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Why Detroit Loses Money

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What's difficult to understand is why Detroit's automakers lose billions of dollars making cars and trucks here, while competitors like Toyota, Honda, BMW and Mercedes, who build them here too, make a fortune at it.

They're all building new plants or expanding production at the old ones while Detroit is shutting factories.

General Motors, for example, reported a loss of $39 billion for last year, and my guess is that Toyota will have an operating profit approaching $20 billion for its March 31 fiscal year, with the North American operations the greatest contributor to that.

Here's my explanation:

Rebates. Detroit has to pay buyers to take its products. If you pay $3,000 to $5,000 in rebates or other bribes to customers to take your cars and trucks, there goes the profit. For example. If GM sells 4 million cars and trucks and spends $3,000 in giveaways on each, that's $12 billion in lost profit. Toyota and Honda give away a few hundred.

Efficiency. The brands I mentioned are building at capacity, while the Detroit companies aren't. A great cost in this business is the tooling, the factory, the overhead. When you build a capacity you lower the cost of all this per vehicle. When you aren't building at capacity, these costs per vehicle go up. And Detroit is continually cutting back, closing factories, paying off workers. Any money in Detroit seems to go into these payoffs to get workers to quit and go away, or now, in billions to dollars to be paid to the union to take over medical care costs.

Legacy costs. Those heritage costs, meaning the cost of supporting former workers who aren't needed, or the army of retirees. If the Detroit companies were running full blast, these burdens wouldn't be as heavy, but since they are always cutting back, the burdens grow except when they pay out huge sums to get workers to go away. The foreign companies have younger people on the payrolls, practically no one retired on pension, and better medical care systems because their employees are mainly non-union and it's easier to dictate than to bargain.

Is there any answer to this? So far there hasn't been but we can always hope. Even the three problems mentioned above are just symptoms of the real problem. The car business still is a product-oriented business. The customers turned against Detroit's product. After all, if the product is right, the producer needn't pay the customers to take its cars and trucks. Production levels will rise and the producer will operate at capacity. And the heritage costs won't grow because the company will be hiring instead of pushing workers out.

For years the main recovery action in Detroit was cutting costs. But it is difficult to make cost cutting the route to prosperity. Instead, it became an endless cycle of cost cutting, even killing brands: Oldsmobile at GM, Plymouth at Chrysler, Aston sold at Ford, Jaguar and Land Rover to go, and Mercury seems doomed unless a member of the Ford family steps forward to save it. And, of course, assets get sold off, as GM sold half of GMAC, or put up as collateral as at Ford.

But finally, some good news: the product has come out into the spotlight. Every Detroit carmaker talks about improving the product, and there are signs that they actually mean it for a change. We do see signs of great improvement at General Motors. I personally feel that GM will be gaining market share this year, not much, but enough to show that the turn is underway. At Ford and Chrysler, as they say, "the issue is still in doubt."

And it takes more than just building a better car and truck. The buyers aren't angry at Toyota, Honda, BMW or Mercedes. They like the cars they bought from the foreigners, so getting our people to switch back is almost impossible, or a long, year-after-year process, winning customers among the newer generations who don't carry a grudge going back 20 years. So winning them back will take a decade or more, so it means continual improvement of the product and the marketing, too.

GM, and Ford are doing better overseas, making profits in Europe, in Brazil, in China. But they aren't enough. The new contracts with the union will reduce the heritage costs, and even the wage costs as new lower-paid workers are brought in to replace the veterans. That will no longer be an excuse for the failure here in the U.S.

We'll see if these Detroit executives understand that it is the attractiveness of the cars and trucks that will determine whether their companies live or die, and if they have the talent to create such vehicles.

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Rebates. Detroit has to pay buyers to take its products. If you pay $3,000 to $5,000 in rebates or other bribes to customers to take your cars and trucks, there goes the profit. For example. If GM sells 4 million cars and trucks and spends $3,000 in giveaways on each, that's $12 billion in lost profit. Toyota and Honda give away a few hundred.

'Cept that rebates have been down at all of the Big 3, especially GM, and up at Toyota and Nissan for the better part of 2 years now.

Efficiency. The brands I mentioned are building at capacity, while the Detroit companies aren't. A great cost in this business is the tooling, the factory, the overhead. When you build a capacity you lower the cost of all this per vehicle. When you aren't building at capacity, these costs per vehicle go up. And Detroit is continually cutting back, closing factories, paying off workers. Any money in Detroit seems to go into these payoffs to get workers to quit and go away, or now, in billions to dollars to be paid to the union to take over medical care costs.

