(DETROIT) Feb. 19 — The economic crisis grew even deeper this week as the Big Three automakers appeared to fall short in their efforts to restructure, and several more high-profile companies announced a new wave of job cuts.
Drafts of the plans being drawn up by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler to show how they’re using bailout money approved in December to reorganize their business models were filed with Congress late Tuesday. Critics are already saying that Detroit is not going far enough to remake itself to face twenty-first century economic realities.
General Motors’ centerpiece involved reducing its brands from nine to four and retooling its plants to produce more of what the market seems to be demanding – specific motors rather than general ones.
“In the past, we have been guilty of building whatever motors we felt like on any given day, and hoping that someone somewhere would be interested in buying them,” said GM Chairman Richard Wagoner. “Lawn-mower motors one day, servo motors the next, then moped motors and Erector Set motors. We’re thinking now that if we build automobile motors more consistently, that might make better business sense. Then we could install them in all those surplus car bodies we have sitting around.”
Meanwhile, over at GM’s chief domestic rival, executives said their right-sizing efforts would include changing their name from “Ford” to “Third”.
“The math alone – reducing from four to three — tells you we’ll be able to save 25% on the expense side of our ledger,” said Ford CEO Alan Mulally. “To tell you the truth, we’d be happy to be third, instead of where we are now, which I think is somewhere in the twenties.”
Chrysler will also be announcing a name change, moving away from the “Christ sound” to something a little less ambitious. The firm will now be called Buddha-ler.
“If we can become one with a central consciousness, we stand a better chance of surviving in this difficult climate,” said Chrysler executive Bob Nardelli. “We’ll probably start by taking our portion of the bailout money and using it to ship all remaining PT Cruisers to a secluded cave high in the Himalayas.”
Meanwhile, a new round of layoff announcements seems certain to add to already-swollen unemployment roles.
Credit card giant American Express said it will pink-slip its entire corporate headquarters staff and replace workers with Roombas, the robotic vacuum cleaner.
Bank of America said that it will not only close every office west of the Mississippi, but that departing branch managers would also go out to whichever bank was next door and fire all those workers as well.
Starbucks said it has already down-sized its staff to a bare-bones level, and would now attempt to shed customers, using a strategy of over-priced coffee, under-cooked scones, and discontinuing limited-release items as soon as they caught on with the public, specifically the banana chocolate-chip coffee cake that one middle-aged blogger guy keeps asking for.
Cellular giant Verizon, well-known for its commercials featuring the nerdy guy backed up by hundreds of co-workers representing its support network, will dismiss all the commercial actors except for the front-man, who will carry on his shoulders one of those long poles with life-sized dummies attached.
WASHINGTON (Feb. 17) — Republican opposition to President Obama’s economic stimulus package remained strong this week, despite passage of the plan in Congress and the widespread desire of Americans to deal decisively with the current financial crisis.
With the new president in office less than a month, he continues his efforts to transcend “politics-as-usual” and the partisan atmosphere of Washington. But Republicans have grown impatient, waiting 29 whole days for the catastrophe of the two Bush terms to be repaired, and have become more adamant in their calls for resistance to Obama.
“The president thinks he’s addressing our problems with obvious solutions, but that’s just not the case,” said defeated Republican presidential candidate John McCain. “Conservatives among us see things a little differently.”
For example, McCain addressed Democratic assertions that the sky is blue by saying “you know, sometimes it’s more grey than blue, and at night it’s actually a dark black.”
“What we on earth are perceiving as blue is in fact the light refracting off of oxygen atoms and water vapor,” said the Arizona senator. “There’s really no blue there at all. I’ve flown Navy jets at high altitudes, and all I ever saw was clouds, enemy fire and the billowing white of my parachute as I ejected yet again from another plane shot out from under me.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell challenged what he called another common misperception among those in the majority party, that the Pope is Catholic.
“My Christian evangelical friends and I would challenge the notion that Catholicism is even a religion,” the cabbage-patch-esque Kentuckian said. “If it’s not, then how can they even have a pope? Just because there’s some guy speaking Latin and wandering around the Vatican in a Snuggie doesn’t mean he’s the infallible representative of God on Earth. I thought that was Rush.”
Suspiciously single South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham also spoke out to counter Democratic claims about the excretory habits of large mammals residing in the nation’s woodlands and national parks.
“They say a bear shits in the woods. I respectfully disagree,” the fiery but always dapper Republican said. “There is not one shred of scientific evidence that such a disgusting thing occurs with any regularity. And even if it did, the droppings of all other kinds of wildlife would substantially outweigh those of the bear, so their (Democrats’) claim is really a distraction more than anything.”
Newly elected Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele tried to sum up the sentiments of his GOP colleagues.
“It may look like we’re opposing everything Obama supports just for our own political posturing,” Steele told reporters, noting that if you stacked up dollar bills representing the size of the stimulus package, your arms would end up very, very tired. “It may seem like we care more about picking up some seats in the next Congress than we do about American society as we know it surviving. But that’s not true and you have to believe me. Remember, I’m a black guy.”