November 21, 2008

The Weeklies #62

The Weekly States. Frenzied and Ohio.

The Weekly Read. This week, I finished Then We Came To The End. As background, when the economy began to fail in the post 911 world, I became a victim of the dot-com bust. I was laid off in the third round of layoffs after seeing my company be reduced in size by around 75%. Something similar happens to the folks who work for the unnamed advertising agency in Then We Came To The End. The novel is an interesting, funny and quirky look into office life and politics. Anyone who has worked in an office can identify with something in this book. It's also, at times, incredibly heartfelt. For every ridiculous action there is an equally heartfelt reaction. Then We Came To The End is uniquely-written, wonderfully told, and ultimately satisfying. I highly recommend it.

The Weekly Music. So, remember when the Police got back together after more than 20 years? Well, the tour is documented on the DVD and CD set, Certifiable. Like most major releases these days, this release is retailer specific - Best Buy. I was honestly prepared to be let down but Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland sound great. And they put on a pretty great show. If you dig The Police, you really can't avoid this release. And at $20, it's a no-brainer.

The Weekly Movie Phenomenon I Don't Understand. Twilight. I just don't get it.

The Weekly Kid's Book. In the interest of full disclosure, the publisher - Hyperion/Disney - sent me a copy of Madam President for review. See, Mia was very interested in this past presidential election and this book sounded right up her alley. So I agreed to provide a review, expectations set low. People, this book is awesome. It is succinctly describes the duties of an American president while injecting a great deal of quirky humor, engaging kids and adults. I kept cracking up while reading it to Mia. It's possible, actually, that I found this more amusing than she did. Regardless, this one's a keeper.

The Weekly Schadenfreude. The execs of the big three automakers headed to Monkeytown just the other day asking for a bailout. How did they get to Monkeytown, you ask? Private jet. They were appropriately grilled about it. Here are my favorite quotes.

Gary Ackerman, democrat from New York: "There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses. It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious. Couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."

Brad Sherman, democrat from California, asked each of the three CEOs to "raise their hand if they flew here commercial. Let the record show, no hands went up. Second, I'm going to ask you to raise your hand if you are planning to sell your jet in place now and fly back commercial. Let the record show, no hands went up."

You know, it's estimated that approximately 2.5 million people will be out of work if the auto industry in this country fails. And if it does, you have three greedy, private jet-flying individuals to blame for it. Sure, they're not single-handedly responsible for the downfall of the industry but they sure didn't make it easy to save either.

The Weekly Not-So-Hypotheticals. Should the US auto industry get bailed out? And why in god's name did I agree to a 6:30 AM meeting in Monkeytown on a Friday?

Posted by Chris at November 21, 2008 5:13 AM

Answer to your questions: absolutely not and... there's a 6:30 in the AM now?

Also: I don't believe I've ever commented here before, but I love your blog. It pops up in my reader just after supper (living on the other side of the globe) and I always look forward to it. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this, but keep up the good work!

Posted by: m. at November 21, 2008 5:55 AM

My first instinct is to say no, we should not bail out the Big 3. My husband told me he heard somewhere that we have to consider making sure we have a viable US car manufacturer in case of war (the need to make military vehicular equipment, etc.) I don't think I've changed m mind but then again I'm not sure I fully understand it all. Does anyone?

Posted by: Shelly at November 21, 2008 5:55 AM

No we should not bail them out. I just like any other company, they should be fiscally aware of what's going on with their business and aware of what's going on in the world and what people want. Do people REALLY want ANOTHER friggin humongo SUV? NO, and if they do there's already a gazillion out there to choose from. People today want something economical and one that could potential run on something other than gasoline but I think the auto industry is in the hip pocket or vice versa of the oil industry and they will never let it happen.
Put some responsibilty on the backs of the top dogs making all the money.

Posted by: NancyJak at November 21, 2008 7:07 AM

The auto bailout is a tough one seeing as I live in Michigan. We've been feeling the economic effects of the automakers' bad decisions for a lot longer than the rest of the country (and the world). So my first self-centered instinct is to say bail them out. But I don't think that will work because where do you draw the line? Why bailout the banks and AIG, but not the automakers? And if you bailout the automakers, what about the airlines or the technology industry or small businesses?

