Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Auto landscape undergoes huge change

There’s a weather low just a few miles from here, and although this will be a pretty nice day, it says in fine print, this old body doesn’t like those low pressure systems to be so close. Nevertheless, it’s senior fitness day for me and I indeed spent my exercise time trying to be productive. And I was. In fact it was one of the better days of recent sessions. I did my whole routine with relative ease and if the weather holds, I’ll probably attempt to ramp it up a notch Thursday.

Yesterday was a little sad for many people. Although totally not unexpected after all the buildup of the last several weeks, GM bit that economic bullet and declared bankruptcy. The company and the government, which is funding the reorganization, are both optimistic it will return to its greatness.

Getting the people to gain faith in the new company just might be a difficult task. However, people with GM stocks are going to take a huge hit. I’m not happy, either, as I have some GM in my retirement folio. Considering its worth, “had” probably would have been a better choice of words. This won’t break me, but it will probably cause an adjustment.

Wife Gator and I were talking Sunday evening about how the faces of car dealerships in this area have changed over the years. So many of the family owned companies with which we were familiar in our growing up years in the 1940s and ‘50s are long gone. Two or three of them sort of remain, but the small family atmosphere has disappeared as they have undergone new ownerships and added more lines and outlets.

There was a very nice story in yesterday’s Portland newspaper about one small family owned dealership that had successfully survived but was notified by General Motors recently that it will become one of those losing their affiliation after so many great years. Under the same family ownership for decades, the current family members say Sebago Lake Garage will stay in business in some way. The article indicates they have built up a very good and loyal following over the years.

Back in the 1940s when I was a pre-old enough-to-have-a-car age, my buddies and I used to ride our bikes to the various local dealerships to see the new cars as they came out and to get fodder to continue our daily debate on which car was the best. Among us were great supporters of just about every make and, of course, the defenders of each generally were those whose families owned a particular car. My family had been Chevrolet owners for as long as I can remember.

As I’ve said in an earlier post here when it was first speculated that GM was heading for bankruptcy, I’m not sure my dad ever owned anything but a Chevy. My first memory of a family car was a pre-WW II Chevy and the last car my dad owned before he passed in 1976 was a Chevy.

After many years of the friendly arguments with friends that the “best car” was a Chevrolet, my first car was a 1941 Ford Coupe which I bought in the early 1950s when I turned 15, then old enough to drive. My next car was a used 1951 Oldsmobile I bought to get to back and forth from college. My senior year at Florida was the first time I owned a Chevy when I bought a 1955 Bel Air. And that, my friends, was perhaps one of the best cars I’ve ever owned.

And now all those old friendly young people discussions of which was the best car takes on a whole new meaning. Today’s cars aren’t those great old ones; and the new General Motors I’m afraid won’t bring them back.

The national debate on government run health care is now in full debate. If you read this place with any consistency, you already know how I feel about it. People have no concept of how much national health care will cost us in taxes and how bad our care will become because they simply don’t want to listen to people in other parts of the world. My Canadian friend can tell you horror tales of how sick and injured people in Canada are treated and how much they pay for taxes. And the scariest thought is having some government person, and not my doctor, deciding on my health treatment.

I may visit this again a few times over the next several weeks, but I heard on the news over the weekend one of the arguments for national health care that simply is a total, ridiculous falsehood. One of the proponents of the plan at a rally in Augusta said this country needs government run health care to get rid of the bureaucracy. I’m not sure just what pile of sand his head has been in, but absolutely nothing the government does is done without developing a huge bureaucracy that eats up more tax money than that which it purports to solve uses.

Doubt me? Check out the bureaucratic cost of Maine’s Dirigo. By the way, this guy was being quoted in a story on WCSH-TV over the weekend.


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