Monday, March 30, 2009

No time like the present to kill ideology

Wow, what a day. The President of the United States removes the CEO of General Motors. Not sure how I feel about that. On the one hand, isn't that government interfering in private enterprise? On the other, this man is serious - he means change.

I sat and watched the story unfold and I could predict with what I would bet utmost precision what the reaction of certain people I know would be. Based solely on their ideological beliefs. I submit that we are in a very pivotal time, where ideology is a crutch and one that we need to leave at the side of the road. It is the easiest filter of all. If you are for free enterprise then the events of today will be horrific in their own right, and you will be blinded from any other causes or effects. If you are into taking care of the people, you may see this through the lens of not wanting to let a giant employer like this fail.

I submit that this is the time to try and cast aside the lenses we all tend to look through, no matter their tint or color, and see that to get out of this mess we are in we need to evaluate the issues of the day from a deeper perspective than just pure ideology. There can be no black and white - it is far too complex, and no one is right or wrong.

We are in a state of ideological flux, and with it comes the unusual freedom to improvise a fresh course forward. America can have universal health care and public schools unbound by the teachers unions of old. We can impose sensible regulatory mechanisms and enthusiastically promote free markets and free trade. With the economy in such a complicated mess we should recognize that towing the ideological party line and adhering to old political convictions won't pull us out of this.

We need deeper thinking, open ears and a commonsense approach to our future.


  1. As you know Teri, Politics ain’t my long suit. Which is good, because things like, facts and dogma do not encumber me. Having said that, I don't know that it's ideology that's to blame. Certainly Partisan Politics is a pariah. Not sure they're the same thing. Maybe related.

    Partisan politics is adversarial, a form of imperialism, and doesn't benefit the people who elected representatives to work on their behalf. It clearly doesn't benefit the nations (Canada or USA) as a whole. And I think it should be non-partisan once the houses are sitting... but that's another issue completely. Sorry.

    As for Mr. Obama punting the CEO of GM to the curb and the implications of that action, I think GM and friends opened that door when they paid more attention to the actuaries instead of making a product that could compete on the world stage. As did the other dinosaurs from Detroit. Their leaders' "vision" got them to this point. So why would you want to keep them? As Albert Einstein once said, “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

    In my view, when Automakers came to government with their hands out to save them from themselves, they forfeited their independence at least until the debt is repaid. With that money, they now have to answer to the citizens of US and Canada, which would be thru our respective governments. So as the temporary 'overlord' and prime (hopefully short term) funder, they do have the right to tinker with who is making the decisions and what the vision may look like. There may even be an obligation to do it because of the public coffers raided to make the bail out. And it strikes me that this dismissal my just be political manipulation to demonstrate that change is being initiated... time will tell.

    Do I like it? No. Is it necessary under the circumstances? Probably. What about AIG et. al? They definitely needed to be spanked more vigorously than they have been. I think if private industry goes to the public coffers to bail themselves out of the mess they've made, they're instantly accountable to the public “investors”. Which means government 'input'. And based on their performance how can any of them feel entitled to maintain the same level of independence or, for that matter, to a bonus??? Pigs.

    Financial and industry circumstances being they way they are now - and the implications of not providing a bail out - was the rock and hard place scenario. So government, with all the bluster they could muster, stepped up to the plate.

    Had government tried this without the circumstances we've all just lived thru - had they gone to Newlands, let's say, and punted the head guy and said, "ok, you're now going to specialize in quanza huts", then I'd say it would be time for the militia to load up and dig in...

    There’s probably tenants in law and constitution that I’ve managed to overlook, ignore, or remain blissfully ingnorant of, and someone will now shred what I’ve said. So be it. I just think same-old, same-old doesn’t cut it. Someone had to push the first Lemming off the cliff. Might as well be the big guy.

  2. I love these great conversations. I was remembering a recent meeting, unusual, but wonderful. There were great discussions with a lot of different views and ideas, passionate conversations, but lots and lots of questions, even more listening, and much laughter.

  3. I love this analysis dds. Might as well have been the big guy who blinked first and followed through with the threat that others could only think about.

    The ideological debate is where public starts and private starts. I have had a fabulous evening (and way too late) talking with some dear friends in Tampa about high school sports. Stay tuned for more about why grade 9 boys have the toughest life of all... tomorrow.


  4. T, you're too kind calling my observational rant analysis! Thanks. I do think politicos are intentionally blurring the line between public and private with attempts at P3. (not the primary motivation, but a happy side effect)

    Public Private Partnerships, in spite of what your German Governor said in the press recently, is not the raging success loved by all that Arnold would have people believe. Look at the failed attempt with Knowledge Network. Look at highway maintenance programs in the north. But it does give them yet another way to avoid accountability if things go south with a particular project. And let's be honest, politicians are very skilled at avoiding being held accountable for anything negative.

    Which takes me back to GM and AIG et. al. Who's been held accountable? And who is accountable for ensuring that the bail out money doesn't become good money after bad? Like say paying bonuses for execs that are responsible for the original problems... Look at the money Canada has injected into Air CanOfCrap... er Canada and Bombardier over the years. What has the investment given back to the people? And how healthy is either business after the bailouts? The drain continues.

    As for GM, I understand the CEO got a $20M departure package, so I won't spend any time lamenting his loss of employment.

    And I guess none of this answers your original question, so I'll just be quiet for a while.