Wagoner’s ouster changes nothing

Well, well. So GM’s Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner has been forced to resign as part of the Obama administration’s bailout plan.

I’m not going to argue that he shouldn’t have been. Somebody needed to take the fall for GM’s downward spiral in recent years. And it’s certainly better for one man to lose a job than the thousands that will lose jobs if GM goes under. But come on. Seriously. Booting one man at this point can’t possibly make any difference. The die is cast. GM was likely a lost cause long before Obama was elected. Wagoner’s ouster now won’t make an ounce of difference.

If Obama wanted to make an example of some fat cat, I wish it had been one of those AIG guys (or whatever they call their little club now). Those are the heads the public is screaming for right now. Forcing one of them out would have sent the same message to unresponsive CEOs and would have tossed the public the red meat they want.

AIG and GM “too big to fail”? What kind of nonsense is that? As far as I’m concerned, you screw up big, you fail big. That’s fair. That’s life. That’s the breaks. Let the failure fit the screw-up.

Other than that, I just don’t like the whole bailout thing. When I first heard the Wagoner story today, my reaction was something like “hey, the government can’t tell a private citizen to resign.” Then I reminded myself that indeed it can. That’s the price you pay for taking money from the government — there are always strings attached.

I just don’t like seeing government messing around in business’s business. It’s kind of like the separation of church and state. Certain things ought to be kept separate.

More: In a Washington Post story this morning:

Wagoner’s resignation does not mean that he will leave the company immediately. He will continue to draw his $1 annual salary, because if he leaves the company he is entitled to a multimillion-dollar pension that the government does not want to pay, a source familiar with the matter said.

Whew. For me, being fired unexpectedly at 55 was an emotional and economic disaster; what a relief to know the 56-year-old Wagoner is prepared to survive any unforeseen reversals.

4 thoughts on “Wagoner’s ouster changes nothing

  1. I just don’t understand why we even give GM 60 more days to come up with a new plan. The company had had four whole months and still couldn’t.
    And they had years before that to figure out why they were losing market share, and never did. I don’t see why our tax dollars should keep them (or any failing company) afloat when the market won’t.

  2. “AIG and GM “too big to fail”? What kind of nonsense is that? As far as I’m concerned, you screw up big, you fail big. That’s fair. That’s life. That’s the breaks.”

    Aye, that’s capitalism. They should have built a better mousetrap, as it were.
    Lol! Yep, they were too busy making parachutes to worry about better mousetraps.

  3. PARDON THE SHOUTING! GM HAD THIRTY YEARS TO GET IT RIGHT. THIRTY YEARS!! Remember the lines to get gasoline in 1973??

    I have NO sympathy for the executives. They must now answer for their arrogance.
    I stand corrected. I do indeed remember the gas lines. Coincidentally, 1972 was the last year I bought an American car.

  4. PARDON THE SHOUTING! GM HAD THIRTY YEARS TO GET IT RIGHT. THIRTY YEARS!! Remember the lines to get gasoline in 1973??

    David, et al – it wasn’t GM, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Chevvy…. you can add as many more names to that as you wish.

    I promise I won’t go into any sort of long essay – but it wasn’t, and never is the companies fault – disclaimer at this point – I am a European left-winger, so in the US sense that makes me a relative of Marx – but the fault lays squarely on the shoulders of us, all of us – we who bought the cars that they produced, this is the problem with capitalism as seen by Ronnie Reagan and Maggie Thatcher – and others that have followed on their personal indoctrination.

    All those companies produced cars that Americans, Europeans wanted. They made profits and no one cared.

    In Europe (particularly the UK) Gas (petrol) is vastly expensive – now in Europe they have care with engines that are no more than 1.0L and will pull a trailer – cars that are no more than 1.6L and can do 50 MPG.

    The people said they don’t want gas guzzlers and stopped buying them – the companies changed.

    Look at the Toyota Corrolla in Europe, and compare it to the US one – same name, different car – my old car in the UK was a Vauxhall Astra (Saturn here) I tried to buy the same model with a 1.6L engine, 16 valve, injection – powerful and economical – the sales guy looked at me and asked if it was an import – the car (Saturn) is built in the same factory in Ghenk, Belgium, as the ones available in North America – yet their engine size starts at a 2.0L.

    You have to ask yourself why – it is because in North America smaller engines are seen as not as powerful. Quite, quite wrong.

    I think Pied and I have discussed this before.

    The moral of this is “You can’t blame the execs for giving you want you want – nor can you stop them getting paid if you keep buying the product they supply”.

    Gotta love capitalism.
    Yeppers, we’ve talked about that good ol’ Astra before. I thought maybe GM was finally moving in the right direction when it introduced the Saturn line. But then when the financial crisis struck last year, Saturn was the line that got the axe. Go figure.

... and that's my two cents