At some point, I think the government has to sit back and let the market correct itself, no matter how painful it is.

Posted by: Carolyn at November 21, 2008 7:11 AM

Easy - you're the crazy. Thank goodness you're also talented...

Posted by: alektra at November 21, 2008 7:13 AM

Fuck the auto industry - you make a bad financial decision, you pay for it like normal people. I'm tired of this bullshit!

Although, I drive a Chevrolet and I'm sort of concerned. But bailout, please.

Posted by: Stephanie at November 21, 2008 7:16 AM

I live in michigan too...and watch as people leave to find a job... but... should we bail out the auto companies? (and i come from a lot of autoworker family/friends)... i say no... like they said in monkeytown... if they start cutting at the TOP instead of the workers... things may have not ended up this way... sell the jets... sell the multi-million dollar homes... give some of what you take away from the little guy back! they didn't even jet-pool? give me a break!

Posted by: the unicorn at November 21, 2008 7:20 AM

States: I'm going to smile every time I see/hear Ohio from now on.

Schadenfreude: Mine is MTA. WTF? They are raising the fair again, but cutting service!

Hypothetical: 1) No. 2) Because you have lost your mind. Why did I offer to do several photo shoots before sunrise the week of December 1st?

Have a great weekend.

Posted by: Maria at November 21, 2008 7:39 AM

Poissonally, I think they should bundle those 3 execs up in a wad of burlap and toss them into a freight car with some pigs or some really POINTY metal parts or sumpin'. Let 'em rattle and roll all the way home wondering if they will ever get home alive...

I drive a Toyota and I am thinkin' hard about roller blades, through the whole grocery thing would be pretty sucktastic in February.

Posted by: Julia at November 21, 2008 7:48 AM

The Weekly Not-So-Hypotheticals. Should the US auto industry get bailed out? And why in god's name did I agree to a 6:30 AM meeting in Monkeytown on a Friday?

***As someone whose business is closely related to the auto industry, so much so that our CEO emailed us all a nice little email urging us to all write our senators to ask that they bail out the big 3 so it doesn't affect our business, I promptly did as I was told. I emailed Senator Sununu, Senator Gregg (his email was so full it bounced back undeliverable), and Rep Carol Shea-Porter and promptly told them to NOT bail out the auto industry. The big three (Ford, Chrysler and GM) are failing of their own making. They are run too much by the unions which I think have hindered them greatly, the fact that they just don't stay on top of the trends, The reason other automakers are successful (Toyota I'm looking at you) is that they make a superior car. The big three not making the use of robotics, and keeping up with our changing times, have made them where they are. Throwing money at a failing business model is just not good. What about all the other companies out there failing and if the government gives to these companies, how many more are behind them with their hand out. Sorry. The successful portions of their business, such as Cadillac, the Ford Truck division, will be bought up by other companies when they file. Not everyone will lose their job and I even would be okay with extending unemployment benefits to those that do get laid off. But ENOUGH IS ENOUGH Stop the bleeding and the fact that they were so arrogant as to all show up in private jets. While I understand this is a perk of being an executive Gary Ackerman had it totally right, you don't fly private jet (SEPERATELY FROM THE SAME PLACE) to beg for money. Poor taste.

Posted by: Deirdre at November 21, 2008 7:55 AM

Okay, first - I loved the book "Then We Came to the End" and am somewhat giddy that I finally read one before you for some reason.

Okay. Twilight. I don't know yet if the movie is worth the hype (I'll go see it tonight with my sister and mom!) - but I'll 'fess up to reading the Twilight series. Granted, it's not earth shattering writing - but from my experience, I just got sucked in to the books BECAUSE they are so easy to read. Natural curiosity to see if it translates to the big screen.

