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June 14, 2006


Rick Ballard

Why is GM concerned about a column no sane person would pay to read in a paper with dropping circulation?

The Times Select subscriber wall performs the same function as the screen walls built around dumpsters so the GM reply has that right, I just don't know why they need to point out that there is rubbish in the dumpster. What else would one expect?

Jos Bleau

I've found that by cutting out all the slef-references, long anecdotes told to make small points, and general chattiness, you can get most Friedman columsdown to a quarter of their original word count (or less).

Which would make the actual substance of this column about 300 words long.

His first GM column reduces down to about 175 words - GM got 200 to resopond, so its almost fair that Friedman gets 300 [effective] words to reply with.

PS - I can save you some money on "The World Is Flat" :Tom Freidman goes to an Indian wedding - 200 anecdotes follow, all with Tom amazed at how people who Tom's never met at a coctail party or media function in Manhattan are, shockingly, doing busienss arround the world, often without ever setting foot in Manhattan - The End.

Wilson's a liar

GM's doing a good job with this on its blog. Good for them for not rolling over and playing dead after being slandered by the gasbag Friedman. They posted all the emails back and forth on their blog and it's pretty embarrassing to the NYT. So now we know it's OK for one of their columnists to call the most important corporation in America a "crack dealer" but it's not OK for that corporation to use the word "rubbish" in response.

Gary Maxwell

Really, who knew. A Upper East Side guy who works in Midtown Manhattan thinks people should conserve fuel. No doubt he shares the limosine with total strangers so as to do his own part, on his rides out to Kennedy LaGuardia and Newark when he must leave the closed system that is Manhattan.


Maybe Friedman should take a shot athttp://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/harris061206.htm> Al Gore

"The man is an embarrassment to US science and its many fine practitioners, a lot of whom know (but feel unable to state publicly) that his propaganda crusade is mostly based on junk science."

The problem with these morons, is that most of what they claim is total bull!

Herbert M. Smith

I think Tom Friedman is absolutely right on the oil and auto issue, and I believe these are indisputable arguments:

1. American will be better off financially and strategically if we import dramatically less oil from abroad. To accomplish this, we need to do a number of things differently; first and foremost we need to drive dramatically more fuel efficient cars.

2. Motivating Americans to drive more efficient cars requires the price of gasoline to remain high, or rise even higher. Higher gas prices (or higher gas taxes) are in the long run good for our country although painful for our wallets now.

3. GM is not doing much to promote fuel efficiency. They have an effective public relations office, but their business strategy and marketing tactics speak more clearly to their commitment to continue selling high-margin, fuel-inefficient cars. That is their privilege, but to listen to them say one thing while they are clearly doing another is quite annoying.


I don't think I've ever seen such a look of misery and dejection on the face of my daughter as I just did a moment ago. She just couldn't understand why the Tom Friedman would demean the efforts of American auto workers. "Even my Grandpa?" she asked pitifully.

I sat down with her on the sofa and (as calmly as I could) tried to explain to her why Mr. Friedman has rushed to judgment and besmirched the good name of every unionized auto worker, past and present. "And yes honey, even Grandpa", I was forced to say.

I tried to keep my voice steady, but it became increasingly difficult - the rage and feelings of helplessness were just too much. I think my daughter could tell something was wrong. I found myself at such a loss for words - nothing made any sense; nothing makes sense anymore. I finally had to admit, "Honey, I just don't know - I don't know what's going on in this country anymore..."

When I finished her lower lip started to tremble and her eyes began to fill with tears, "Daddy" she said, "why are the major media outlets doing this to the country?" Well, that was it for me: I finally fell apart. She just fell into my arms and we both began sobbing for several minutes.

For once she had to comfort me and get me back on my feet. Sometimes I just think it's too much, but seeing the strength in my young daughter's voice helped me to get through.

Special thanks to CheChe.

Herbert M. Smith

To say that Tom Friedman demeans auto workers is simply not true.

Auto workers are the innocent victims of consistently poor strategic planning by corporate leadership. If GM and Ford were well managed, auto workers would not have these problems.

In addition to really bad business management in Detroit, exceedingly poor decisions in the realm of energy policy by Congresses for decades have made victims of autoworkers and all Americans.

The situation that the auto industry finds itself in, and the situation the nation is in vis a vis oil imports are really, really serious. Throwing stones at the New York Times and Tom Friedman isn't helping.

What we really need are business leaders, goverment officials, and consumers who will make the hard choices now to guarantee that we have a future.

