Michigan governor gets it wrong

October 30, 2014
by Brian Wolf

It's not that I don't like Michigan, it's really a beautiful state and I have some very good friends who live there, as well. However, Michigan, and Detroit, specifically, have major problems.

In this week's column I'll try not to let my personal disgust over the "Detroit car bailouts" overshadow my objectivity, which will be a very big challenge for me.

General Motors Co. (the largest US automaker) supported legislation that would prevent Tesla Motors from selling cars the way they would like to in Michigan.

Gov. Rick Snyder agreed and signed it into law. This means that the Palo Alto, CA electric vehicle maker must sell cars the way General Motors would like them to sell cars.

It occurs to me that this action is all about caving to the interests of Ford and GM while ignoring what is best for the consumer, meaning more choices on how to buy something.

Think about it. You can buy pretty much anything you want directly from the manufacturer, if that manufacturer wants to sell it to you. Just go to www.amazon.com if you don't believe me.

I believe, that unless you sell a product that requires supervision to use, such as medicine, you should be able to sell it to your customer freely. That is what capitalism is all about.

Yet, here we have Tesla being blocked from doing so. Why? Because Ford, GM, and all their dealerships don't like it.

So, just imagine if Blockbuster had its corporate offices in Minnesota, and then Governor Dayton decided that he would prevent Netflix from selling their product the way they wanted in Minnesota.

Tesla is offering an alternative path to buying a car. Because this is a threat to the cash cow of the car dealer network, the established auto industry revolts and flexes its collective lobbying muscle to prevent Tesla from doing what the consumer clearly wants.

"What's good for GM's customers is not necessarily good for Tesla's customers. What's good for gasoline cars is not necessarily good for electric cars. Tesla is selling a new product with a new technology," the automaker Tesla said in a statement.

I believe most people would say that some government regulations are necessary. In other words, maybe it's a good idea to regulate some of the things that will kill or harm us, but I don't think how you sell a car would qualify.

If Detroit wants to continue selling cars in traditional dealerships good for them, but if a new car company wants to sell them without the traditional dealership system, why shouldn't they be allowed?

Rather than being threatened and lobbying politicians, Detroit should look into the mirror and embrace the changes that are coming. After all, refusing to change is what got them into bankruptcy in the first place.

I don't know about you, but I sure don't like bailing out companies that are classified as "too big to fail," and I really don't like the idea of politicians changing the free enterprise system just to get the special interest lobby money. Come on Michigan, your better than this.

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