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Hail Mary Legislation Is No Substitute For Sound Strategy


It’s been a while since I’ve actually sat down and watched a football game in my living room.  Like most things I used to do once upon a time I don’t get the same thrill out of watching a televised football game that I used to.  Like most things the game of football is filled with some of the most blatant examples of disparity.  Young upstarts fresh out of school getting hundred million dollar contracts to play sixteen games out of the year and shoots him self in the foot with an unregistered pistol or runs a dog fighting business out of his basement on his days off.  I watch players dance a jig and showboat into the end zone only to lose the game.  If homey could only focus on playing the game with some kind of class instead of dancing like a five year old when something goes their way I might be a tad more willing to invest more of my limited time to watching the sport.  But ticket prices approaching triple digits and ten year old stadiums, condemned because of the relative obsolesces compared to the new platinum for stadium construction on the other side of the country with entire rows of escalating seats, has sapped away my love of the game.

One thing about football that really drove me crazy is how after four quarters of play from both teams, the whole game will come down to a single act of whether or not a kicker makes a field goal.  The kicker misses the three pointer and he lets his teammates down.  If only his foot was stronger or his aim was more accurate the team would have won the game.  Monday morning quarterbacks will complain bitterly that the unsuccessful kicker needs to go.  How the hell did he miss that fifty eight yarder?

But it takes an entire team to win a football game.  If the offensive line doesn’t protect the quarterback the quarterback won’t be able to do his job of searching for the best player to get the ball down the field.  If the receivers don’t do their best to get down the field the ball is less likely to go down the field.  If the defensive line doesn’t hold the opposing team will be able to score more easily.  Everybody helps to win and everybody helps to lose.  It is that plain and simple.  The entire team wins.  The entire team loses.

Last week, the United States Senate, driven by a very Republican effort, failed to pass legislation to help the domestic automobile industry because of the UAW’s refusal to go along with a stipulation that the pay of the domestic autoworkers must be in line with the pay of the foreign autoworkers.  The deal collapsed like a house of cards on an especially windy day.  And now, the Senators that kept the bill from being passed are given credit, or blame depending on perspective, for the eminent failure of the automobile industry.

Now from what I understand, the domestic automobile industry has been losing ground against its competition for more than three decades.  Ever since the first oil embargo of the seventies which led to the first major energy crisis this country had to face, our domestic car company has been losing ground to its foreign competition.  It was easy to dismiss the competition back in the day when the big three controlled more than seventy percent of automobile sales.  It was business as usual with half assed attempts to offer products that could meet foreign carmaker standards of quality and efficiency.  And while foreign carmakers pushed a relentless campaign to improve their products from the ground up with constant regularity whether they were selling well or not, domestic manufacturers sat fat on their laurels, happy to push old iron in new, colorful sheet metal.

But the real poison pill of the domestic car companies was its refusal to prepare for a future where energy costs becomes much more expensive and the profitability of selling inefficient automotive products.  While the foreign carmakers began to follow the domestics’ example of offering huge, lumbering trucks and sport utility vehicles, the foreign carmakers never stopped developing their products at the other end of the automobile spectrum.  Small cars are king right now and the traditional truck is a has been.  Even Hyundai, whose initial products were so dismal they conjured images of a slightly more modern Yugo has learned from its mistakes and is now competing head on with the best from Japan and Europe.  Everyone seems to have made significant steps towards improving their stakes in the small car market game.  It appears that everyone is taking steps to compete with the exception of Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors.  And now that the market is flipped, the domestics are poor competitors in need of a near miracle Hail Mary field goal just to stay in the game.

Whatever their reason, enough Republican lawmakers refused to cooperate and give the domestics that miracle.  And now, we’re supposed to believe that these lawmakers are the reason that our automobile industry is about to bite the dust.  But the lawmakers, like the field goal kicker, should have never been put in the situation of being the only hope for the entire team.  Hail Mary’s seldom work in football.  It is the last gasp strategy of a desperate team incapable of winning the game with sound fundamentals.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 - Posted by | Bailouts, Capitalism, Cars, Economy, Life, News, The Economy, Thoughts

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