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As Long as We Remember...

June 6, 2014

Shattered Image

Roy Meachum

General Motors seemed safe from the gossip that swirled around Chrysler and even Ford with its owning family – excepting five years ago when the corporation formally filed bankruptcy.


I’ve been fascinated since the day of “Engine” Charlie Wilson, as opposed to “Electric” Charlie Wilson; their names are the same with the only difference coming in middle names. They provided their self-definitions when pressed by the press. That was soon after World War II; speaking of the corporation, GM knew their “salad days” when GI’s fought on most continents.


They blissed along: securely unaware of the foreign auto industry which dominates the market now. I don’t remember someone kvelling about a new car that it turned out to be American. As the auto industry developed inferior feelings, so did the nation.


Lately we’ve come through the news cycles that featured “recalls,” almost of the GM products. Volkswagen timidly peeked in; they wanted their cars to fix up. The largest corporation in Detroit, they called the products back again and again. At the end, the carmaker counted Shiva for the 12 tending to blow up to 47 mortal persons it killed and endured 47 or hundreds of casualties.


At a news conference last week, GM chief executive Mary T. Barra fired 15 upper-level managers; she managed to escape the blame. Ms. Barra will not walk away from her guilt; she accepts that what happens on the watch is totally her fault. She is corporately responsible for the $35 million that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fined General Motors. Plus, the cars are spinning the asphalt, causing accidents.


Anton R. Valukas has been hired to make recommendations, but he’ll move into GM office about August 1, when the bulk of summer’s done. He’s largely working to settle past accidents. Future driving is not his care, nor responsibility. If I had General Motors’ stock, I would sell it. Meanwhile, to counter the reality GM’s products are going over the roof, according to sales reports. Too bad.


The awe attitude which most Americans have for cars and trucks continue to baffle me. I grew up in the Great Depression in New Orleans. We were dependent on the street cars or shank’s mare – walking. Many times, if I wanted to see a movie and gorgeous buildings that house them – they were down at Canal Street – I hiked. Which in life in the Army didn’t impress me.


Mercedes-Benz was the last car I owned. I drove them for 30 years. I’m not impressed with all of the world’s Cadillacs. And gyrations within General Motors Corporation don’t leave me fascinated, but enough for a column.


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