Mutt and Jeff

I was in graduate school in the 1970s. My car was a Plymouth Duster.  If the weather was wet and rainy, the choke in the carburetor would stay tightly closed. To start the car, I would hold the choke open by sticking a pencil in the carburetor.

It could have been worse; I could have owned a Fiat. Many mornings, my friends who owned a Fiat would call me up and asked me if I could drive them to work. The number of systems that were continually failing in their Fiat was staggering. In comparison, I felt fortunate to own a Chrysler. In 1982, in part because of the poor quality of their cars, Fiat fled the American market.

The quality of Chryslers and Fiats, in comparison to other cars, hasn’t changed much. This Tuesday, according to the Wall Street Journal, “Chrysler and Italy’s Fiat confirmed they had reached an agreement on an alliance that would give Fiat a 35% stake in the American company. Fiat would not put any cash into Chrysler but would provide technology and vehicles that Chrysler could build and sell in the U.S.”

Just what Americans need—the marriage of Chrysler and Fiat engineering! In normal times, when we are not facing the human suffering caused by failing businesses, we could be amused by the buffoonery of these automobile executives.

But these are not normal times and here is the punchline for the taxpayers—“the deal between Chrysler and Fiat becomes binding only if Chrysler gets $3 billion more in financial help from Washington.” In other words, via Chrysler, Italian automakers will pick our pockets too.

I have railed against all types of useless government expenditures, but this ranks high on my outrage scale. In a shrinking automobile marketplace, the probability of success for a marriage of two of the worst automakers on this planet is zero!

Mutt and Jeff was the first daily comic strip in the United States. The characters were misfits who were constantly involved in get-rich-quick schemes. The strip ended its run about the same time Fiat exited America. This alliance between Fiat and Chrysler is a Mutt and Jeff type of get-rich-quick scheme hatched by their executives.  Look for the private holders of Chrysler—Cerberus Capital Management—to take this taxpayer money and run with it like common thieves by trying to unload their stake.

Yes, thieves. There is no way that American taxpayers would voluntarily give $3 billion to support a Fiat/Chrysler alliance. What’s next? Mandatory purchases of their cars?

My son, an aspiring comic author/artist, advises me that my comparison of Chrysler and Fiat to Mutt and Jeff is unfair. Mutt and Jeff may have been scheming for the quick buck, but they weren’t thieves.

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3 Responses to Mutt and Jeff

  1. Update: From Chrysler exec sees automaker ‘viable’ by spring:

    “A top Chrysler LLC executive says the automaker should be viable by springtime because of its restructuring, introduction of new and improved vehicles, and higher sales due to loosened credit and sweetened incentives for buyers.”

    Of course what Jim Press didn’t mention is that: “The struggling Chrysler has received $4 billion in government loans so far to hold off bankruptcy, and it expects to get $3 billion more after it files a viability plan with the government by Feb. 17.”

    So let’s be direct. A business that needs to steal $7 billion from the taxpayer is not “viable”. That the press reports Chrysler’s ridiculous assertions as news is disgusting. This is not news but self-serving nonsense.

  2. igli1969 says:

    Someone already thought of the mandatory purchases:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2008/12/09/a-message-to-boing-b.html
    Of course they are theives. The executives, the union leaders, even some of the dealers, in my experience. Too bad they’re getting treated like the prodigal son instead of Carthage.

  3. e says:

    Sometimes, I don’t get the point of some of these posts. Emotional, yes. Pointed? Yes. I get that you are railing against useless government expenditures. Check. Check. Emphatically get it. My father always coached us up. He’d say, “don’t complain; do something about it.” Don’t like sitting on the bench? Practice more. Become the best at the skill position so they have to start you. Don’t have money? Go get a job. So my question is… I get you’re angry at Chrysler and Fiat merging. Two useless organizations doing more useless things. Getting taxpayer money to do it too. Are you doing anything about it though? Called your representative? Appear at a fundraiser and called them out? Most of my friends are doing something about it. Me, I’m not angry enough about it to really care. I have other issues to worry about (like raising capital).

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