Monday, April 13, 2009

Bang the Drum

After a very nice Easter weekend with no less than 3 family events on Sunday, I was feeling pretty good last night. I had taken care of some work over the weekend, the Tigers had swept their series with the Rangers, I had caught up on most of the reserved shows on my TiVo, and everyone on all sides and angles of the family seemed to be in pretty decent spirits. The weather is currently holding steady in the spring range and Americans seem to be regaining confidence that they can purchase whatever they want with no repercussions. It almost seems like I could start to believe that Michigan will find a way to pull through all of this with some major casualties, but still alive. That is, until The New York Times reports on another story about a possible bankruptcy at GM. At this point, it's not that I have a problem with the specific subject matter of the story. I accept that there are increasing odds that GM will need to file for bankruptcy prior to the June 1st deadline with the intent of quickly emerging from bankruptcy as a leaner, stronger corporation. However, there are (that I can think of right now) two specific things that I find extremely frustrating and upsetting in the way this story continues to evolve.

First, is there any news here beyond a headline from The Wall Street Journal last week that GM is in "earnest and intense preparations" for a bankruptcy filing? This headline was captured by all news dissipation services mid-last week and caused quite a stir at that time. Now, someone rearranged some of the words, added a couple comments about Obama's concerns, and reprinted the article in a different newspaper. Again today, the news dissipation services have grabbed this story and are essentially touting "nothing new to report since last week but here we are reporting it anyway - just to freak you out."

Second, stories like this about GM are always based on people "who are not authorized to speak on the matter." I know that confidential and unauthorized sources are the way that news is created, but Fritz Henderson (GM's current CEO) and Obama have pledged transparency in this subject. If this is the case, why does our fear continue to be driven by unnamed and unauthorized sources? I have as much reason to believe these sources are correct as they are incorrect. Our collective psychology is being ripped around by unnamed sources when what we need, good news or bad, is someone who is authorized to tell us something to tell us the truth.

I don't think anyone can truly know which path is best (short and long-term) for the company, its employees, shareholders, bondholders, communities, and tax recipients, and yet, people argue with so much vigor and certainty about such a complex and wide-ranging issue it amazes me. You don't know the answer, and if you're lucky (not smart), you'll happen to turn out to be right. The next 1-2 months are going to be difficult enough for all of us affected by this story, and this will be made even worse when the story continues to be owned and driven by the mumbling and grumbling of unknown shadowy figures. The truth will likely hurt, but we need to hear it from someone truthful and authorized. Here's hoping for the best (whatever that is).

No comments: