11.01.2008 0

The Big 3, Chicken Little, and the Vicissitudes of Life

  • On: 11/19/2008 10:05:16
  • In: Economy
  • By Carter Clews

    ALG Editor’s Note: “In The Big 3, Chicken Little, and the Vicissitudes of Life,” published on November 19th, 2008, ALG News incorrectly reported that all 170 Ann Taylor stores were being closed. This was mistaken. Not all Ann Taylor stores were being closed, and the correct number of stores being closed was 117.

    It’s time to send an urgent message to House Speaker Chicken Little and Senator Majority Leader Turkey Lurky about the vicissitudes of life: contrary to all of your self-indulgent fear mongering about the moribund auto industry, the sky is not falling.

    The truth is, even if the once-formidable Big Three evanesced into oblivion, the sky would still not come tumbling down – and chances are Americans would continue to drive to their collective hearts’ content. In fact, if the politicians will simply stay out of the way of domestic oil drilling, gasoline prices may continue to drop, and Americans may actually drive even more.

    How can we be so sure that the demise of the much-lamented Big Three won’t spell an end to modern transportation; that, in fact, just as many Americans will buy just as many other cars (or more) with novel new names attached to the grill?

    Well, here’s a hint: from 1929 until the late 1950s, the DeSoto was one of America’s best-selling automobiles. Who could forget the Firedome, Firesweep, Fireflite, and chrome-covered Adventurer?

    But, by 1960, “The Most Exciting Car in the World Today” had, for some reason fallen from the public’s favor. Sales had dropped by nearly 60%. And on November 30, 1961 – a day which shall live in automotive infamy – Chrysler announced the DeSoto’s demise.

    Now, here’s what’s really fascinating about that factoid of history: In 1961, when the DeSoto went the way of the Hollier, Maxwell, and Packard DeLuxe, there were 76,000,000 vehicles on the road. Then DeSoto went belly up, and—lo and behold—in 1962, there were 79,000,000 cars on the road. By 1968, the number had risen to 101,000,000. And today, there are more than 230,000,000 cars on the road. Very few of which, we hasten to add, are DeSotos.

    Are you starting to get the picture, Mr. Lurky and Madame Little?

    You see, when free markets are allowed to operate on their own, some companies fail, while others succeed. And those that fail are almost invariably replaced by better-equipped competition that better meets the consumers’ undiminished demand. So, in short, the sky is not about to plummet. The sunshine and clouds are merely shifting in the firmament. As well they should.

    But, let’s make the lesson even easier for the politicos to understand.

    We now have word that Circuit City is going bankrupt. So, does that portend an end to the computer era? One would think not. Ann Taylor just announced that she is shuttering 117 stores nationwide. So, will women go nude? Highly unlikely. K.B. Toys is shutting down 356 stores. So much for a Merry Little Christmas. Ethan Allen is closing 12 stores – which, we suppose, means we will all soon be sitting on the floor. And even old reliable Disney is calling it quits at 98 stores. So, does that mean, “Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company – M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E”? Well, hardly.

    Contrary to the highly vocal protestations of Chicken Little and Turkey Lurky, the sky is not collapsing. And even after the last GM, Ford, or Chrysler has gone the way of the DeSoto, fully clothed shoppers will hop in their alternative automobiles and drive to some nearby hi-tech store to buy cyber toys for under the tree as they sit nearby in a roomful of furniture and endure Mickey, Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie cavorting about in the background.

    So, let’s clear the air of the politicians’ wide-eyed fear mongering once and for all. The sky, in fact, is not falling. The sun, in truth, will come up, tomorrow. And you can bet your bottom dollar that somewhere, somehow, resilient Americans will find a way to take to the wheel on the wide-open road, and continue to see the U.S.A. — though perhaps not in their Chevrolet. Such are the vicissitudes of life.

    Carter Clews is the Executive Editor of ALG News Bureau.


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