I got this email from a friend and thought it would make a good post. It’s long, but it backs up my Soap Opera Theory to a certain extent in so much as it demonstrates how a diatribe by one person can be adopted by many others unquestioningly due to his reputation. When you look into it and forget who wrote it, it loses a lot of its bite and looks like the ranting of just another dissatisfied soul. Not that there is anything wrong with people expressing their dissatisfaction with the state of things, but they really ought to have something besides reputation to back it up. Like logic and evidence, if at all possible.

I checked on the authenticity of the quotes attributed to Iacocca in this email and they are right out of the book. I noticed, however, there had been some pretty heavy editing as far as deleting some of the sentences and paragraphs. I do not have the book, but have read an unedited excerpt of the portion cited. I don’t think anything in here misrepresents Mr. Iacocca’s viewpoint but if anyone can find something in here that does take his comments out of context, I’ll be happy to correct the post. I included the email as I got it so anything in bold italics is not mine and should be considered the property of Lee Iacocca or whoever holds the rights to his book.

Since this post hits on so many subjects and is already over 3200 words, I can’t link to citations and post graphs and stuff, but a lot of this is covered in other posts or will be soon.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy!

The text from the email is in bold italics. My comments are just regular old plain font.

Remember Lee Iacocca, the man who rescued Chrysler Corporation from its death throes?  He’s now 82 years old and has a new book, ‘Where Have All The Leaders Gone?’.

(Actually, it’s not new – it came out in 2007)

Lee Iacocca Says:

‘Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder! We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, ‘Stay the course..’

(I find it funny that in 07, Iacocca was lamenting the fact that we couldn’t build a hybrid car but in 09 about a quarter of the cars I get behind are hybrid. Could it be that this “captain of industry” has forgotten that WE can build what there is a market for? When people expressed an interest in buying hybrids, people started building them.  It is usually when government wants us to have something, that it doesn’t get doesn’t because just because government WANTS there to be a demand for something, that doesn’t mean there will be. Let customers start asking for something, and viola! There it is.

Also, he rails about “corporate gangsters stealing us blind” while he doesn’t say a thing about the level of taxation in this country. We are paying $1.235 billion dollars a day on INTEREST payments alone for the federal debt and that is for FY 2008 – it’s going WAY up from there. And Iacocca says the CORPORATE gangsters are stealing us blind? What about the GOVERNMENT gangsters stealing us AND our kids blind? There are 13 million companies in the US,  around 15,000 of those are public. So you have some pretty bad apples in some of those but the vast majority of them are good guys out there doing the best they can to make enough money to make a profit and keep the majority of the people in this country employed. Put the bad guys in jail but don’t act like the few bad apples in the private sector is costing us (robbing us blind) anywhere NEAR what the government is.)

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America , not the damned, ‘Titanic’. I’ll give you a sound bite: ‘Throw all the bums out!’

(Hey, Lee, we did. It got worse.)

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore..

The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs.. While we’re fiddling in Iraq , the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving ‘pom-poms’ instead of asking hard questions.. That’s not the promise of the ‘ America ‘ my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

(The most famous postal workers are the ones that took a gun to work and shot the place up, too, Lee. So are you saying the Post office is slap full of homicidal maniacs? The most famous employees of colleges and universities are football coaches, too, does that negate the research and innovation going on in the labs and the classrooms?  That was obviously a statement made by a person losing touch with reality. Like I said before, the US is full of business leaders out there innovating day in and day out. The I-phone didn’t come from a Congressional committee. Nor did my GPS navigation device or microwave oven or satellite radio. There are new and wonderful things coming out every day but because it doesn’t lead the news he thinks it is less significant? What a populist!

As for Iraq, he is just repeating fallacies that got traction in the aftermath of the start of the war. We didn’t go there because of 9/11. We were at war with them since August 2, 1990. We initiated a cease fire on February 28, 1991 contingent on certain conditions. Iraq did not live up to those conditions. The UN issued numerous resolutions devised to get Iraq to comply. They didn’t comply and we decided to resume hostilities in order to back up the assertions of the resolutions instead of just sitting back with our feet on the desk talking theory. )

I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have. The Biggest ‘C’ is Crisis! (Iacocca elaborates on nine C’s of leadership, with crisis being the first.)

Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

On September 11, 2001, we needed a strong leader more than any other time in our history. We needed a steady hand to guide us out of the ashes. A hell of a mess, so here’s where we stand.

We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving.

(It was a lot bloodier for the enemy than us, but this was true at one time. The truth is, that instead of “staying the course” that he claims we were doing, we changed tactics and strategy and won the war in Iraq. At the time, however, the debate was between changing the strategy  and cutting and running – leaving Iraq to become a cesspool of corruption and terrorism. Iacocca’s side wanted to walk away – good thing his side lost the debate.)

We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country.

(That, also, was true then. But it’s been turbocharged since we ‘threw the bums out’ like he wanted.)

We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia , while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs.

(For every job we “lose” in manufacturing to Asia, we gain more than one in other industries.  With all that said, we still make more than any other country on earth – by far! See my post “Do we really make anything over here?”. When Thomas Jefferson was a running around out there, we had a society that focused on growing food. I’m sure he would be dismayed that we are buying so much food from overseas today but we switched from an agrarian society to a manufacturing society when manufacturing was cutting edge. When Iacocca was running around out there, we were a manufacturing society. That is changing. Now we have millions of people employed in the Information Technology industry that didn’t even exist 50 years ago. Before this recession, the unemployment rate was around 4.8% which is about as low as it’s going to get. If we were shipping so many critical jobs overseas, what the hell were all those workers doing? We have jobs over here. It is the government that makes them so hard to KEEP here. With one of the highest corporate taxation rates in the world, you are going to lose some businesses to other countries. But the same politicians who run the corporations out of the US sit there and call them “Benedict Arnold” corporations. We know who the real Benedict Arnolds are, though, don’t we?

As for “our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs”, he is mainly talking about the car companies that are bent over a barrel by the unions to provide unsustainable benefits for many “workers” who are not even working. And a lot of the health care costs being pushed onto the private sector is because the government plans like Medicare and Medicaid pay less than costs for services and the providers have to make that money up against the private industry. So when you get an aspirin for $50 at a hospital, you can thank Medicare for stiffing the hospital to the point where they have to get you to make up the costs of treating someone else. )

Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble.

(There was a coherent energy policy. It was “Get more energy”. But some people in power didn’t like that. They wanted to force the populace to demand less energy from available sources and increase demand for energy from unproven and undeveloped sources. When the government tries to outsmart the market, it makes everyone look dumb. )

Our borders are like sieves.

(I agree, but the consideration of having all these illegal aliens voting for one party or the other over-ruled the principle of the rule of law. This is an example of having all the necessary laws on the books but them being made impotent by a lack of will to enforce them. I never liked the idea of Congress trying to figure out what to do about illegal immigration, it had already been figured out. All they needed to do was tell the enforcement arms to enforce the damn laws. New laws that won’t be enforced are no better than old laws that won’t be enforced. WTF?)

The middle class is being squeezed every which way.

(Being squeezed by whom, Lee? By the government with its confiscatory tax rates. And not just the tax rates on this ill-defined “middle class”. When they raise the tax rates on a guy who might hire you or pay you more, THEY get the money – not you. So all these populists say they are taxing the “rich” more so you don’t have to pay more, but since you are being cut out before you could get the money to pay the taxes with, it’s kind of a moot point, huh? “Rich” people either buy stuff or invest their money. If they buy stuff, you make it and get the bucks. If they invest it, it goes to a bank to be loaned to the company you work for to buy more stuff for you to make. Somehow, people have been convinced that rich people tuck all that money in a mattress and take it out of circulation. Government takes it out of market directed circulation and puts it into government directed circulation. This only works out for you if you are in a favored class by the government in charge at the time. Forget tomorrow, it’ll change.)

These are times that cry out for leadership.

But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: ‘Where have all the leaders gone?’ Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.

(Hey, Lee, those people are at WORK! They are making things work out there all day – every day. Are you upset because they’re not sitting up there in New York talking to Geraldo or Anderson? This is sheer elitism. The country is led from other places than Washington D.C and New York. The nation is supposed to be led by the people – you know, all that “by the people, for the people” stuff. Or is that just an arcane notion to you and your “preferred class”?)

Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?

