Did Michael Moore foresee the problems at General Motors? No way!
Jun 2nd 2009 11:30AM
Updated Dec 4th 2009 1:37PM
In a column on TheDailyBeast offering his suggestions for saving the U.S. auto industry, filmmaker Michael Moore makes a pretty big claim: "Twenty years ago when I made Roger & Me, I tried to warn people about what was ahead for General Motors (GMGMQ). Had the power structure and the punditocracy listened, maybe much of this could have been avoided. Based on my track record, I request an honest and sincere consideration of the following suggestions ..."
Actually, the truth is pretty much the opposite: Had the industry paid more attention to Michael Moore, its demise would have come much sooner. If the industry had paid less attention, who knows, it might still be around. Sure, part of the problem for General Motors has been its inability to design cars that people want to buy -- but does Michael Moore really know anything about that? Moore's complaint that the company shouldn't close factories that were underperforming, and shouldn't look to make its cost structure competitive with lower-cost producers, is the typical "bury our heads in the sand and ignore globalization" populist rhetoric that has gotten us into so much trouble.
Roger & Me, for those who don't remember it, is really focused on the devastating impact of GM's decision to close a handful of plants in Flint, Michigan, putting 30,000 people out of work. Moore was never able to offer a compelling response to the critics who argued that the alternative to closing factories was to either bleed cash until the company was bankrupt or become a government-subsidized dinosaur.
It's not that Michael Moore's a bad guy; I think he's sincere and has created some very compelling documentaries. But for him to suggest that he "tried to warn people" about GM's sad future is disingenuous. Much like the executives he criticized, he was in denial about the trends that led to the company's demise.