'Cept for GM has won the Harbour report more times than I can count in the same number of years.

Legacy costs. Those heritage costs, meaning the cost of supporting former workers who aren't needed, or the army of retirees. If the Detroit companies were running full blast, these burdens wouldn't be as heavy, but since they are always cutting back, the burdens grow except when they pay out huge sums to get workers to go away. The foreign companies have younger people on the payrolls, practically no one retired on pension, and better medical care systems because their employees are mainly non-union and it's easier to dictate than to bargain.

1 word: VEBA

Is there any answer to this? So far there hasn't been but we can always hope. Even the three problems mentioned above are just symptoms of the real problem. The car business still is a product-oriented business. The customers turned against Detroit's product. After all, if the product is right, the producer needn't pay the customers to take its cars and trucks. Production levels will rise and the producer will operate at capacity. And the heritage costs won't grow because the company will be hiring instead of pushing workers out.
'Cept for both Ford and GM have stabilized retail market share for 1-2 years now.

I do agree that cutting is not the way to achieve prosperity.

And it takes more than just building a better car and truck. The buyers aren't angry at Toyota, Honda, BMW or Mercedes. They like the cars they bought from the foreigners, so getting our people to switch back is almost impossible, or a long, year-after-year process, winning customers among the newer generations who don't carry a grudge going back 20 years. So winning them back will take a decade or more, so it means continual improvement of the product and the marketing, too.

Actually, the number of customers that refuse to buy domestic has dropped significantly in the past 2 years while at the same time the number of buyers that will not shop an import has increased.

We'll see if these Detroit executives understand that it is the attractiveness of the cars and trucks that will determine whether their companies live or die, and if they have the talent to create such vehicles.

They're already creating them...

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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You are, of course, right on most counts, which is why Wagoner and his cronies are having such a difficult time turning the ship around. Don't forget the biggest factor of all: being the biggest auto market makes America (and by default, Canada) the biggest target from overseas manufacturers.

If you were the CEO of a foreign company and your marketing boys told you you could expect 3% of a 1.5 million car market (like Brazil) or 3% of a 17 million car market for the same investment, which would you pick? YOu have to understand that Toyota and Honda do not enjoy the same market penetration anywhere else in the world (not even Japan!) that they do here.

You cannot blame Japan Inc for targeting us, but you can blame our politicians for making it so easy and us for being so foolish to allow it. Nearly all of the problems, whether business related or otherwise, that we are experiencing in North America are directly related to our own selfishness and our hubris. If I see one more 'study' that declares Canada the best place in the world to live, I will hurl. It just makes us a target, of either envy or jealousy and then the world comes to dump its problems on our doorstep. Eventually, as we fight a war on a hundred fronts, the very standard of living and soundess of infrastructure that makes us the best in the world will become so diluted and over-run that we will be dragged down to the level of the rest of the world anyway.

You have seen this mood in both the business and political world subtly shift in the past decade. These multi-nationals are not here to co-exist. They are here to conquer.

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You cannot blame Japan Inc for targeting us, but you can blame our politicians for making it so easy and us for being so foolish to allow it. Nearly all of the problems, whether business related or otherwise, that we are experiencing in North America are directly related to our own selfishness and our hubris. If I see one more 'study' that declares Canada the best place in the world to live, I will hurl. It just makes us a target, of either envy or jealousy and then the world comes to dump its problems on our doorstep. Eventually, as we fight a war on a hundred fronts, the very standard of living and soundess of infrastructure that makes us the best in the world will become so diluted and over-run that we will be dragged down to the level of the rest of the world anyway.

You have seen this mood in both the business and political world subtly shift in the past decade. These multi-nationals are not here to co-exist. They are here to conquer.

As usual, you're spot on!

:cheers:

It's too bad the majority of the people that live here can't understand this pretty basic concept.

I don't even think it'll stop when we're on the same "level as the rest of the world" I think a small percentage of the west will continue to hold wealth and the multi-nationals won't stop milking the place until it's milked dry. So, while they're salivating over the wealth of the top 2% and trying to attain it (by using our resources) the other 98% of us will suffer.

