Apparently not, in some quarters. My last week’s Wheels column peeved off some. I’ve overstepped my bounds, it seems, in calling it like I own it. With the Big Three taking it in the teeth, I’m not allowed to say I don’t like my GM van. You know, the one I pay for. The one I bought because the one I’d owned before it – same van – had been fine.
I say nuts to that. When the American CEOs can fly private jets to Washington to beg, when some of us can seem to conveniently forget that cars we pretend are totally American or Canadian-made aren’t (Mexico became so attractive after NAFTA), I’m suddenly flexing my ego by stating I don’t like something? Read this piece from Edmunds – it’s one of the most concise descriptions of where your cars come from that I’ve seen.
I’ve been bitching about stupid oversized SUVs for years. Years. And I’ve been panning the people who buy them. That’s right – I played the chicken and the egg game (if nobody wanted them, nobody would build them. If nobody built them, nobody could buy them), and I chose the egg. Or the chicken. Whatever. Consumers have been stupid, and totally complicit in the downturn of this industry.
But. There were still many manufacturers ahead of the ball, who realized that not all consumers were idiots. They balanced their lines, they poised their positions, they had some vision. Other manufacturers, not so much.
I don’t recall any bouquets showing up on my doorstep last summer when I wrote about buying my second ’94 Chrysler Intrepid. That’s right – the first one was great; a reader read my column about having to finally get rid of it, and I bought a second one from him. And of course, wrote another column about that. Instead, a throwaway line – “I hate my GM van” – pisses people off.
I have always written honestly. I don’t see cars as trophies – they’re commodities that serve a purpose – getting me from A to B. They cost a great deal of money, I maintain them well, and I expect them to uphold their end of the bargain. When they do, I say so. If they don’t, I’ll say that too.
Do the Big Three deserve a huge loan? Too many people connected to the industry for the government not to step in. But I’ve watched many, many good people in other industries lose their jobs in the past twenty years, and I really wonder: who decides where the lifelines land? And shouldn’t the saviours – that’d be you and me – get a say in how things move forward?
You vote with your dollars. And sometimes you lose. I won’t set foot in a Wal-Mart, but I’m outvoted judging by their bottom line. I do not support ridiculous standards in China for workers and product safety, and I refuse to support a store that is filled to the rafters with the crap. Same for dollar stores. But, I’m seemingly alone in my position. That’s okay. As we’ve finally learned, doing what everyone else is doing doesn’t make it right. And even listening to the talking heads of banking institutions, governments and think tanks should always be weighed against common sense. Add to the list CEOs that fly to a meeting in a private jet, holding a tin cup.