Posts Tagged ‘penny wise pound foolish’

It’s been exhausting watching the mantra of “stockholder value” gnaw the life out of companies and communities over the years. Profitable plants closed just to show that cost-cutting was “serious”, groups of experts and specialized equipment dismantled because quick returns are ‘easier’ if you just gut and devour a start-up every few months.  If the only goal is to make money for shareholders, does it matter what you do to enrich them?  Why bother with products, or employee care, or safety, or keeping your forecasts pegged to something that improves the lives of people other than the CEO, the lobbyists, and the Accounting Department? Centuries worth of intellectual and cultural capital sacrificed for a botched civilization….bottom line.

I don’t know if this model will be better in the long run, but this crazy idea of making good products and having happy, loyal customers sounds like a valuable change….



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Oh, any number of topics have sprung to mind while I’ve been driving: grumbling about GM’s industrial design choices, the quality of local roads, the easily-eroded border between routine and chaos…

And these come together, roughly, when I hit a pothole.

The asphalt mix around here is optimized for milder winters, and the unusual combinations of hard freezes, thaws, and precipitation types have combined to create some truly impressive divots/ruts/axle-breakers.

Saturn LogoI say ‘axle-breakers’, but I am not fearing for my car’s axles. I’m thinking of my Saturn’s ignition cylinder, that inconvenient little part that cost just enough to make GM opt for inaction, prioritizing their bottom line over the lives of drivers, passengers, and innocent bystanders.

For many people, the idea that a bump in the road could disable ones car is conveniently abstract. They’ve hit bumps before while driving their cars, and are none the worse for wear. They might think removing their keyfobs and other janglies from their ignition keys to be overkill.

Not so with me. I haven’t lost a loved one to this engineering fiasco, but I did once clip a curb on a rough patch of road one night when coming up off a highway… and my Ion went dead. An unfamiliar light flashed on the dash as everything went out, my brakes and steering were “gone”…. and I was heading straight towards a corner gas station.

Thank heaven no one else was in the area at the time. Thank heaven I’ve driven cars without power steering, and know that stomping down on the brakes is better than doing nothing. I wrenched the wheel as hard as I could and came to a stop in the lane between the pumps, rather than through one of the pumps.

I turned the car off and sat in the darkness for a while.

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