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  • Ruler of the Auto Industree

    Posted by David Foster on June 11th, 2009 (All posts by )

    A little song in honor of Brian Deese, Obama’s point man on auto industry restructuring issues and especially General Motors…with apologies to Gilbert & Sullivan.

    When I was a lad, I was smart you see
    So I went to Yale to get a law degree
    I studied hard and I impressed some profs
    But I thought I could do better so I blew it off

    (he thought he could do better so he blew it off)

    I quit and went to work for Hillary’s campaign
    And they were really quite impressed with my most excellent brain
    When Clinton dropped out Obama wanted me
    And now I rule the U.S. auto industree

    (when Clinton dropped out Obama wanted he
    That’s why he rules the U.S. auto industree)

    I never sold cars at a dealership
    And I never worked the plant on the midnight shift
    Or stayed up all night a-workin’ on a car design
    Or fixin’ up the flow on the assembly line

    (he never even saw that old assembly line)

    I became a political man you see
    So now I rule the US auto industry

    (a political man most grand is he
    so now he rules the U.S. auto industree)

    I never had to wrestle with a P&L
    To prove that I could run a business really well
    I never executed any sales campaigns
    Or handled the logistics with the trucks and the trains

    (he never had to worry with the trucks and the trains)

    Instead I was chosen by the “O” you see
    So now I rule the US auto industry

    (Obama reached down and annointed he
    so now he rules the U.S. auto industree

    Now kids everywhere if you want to succeed
    I’ve got some advice that you’ll do well to heed
    Don’t go into business as an entrepreneur
    Cause your odds of success they’ll be increasingly poor
    Just become a political man like me
    And some day you too may rule the auto industree

    (just become a political man like he
    and you too may rule the auto industree)

    Music, and original words to the Gilbert & Sullivan song, here.

     

    6 Responses to “Ruler of the Auto Industree”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I see this as the Frenchification of the American government. France is explained in the long quote below. The similarities are frightening.

      France is nominally a democratic republic, with a popularly elected president, a bicameral Parliament (where most power lies with the lower chamber, the National Assembly), 22 regional governments and about 40,000 local councils, a constitutional court, and a more or less independent judiciary. …

      But what really undermines France as a democracy is the constitution behind the constitution: that is, the role played by the nonelected state bureaucracy. … the Ecole nationale d’administration, founded in 1945 by de Gaulle. Better known by its initials–ENA–the new institution was the epitome of meritocracy. Entry was subject to a competitive examination and in practice highly restricted. The curriculum was very broad: it included economics and management as well as public or administrative law. ENA students traveled a great deal, both in France and elsewhere. What was deemed essential, however, was the school’s spirit: a fierce resolve to make the country great again, and a feeling that ENA graduates were not so much civil servants as the nation’s mentors and guardians.

      It took the ENA a decade to mature from a mere project into a full-fledged operation. By the time its graduates, soon renamed “enarchs,” became numerous enough to fill up most senior positions in public administration, France seemed mired in disaster again. … In 1958, when part of the French military rebelled in Algeria, a frightened political class called on the old general to “rescue the republic.” He obliged, but in doing so insisted on remodeling the constitution in his own way and on having it approved by referendum. The Fifth Republic was born, de Gaulle was elected president, and he stayed in charge for 10 years.

      The 1958 constitution was drafted by Michel Debré, a fervent Gaullist who had also been the main architect of the ENA. No French constitution since the Second Empire so drastically enhanced the executive branch or downgraded the legislature. Even more pertinent, however, was its preferential treatment of civil servants and enarchs over elected politicians. In a complete break with the Westminster model, members of parliament had to resign before joining the executive, but administrators could be elected to parliament or be appointed as cabinet ministers without resigning from the civil service. Moreover, the moment they quit politics, they were allowed to resume their former jobs, with full social benefits.

