Update: Outrage Over Auto Execs’ Corporate Jets Prompts Silliness

Here’s another update on a recent blog entry. Last week I blogged about Bailouts, Corporate Jets, and Moral Outrage. For those of you who missed the story, it was about the furor caused when the CEOs of Ford, GM, and Chrysler flew to Washington on private jets to ask Congress for a bailout. The incongruity caused some people (including some members of Congress) to rail at the apparent irony of it. I suggested that moral outrage might be out of place, but that a more thoughtful question might be whether the apparent insensitivity of that particular voyage was part of a larger pattern; if so, the pattern would be a more suitable target for criticism.

Apparently the CEOs have seen the error of their ways. Here’s the latest.
GM, Ford CEOs taking company cars to Washington

Eager to avoid another scathing lecture about corporate excess from members of Congress, the CEOs of America’s two biggest automakers will travel to Washington this week in hybrid vehicles made by their companies.
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally left for Washington Tuesday afternoon, driving in a Ford Escape small sport utility vehicle that runs on gas and electricity, while General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner will travel in a hybrid Chevrolet Malibu.

This is, of course, slightly ridiculous. Hard to blame the CEOs for the silly demonstration that they really really really understand fiscal restraint, given the public spanking last week. But still. Silly. The details are particularly hilarious. For example, it’s not enough that they’ll be going by car. They have to actually drive. Like, they have to be behind the wheel, for some reason:

Ford and GM announced that Wagoner and Mulally would drive, with both CEOs taking the wheel for at least part of the roughly nine-hour, 520-mile trip.

Is that actually important? This sounds more like a college-kid road trip than a trip to lobby Congress. Gee, I wonder what CD’s they’ll listen to along the way? Are they going to stop for donuts and coffee? Enquiring minds want to know. But alas, details are being kept hush-hush:

GM spokesman Tony Cervone would not say if Wagoner would stop along the way or even when he would depart, in part for security reasons and also to avoid being followed by reporters.
“There’s a lot of security concerns. There’s also the idea of a circus that we’re trying to avoid,” Cervone said.

No no, wouldn’t want to look silly.

4 comments so far

  1. Paul on

    Saturday Night Live had a very funny take on this road trip, playing on the unreliability of American cars. Excerpt of it here:

  2. Suresh Kumar G on

    Now, this is what we can call over-reacting. And it is the opposite of what we were expecting. Depend on the high and mighty to do the unexpected. What do they expect to gain from this exercise? Not mileage, I hope. Rick and Alan have a lot of growing up to do, it seems.Surely, this could be a case for the OB theorists.

  3. David Bevan on

    Please can we not overlook Rosbeth Moss Kanter’s 1983 insight, that “what’s wrong with General Motors is wrong with America” (page 313, “The Change Masters” Simon & Schuster.) We were warned.

  4. […] and monkeys working as waiters and the ethics of soccer balls. I’ve written about the auto industry, the wind industry, and the donut industry. I’ve written things that were pretty […]


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