Friday, June 27, 2008

Why I'd Like to Punch that Guy in my Neighborhood in the Face

(Editor's update from the future: for the necessary amount of C.Y.A. (technically C.M.A.), I ask that you read this post after you read my thoughts below)

I run daily, and very much enjoy the scenery of my neighborhood and overhearing bits and pieces of conversations of my friendly neighbors. Yesterday, as I trekked through a humidity-drenched run, I saw and overheard a gentleman discussing and cooing over his brand new, clean, black Nissan Altima. The Altima is a pretty car and Nissan actually has a pretty large employee base in Michigan, but more than anything else in the world at that moment, I wanted to punch that guy in the face.

"What other cars did you look at?" asked one neighbor
"Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla, and a Jetta" responded the guy I want to punch in the face

Allow me to explain...

For many, many years, American auto manufacturers - those who brought wealth to Michigan and the American middle class - produced world-conquering SUVs that averaged 0 MPG city, 1 MPG highway. These horrid gasoline economy statistics did not matter though, because gas was less than $1 a gallon and the average consumer demanded the biggest, baddest, newest SUV on the block.

Then the United States consumer turned on the Big 3. As we are all acutely aware, the price of gasoline exploded, and the American manufacturers were not prepared to handle the consistently elevated price of gas. People turned up their noses at the products and market that their demand had created, and the primary driver of Michigan's economy, the automobile industry, is currently teetering - holding on for dear life.

Many years ago, individuals began to shun American vehicles because they were angered by the spotty quality and design of the Big 3's smaller vehicles, but the Big 3 did not care because they were making money hand over fist. These people were certainly justified in their resentment and anger as the American auto manufacturers did not pay the appropriate amount of attention to the smaller vehicle segments, and one can only be burned so many times before learning a lesson.

But times have changed, and the American auto manufacturers are no longer filled with the sense of entitlement and complacency that dominated for the past 50 years. They are fighting for their lives, and the quality of their non-SUV and truck products has increased drastically. Many people, though, refuse to even consider products badged as GM, Ford, or Chrysler.

If you live in the state of Michigan and you enjoy living in the state of Michigan, you HAVE TO at least seriously consider purchasing a car from a Michigan-based automobile manufacturer. Take the new Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Focus, or the Cadillac CTS out for test drive and think about the implications of your potential purchase. The Big 3 are the companies that made this a place worth living, and if they go away, you too will have no other option but to go somewhere else. This in no way implies that Michigan shouldn't continue to diversify its economy and develop jobs in many different industries, but without the engineering and manufacturing jobs provided by these companies (and the countless suppliers affiliated with them), there will simply not be enough to sustain a population a small fraction of the current size of Michigan's populace. There are many places an individual can go if our industry fails, but none of them will be "home". If you do not live in Michigan, I also beg your support and consideration, but that is better left for another post.

So, guy I'd like to punch in the face, I think you have a very nice new car, and I don't begrudge you in that you are allowed to spend your money wherever you'd like as we do live in a free-market enviroment. The fact that you did not even consider a product that (more directly than you think) keeps your home from becoming entirely worthless makes me want to punch you in the face.


biggied19 said...

You are spot on. The Michigan economy relies so heavily on the "big 3" aka "my trouser snake and his two friends". Those who opt to purchase a foreign car must do so from one of our primary traders. So, don't buy a Lamborghini from Italy. Buy a Mustang GT or Chrysler 300 if you have to compensate for something, wink, wink. I am proud to see someone who knows the truth about the fickle economy we know here in Michigan - Ken. Good luck with the wedding details; I'm sure you'll fit the stereotype of the typical alpha-male and leave the "important" matters to the feline. I hope this site brings you the social notoriety you truly deserve as I consider you one of the easiest of persons to discuss real matters. Potential medical savant - Dan Mac.

Jeanie said...

Don't forget the jobs in Mexico, India, et. al. Why did the Big 3 take jobs from Americans and transplant them in lower standard of living places? One could argue it helped those societies and economies, and to a certain extent that's true, but ultimately the Big 3 was not as accountable as they have to be here with the UAW and saw a way to stuff the executive's pockets on the backs of the poor.
I do look to US made vehicles, first, just for the record!