“Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, Mao Zedong and Chevrolet.” That could be GM’s new slogan if recent comments by CEO Dan Akerson are taken to heart. Akerson shared a somewhat bizarre vision for GM in an interview with the Detroit News when he stated, “Whoever comes after me; it’s going to be a more important appointment than mine because he or she will have to carry on a cultural revolution here. It’s just like the Communist Party in China in the 1960s, there has to be a cultural revolution here.” These comments come just weeks after the Washington Times reported GM’s sponsorship of a Chinese Communist Party propaganda film.
There seems to be a strange dichotomy at GM as marketing hints at patriotic roots for the company while corporate vision exposes a viewpoint that the philosophies of Communist China are worthy of praise. Akerson also has described China in the past as GM’s “crown jewel.” I understand that China is an important market, but I don’t think that American taxpayers want the billions of dollars that they sunk into GM to pay for a vision that sees the company following the lead of the Chinese Communist Party.
So, how are sales at GM’s crown jewel? May year over year sales at the automaker declined 2.7% following a decline of nearly 5% in April. This is one more sign that GM’s vision is somewhat misguided.
Look, I’m no historian, but I don’t think that the Communist Party Cultural Revolution offers goals to aspire to. I don’t know exactly what Akerson is trying to say but these are not the comments a CEO of a major US publicly traded manufacturing company should be making. A movement that encouraged seizure of private property, socialism and human rights violations should not be celebrated and glorified by Akerson, particularly given that GM exhibited questionable conduct when it subordinated claims from groups like GM bondholders and accident victims as wealth was redistributed to the politically favored UAW in the GM bankruptcy process. When taxpayers spend billions of dollars to bail out a company that was once an American icon, they deserve better.