Posted by: Dahni | June 1, 2009

The View from My American Car

By Dahni

© Copyright 6/1/09

all rights reserved

Part 2 of 2


Today’s the day that GM is supposed to file for bankruptcy? This post was written on 5/30/09 so I have not heard the latest, but from yesterday’s post, NOW you know what I drive. HHR stands for ‘Heritage High Top.’ In days gone by, the times of prohibition, FED agents would stand on the runners and hold one arm around their weapons and the other around the rack to just hold on while the vehicle was in motion. Now I don’t do that and I don’t have gunners. Now in case you are thinking that I’m giving someone an idea,  forget it. #1 that would be illegal and with my HHR, it would be impractical for many reason. But this has nothing to do with my ‘ride’ or this post.

Now some may want to refer to my HHR to mean R.oyal H.igness, but I’m not royalty and you can just think of it as H.andsome R.ide. Are there better rides out there? I’m sure, but she works for me and my needs. “She,” well of course, many men think of their cars and vehicles as a ‘her’ or a ‘she.’ I call mine Martha, so named after the wife of the Father of our country (which would make her the Mother of our country), Martha Washington.

Anyway, Martha is a very special vehicle. She is a time traveler of sorts. Back to the Future folk had theirs; Dr. Who has his telephone booth and I have Martha. She can travel back in time and then come back to the present, but she can’t travel to the future, so don’t ask. She does not know what the future has in store, nor do I. We can guess, but that’s all. So if you want to go for a ride, strap in and let’s go! And we’re off!

Martha, please take us back to the times of Henry Ford.

WOW, no cars; no roads to drive on if there were and no place to get gas or to repair stuff. Most people lived close to where they worked and why would they want a car anyway? Henry must have been thought of as nuts, but now we know he had a vision.

Moving forward some years we find these car things really started to take off. Pretty much the auto-makers in the entire world were all located someplace in Michigan. People had pretty good jobs too. They took pride in their work; they worked hard and their companies awarded them for new ideas and for helping to save money. The companies took care of their people too. They bought all kinds of stuff in bulk like food and even houses and passed the savings on to their partners, the automobile workers.

After WWII, I like Ike Eisenhower started an Interstate highway system, primarily for the military in times of crisis. Planes could be landed and troop convoys could be deployed. It wouldn’t be long until many civilians would head out on the highway and all kinds of adventures. New industries exploded. Cars in the fifties were still quality-driven and quality made, but soon the prices would be affordable by many.

Take us to the the 60’s Martha, please.

Gas was abundant and cheap. I remember gas wars in the 60’s for around 23 cents a gallon. People got excited about speed and races and racing. Some states did not even have speed limits and most were 70 miles per hour. Gas mileage was not a big deal as gas was cheap. We started to import cars from Europe and specifically, sports cars. Then, Chevrolet came out with the Corvette; Ford the Mustang and well, you know the rest. The ‘Big Three’ auto-makers (Chrysler-Dodge, GM & Ford),  in the U.S.A., delivered to WE the people, our own country made, quality driven and quality manufactured sports cars. We exported. It wasn’t long before most of the vehicles (quality vehicles), found anywhere in the world were made in the U.S.A.

Since I brought up Chevrolet, my background being born and raised in Missouri was familiar with this brand. We had a cousin that had a Chevy dealership. My grandparents owned Chevy cars and trucks as did my family. Chevy’s and Ford’s were considered the common vehicles for commoners and middle class U.S.A. When I met and married my wife Susan, she was born and raised in Rochester, NY where we live now. Her car background and that of her family is, similar to mine. She and her family were Chevy people. So this is the other reason for my HHR. Another BIG reason, the driver’s seat is comfortable to my back when driving, similar and cheaper than having a Volvo.

With the car and oil industries exploding, there were new associative businesses on the rise as well. Service stations, fast food restaurants and franchising, music, motels and almost an endless list of companies and stuff grew out of the car industry and the fast; mobile, United States of America. Profits were incredible for the companies and stock in them, were valuable, stable and reliable. Then it happened! Someone came up with the idea of ‘built in obsolescence,’ ‘new and improved’ and the selling of the ‘feel’ and the ‘smell’ of a new car. Some even tried to imitate the smell of a new car and giving her (or him if you prefer) –

“some putty and paint, to make her (he), what she (he),aint.”