Then, once the cash cow has been milked dry and money has been 'evenly distributed' throughout our 'allies' and 'partners' many think things will level out and these 'allies/partners' will help build us back up again (As we have done them for the past 50 years) Well, I have to laugh at the thought of that... Once america loses it's buying power and technological influence, it'll be shoved out of the way and forgotten about. All of these countries want to be the best, and they've been jealous of our success for a hundred years now, why would they foolishly allow us to gain traction again once they've essentially defeated us?

America (et. al.) is like the retarded kid in gym class... We think everyone is our friend and we'll do anything we can out of innocence and the need for accptance. Ever so blind are we to how much we're being laughed at and used in every situation we get involved in.

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What has always killed me is, why hasn't the big 3 ever been able to establish a foothold in the Japanese market? It was the second largest auto market in the world until last year when China took over that distinction. I need to do some research and figure that one out. How healthy would GM be if they were able to take as much sales volume (by percentage) away from Toyota in Japan as Toyota has taken from the North American market?

Again, I need to go research this so admittedly my opinions may be way off but here is what I always thought were the problems:

1) Japan is a closed market - I know this is not literally the case but I was under the impression tariffs were so high on imported vehicles that it essentially made it true. Still, GM should be able to build a plant in Japan and make cars tariff free. Am I mistaken? If that isn't true, why wouldn't the WTO be all over that? Or are they only out to protect the rest of the world? It's not like Japan is a third world country. :rolleyes:

2) Japanese buyers are loyal to the home brands - I know this is much more true than it is in the U.S. I'm sure much of that has a lot to do with what the quality of Big 3 vehicles used to be. That couldn't have helped. Still, the Japanese do seem to like American things and American culture. If the quality of Big 3 vehicles had been better when we tried to break into the Japanese market 20-25 years ago, would things be any better?

3) Big 3's reluctance to build RHD vehicles - Obviously this was a big stumbling block in the past. Now they make RHD vehicles for the British, Indian and Australian markets. How hard would it be to develop a small car for Japan? I think in the early days much of this reluctance was due to #1 and #2 above.

So, with much better product around the globe (especially in GM's case) as well as many vehicle lines that are already homologated and designed for RHD, what is the reluctance in trying to break into the market? And, If Japan still has huge tariffs on imported vehicles, how are they getting away with it and why aren't we slapping big tariffs on their imported vehicles until they back of theirs? Do we just not have the balls?

Would someone with knowledge of the situation please give me their thoughts on this?

Edited by 2QuickZ's
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What has always killed me is, why hasn't the big 3 ever been able to establish a foothold in the Japanese market? It was the second largest auto market in the world until last year when China took over that distinction. I need to do some research and figure that one out. How healthy would GM be if they were able to take as much sales volume (by percentage) away from Toyota in Japan as Toyota has taken from the North American market?

Again, I need to go research this so admittedly my opinions may be way off but here is what I always thought were the problems:

1) Japan is a closed market - I know this is not literally the case but I was under the impression tariffs were so high on imported vehicles that it essentially made it true. Still, GM should be able to build a plant in Japan and make cars tariff free. Am I mistaken? If that isn't true, why wouldn't the WTO be all over that? Or are they only out to protect the rest of the world? It's not like Japan is a third world country. :rolleyes:

2) Japanese buyers are loyal to the home brands - I know this is much more true than it is in the U.S. I'm sure much of that has a lot to do with what the quality of Big 3 vehicles used to be. That couldn't have helped. Still, the Japanese do seem to like American things and American culture. If the quality of Big 3 vehicles had been better when we tried to break into the Japanese market 20-25 years ago, would things be any better?

3) Big 3's reluctance to build RHD vehicles - Obviously this was a big stumbling block in the past. Now they make RHD vehicles for the British, Indian and Australian markets. How hard would it be to develop a small car for Japan? I think in the early days much of this reluctance was due to #1 and #2 above.

So, with much better product around the globe (especially in GM's case) as well as many vehicle lines that are already homologated and designed for RHD, what is the reluctance in trying to break into the market? And, If Japan still has huge tariffs on imported vehicles, how are they getting away with it and why aren't we slapping big tariffs on their imported vehicles until they back of theirs? Do we just not have the balls?

Would someone with knowledge of the situation please give me their thoughts on this?

1) Yep. Pretty much nothing you can do about that..unless you want to sell them more Levis maybe....

2) Used to be true, not quite so much anymore. Sometimes more American, sometimes more tightwad....

3) They're been building cars around the world for years..they have plent of those....but the need to be even more "global"...

