent months. Critics say the Big 3 - or whatever's left of them - deserve everything they're getting today, that they had it coming. Factually, they're not wrong. GM, Ford and Chrysler have spent decades pawning off indifferently designed and manufactured products on buyers they viewed with thinly disguised arrogance. They've wrongly assumed that consumers would routinely come back for more - a fatal error given how quickly foreign competitors capitalized on the domestic vendors' mistakes.
Yet as the pillars of a century-old industry are dismantled in a high-stakes, last-ditch attempt to save it, those who cheer the demise of the domestics would do well to appreciate how much pain the process will ultimately cause. Tens of thousands of jobs are being lost. When ripple effects are factored in - dealerships, suppliers, companies that rely on the core ecosystem, etc. - the number swells by an order of magnitude, if not more.
We may vent our frustration at the clueless suits who literally drove these businesses into the ground, but we owe the legions of victims of their hubris - the regular folks who simply wanted to work, raise families and be part of their communities - something more than a snide comment and a shrug. As we've all learned, after all, individual fortunes can turn on a dime, and those who torment the loudest may yet find themselves on the wrong side of the economic wave.
Your turn: Thoughts?
GOATS IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD
4 hours ago