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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Pragmatist

So he fired the CEO of GM. Don't look for him to cry over that one. Obama grew up the same time I did--in the heat of the sixties. We grade schoolers had only one question--what was everyone so upset about? We thought all that demonstrating and carrying on was ridiculous. For my part I wore a Nixon T shirt. You couldn't get more practical than that and I came from a family of privilege in Virginia. Imagine the pragmatist in a black man who bulls his way into Harvard then to the top of the law review.

Smart. You bet. You got to be smart to overcome those odds. You can't look to the main for anything. So don't look for him to cry over the Unions when he busts them in bankruptcy because GM is going bankrupt. Shareholders and workers be dammed there is a new sheriff in town and he will bring the new economy with him. What do you want him to do? Give the fat white guys another chance? They had many and blew it and one thing a pragmatist knows is no one really changes and no one gives up power. You really think GM is going to come up with great fuel efficient cars on their own? I don't think so. Why pay for the milk when you can get it for free? And they have been getting the milk for free for so long we are talking generations who were on the tit.

Political Pundits call it suicide. Hang the unions around the Democrats neck. The party that busted up GM. So what. Somebody has to do it. GM couldn't make the changes without concessions and the pragmatist knows nobody gives up power and money unless they have to. And the Unions will have to in a bankruptcy. So its bye bye Obama according to the talking heads. Maybe so. But if you are a black man running the free world you can't bet on the status quo. The only chance you have is to actually do the right thing. You have to bring in the new economy because it is the only chance you really have. In case you haven't heard, the old economy is DOA. Aint no one buying overpriced cars that eat gas anymore. So really, what's a smart man to do?

You get rid of the old wood. Start with the car companies and work your way down. Auto workers will be upset. Welcome to the displacement party. We have all been displaced. Publishing, real estate, brokering, banking...we are just warming up. If you think you are slipping through this transition doing business as usual then guess again. That would presuppose there is still some gas in the old economy tank and there really isn't. Even the quick fill ups by the government don't last because that world is gone. There are no buyers. So even if Obama was a different man and went along with all the goofy old white guys and gave GM ten more restructuring band aid the result would be the same. A desert of economic demand. There is none. Not for the old models anyway.

So here we are. Canned the CEO of GM and he is just warming up. Listen up bankers. You are next. Welcome to the new economy. Dreamers need not apply.

Books by William Hazelgrove