Big 3. Well, hell. I don't know. I live in Michigan and this state is just crumbling. Having said that, I don't know that a bail out would help. It really seems like time to relocate. (And as long as I'm relocating, I'm going to get the hell away from snowy climate).

Posted by: Sarah at November 21, 2008 8:11 AM

Okay, first - I loved the book "Then We Came to the End" and am somewhat giddy that I finally read one before you for some reason.

Okay. Twilight. I don't know yet if the movie is worth the hype (I'll go see it tonight with my sister and mom!) - but I'll 'fess up to reading the Twilight series. Granted, it's not earth shattering writing - but from my experience, I just got sucked in to the books BECAUSE they are so easy to read. Natural curiosity to see if it translates to the big screen.

Big 3. Well, hell. I don't know. I live in Michigan and this state is just crumbling. Having said that, I don't know that a bail out would help. It really seems like time to relocate. (And as long as I'm relocating, I'm going to get the hell away from snowy climate).

Posted by: Sarah at November 21, 2008 8:11 AM

Amen on Twillight. Maybe I will stay out of the sun and file my teeth a bit. Then I will get it.

Posted by: DC Urban Dad at November 21, 2008 8:27 AM

At least you'll miss rush hour traffic!

As to the auto-bailout, here's the thing. I know enough to know that I don't know enough about the economy to have an intelligent opinion on the subject. I will ask my CPA husband for his thoughts.

From a personal standpoint, Hubby's father, uncles and grandfather all worked their entire careers for GM. Their pensions, health care, etc. are all provided for by GM. They are SCREWED in every way imaginable if GM goes bankrupt. They are all hard-working people who worked in a lousy factory for over 25 years each, who should now be enjoying their golden years, but instead are laying awake at night worrying about their future.

This isn't the kind of thing that is supposed to happen in America -- but, now it is. Thanks, Bush.

Posted by: Robyn at November 21, 2008 8:43 AM

Seems to me that "bailout" is becoming trendy.

I'll place wagers that the NYC Transit Authority is next. Buggers are doing another fare hike...a big year.

Posted by: jessica at November 21, 2008 8:47 AM

Soooooo, the bailout. From a political perspective I give a big hell NO to the idea. But above and beyond that, from a business perspective, I just don't understand how a bailout would do anything more than prolong the inevitable at a HUGE cost to the taxpayers. From what I understand, this initial bailout would "keep the lights on" at the big three until sometime this Spring, which doesn't seem like nearly enough time to entirely turn a failing company around. So we'd either be looking at Bankruptcy then, or they'd be coming back with their tin cups for more taxpayer dollars, and THEN what? I think Pelosi and The Gang are asking the CEOs to come back the first week in December with a detailed plan, and at that point they'll decide whether a bailout would be beneficial. But really, I think the right way to save the auto industry is for the companies to declare bankruptcy and work on an effective plan for the future.

Posted by: chatty cricket at November 21, 2008 9:15 AM

There are a few interesting thoughts on the Big 3's CEOs and their Gulfstreams in the comments of this post at one of my favorite weblogs. There are quite a few interesting posts on the bailout in general found in his past week to two of posts, as well.

I don't actually believe we have the option of NOT bailing out Detroit, but the whole thing makes my skin crawl.

Detroit has spent YEARS being willfully out of touch and staggeringly obtuse, and there's a big part of me that thinks they should have to suffer the consequences. In the end, though, the reality of the situation is that it's not the CEOs who will suffer.

Posted by: Elise at November 21, 2008 9:21 AM

I loved "Then We Came to the End!" When I read it, I was working at an ad agency in Chicago, and could really identify with most of the people. As a media buyer, the description "they" had of the folks in my job cracked me right up. Great book.

Posted by: SpaceCase at November 21, 2008 9:29 AM

I just had to say something cuz I'm firmly seated on the Twilight bus HA! I originally bought the series for my 13 year old daughter and there they sat on her nightstand. I ran out of books for myself to read one night and kept hearing about adults loving Twilight as well. I was curious about all the hype sooooooo I went into her room, grabbed the first one and was up literally all night reading it. I read the next 3 (and did nothing else) for the next 4 days. OMG, maybe you have to be a girl but LOVE LOVE LOVE them. I compare it to the whole Titanic craze way back's like an impossible romance, ya know? Irresistible. Ok I'll stop (I could go on mind you but...yeah, I'll stop :)

Have a great weekend!!!

