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A Culture of Blackmail and Dependency

By Al Schumann on Sunday June 28, 2009 07:19 AM

NEW YORK – General Motors Corp. has agreed to take on responsibility for future product liability claims, removing what could have been a sizable roadblock on the automaker's path to a quick sale of its assets and emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a new company.

As part of its government-backed restructuring plan, GM wants to sell the bulk of its assets to a new company and leave behind unprofitable assets and other liabilities such as product-related lawsuits. A hearing on the proposed sale is scheduled for Tuesday.

The previous business model was the best effort of well-meaning managers, but somehow or other the dead weight of "unprofitable assets and other liabilities" grew and grew until, sadly, poor GM went bankrupt. Unprofitable assets and other liabilities occur without agency, needless to say. They just happen! All we can do is bob along on the tides that generate them. And anyway, the golden lunch pail crowd and the sinister Asians made them do the things that occurred without agency.

GM's founder, Abner Snopes, was a humble man who didn't take shit from no one. He worked hard, but couldn't get a break. Beset from all sides, he did what any man might do in his circumstances and handed the torch, er, managerial ethos on to his successors.

They did their best too, as their legacy demanded, and I think we can all agree that recriminations are unhelpful, with the exception of recriminations for the golden lunch pail crowd and any other undeserving wretches that need a sharp lesson in economic realities.

Comments (8)


You're being generous Al. GM is the poster child of "too big to succeed." I don't know if you've ever worked in a large or even medium sized corporation, but they are the closest thing to purgatory we can experience on earth.

Capitalism's advantage is supposed to be its freer, innovative spirit. You had to live through the Nixon era parade of boring, boxy designs, re-issued year after year, on every platform from Cadillac to Chevrolet, while Toyota was tossing out new models every few weeks, to realize that mercy killing is appropriate for companies as well as people.

Al Schumann:

I was striving for absurdity :-( GM as the victim, taking a vengeance forced on it by a cruel world. The elite, corporate sense of victimhood can move me to tears, when the tear gas and pepper spray get thick enough, but they're not tears of sympathy. Whatever generosity sneaks in is the product of trying to get a handle on abiding hatred.

A trite but worthy point: Despite the picayune press coverage, this little bonfire goes WAY beyond Detroit. Back in 1894 and then again in spades in 1944, our overclass chose to build themselves a corporate-capitalist paradise, which meant, among other things, death to trains and dense cities. They are in a world of boiling shit now, and the fecal stew is entirely their own disgestive output.

As to corporations and capitalism, we know that capitalists were certainly among those who hated Adam Smith-style capitalism. That's why they deregulated corporate mergers back in the day.

Al Schumann:

It's a very good point. The present tidal wave of shit was indeed made by the corporates. Meliorism, even the blandest change-from-within meliorism, has been fought by them every step of the way.


Speaking of golden lunch bails
And stinking liabilities

Back near the dawn of the reagan epoch
I used to call
the coming great corporate welch out

The moment of
Truth for all the
Union belles and
Bob tails

The Limited liability fringe fuck

Sort of a claw forward thing

Cross class Promises once broken
Were never really made eh?

Come on ass hole
Being incorporated means
never having to say you're sorry

Class contracts based on ponzi benefit plans ?

"That's some Nice action"
As my favorite pimp used to say
About his niece

corporate amerika spawned.
Promise cherry hooking
Back during the give em harry years
And didn't they brightened the event horizon of many a line ape during
the greater ike reich
of the 50's

After the bon fire. ?

Call it retirement date rape

The Legacy blanket toss

The Defined corn holing


It had to be this way

the tin lunch pail's

U know
Like the ole mice and pumpkin bit

Michael Hureaux:

That's really the point the old moor and others over the centuries have tried to make; that at the moment of crisis, the owners of society barely have enough sense of self-preservation to blow their own noses. Even now, as the public is forced to bail out their astronomic debacle, they can't help auditioning for a spot in the guillotine chorus line. And they still talk as though some mystical happenstance backfired; that they couldn't possibly be responsible for any of this mess because they meant well; Mr. Zakaria's recent manifesto in NewsGeek being a prime example of such dreck.

Al Schumann:

I nearly blew a gasket when I read that the GM management had condescended to accept a teaspoonful of responsibility for the enormous harm they'd caused; after all the whining over the legacy costs per car, due entirely to their consistent bad faith over decades; after the destruction and theft of land to facilitate sales of piece-of-shit cars; after stiffing the PBGC and handing it a burden they could have met, but never intended to; after decades of an economy planned to accommodate them, a gravy train that only ended when even worse thieves gained the upper hand in capitalism.

They have the same sense of victimhood and entitlement one finds in comprador dictators.

Al, my bro, when has meliorism ever been on the agenda? Not in my lifetime, that's for sure. Maybe from 1933 to 1935 or so. Maybe.

This is market totalitarianism.

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