Less than one year ago — June 2008.
President Obama has shown GM CEO Rick Wagoner the door. Surprising. He has the right credentials — a Harvard Business degree and a massively failed company under his belt. At this point, were he in the financial industry, he would be considering an offer to join the Obama administration, the "Team of Rivals" aka "The League of Harvard Super Best Friends".
Evidently, as Times editorialist William Holstein put it, Obama "did not believe G.M. had moved fast enough in facing up to global competition". That's it, right there. The executives at Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and AIG may be lying, cheating, thieving con artists, but, damn, it's all in the spirit of competition, and boy did they move fast. They were figuring how much bailout money would go to bonuses before the ink of Obama's signature was dry. No exec can make funny money like a Wall Street exec . . . at the expense of, well, whomever (meaning, Us).
By contrast, GM and the other auto manufacturers have a huge huge drawback — unionized workers, at good 'ol fashioned American manufacturing jobs, the kind that form the bedrock of a nation's economy. Totally unsuited for Our Brave New Economy where we all sell each other life insurance, grossly over-priced homes and obscure, substanceless financial instruments in a never ending war of all against all to make more money this week than last. (Remember, there is no such thing as making too much money. Dow 36,000 and all that. Wot wot.)
Conservatives will love love love this. Force GM to declare bankruptcy. Bust those damn unions. Get rid of those damn contracts! Save money. Get workers's wages down to something reasonable, like . . . I don't know . . . $15 per day, like in Mexico.
(But Larry Summers told us a contract is inviolate . . . . Well, only if it's ten or twenty million for one person. The kind of person this nation, or at least its oligarchs, pay attention to.)