(They are out there, but they are ignored in the name of “fairness” and “diversity”. In other words, you took the security from the private sector and gave it to the government, and now you bitch that it’s being run like a government agency. Be careful what you ask for.)

We’ve spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we know how to do is react to things that have already happened.

(A lesson to be learned there – maybe a “huge new bureaucracy” is not the answer. So quit asking for it.

Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm.

(See, Iacocca’s answer to pretty much everything is “Congress”. I can name some people who COULD have emerged as leaders after Katrina – Nagin, Landrieu, Blanco. But they punted to the federal government and escaped most of the richly deserved blame that should have been theirs.  I can tell you that when New York was hit by two terrorist attacks in lower Manhattan, Giuliani “emerged” as a leader because he didn’t sit on his ass and wonder what Bush was gonna do to fix it. And he didn’t see those planes coming for three or four days before they hit, either. That was leadership that couldn’t be faked.)

Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.

(Right! That is the job of the people on the ground. Sitting there in your own community HOPING somebody 1000 miles away has a plan is no plan at all. Put the blame and responsibility where the blame and responsibility belongs.)

Name me an industry leader who is thinking creatively about how we can restore our competitive edge in manufacturing. Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when ‘The Big Three’ referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?

(Ya know, Lee, not every industry leader is a household name. Not every company does what you do and sits on their ass and wants Washington D. C. to pull their ass out of a fire. Those guys are out there because, despite what you might believe, a bunch of industry leaders out there are not sitting on $100 million contracts. Some of them have to maintain their edge to maintain their livelihoods. I know it’s happening, Lee, because not every industry out there is being dictated to by the unions how to run their business like yours was. What did you do to stop that? Apparently, not enough. Easier to sit with your feet up and write a book about what everybody else isn’t doing, huh?)

Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debit, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening. But these are the crises that are eating away at our country and milking the middle class dry.

(Your problem is you ALWAYS look to the government.  You used to not be like that, Lee. Tell you what, name me a government leader that could create and fight for the Mustang. Anybody, Lee? No, that’s because the government didn’t come up with the Mustang – Shelby did and you raised hell until Ford built it. How many billions of dollars have been transacted because of what you and Shelby did? How many thousands of jobs were created? How much freaking government was involved in that, Lee? Remember, government doesn’t have to do it all. As a matter of fact, had government been involved, you KNOW the Mustang would never have been built. You and Shelby and the Market built it, Lee. But the market and private enterprise isn’t good enough for you anymore, is it? You got yours, let everybody else figure out theirs while you sit up there and bitch.)

I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on NBC news or CNN news will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?

(What do you want Congress to do? Pass more impotent laws or pass more effective laws? After 200 years, don’t you think we have enough laws? Maybe tweak some to fit into the new technology but, damn! I’d rather have Congress do nothing than keep pissing in the pool like they usually do. Just another example of Iacocca looking to D.C. for all the answers.)

Had Enough? Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here.  I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope – I believe in America . In my lifetime, I’ve had the privilege of living through some of   America ‘s greatest moments. I’ve also experienced some of our worst crises: The ‘Great Depression,’ ‘World War  II,’ the ‘Korean War,’ the ‘Kennedy Assassination,’ the ‘Vietnam War,’ the 1970’s oil crisis, and the struggles of recent years culminating with 9/11.

(You only believe in American government, Lee, not America. Those terms are not interchangeable. America has proven that it can do anything and do it better than anyone else. American government has proven the opposite. Look at it this way, the more government involvement we have in the rest of America, the less America gets done. But you want more of the productivity killer that is government so you can bitch about the death of productivity. Once again, WTF?)

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this: ‘You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action. Whether it’s building a better car or building a better future for our children, we all have a role to play. That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a “Call to Action” for people who, like me, believe in America ‘. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s shake off the crap and go to work. Let’s tell ’em all we’ve had ‘enough.’

(When a mechanic has a child on the operating table, he accomplishes nothing by pushing the surgeon out of the way to do the procedure himself. Right, doing nothing is bad. But the wrong person trying to do the right thing is often times worse. Quit expecting bureaucrats to solve all the problems. Put them back in their place and out of the way of the people who can get the job done. Only then will you get anywhere.)

Make your own contribution by sending this to everyone you know and care about. It’s our country, folks, and it’s our future. Our future is at stake!!

Yeah, whatever…