Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thoughts on GM's announcements

Thanks to everyone who’s asked about Sean and his reaction to the GM news. We appreciate knowing so many folks are concerned for him and our whole family.

While not unexpected, the news was a kick in the gut. We knew the elimination of some white collar jobs was in the works, as were plans to cut production of gas-loving SUVs and trucks. What came as a complete shock was the elimination of health care for white collar retirees.

Several years ago Sean seriously considered leaving the General. The hours were unreal and the plant manager was a screamer. (Anyone who knows Sean knows screaming is not a good motivational tool for him.) He went so far as to get a resume together and even interviewed for another position. But through all that we came back to the conclusion that the hours may be hell but Sean had put in so many years; he was vested and the health care coverage after retirement was excellent. It seemed silly to throw all that away.

And while the health care was a practical reason to stay with GM, what we kept coming back to was Sean loves building cars. He loves "new car smell." He loves watching more than 10,000 individual parts come together into a beautiful machine on wheels. And he loves his country.

Neither of us believes our country can exist in its current state if all we do is shine each other’s shoes. Someone has to make something. We can’t all sell stuff; manufacturing is what built our middle class and if that goes away, so will the middle class of America. Don’t believe me? Take a trip to Flint, Michigan. Once hailed as Buick City with 70,000 GM workers, it is now a shell of its former self. GM only employees around 5,000 there now. We drove through Flint’s downtown this Saturday and the majority of stores were boarded up. There is precious little life there.

Sean has great faith in Bob Lutz and the car he’s spearheading, the Volt, Chevy’s electric car. If all goes as planned and the Volt goes on sale near the end of 2010 Sean thinks that will radically alter the future of the company. And he wants to be there for the turn-around.

After we finished listening to Wagoner, Sean took a deep breath and said, “We know that GM is not our true provider. We know where our help comes from.”

Amen to that.

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
Your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.