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my dad had an interesting point he made on the phone tonight. even though US car products have gotten way more reliable, he says Americans in general are punishing all US companies in general, cumulatively for long standing 'wrongdoings' these companies have foisted upon us over our lifetimes and they are subconsciously or coonsciously taking it out on US companies as a vendetta. i.e. my GM car in the 80's broke down and i am tired of this bad American $h! combined with the better than Jesus legacy of Toyota and add to that the rape of the US checkbooks of the oil companies and such and its a whole big recipe for Americans going out of their way to disdain US companies......and the alternative is supporting non US companies. seems illogical yet strangely possible at the same time.

we're more than happy to send our $$ to china and japan, as long as we don't feel any guilt over it, and as long as we can get back at the Amurchan companies that have personally screwed each one of us over for so long.

it's like telling your parents to piss off yet finding out the next day they died or something. i dunno. i don't understand why in this country we seek to destroy all that we love for a cheap thrill for ourselves.

Edited by regfootball
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3) They're been building cars around the world for years..they have plent of those....but the need to be even more "global"...

GM & Ford, yes. But if I'm not mistaken, Chrysler pretty much built only for North America until they got involved with Daimler. I'm not sure why Ford didn't do better in Japan. Hell, did they even try? I know GM tried, I'm just not sure they tried very hard. Opel just announced last year they were pulling out of the Japanese market. It seems like they never tried to develop anything specifically for the Japanese market, which is what they would have needed to do 20 or 25 years ago because even though GM was global, their car platforms were not. My guess is they didn't have anything suitable for that market and when you stack their quality reputation at the time on top of that.... I'm sure the debacle with importing Cavaliers and having Toyota throw their badge on it didn't help!

And in regard to item #1, I'm sure our politicians wouldn't do anything about this situation (ie adding tariffs to imported Japanese goods) because they feared a consumer back lash and a lost election. All though, they did manage to pull it off on trucks!?!

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It seems to me that there are alot of xenophobes on this board.

The simple fact is that not only the Japanese have taken advantage of the US Gov't ignorance of international markets---we buy products here from all over the globe, perhaps without thought.

Alot of you imply that there's some grand scheme to ruin the US or that ignorant consumers are 'punishing' US Corps---the fact is, as it applies to vehicles, an automotive purchase is the 2nd most expensive one will ever make.

Why would someone 'take a chance' on companies that have disappointed in the past when there's so many 'good' choices (incl. US products) nowadays? You are asking people to ignore their own common sense--they're not out to 'punish' anyone.

Most people bash foreign things/entities as a proxy for their deeper rooted anxieties, fears or outright dislike of non-white, non-christian peoples---our own beloved politicians prey on these fears and encourage this foolish ignorance. I hope I'm wrong about the posters here--but based on some other arguments I've had on this board, it's more likely than not that I'm right.

Get things right here in our country, keep our image in the world as a leader, with respect of other cultures & elect some smart people, rather than fear mongers and panderers---all of the sudden the problems might get fixed, instead of patched and ignored.

Edited by enzl
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I repeat from my earlier post: HUBRIS. GM and Ford expanded heavily into Europe because it was a markety they could understand and relate to. Japan was a backward country until the turn of the 20th Century. The West didn't even think Japan was worth INVADING back then. Great Britain, the Dutch and others turned their attentions to China.

Japan didn't seem like a market worth exploiting at all, until very recently. As a consequence, they were able to develop a home-grown market quite easily - with stolen technology, I might add. Ever hear of the Selden Patent? Look it up. Western patents and trademarks were not recognized by Japan until the last few decades. While GM and Ford had to abide by our rules, Japan did not. (In fact, in many cases, China still does not recognize a lot of intellectual property, or if it does, it does little to enforce it.)

The Japanese are very shrewd in their estimation of the North American market. They waited until the timing was right, then allowed GM to finance their forays into our market, learned the ropes and then conquered. They already had templates from the electronics industry that they killed off in the '70s. How many on this Board are old enough to remember when Made in Japan meant cheap crap, somewhat like Made in China does today? When I was a kid, Made in Japan was for disposable razors and cheap transistor radios.

Ford could easily have taken over the Japanese market in the twenties and thirties, but with all the expansion in American and Europe, why bother? A bit of racism was probably at work there, too. I mean, how many Japanese speaking executives exist in Detroit even today?

