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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bad Marketing

In India, the most successful beggars are those with the most pitiful deformities: lepers, cripples, the blind, and those missing limbs. When parents have a child who evokes sympathy this way, they often put him to work in the streets.

In this country as well, the most successful panhandlers are amputees or people with some other condition which sparks pity.

It turns out that the CEOs of the Big Three automakers, all of whom came to Washington D.C. with their hands out, each arrived via private jet.

This produces a reaction similar to the one you might have if a freshly manicured fellow in an expensive suit asked you for some spare change -- while leaning against his Mercedes. Rather than sympathy, he would provoke outrage, doubt about his judgment, and wonder at his nerve.

Which is pretty much the response the CEOs got from Congress.

Never mind the oversized cars with poor gas mileage, the bloated management ranks, or the overly powerful unions. It was the private jets that got everybody's attention.

Yes, it is common practice for CEOs of large companies to fly in private aircraft and enjoy all manner of other perks. But couldn't they have made the sacrifice of flying commercial for just this one trip? The taxpayers whose money they want certainly fly that way.

The moral of the story: if you're going to be a beggar, try to at least look as if you deserve some sympathy.


Dave Moriarty said...

the autos guys are using same stragety of bush administration predcit disatser and sell fear -to justify soemthing you want.

instead of weapons of mass destruction we found out they cant mae a taoster and hate each other so much they don't have time to bother with us

but ben stein mentioned his view is to let the automakers go down is a disater so.. there are sides to the view but isnt capitalism supposed to work to efficiently allocate resources to winners not losers

John Craig said...

Dave -- Thanks for your comment. I say let 'em go bankrupt (and let Cerberus eat their investment) so they can get out of those ruinous union contracts. If they want help from the government at that point, do it with the caveat that they need new (and sparser) management and also with the condition that they accept higher CAFE standards.