On the Fortune 500 list of 2006, GM is a distant third, two-thirds the size of Wal-Mart in sales. Rather than being the nation's most profitable corporation, it is reporting billions in losses. GM's share of the U.S. auto market has dropped from half to a quarter. More than one in three cars sold in the United States today have brands of either Japanese or Korean manufacturers.
Yet, the U.S. economy is booming, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has just reached an all time record high, and the national unemployment rate is lower than the average of the last forty years.
One hint at what is going on may be gleaned by scanning over the top 20 companies on the Fortune 500 list in 1955 and comparing them to 2006. In 1955, the top 20 were practically all manufacturing and natural resource firms. In 2006, the 20 are filled with retailers, banks, insurance companies, and technology firms.
We're now in a different world driven by global markets, services, and technology.
Granholm is doing neither the automobile industry, nor the citizens of her state, a favor by constructing a taxpayer financed government cocoon to try and preserve the remnants of the world of the 1950's in the 21st century.
Contrary to Granholm's moves toward government central planning, Michigan needs neutral and limited government and across the board slashing of taxes and regulation. The job of the state government is to provide basic services and protections and to get out of the way and put the responsibility of jobs and growth in the hands of entrepreneurs.
The Cato Institute's biannual report card of the nation's governors, just issued this week, provides further evidence that Granholm is not providing Michigan the leadership it needs. She received a grade of C, noting "Granholm has yet to realize what really ails Michigan is high taxes and too much industrial planning by government. Her first term contained far too much of both."
I think that Michigan voters should flip the governorship to Dick DeVos, who was president of Amway, co-founded by his father, and one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of recent years. As tempting as government handouts may be in the short run, Michigan voters and workers should be thinking about their future and their children's futures.
DeVos' blend of economic liberalism and social conservatism is the right recipe for bringing Michigan into the 21st century. What's good for the country is good for General Motors.