What if General Motors were a band? Would the government's actions make sense?
This is not a political blog, and I promise that today's post is not a harbinger of what's to come, at least not on this blog! Also, I'm in Madison, Wisconsin, this week, where I am getting some cool brain therapy and I should be blogging about that not GM.
Cars and songs go together. And with the government taking over GM, I’ve been thinking, what if you had a rock musical act that grew to the size of GM, screwed everything up through gross incompetence, and the government stepped in to save it? What would happen to the songs, especially if the government were to dictate the kinds of songs the band should write in order to rebuild its popularity?
I fear the songs would be highly functional – they’d have tempos and topics that appeal to the times, they wouldn’t cost too much to record, they’d be easy to sing along with – and they would only become “popular” by force, incentive or some other form of artificial means. In other words, they’d be a Trabant (see photo). Remember the Trabi? It was the VW of East Germany, and it was only truly cool when U2 spray painted one, put it on the cover of Achtung Baby and toted it around Europe as the Soviet Union crumbled into Russia and the European Union solidified. It was never a good car.
What needs to happen to GM is the exact same thing that needs to happen to a band that has come to a dead-end: either breakup and move on or call in an outside expert (think Rick Rubin) who has the track record to prove that he knows the music business, knows good songs, knows how to match songs to a band and knows how to work with, guide and motivate a band. For Barack Obama to think that he not only knows how to turn around GM but also knows how to manage the process shows that he is both naive and arrogant, qualities you want in a dictator setting out to build a Trabant but not the CEO of a U.S. corporation.
Under Obama, GM will stop building cars to satisfy a market and start building cars to satisfy an elected official. And you, me and the rest of us Americans are the crash test dummies.
Let’s just hope there’s not an encore.