People who want to throw verbal stones should aim them at the right targets. The New York Times is just a newspaper; Tom Friedman is just a writer there (though, I believe, talented, perceptive, and gutsy.)

Throw your stones at the management of auto companies, members of Congress who consistently resist intelligent energy policy, and maybe even yourself, if you have recently purchased a gas-guzzler and feel entitled to low-cost fuel.


Didn't you leave out something, Herb--like the UAW? Or are they innocent victims of all this?

Jos Bleau

Toyota has no unions in its US plants. The number one reason that Toyota will never buy GM is not the state of its balance sheets but the burden of taking on all those union workers & their contractual obligations.

To say that you wish Toyota took over GM is to, in effect, say you wish GM had no union workers, whatever else you THINK you are saying. Friendman doesn't know that becasue no one's said it to him at a cocktail party yet. But I've heard he's due in Mumbai for a wedding in July so it may make it into one of his future columns/books.

richard mcenroe

"Really, who knew. A Upper East Side guy who works in Midtown Manhattan thinks people should conserve fuel."

You should hear some of them whine about having had to walk home on 9/11...

Herbert M. Smith

Cheap shots taken at a distinguished journalist like Thomas Friedman are, well, cheap.

Tom Friedman understands the relationship between unions and management, and between unions and the financial prospects of companies. Come on, bloggers, this is a highly educated guy who is well-informed, widely traveled, well-connected, winner of three Pulitzer prizes, and not stupid. Disagree with him all you want, but please, the cheap shots can stop. Focus on the issues. He will respect that.

By the way, Friedman lives in suburban Maryland in a house, drives a car, and faces the same day-to-day problems as all of us.

Please, restrict your comments to real substance and you will be more persuasive. Make cracks about his non-existent upper east side lifestyle and speculate about how he got home after 9/11 based on no knowledge and you just sound like a brainless bigot.

Jim Miller

Here's Friedman's question again:

"Is there a company more dangerous to America's future than General Motors?"

Sure, quite a few. Starting, of course, with the New York Times.

Wonder if they would publish a letter saying that? (Just joking folks. I know the NYT wouldn't publish such a letter. But I'll have to send them one anyway.)

And when Tom Friedman starts cutting back on his flying -- which uses kerosene, which comes from crude oil -- I'll take his argument that other people should pay more for gasoline more seriously.

Phil Dayton

This is why I stopped writing to newspapers and stopped reading them. If you sent a letter with any comments in response to an article they would demand to chop it up to the point that you could never make your point in a form that anyone would care to read. That's what is great about blogs.


Having watched a number of "distinguished journalists" in action, I begin to suspect that being a "distinguished journalist" is sort of like being a proctologist...except without the medical training or the desire to help people.

Herbert M. Smith

I don't understand how comparing journalism with proctology, and challenging Tom Friedman's character, advances the discussion. Sure, it's clever and humorous, but it's not constructive dialogue. It's just entertainment.

Tom Friedman's op-ed articles are opinion, no question about that, but they are always well-researched and reasoned. Readers who don't agree with his point of view should explain why in brief, well-reasoned argument.

I think blogs are a great way to communicate
but if there's no content in the messages shared, what's the point?

An Engineer

GM had a great opportunity after 9/11 to announce that they would contribute to the war on terror by producing fuel-efficient vehicles that would cut back some of the money flowing to our enemies. It would have created some excitement for GM products.

Too bad that would have required leadership. So, instead of that we got business as usual: discounts on overproduced products and excuses on blogs...


GM like most American Automakers are run by your typical Marketing and MBA Business types. These people are trained to follow markets and not lead them, no matter what they say...

So it's no wonder they've wasted the last half century playing catch up. They are even proud of it, when they claim that they are producing the products that the consumer wants. Well in principle this is the correct approach, except for one simple problem... the consumer is fickle along with the cost of fuel, can switch their tastes in an automobile overnight. As long as you have a 3 to 5 year Design engineering cycle, you'll never beat these odds. The Chrysler Minivan is maybe one of the few exceptions in the last 25 years were the marketing guys guessed right.

They need to listen more to the engineer's... but not too much, since they also suffer from their own form of myopia. But make the engineers input as important as the jerks in marketing, and maybe you'll see better products... and then eventually maybe even better performing US Automakers.

The Germans and the Japanese have a long history of making their products based on quality Engineering and not marketing. Do the engineering right first, then the marketing is easy!

The tail is waging the dog!


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