Ross Perot for Car Czar: 8 Reasons to Sic Mr. Reform on the Big Three

The Great Detroit Bailout of 2008 is nearing status as a done deal. Reuters covers the possible outcomes quite well. Coyote Blog and CFR have good reasons the bailout shouldn’t happen in the first place.

I’m not going to focus on the many reasons giving a drowned man a lifesaver is pointless, because there’s something much more interesting afoot: The Car Czar (from Reuters):

In addition to providing loans, the proposal would force automakers to answer to a presidentially appointed trustee — or “car czar” — and make the government their biggest shareholder. The overseer will have powers to shape a restructuring of the companies, withholding further loans if progress toward a turnaround stalled.

Supposedly, the government is eyeing former Fed chairman and Obama economic advisor Paul Volcker for the job. It’s a bad choice, not because Volcker isn’t qualified, but because the country needs his brainpower focused on its aggregate survival, not the dynamics of keeping the Big Three afloat.

We need someone with the balls to strong-arm Detroit into shape.
We need someone with zero tolerance for corruption. We need someone with a keen eye for errors and cover-ups. We need someone with imperturbable tenacity.

We need Ross Perot. I know he’s 78 years old, but he has the verve of a man at least 20 years his junior. Here are 8 reasons Perot would make an ideal car czar:

1. He is the “Father of Fiscal Charts.”
Have you seen The man could measure and graph Dick Cheney’s disappearances, if he felt like it. If given the position of Car Czar, he would immediately set about quantifying the big mess that is the Big Three, adding an element of transparency as well as employing armies of out-of-work analysts.

2. He listens to customers.
Perot’s business advice:

Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.

Hear that, GM?

3. He has experience as a czar. In the early 1980s, Perot reformed Texas’ drug laws and education system. For the latter, he devised systems that held principals and teachers accountable for student performance, which he in turn standardized using tests. That kind of systemization might not be ideal for human education, but it sure would work well in manufacturing.

4. He exposes corruption. During the Regan years, Perot did not hesitate to privately investigate possible cover-ups around missing POWs in Southeast Asia. He publicly attacked the Department of Defense in the process. Perot isn’t afraid to play government watchdog, which is precisely what we need during times when the government requires transparency of everyone but itself.

5. He rallies for domestic jobs.
Perot opposes NAFTA and outsourcing, but supports the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), making him an ideal figurehead to rally for homegrown, green auto production.

6. He’s an activist. Consider this quote:

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river.

Perot’s notorious impatience will ensure the Big Three job gets done, fast. His popularity will keep eyes on himself and the industry. Heck, he may even make GMs worth buying again.

7. He’s a salesman. After restructuring the Big Three with the help of his many charts, Perot will know how to sell the revamped American automobile. He started his career as a star salesman for IBM; since then, he has politically sold himself as a popular Reform Party candidate, despite the challenges of doing so in a strongly bipartisan system.

8. He sat on GM’s board 24 years ago.
At that time, he complained about the cars’ low quality. GM eventually bought up his shares, but Perot’s convictions remain. He has a bone to pick with the way GM operates. Perhaps it’s time to unleash him on the Big Three once again. (Hank Paulson makes any mention of “conflict of interest” here moot.)

Who better to be Detroit’s Car Czar than a ruthless, effective control freak like Perot? He knows how to run a business, he knows how to whistle-blow, and he has a keen eye for whipping people into shape. If the government is serious about not giving the Big Three more than the $15 billion it has already promised, it’s time to call the Perot hotline.

  • Mark Parker

    If only we had a “czar” to slap the House and Senate members in line we would have something….to quote Mark Twain: “Imagine you were an idiot and in congress. But I repeat myself.”
    Somethings just don’t change!

  • Ever since the whole idea of a ‘car czar’ was mentioned, I was skeptical. Could not think of a single person who had the intestinal fortitude to get the auto industry in line (and call the loans if need be). Well, Drea…you found him. Now if we can only convince him to take the job.

    Thanks for the nice post!

  • william

    An even better car czar:

    Ralph Nader

  • I think you made your case very effectively. Let’s get him in there.

  • Great Idea – His family backed hedge fund is liquidating assets, lets give him someone elses (read taxpayers) money to play with.

    Better yet Ax the auto bail out bill….
    Plans for a “car czar” seem to still be included as part of the deal. So, not only will your money be spent for the bailout, it will be used to pay a new government appointee, staff his office, and take care of the other requirements that come along with that job. (It also gives them one more person to shift the blame to when the problems continue.)

    All of this is being done again, of course, out of “necessity,” we are told. Just like buying up all the toxic assets was a “necessity” until the Treasury got the money and decided to spend it on everything but. This is what happens when the majority of Congress is not guided by any philosophy other than the one that says that government can cure all of our ills with just a little more money (or billions more).

    A vote could come at any time, with signs pointing toward later today.

  • John MAson

    I always thought he would be a Great President and I voted forhim when he ran. Good business man.


  • MIke

    Yeah right. Someone who can slap school principals around and isn’t afraid of the DoD surely can fix this trivial problem.

    How about someone who actually understands something about cars?

  • What if cars aren’t consumable products? Why can dealerships only turn a profit based on strong service department numbers? Cars last longer? It was stated on the congressional floor over and over? GM taxes? Nope, not for years, and not for many more… People making 150k per year with two cars and a house are broke… Trapped. Just look at sales tax.. 6% of 30k = $1800 Plates $200 x five years + $1000… other fees at sale $500… That is up to $3,300 not the car sells in five years for 15k time 6% = 900.

    GM make a car and sells it… The government makes $4,100 (very conservative)
    $4,100 is Just under 14 % not a bad margin for no risk?
    9,020,000,000 What the governent took in for Just GM
    (2.2million cars sold in 2007.)

    I would challenge that these figures only represent around 20% of the money the us government takes in from the way americans behave with auto mobiles. If that figure is close, and I don’t have a clue, then we are talking around 45 billion dollars in revenue the government enjoys JUST From GM?

    Wonder why they they gave um a day in court?