General Motors – the price of failure

The fact that there are CEO’s all over the world that have collected fat cat bonuses and built up massive pension pots should not surprise us. What is shocking to the core, however, is that these clever people are still rewarded for abject failure.

In the motor trade it is well acknowledged that we are in the results business, we are only as good as our last month, no matter what we may have achieved over many years in the trade, this counts for absolutely nothing if we begin to fail. No matter what reputation a successful employee may have gained over the years they will be out on their ear as quickly as shit through a goose as soon as they stop producing.

It’s a fact of life and many of us in car sales actually embrace this, we know we have to keep performing and whilst ready to celebrate and take a pat on the back at month end, we are well aware that the treadmill starts again on the 1st of every month. It is well known and accepted in the industry and the survivors who live to tell the tale can often pass on the wisdom they have gained to others crazy enough to join this mad world.

Today however many of us will be absolutely spitting that someone like Rick Waggoner, who presided over the absolute failure and ultimate destruction of GM and who was publicly made to carry the can by President Obama, should be rewarded by a $9 million pension pay out (which would have been more than double that had he gone before he was pushed). For bringing the company to its knees during his tenure he walks off with a lottery jackpot sized pension. Don’t forget this automotive industry high roller was so out of touch with what was going on he, along with the executives of Ford and Chrysler, flew in a private jet to Washington to beg for public money to bailout his company. The supreme arrogance of these individuals came shining through when, asked by Democratic congressman Brad Sherman to raise their hands if they would sell their company jets to prevent bankruptcy, none of them did so.

What exactly does someone in his position have to do to get canned and start again with a couple of months pay at best like the rest of us?

They say that crime doesn’t pay and that may be true but the crime of failure certainly seems to pay if are you’re high enough up the corporate ladder.

Wagoner’s pension deal includes five initial annual lump sum payments of $1.64m, plus $74,030 each year, starting from August. Still I’m sure, whilst sipping cocktails in Hawaii, he will probably spare a thought for all the people who lost their jobs during his disastrous reign and hope that they are getting by on their payouts.

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