In some respects, America is guilty of thinking that the rest of the world wants to be like it, so therefore the rest of the world should adapt. Since WWII, we have lived a pretty idylic life in North America. Some countries in Europe had one form of rationing or the other until the late '50s. Look at a '57 Plymouth, a best seller here, and a '57 Morris, a best seller in Europe, to get what I mean. But the markets are converging again, thanks to oil prices and how expensive technology is becoming. If a new engine is a billion dollars to develop, then a manufacturer must make it global to pay for itself.

Detroit, and by extension Washington, ignored Tokyo's abuses until the early '80s, but by then it was already too late. Too many 'lobbyists' and interest groups were in the pockets of Japan Inc. for anything purposeful to happen. Couple that with the perfect storm that hit Detroit in the mid-70s which pretty much killed the automobile for anything other than mundane transport for 15 years, and the market was ripe for a take over. GM, comfortable in its market dominance, appointed a succession of bean counters to the throne - that certainly didn't help either.

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It seems to me that there are alot of xenophobes on this board.

The simple fact is that not only the Japanese have taken advantage of the US Gov't ignorance of international markets---we buy products here from all over the globe, perhaps without thought.

Alot of you imply that there's some grand scheme to ruin the US or that ignorant consumers are 'punishing' US Corps---the fact is, as it applies to vehicles, an automotive purchase is the 2nd most expensive one will ever make.

Why would someone 'take a chance' on companies that have disappointed in the past when there's so many 'good' choices (incl. US products) nowadays? You are asking people to ignore their own common sense--they're not out to 'punish' anyone.

Most people bash foreign things/entities as a proxy for their deeper rooted anxieties, fears or outright dislike of non-white, non-christian peoples---our own beloved politicians prey on these fears and encourage this foolish ignorance. I hope I'm wrong about the posters here--but based on some other arguments I've had on this board, it's more likely than not that I'm right.

Get things right here in our country, keep our image in the world as a leader, with respect of other cultures & elect some smart people, rather than fear mongers and panderers---all of the sudden the problems might get fixed, instead of patched and ignored.

It isn't about xenophobia or racism, in my opinion. The Rule of Law is a Roman principle, handed down throughout Europe and it flourished under British Common Law. In most of Asia and South Asia, laws are merely suggestions. Ford and GM were able to co-exist in Europe, as were many Canadian and American companies, due to the Rule of Law. Japan and China had nothing recognizeable. Great Britain tried to enforce that upon the Chinese and we all know how that worked out.

There is nothing 'co-existant' about Japan Inc. How would you explain Toshiba, Hitachi and others getting sugar beat import quotas to offset their losses in North America? Why would the MITI even exist in Japan, if not to coordinate attacks on Western markets? Do you see Japan enjoying the same kind of success across a tiny sea? Why would they prefer to ship products 10,000 miles when a huge market is a 45 minute flight away? Why is that?

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The simple fact is that not only the Japanese have taken advantage of the US Gov't ignorance of international markets---we buy products here from all over the globe, perhaps without thought.

I couldn't agree with you more on this one.

Get things right here in our country, keep our image in the world as a leader, with respect of other cultures & elect some smart people, rather than fear mongers and panderers---all of the sudden the problems might get fixed, instead of patched and ignored.

I, for one, would love to "elect some smart people, rather than fear mongers and penderers". I have voted in every election I have been eligible to vote in. The problem is, at least as it relates to presidential elections, I feel like every time I have voted, I have had to pick the lesser of two evils. I don't feel like there has been a clear cut "good" candidate for president in the last 18 years. It's like chosing between dumb and dumber. Especially in the last two presidential elections. The congressional candidates are not any better. Congress would rather not vote on a hot topic rather than pissing off their constituents and risk not getting re-elected. They are afraid to make a decision. That is why nothing is getting done in this country and we continue to slide down the slippery slope. :(

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It seems to me that there are alot of xenophobes on this board.

The simple fact is that not only the Japanese have taken advantage of the US Gov't ignorance of international markets---we buy products here from all over the globe, perhaps without thought.

Alot of you imply that there's some grand scheme to ruin the US or that ignorant consumers are 'punishing' US Corps---the fact is, as it applies to vehicles, an automotive purchase is the 2nd most expensive one will ever make.

Why would someone 'take a chance' on companies that have disappointed in the past when there's so many 'good' choices (incl. US products) nowadays? You are asking people to ignore their own common sense--they're not out to 'punish' anyone.

