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Posts Tagged ‘US auto industry’

While browsing the AP 2008 image collection, I was struck by two parallel tales of overindulgence in free lunches that reduced normally majestic creatures to a pitiful state from which they desperately needed to be bailed out… 

Notice the similarity? Any lesson in here?

In this Jan. 11, 2008 file photo, eagles await transfer to a warm U.S. Fish and Wildlife warehouse after being rescued from the cold in Kodiak, Alaska. They were among 50 eagles which dove into the back of an uncovered dump truck full of fish guts and became too wet to fly away. (Image and caption courtesy of AP)

In this Jan. 11, 2008 file photo, eagles await transfer to a warm U.S. Fish and Wildlife warehouse after being rescued from the cold in Kodiak, Alaska. They were among 50 eagles which dove into the back of an uncovered dump truck full of fish guts and became too wet to fly away. (Image and caption courtesy of AP)

usautofreelunch4

In this Dec. 4, 2008 file photo, auto executives, from left, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Richard Wagoner, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally, and Chrysler Chief Executive Officer Robert Nardelli testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, before a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the auto industry bailout. (Image and caption courtesy of AP)

The lure of the free lunch brought about the downfall of the free loaders in both examples.

The eagles, seemingly forgetting they were supposed to obtain nourishment through making good use of their mighty arsenal of hunting capabilities, overindulged on scraps. However, in their defense, they probably were mindlessly opportunistic and could not foresee the consequences.

On the other hand, what was the excuse of the US auto industry’s titans? The CEOs were supposed to be aces at their game! Maybe it was the overconfidence and reliance on the status quo that had raised them to such heights: for so long had they relied on the known and tried old routines that they just thought it could go on forever? There were plenty of people who told them otherwise (e.g., see the 2006 MSNBC series ).

Nevertheless, the US Auto industry decision makers determined it was easier to just lobby Congress and continue to sell gas guzzlers, the equivalents of the automotive dinosaurs, rather than to innovate. Their strategy eventually led to a dead-end, and the huge downfall was going to bring along many others.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. If someone gets it for free, someone else – in this case, all of us – will have to pay for it. The US Auto Industry will have to “innovate or die”. The cataclysm should not be a wasted opportunity, just as the disappearance of dinosaurs created the evolutionary break needed by the mammals to colonize the earth.

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