GM and The Return to Big Business

December 7, 2011

Political Theory

Recently within my discussion section, a conversation arose regarding the financial and social hardships facing college students upon graduating. Once digesting staggering, yet oddly believable statistics describing this dilemma, suspected questions emerged in regards to issues facing our economy. Specifically the state of Michigan, whose unemployment rate lies at 12%, has profoundly seen the affects that this framework has had upon the people. The states largest corporation, General Motors, has heavily declined in revenue over the last decade. Holding close to many students at the University, it has become a prime piece of evidence in the examination of our economy today.

            With ample amounts of jobs being laid off compounded with the superior success of foreign manufacturing, questions have aspired regarding our current capitalistic approach. Should we dare enter a communist style? We have witnessed many political theorists argue both sides of the spectrum in regards to communism vs. capitalism. Likewise, these theorists hold great influence over the liberal and conservative approaches, in tackling these issues. Theorist Karl Marx rejects the capitalist claim, arguing its reckless approach on the health and length of life of the laborer. Immediately I reject this belief, for our country was built upon the rights of freedom, with property, education, and inheritance standing with the utmost importance. Conservative thinker Edmund Burke was one to argue a disposition to preserve, taken together with an ability to improve. The relevance or should I say lack there of, regarding Burke’s imagination, sparks an argument in an attempt to relate his views to the ongoing fight for financial success of Ford General Motors.

            Over the last month, General Motors has seen sales positively increase. Chrysler, Ford and Nissan were all companies included in reporting double-digit gains from last November, normally a lackluster month because of colder weather and holiday distractions. In addition, Ford Motor Co.’s sales rose 13 percent, fueled by the new Explorer SUV, whose sales more than tripled over last November. It can be assessed automakers have expected sales to improve, as people who held on to cars during the economic downturn finally return to the market. Have we now actually seen this company turn its fortune?

            A simple answer might presume people are now finally replacing the cars and trucks they held on to during the economic slump. My opinion however suggests a new type of trust and confidence unfolding between GM officials and their customers. In a capitalist economy, incentives are of the utmost importance. Likewise, this system indeed requires a level of cooperation, with good will and synthesis between economic demands and need fillers. We have seen executives at General Motors attempt to develop, but not change their product. Likewise, they are taking much heavier emphasis in supplying stability and assurance for their customers. Last Friday, General Motors announced initiatives for customer satisfaction and battery safety research to ensure ongoing confidence in the Chevrolet Volt, their newest and most popular vehicle. In addition, marketing strategies are being mended. Dealers are now offering exceptional terms, compounding low interest rates with high used-car values, making leased vehicles worth more when they’re returned. Can other falling companies likewise revitalize their product?

            As we have seen, Burke’s conservatism has been motivated by a distrust of abstract principles, and a belief that it is necessary to pay attention to history and circumstance. What do we however, when the industrial norms of the past no longer create full economic success? Ambition can creep as well as soar, but it is fundamental principals that lead to success economically. GM was a company in despair. One that needed a change, but the question was how drastically? Burke believes people will not look forward to posterity, who never looks backward to their ancestors. In this analysis, I think that his beliefs cannot relate. Despite the industrial pursuits developed and mastered by Henry Ford during the auto boom, a new labor driven approach has been mastered, lying superior to the assembly line created by Ford. Foreign nations have established an approach, which furthermore weakens the past efforts on future endeavors for General Motors company, and thus rejects Burke’s conservative claim.

            I think as the time has moved forward, Burke, nor any other political theorist in the past, can have any impact in the future endeavors of our economy. Why? It seems to me, we have reached a point where big businesses cannot look back in the past for guidance, but rather must evolve new strategies that are conducive for the future. Burke’s view entailed that it was simply too risky to allow natural rights to trump an established form of government or economy. But unfortunately, when have we ever faced economical issues quite like this?

            The United States is in a transitional stage, one that must rely somewhat on intuition of the past, but mainly on creative thinking for the future. Because of this, it is hard to place any expert approach on such an abstract claim. Burke was one to rely on reason in his pursuits, often etching to the past, to examine trends for the future. The failure of the auto industry within the US over the last couple of decades supply evidence that we must reject his claim, and rather develop numerous small progressions that ultimately leads to a distinctively new business approach. Do you agree?




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