Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mulally's been there, done that

Ford is reeling. It has the oldest fleet on the road. Its F series trucks and Explorers are getting hammered by high gas prices.

Alan Mulally made a big contribution at Boeing by cutting production times on the 787 and shortening product rollout schedules. Can he do the same at Ford?

It doesn't matter. Half a dozen automakers are scrambling for the dwindling American car market. This is no two-man fight as with Airbus and Boeing. GM is conducting a perpetual price war.

Toyota has grabbed the mainstream auto market and is now moving into trucks. (Toyota surpassed Ford in US sales in July for the first time in history.) Chrysler, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, and more.

U.S. automakers got hosed in the 1980s by not being ready for high gas prices and by the high dollar created by Reagan's big deficits. It happened again. Ford can turn it around twice and still lose half the troops before they take a hill.

By the way, - how long has Alan Mulally been on the job at Ford? It was announced yesterday, but my guess is a minimum three weeks.

I don't have any inside stuff, I just note that August 18th, Ford announced a slash in production that bears the Mulally stamp.

"Full details" of additional actions were to be announced in September. Otherwise the big "decline comment" on particulars. It's September.

Obviously Boeing knew he was leaving Chicago for Detroit. They had his replacements lined up and grinning.

And it makes sense for the new CEO to avoid the Simon Legree label the first day on the job. Imagine what would have happened had Mulally been hired, then announced mass production cuts.

The sourest note on Mulally's trumpet was when he began to wave the flag.
"This is a United States icon, and Boeing is a United States icon, and some people think the United States can't compete in the design of products, and I think we can. We've shown that at Commercial Airplanes, and I think absolutely we've shown that at Ford."

The United States may have corporate bosses in the White House and Halls of Congress, but corporations have saved their benefits for a chosen few, not the rest of us.

At Boeing Mulally outsourced, downsized and even sent sensitive technology to Japan -- the wing for God's sake -- to be manufactured there.

The United States lost tens of thousands of jobs under Mulally so he could keep a corporate icon shining. When you think about it, it's a perfect illustration of the corporate subversion of the middle class economy.

And let there be no doubt in anybody's mind that under Mulally, Ford will close U.S. plants and open others elsewhere.

If patriotism is a Ford, expect to see Alan Mulally keep his Lexus.

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