Most people bash foreign things/entities as a proxy for their deeper rooted anxieties, fears or outright dislike of non-white, non-christian peoples---our own beloved politicians prey on these fears and encourage this foolish ignorance. I hope I'm wrong about the posters here--but based on some other arguments I've had on this board, it's more likely than not that I'm right.

Get things right here in our country, keep our image in the world as a leader, with respect of other cultures & elect some smart people, rather than fear mongers and panderers---all of the sudden the problems might get fixed, instead of patched and ignored.

oh, it's a white problem. nice race to judgment. i almost never see an asian descent person driving a domestic brand car.

Edited by regfootball
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It seems to me that there are alot of xenophobes on this board.

There is an element of that..look at the bozos that use the 'Jap' epithet in their posts or fly a confederate flag (widely considered a symbol of southern racism).

Most people bash foreign things/entities as a proxy for their deeper rooted anxieties, fears or outright dislike of non-white, non-christian peoples---our own beloved politicians prey on these fears and encourage this foolish ignorance. I hope I'm wrong about the posters here--but based on some other arguments I've had on this board, it's more likely than not that I'm right.

That's where the Republican party draws a lot of it's support, IMHO...it's the white Christian intolerance party...

Edited by moltar
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There is an element of that..look at the bozos that use the 'Jap' epithet in their posts or fly a confederate flag (widely considered a symbol of southern racism).

That's where the Republican party draws a lot of it's support, IMHO...it's the white Christian intolerance party...

I've been told to keep my 'politics' to myself....so although I agree with you, I've yet to win that 1st fight here. Apparently, 'jap' is OK and the confederate flag is a symbol which, despite offending millions by its mere display, is 'historical' or part of some 'heritage' that outweighs the offense...

As far as the second point above, I don't believe that any right-minded individual, Republican or Democrat, really subscribes to such hateful views. The anonymity and 'power trip' factor of the internet emboldens the smallest of minds here.

Edited by enzl
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oh, it's a white problem. nice race to judgment. i almost never see an asian descent person driving a domestic brand car.

Flat out untrue.

Many, many immigrants, from where-ever, often buy domestic products because they're proud to be here.

Our Asian language staff sell 100's of new Chevy's to delightful Korean, Chinese & Japanese individuals.

You accuse me of race-baiting & that's the best you can do?

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The simple fact is that not only the Japanese have taken advantage of the US Gov't ignorance of international markets---we buy products here from all over the globe, perhaps without thought.

I think this is where it all began. Politicians fighting for unions and supporting non union asian automakers create jobs in their state. Slowly breaking the back of our sleeping companies that are set in their ways and slow to change.

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>>"the confederate flag is a symbol which, despite offending millions by its mere display..."<<

I missed the survey that determined this; "millions", really ?? When, where & who tabulated this?

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I've been told to keep my 'politics' to myself....so although I agree with you, I've yet to win that 1st fight here. Apparently, 'jap' is OK and the confederate flag is a symbol which, despite offending millions by its mere display, is 'historical' or part of some 'heritage' that outweighs the offense...

As far as the second point above, I don't believe that any right-minded individual, Republican or Democrat, really subscribes to such hateful views. The anonymity and 'power trip' factor of the internet emboldens the smallest of minds here.

People can find 'offense' under any rock. If we all studied history with an open mind, we wouldn't be so quick to jump to offense. Americans love to re-hash the 'confederate'/'union' debate, as if it happened yesterday, and I even read where an Afro-American is suing Washington for, like, a trillion dollars in back wages for slaves. If that wasn't so funny, Canadians are getting themselves in a flap because General Wolfe (who is largely, if incorrectly, credited with 'conquering' Quebec at the Plains of Abraham) is being ignored in Quebec's 400th anniversary celebrations. The English-speaking Canadians are 'ashamed' of their past; the Quebecois are a 'conquered' peoples. Put in historical perspective, the French in Quebec should be thrilled that the British 'conquered' them, because if they hadn't, the United States may have - and I am sure the U.S. would have taken a less tolerant atttude toward Quebec's language laws and culture.

We need to learn from our past, not bury it. The Europeans who 'built' this continent need to stop apologizing for what their great-great-grandparents may have done or did not do, and the newcomers to our shores need to understand that our tolerance that they are abusing is the very reason both our countries are so great.

There is not a nation on this planet that does not have a checkered past. However, there are only a few nations that are intent on self-destructing in penance for that past.

