John Ransom

The first rule of taking public money is that by doing so you invite public scrutiny.

General Motors CEO Daniel Akerson should have acknowledged that when Congress raked him over the coals because his government-designed flagship car, the Chevy Volt, has the habit of bursting into flames after accidents.  

But instead he chose to imitate his own boss, car-designer-in-chief Barack Obama, and fire off angry, sulking whines that the public didn’t appreciate how great the car is.

“Volt is among the safest cars on the road, earning 5 Stars for occupant safety (with the NHTSA) and a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety,” he complained in a statement to Congress.

Had he left it at that, all would have been well.

Put then he had to go all incendiary.    

“Unfortunately, there is one thing we did not engineer,” he continued. “Although we loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art safety features, we did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag.”

Sure he did. Or, more precisely, he should have.

The moment GM asked the US taxpayers to save their company and to save their union, GM made the company a target, and rightly so. If they didn’t design everything after that to be a political punching bag, especially the car they let the president of the United States design, they get an “F” in engineering.  

If they’d like, the taxpayers- you know the rest of us that didn’t get a bailout- we can put the company right back the way we found it.  

Because right now, legally, General Motors operates as a subsidiary of the US Department of the Treasury, not as a normal public company. US taxpayers and their representatives in Congress have every right, and every obligation to question every penny that GM spends.   

As to being the safest car on the road: I suppose if you only measured car safety by gross weight on the road, it might qualify.

John Ransom

John Ransom’s writings on politics and finance have appeared in the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Colorado Statesman, Pajamas Media and Registered Rep Magazine amongst others. Until 9/11, Ransom worked primarily in finance as an investment executive for NYSE member firm Raymond James and Associates, JW Charles and as a new business development executive at Mutual Service Corporation. He lives in San Diego. You can follow him on twitter @bamransom.

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