Posted by: Shannen at November 21, 2008 9:37 AM

No. I mean, if the government is handing out bailouts left and right, where do I sign up? Lord knows they never reward me for making stupid financial decisions.

Twilight: I'm a member of an LJ community that exists to mock the series and the movie. One of those things you love to hate deals. It's been hilarious reading their reviews of the movie. Apparently the camera work is horrendous, going in and out of focus for no reason at all, zooming in waaay too close to the actors' faces. I'm going to see it in the next week, I think, but mostly because they're playing the HBP trailer before it and I want to see that on the big screen. (We won't discuss how pissed I am that HBP isn't out today.)

And in response to your question: because your evil twin agreed to it.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at November 21, 2008 9:37 AM

Did they come in three separate jets or did they jet-pool? Bastards.

While I agree that it was probably the stupidest and most avaricious thing I've seen lately (and that's saying something) the millions of people who will be put out of work is hard to justify. How about, we bail out the companies, with the caveat that these guys and their minion are told to trade in their jets for a used Chevy Malibu and a pink slip.

Posted by: Candy at November 21, 2008 9:43 AM

you are a man. you are not supposed to get Twilight.

Posted by: ali at November 21, 2008 9:50 AM

Dude, 6:30 am? I'm too inchoerent at 6:30 am for meetings.

The auto industry bailout is a really hard question. I've been going back and forth on it in my mind. On the one hand they ran their businesses poorly, took every chance they could to ship jobs overseas and kind of deserve to fail. On the other hand, the people who work in the auto industry (not the management) don't deserve to lose their jobs and benefits. What about all of the people who depend on those companies for their pensions and insurance? And can our struggling economy take a hit that big?

Can you tell I can't make up my mind?

Posted by: bad penguin at November 21, 2008 10:03 AM

who is gonna bail ME out?
(isn't everyone asking this question?)

Posted by: Holly at November 21, 2008 10:04 AM

Thanks on the book recommendations. I'll ask for both this Christmas.

Yes, I think the auto companies need a LOAN (as in, repayable). The auto industry is the heart of America. There are millions of people who are directly supported by it. And it trickles. If you can't transport people and merchandise in America, everything falls apart.

And yes, I think the planes were a bit much.

Posted by: Brad at November 21, 2008 10:05 AM

why don't we bail out all the people that have lost their jobs or will lose their jobs instead? i don't think we should bail out the auto industry, but couldn't we bail out the workers' pension plans, etc? i'm just tired of being told the trickle-down effect is someday going to work...

Posted by: kati at November 21, 2008 10:20 AM

No one bailed me out when I screwed up my finances so badly from drinking and living my alcoholic existence. I worked my ass off to get things back in line. I expect businesses to do the same.

Posted by: k8 at November 21, 2008 10:27 AM

There have been a lot of great comments here already that mirror my Big 3 thoughts. So, no, and I'll leave it at that.

OK - I'm curious to see Twilight, but probably won't unless I decide to go alone in the next 2 days. And, like another reader, grumbly that HBP isn't out today. That said, the Twilight series is a guilty pleasure. The writing is awful. The heroine pathetic. But I can't put them down. I started because, well, we know I work in a high school. It's all the rage and I had to know what the rage was about - I've gotta be able to relate, man. :-) Now I'm sucked in (pun intended?). It's even spurred me to go back and watch Buffy (I own all 7 seasons - I'm a nerd).

Posted by: kate at November 21, 2008 10:28 AM

I am torn about the automakers. As someone from Michigan, it's impossible not to think about Flint and Detroit and imagine similar destruction of many more communities in that state. But at the same time, a massive reorganization NEEDS to take place to make those companies profitable and competitive in a tough market and it doesn't seem like that's something the management is willing to do or the unions are willing to make some concessions on.