It took us WE the people a long time to accept plastic, especially in our cars and part of this could have been due to Japan. Few wanted to buy much from Japan after the war and in the 60’s because even though their stuff was cheap, it was cheap too. Soon, things changed over here. Oh, after we bombed Japan and wrecked their country and defeated them, the United States rebuilt them as well. Change is one thing, but drastic change is another and it was coming and coming fast.

Japan could not make steel like we did here, for cars. No problem, when the steel industry started to diminish cuz’ lots more plastic was being used, one of our chief exports for many years was scrap metal. Where did it come from? It came from junkyards full of cars WE got rid of for the new one in our fast becoming, throw-away society.

Martha, please now take us to the Japanese expansion in this country.

I twice owned Mazda pickups and not because I did not first want to buy something from our country. Everything on the Mazda I needed and wanted was standard and was either an option or not even available on our country made stuff. Shoot, by this time, even the engines for both the small Ford trucks and the ‘Chevy Luv’ were being built by some other country. By the way, my first Mazda ‘cab plus’ was purchased in Maryland and in that state, at the time, even a rear bumper was optional. I had never heard of such a scary thing. It was standard on the Mazda. Toyota was for years here, the maker of the most maintenance free vehicles driven on the road in this country. Japan was kicking our ass and the media was touting how great they were and so good to their people. They learned it from the Big Three. And they were providing what people wanted, cheap but good. Unheard of and the Big Three could have done the same thing, but there were other issues too.

Martha, let’s cruise through the 80’s & 90’s.

In this country, for perhaps the first time two giants were emerging and neither made anything. Wal-Mart and Microsoft were kicking every body’s asses. One charged a lot for a piece of plastic worth maybe 20 cents and the other was getting what we wanted cheaper than anyone else and they were getting it made in other countries. By the time the Big Three figured all this out, the other countries were here making their stuff for WE the people.

OK Martha, lets go back to the present.

Man what a trip!

Driving around in the present and thinking about all we saw in the past, we tried a little experiment. We counted vehicles on the road and found about half were so-called ‘foreign made’ and the others were names synonymous with the U.S.A.

In the past we saw the rise and fall of the unions. We saw let’s do global and it’s a global economy. While the Big Three were trying to compete and have their stuff made cheaper someplace else, other ‘foreign made’ companies were building their products right here in the U.S.A. , paying a good wage and taking care of their employees without the added costs of unions. On top of that, these so-called ‘foreign made’ companies do not have the extra burden of huge pension funds like the Big Three. So there is not much of a way the Big Three could compete.

We were told that the Big Three were too big to fail. Now supposedly, Chrysler-Dodge had 6% of all new sales and GM around 8%. I guess Ford is holding their own, but there is a huge percentage of new sales not accounted for. GM was sort of doing OK as they had/have lots of used vehicles which people do want. We saw in the past and see now, greed, corruption and government interference. With Chrysler filing for bankruptcy and cleared, in the end we will have Fiat (Italy), the UAW, Canada and the United States owning, running and controlling what will emerge. I suppose GM will do something similar.

So many problems and so many varaibles, but here is one cause, no one is talking about. WE the people carry some of the responsibility for all of this. We wanted cheap, good and cheap, we couldn’t wait, we wanted new and improved, we wanted change, we elected and keep electing the same type of people that keep doing this and keep it going. If we sat down and calmly talk or briefly scared wolves, pigs, foxes, and snakes, just as soon as possible, the wolves will still attack the sheep, pigs will still wallow in the mire, the foxes will still raid the hen house and the snakes will still bite the hands that feed them. To some degree, this is all of WE, but we can change, IF we want to.

Until if and when that ever happens, the view from my American car is still the view from a car, where ever it is made. If we don’t like the road we’re traveling, we need to drive somewhere else. If we don’t like the car were driving,  then WE should get something else. If WE don’t like what we’re getting, perhaps WE should look to what we’ve been giving.

Henry, I apologise. You had a vision and many thought you were nuts. Today many are cloudy and what would that make us?

“Where there is no vision, the people wander aimlessly…”

Proverbs 29:18 a

If WE have no vision, perhaps WE can return to what works and that would be an environment that influences vision!

Just Imagine,


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