Tuesday, June 02, 2009

2 JUN 09: General Apathy

A discussion long ago with my sister-in-law came back to mind Monday evening. She liked to quote a common phrase of the 1970s: "Buy a foreign car and you put ten Americans out of work." To which I would reply: "If I buy a U.S. car, I put ten Japanese people out of work. Does that make it right?"

But as I jogged with that old discussion in mind, I started feeling guilty. My sister-in-law probably was right after all. For one thing, I haven't bought any cars in 15 years - so I'm probably at least ten-percent responsible for the recession.

Yes, I'll make this confession time. I'm partly to blame for Monday's chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by General Motors. I've broken from an unofficial family tradition, and NOT driven primarily G.M. cars and trucks. I didn't even have an urge to stop by Legacy Chevrolet Monday, after Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR race in Delaware.

Yet look at what's happened, as a result of Monday's bankruptcy filing. As a U.S. taxpayer, I'm now a part-owner of General Motors. And I didn't even have to buy any of that free-falling G.M. stock....

Yes, I know - I really don't own a small piece of General Motors. The U.S. government owns it for me. President Obama and his aides are taking care of that "investment" - which is nice of them, since so many employers don't match 401(k) contributions anymore.

You would think Alabama Senator Richard Shelby would have been happy by Monday's filing. He supported General Motors going into bankruptcy months ago. But now Shelby is calling it a step toward "socialism," because of the large U.S. government stake. Perhaps it's better for carmakers to be quasi-freeloaders, getting big tax incentives from the state.

We already know General Motors plans to phase out Pontiacs -- much as it did a few years ago with the Oldsmobile. My older brother was a loyal Olds driver. But now, of course, that brand is Olds news....

The Jay Auto Group sells Pontiacs, Buicks and Saturns. Yet manager J.G. Stelzenmuller III told the evening news his company remains strong financially. That can happen when you also sell Toyotas.

(Someday I'll understand why someone with a last name like Stelzenmuller doesn't automatically get the rights to sell Volkswagens....)

While there have been some exceptions, my family has driven General Motors cars for as long as I can remember. My late Dad loved his green Chevy pickup truck -- the one with the stick shift that broke in his hand, as he drove home on a Monday night in December. My youthful rebellion against keeping Christmas could have been timed better.

My late mother seemed fond of Chevrolets as well. She had a bright red Nova during my high school years - and it was an attention-getter on the days I was allowed to drive it to school. If I wasn't so busy with extracurricular activities, that Nova might have gained me a few dates.

I mentioned last year that the first car I owned was a 1966 Impala, which my older brother sold me for 500 dollars [19 Oct 08]. But that made younger brother me the target of a few jokes - such as the big steering wheel, which relatives politely compared to a "circus wagon."

Beyond that, the only General Motors car I've owned was one I inherited when my mother died. It suited me well for six years, and was the car I used to move to Georgia - but then someone flew downhill at a stop light in 1990 and rear-ended it. The Chevy was totaled - and the only quality time I've spent in a "Chevy" since then was that old Tex-Mex restaurant near Peachtree Mall.

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BLOG UPDATE: We were not at all surprised to find another letter from Phenix City's mysterious "13th Street Businessperson" in our postal mail Monday. The topic didn't surprise us, either....

After watching the news Friday May 29 I am left shocked and speechless. Our City Charter assigns these elected officials "part time" duties. The Charter calls on the City Manager to oversee the day to day duties for management of city affairs. These five individuals, of which none hold college degrees and one who supposedly doesn't have a high school diploma do not work or hold any other employment. These people should not be "hanging around city hall" all day. The City Manager should be facilitating such functions. This represents an indictment or inquiry of his actual abilities. How much do the Councilmembers in the city of Columbus make? Considering recent actions of the City Council of Phenix City I would say the city is in a serious state of peril. Recall should be initiated. This city is at its lowest ebb since "the clean-up." The shocking thing about this is that local newspapers have done nothing to make the citizens aware. Maybe with these increased compensations qualified and educated individuals will offer. May God bless and be wiyh the poor people of Phenix City.

Maybe some of these officials will refuse unreasonable request on the people of Phenix City during these challenging times. Let us watch and see.

I'm not sure how this person knows the educational background of the Phenix City Councilors. But really now -- isn't it nice to know they match the city's general population?

The Ledger-Enquirer answered the pay comparison question over the weekend. Columbus Councilors only make $12,000 a year, compared with $21,020 in Phenix City. But remember one key thing - the lower Georgia sales tax on groceries.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION asks you about this writer's suggestion. Should the Phenix City Council be recalled, for voting itself a 133-percent raise? But this writer should keep one thing in mind - if the recall petition comes by his/her business, he/she will probably have to put an actual name on it.

Let's check other notes from a quiet Monday....

+ Columbus again had its hottest day of the year, at 91 degrees F. As predicted, my home air conditioner came on for the first time this season -- but I felt like waving a white flag as I did, in a sign of surrender to Georgia Power.

+ Our best wishes to WLTZ's John Beard (left) -- who had this stunning appearance Monday night, after being largely off the air for several weeks. I'm assuming he's in some sort of cancer treatment. Either that, or he's auditioning to be the substitute host of "The Steve Wilkos Show."

+ An Equal Employment Opportunity Commission employee visited Columbus, to hear complaints at a church. The EEOC representative came to town with Ed DuBose of the Georgia NAACP. One year ago, this would have been unthinkable - and DuBose would have kept a Republican EEOC official as far from Columbus as possible.

+ Former Chief Justice Roy Moore announced he'll run a second time for Governor of Alabama. He already has a campaign web site set up - but something's wrong with the home page. The Ten Commandments are nowhere to be found....

+ Randolph County, Alabama authorities arrested two people and seized more than 40 animals, as part of an alleged dogfighting ring. A co-worker raised a good point about these busts. How come the suspects never train poodles to fight? Is their fur too fluffy, so the fights last too long?

+ Instant Message to the Kansas baseball team: I meant to congratulate you on an amazingly good season. After all, you reached the regional finals at North Carolina - so you did as well as the men's basketball team.

COMING SOON: A business which offers "wine for your 90-foot yacht...."

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