Maybe it was the semi-foul mood I already was in — I woke up on the wrong side of Monday, and for the first time in a long time wasn't finding any humor, ironic or otherwise, in my current situation — but hearing people wax about GM, and really starting to think about all of it for the first time, well, it pissed me off.
What triggered it was a caller discussing his longstanding preference for foreign automobiles for reasons up to and including their superior quality and performance. He was critical of the government stepping in and rescuing a company that, when you get down to it, has been insanely mismanaged and misguided in its operations for decades, all the while pumping out product of suspect quality.
I'm on the side of the caller on this one, and don't bother trying to call him or me "unpatriotic" because I don't buy that bull. Somewhere down the line, someone got the idea of selling American cars to American consumers on the notion that it was "the patriotic thing to do," that if you buy a foreign car you might as well burn the flag or push your mother in front of a bus.
I consider myself a patriotic, country-loving American in my own way, but I take issue with someone — be it a politician or a car salesman — using the flag to exploit his fellow countrymen in the interest of say, starting a bullshit war or lining his pockets. But it happens all the time, and people get all doped up on these false notions of patriotism that they can't see what they're buying into for what it really is. Don't get me started on religion.
Getting back to the caller, I'm sure plenty of people gave him shit for what he said, but in his experience, a foreign car has been the better choice. I'm with him on that one. I have owned three cars in my lifetime — the first two American, the third foreign — and I had the first two a combined two years. I have had the third for nearly ten.
Both American cars were purchased used, and the first one, to be fair, met its end in a run-in with a deer. But the second one, albeit it fun to drive, quickly turned into a maintenance headache. Meanwhile, the third car, a foreign station wagon I leased new and later purchased outright, has been a workhorse over the last decade. It didn't have its first major repair until year seven, and even after 135,000 miles it's still getting over 30 miles per gallon. And I'm not exactly proactive when it comes to car care — my check engine light has been on since January.
What chaps my ass the most about all the "Buy American" sloganeering is that most flag-waving U.S. consumers only subscribe to the idea for their automobile, then they drive said automobile to Wal-Mart to purchase shopping carts full of foreign-made goods each week. Oops, guess someone left their country-loving conscience at home on the counter.
So when I hear that the government is saving this gigantic mismanaged car company with our money just so it can fuck up again, and people call it a good, patriotic, American thing to do that will lead us out of economic turmoil, it incenses me. Does anyone really believe that a lumbering dinosaur like GM is going to reemerge overnight as a smartly-run, forward-thinking, quality-driven, socially-conscious, profitable operation? It won't. And if you don't believe me, let me point you to a little film called Who Killed the Electric Car? and you'll see just what happens when someone at a car company thinks outside of the box.
I understand the argument that the auto industry is a pillar of the American economy and needs to be saved in order to avoid further meltdown, but that doesn't mean I buy it. It should have never gotten this way in the first place, yet here we are running to the rescue of another failed corporation because we're too dumb to think of anything better to do. I guarantee GM will fail again. If in 50 years I'm proven wrong, I'll buy the nicest Chevy on the lot.