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>>"the confederate flag is a symbol which, despite offending millions by its mere display..."<<

I missed the survey that determined this; "millions", really ?? When, where & who tabulated this?

An overwhelming majority of black americans?

Descendants of civil rights workers maimed or killed by the anti-civil rights idiots?

Most normal people in this country?

Freedom of expression is one thing I can support---but the Confederate Flag is so loaded with negative history, I can't believe it's worth it to this site to support such an assinine position, but so be it.

*I'll shut up when YOU walk down the street in any black neighborhood in this country with a Confederate Flag on your shirt.

You're an ignorant coward if you won't. I'm sure that they'll welcome you with open arms. Perhaps you could handle the more 'confrontational' individuals by showing them surveys that indicate that millions aren't offended?

(I'll be happy to follow you with an ambulance...just give me a time and date.)

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People can find 'offense' under any rock. If we all studied history with an open mind, we wouldn't be so quick to jump to offense. Americans love to re-hash the 'confederate'/'union' debate, as if it happened yesterday, and I even read where an Afro-American is suing Washington for, like, a trillion dollars in back wages for slaves. If that wasn't so funny, Canadians are getting themselves in a flap because General Wolfe (who is largely, if incorrectly, credited with 'conquering' Quebec at the Plains of Abraham) is being ignored in Quebec's 400th anniversary celebrations. The English-speaking Canadians are 'ashamed' of their past; the Quebecois are a 'conquered' peoples. Put in historical perspective, the French in Quebec should be thrilled that the British 'conquered' them, because if they hadn't, the United States may have - and I am sure the U.S. would have taken a less tolerant atttude toward Quebec's language laws and culture.

We need to learn from our past, not bury it. The Europeans who 'built' this continent need to stop apologizing for what their great-great-grandparents may have done or did not do, and the newcomers to our shores need to understand that our tolerance that they are abusing is the very reason both our countries are so great.

There is not a nation on this planet that does not have a checkered past. However, there are only a few nations that are intent on self-destructing in penance for that past.

Are you a Civil War expert? Or an anthropologist?

Then your opinion doesn't do anything here to move the needle. Also, this isn't a 'white European thing', this is a uniquely American issue---The US owes part of its unique power & wealth to its slave past--a trade that had been outlawed in a majority of the 1st World by the time the Civil War rolled around.

The descendants of these slaves haven't exactly had the easiest time of it here either--or do you guys have textbooks that only reach the 50's?---it certainly sounds like it.

I'm sick of people on this site making excuses for the abject ignorance of some posters...

If a symbol, be it a Nazi swastika, a KKK white hood or a Confederate Flag offend some---why use it at all?

If referring to Asians as 'Japs' is OK, why isn't it used in polite conversation with Japanese people? Because it's a slur.

Would posters put up with gay epithets or AIDS jokes? No, they wouldn't.

So when more than a few site users complain about the Confederate Flag--that opinion should be given a respectful hearing.

It's clear that many of the mods don't get out of their Mom's basement too much...but that shouldn't mean that the site couldn't get somewhat better with a little outside advice, IMO.

Edited by enzl
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Back on topic,

It seems as if this is article should have been title, "Why Detroit has been losing money." At least then the article would have supported the title. The information is old news, and much if it is either out of date or becoming that way, as posts (at least those that were on topic) have already stated.

And everyone that wants to fight wars that have already past, please go elsewhere. I thought this was a site to support GM, praise their successes, point out their weaknesses and problems, and look to the future of their cars. You will never convince each other of you points, good or bad, and it only detracts from what the strengths of this board.

Take care, all

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'Cept for GM has won the Harbour report more times than I can count in the same number of years.

'Cept that the Harbour Report tells how many people are needed to make a vehicle...not the usage of a plant. And GM has too many plants for the number of vehicles they produce.

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'Cept that the Harbour Report tells how many people are needed to make a vehicle...not the usage of a plant. And GM has too many plants for the number of vehicles they produce.

Good point. One of the difficulties in closing a plant, is that it is never really closed. Taxes must still be paid, security maintained, basic maintenace, etc., unless the plant is actually sold, but a lot of older plants aren't worth much, due to the costs of reclaiming poisoned soil, or the fact they are not in desireable neighborhoods. I can only imagine what a juggling act it must be: close a plant, keep it open, move it, sell it....if only we could see the future.

Oops, sorry, I am not a tax expert or real estate agent, so my opinion doesn't move the needle.

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