Obama Axes Wagoner And Other Government Silliness - InformationWeek

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3/30/2009
02:31 PM
Rob Preston
Rob Preston
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Obama Axes Wagoner And Other Government Silliness

The chief executive of a public enterprise that stands to pile up more than a trillion dollars in losses this year is effectively replacing the chief executive of a private enterprise that stands to pile up billions of dollars in losses this year. Does anyone think this is a smart idea?

The chief executive of a public enterprise that stands to pile up more than a trillion dollars in losses this year is effectively replacing the chief executive of a private enterprise that stands to pile up billions of dollars in losses this year. Does anyone think this is a smart idea?Not that Rick Wagoner, CEO of General Motors since 2000, had been a particularly effective leader prior to his ouster by the Obama administration over the weekend. The country's largest automaker hasn't turned a profit since 2004, and its market cap is about 5% what it was when Wagoner took the helm. But the U.S. auto industry, saddled with soaring health care costs and strict environmental regulations well before the recession decimated car sales, has been operating with one hand tied behind its back.

The Obama administration, which can't even fill key Cabinet and sub-Cabinet posts much less come within a trillion bucks of balancing its own budget, is reportedly laying out a plan to turn GM around. Note to Obama: Printing greenbacks isn't an option. In fact, the Obama administration and its advisers know as much about turning around the auto (and banking and insurance) industries as I know about performing reconstructive hip surgery.

Meantime, the federal government continues to have its way with AIG, a company whose flawed but largely successful founder, Hank Greenberg, was run out of the company in 2005 by then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, another model of effective executive leadership.

What''s next? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi telling Sun Microsystems how to monetize its open source assets? Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter lecturing SAP America on how to manage its packaged applications in the cloud? Texas Gov. Rick Perry seizing control of Dell and AMD to put them back on a profitable course? Oh, that's right, those office holders don't have that "right," as they never loaned those companies any money. How silly.

As a famous iconoclast once observed: "A man's got to know his limitations."

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