Saturday, December 13, 2008

I know I should feel bad

After all, I just spent a week with meningitis which I somehow managed to catch even though it is said to be very difficult to catch. I should feel bad because my head is still throbbing after 7 solid days of it. I should feel bad because if my brain is damaged it will affect my job....oh wait, maybe not because it would make no difference there and could even be beneficial.

I should feel bad for those who believed that (in spite of all common sense and evidence) that the Japanese economy would not be affected much by the global financial crisis and who must now face reality. And I should feel even worse for those who still don't see any real problems. "Huh? They rescued the financial companies but won't help those that really make something (the car companies)! They have their priorities wrong! BAHAHA!" Unfortunately, my friend from down under was actually serious when he said that, but I don't feel bad for him.

I don't really feel bad for any of the above reasons. So I guess that I should not beat myself over actually feeling a bit of pleasure as the US Big Three auto companies head toward the reward that they have deserved for at least 25-30 years. A "bit of pleasure"? Actually, I am feeling sort of a sadistic joy in seeing it, and I have this strange urge to dance a little jig at the news and I don't think it's due to the virus on the brain.

It is really partially my fault that those companies have not been able to produce quality cars that enough people would want to buy in order to keep the firms in the red and the management and union members well in the black (and the CEOs in private jets). For I confess that I stopped buying American cars after I graduated high school. Although I had spent my childhood as an apprentice grease monkey to my father whose "hobby" was working on the clunkers, I hated every single second of wallowing in mud and grease trying to fix the P.O.S. that just broke down in the middle-of-the-night in a blizzard out in the-middle-of-the-sticks. I was determined not to continue that wonderful family tradition any longer than necessary and began buying Japanese cars. They, with one exception, allowed me to avoid reliving those wonderful childhood experiences. [I am embarrassed to add that even my father later switched to Japanese-made cars and has refused to "buy American" since.]

Hence the dire straights of the poor Big Three Stooges. Who could have seen this coming? Who could have imagined that folks would switch to Toyota and Honda, despite earlier efforts by The Three Stooges to have the US government protect them from competition? Who could have imagined that oil prices might go up and cause SUV sales to drop? Who could have imagined that after decades of criticism that the Stooges were not exactly prime examples of forward-thinking, fully-competitive companies selling top quality products that would dominate their market forever, that the criticism could actually be accurate! Who could have imagined that after decades of whining and making better excuses than cars, that people would stop listening?

And finally, who could have imagined that after the companies could not make cars that Americans wanted to buy, that we stupid ingrates would object when Three Stooges demanded that the government take away the money that we refused to spend on US cars and give it to them anyway?

I should feel bad. At this time, the well-deserved bankruptcies of one or more of those companies could be an especially risky thing. I am still undecided on whether or not they should be extended a (very temporary) hand until the economy improves, or just allowed to reap what they've sown. I have listened to both/all sides for the last month. I would not want to see people lose their jobs and careers---well, I would not weep if some of the management and union leaders did---but I do not feel bad about the situation that those companies put themselves in.

Why do I not feel bad? Well, because this time the car companies have a plan to succeed!!!!! They just came up with it over the last few weeks! And although I believed the car salesmen, the U.S. Senate seemed to have doubts. Thus, they have scuttled the initial handout---sorry bailout---proposal.

Scuttled the bailout! I do not feel bad.

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