It's like being a Lions fan right now. I really want them to win at least ONE game this season, but do they have to do it with Culpepper? I am torn in all kinds of Detroit ways lately.

Posted by: NGS at November 21, 2008 10:33 AM

Thanks for the book recommendation (Madame President). Leda also got interested in the presidential election and her Daddy is a political junkie, so it's a perfect Christmas present for both of them!

I figure both Brock and I will have it memorized by March! Along with every other book in this house that the kid loves!

Posted by: cyndy at November 21, 2008 11:02 AM

I have nothing to say about bailouts anymore other than 1) they have brought out my deep-down Republican side which is all FREE MARKET TO THE DEATH! and 2) I can't listen to news stories about them anymore because they are mortgaging my great-great-great-grandkids futures and I've written to all my congresspeople but they won't listen to me and aaaaaahhhhhh! Makes me way too crazy and scared. I think you could say I'm anti-bailout.

In other news, it still baffles me how much you read. I only have one kid and I commute less than you, so why does it take me 6 weeks to get through a single (small, simple) book? So mysterious.

Posted by: Alias Mother at November 21, 2008 11:06 AM

The North American auto makers asking for money makes me angry! I drive a foreign vehicle because it has a better reputation. Why can they just make Fords and GMs that work as well as Hondas and Toyatas?

Posted by: Heather at November 21, 2008 11:17 AM

I think they should file chapter 11, renegotiate all their contracts, especially the ones with the UAW. Then, after they have done that, the government could help them out with some low interest loans. There is lots more I would love to tack on to this comment but hell, I'm lazy and besides, I'm just one of those people the government spends so much time ignoring. "We the people" yeahhhhhhh

Posted by: Jeff A at November 21, 2008 11:33 AM

They should, but their business model needs to be overhauled and subsequently regulated until they can prove that they're not going to revert to idiocy, i.e. more SUVs all the time, damn the torpedoes and the price of gas, full-speed ahead with the biggest and heaviest hunks of shit we can find.

Also, 6:30? Why?

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at November 21, 2008 12:16 PM

No, no they shouldn't. Not because I don't care about those workers...I do. A lot. But my town was DEVASTATED when GM closed shop there in the 80's. Flint, need I say more? They didn't give a rat's ASS about the workers then, when they shipped overseas and went robotic. Now we're supposed to believe they care about the little guy? Screw you, people. You can sink with your ship.

And if it really mattered, they'd have done what China and Germany have with the fucking TIMES, yo. Invested in alt fuels, not your private jets. I say let them fail, and everyone just start investing in Saturn.

Notice how Saturn isn't going under, and they are 100% US made and operated. Take a note, GM.

Posted by: Mr Lady at November 21, 2008 12:40 PM

I'm pretty sure Twilight is marketed to 14-year-old girls. Which you aren't. And (I assume) never have been. So that's probably why it doesn't appeal to you.

Posted by: Kalisa at November 21, 2008 1:33 PM

First, I try not to schedule anything--EVER--on Friday.

Second, I need to get me one of them automaker CEO jobs. I can run a company into the ground with the best of them.

Posted by: Gramps at November 21, 2008 2:31 PM

I don't get the Twilight thing either. I think maybe it's just a tween girl thing.

And ix-nay on the ailout-bay.

Happy Thanksgiving, by the way!

Posted by: coolchick at November 22, 2008 12:06 PM

The lessonary side of me says: DO NOT bail them out.

The practical side of me that knows the economy will collapse if we don't keep the auto businesses going says: Bail them out with harsh conditions for the near future.

Posted by: Poppy at November 23, 2008 9:27 AM

I've had that book on my list forever but still haven't gotten around to it. 'Dja see this?

Posted by: Karen at November 24, 2008 1:10 PM

Don't have money to buy some real estate? Worry not, just because it is achievable to receive the credit loans to solve all the problems. So get a term loan to buy everything you need.

Posted by: MarvaELLIOTT at August 5, 2010 11:13 AM