      The logic of “enarchization” was overwhelming. It has been estimated that since the 1970s, 70% of all members of Parliament have been civil servants of some sort, including university professors–almost all universities are state-run–and high-school teachers. When it comes to cabinet members, almost 90% are enarchs. Out of 17 prime ministers since 1958, six have been enarchs and another nine have been civil servants or former civil servants, former military men, or former employees of state-run companies. Among presidents, only one, Mitterrand, was a private person; the other four were essentially state servants, and two of them, Messrs. Giscard d’Estaing and Chirac, were enarchs.

      What gave the civil servants even more absolute power was their control of the economy. Ever since 1936, many large companies had been gradually nationalized, from banks and insurance companies to railways and airlines, from mining companies to the steel industry, from radio, TV and media agencies to aviation and cars. The post-1958 Fifth Republic went much farther, embarking on large-scale industrial schemes that blurred most distinctions between state-run and private companies. The latter became so dependent on government contracts as to behave like de facto divisions of the former. Some government contracts were also tailored to help favored private companies against their competitors. As enarchs managed the state sector, other enarchs–or the same ones–would be “lent” to private companies in a practice known as pantouflage (“slippering”).

      One need not be familiar with Friedrich Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” to surmise that such comprehensive sway over a country will gradually become counterproductive, and worse. The more absolute their power, the more the enarchs have tended to run France in their own interest, while assuaging the citizenry with bribes of all sorts. One such bribe, rhetorical but no less effective for that, has taken the form of nationalistic posturing, usually directed against the United States; a favorite slogan of the enarchs is that France’s mission is to uphold and protect a superior continental civilization based on the welfare state against the Anglo-Saxon model of “predatory” free-market capitalism. Structural problems–an aging population, swelling immigration, the public debt–have been ignored.

      There was some resistance to the enarchic takeover, to be sure, mostly in the form of social unrest among those who were hit the hardest. There was the so-called student revolution of 1968, which rocked the Fifth Republic for a few weeks and diminished de Gaulle’s personal standing, and there was a brief romance with left-wing terrorism in the early 1970s. By and large, though, statism prevailed. One reason was that it seemed to be working, and indeed to have fulfilled its primary mission of saving France. Then there were the emollient effects of the ever-expanding welfare state. Finally, under the Socialist François Mitterrand, just about every single elite or quasi-elite body in the country, including the Communists and the intellectuals, was brought into–or bought into–the system. In the ensuing decades, the only real challenge has been European integration, especially in the form of “single-market” provisions that have brought more transparency, competitiveness, and fluidity into European economic life.

      “Can Sarkozy Save France?: A reform-minded politician is the next president. Now what?” by Michel Gurfinkel on Wednesday, May 9, 2007.

    2. Bill Waddell Says:

      Great stuff, David. I get the impression this guy is about as pompous as the Gilbert& Sullivan windbag.

    3. MAS1916 Says:

      Appointing dolts to run key industries is a hallmark of the Obama administration.

      Obama himself has zero experience running a for-profit enterprise of any kind, so He now believes that He can run GM. Who in his right mind would buy a product from a company headed by the Obama administration? And what in the world will the GM product line look like in 2012? ( for a sneak peek at the 2012 GM product line, you can hit: http://firstconservative.com/blog/political-humor/political-humor-general-motors-in-2012 )

    4. david foster Says:

      Just as we saw one human resources bubble in the late 1990s–everyone wanted to get into something related to computers–and another circa 2005-2008 for investment banking, I think we will now see a bubble in government and the “policy” nonprofits that surround it. Brian Deese may be a great guy for all I know, but college-age people will look at an appointment like this and will often be motivated to choose a career path involving politics and government, via a political science major or some such, rather than focusing on science or engineering or business.

    5. harry angstrom Says:

      Did not Bush daddy and Bush sonny also go to Yale? Car Czar may know little or nothing about auto industry but what then did the guys in charge know so that their companies failed and went broke?

    6. Bill Waddell Says:

      The guy in charge of GM for its final demise – Rick Wagoner – was a Harvard man. A distinction without a difference, perhaps, but a distinction nevertheless.