GM, Starbucks and nation-building

I’m cranky this morning. Got up at 4 a.m. to run. And it’s raining. So now what? Might as well go ahead and write about GM, Starbucks and nation-building. There’s a link here. Trust me.

“As GM goes, so goes the nation.” I’ve heard this saying for years — and if it’s true, look out below. Unless we as a nation do something — and quickly. Despite the best efforts of Bob Lutz and his FastLane blog, the price of GM common stock closed yesterday below $10 a share. That’s the lowest it’s been in more than 50 years, back to the days when Ike was in the White House and I was a toddler barely out of baby diapers. Let’s see what FastLane has to say.

BusinessTaking a Little Break

Greetings, everyone. Well, it’s starting to get a little quiet around here as GM gears up (or is it down?) for the annual summer shutdown period observed by U.S. automakers every year. As such, we won’t be posting much to the blogs for the next two weeks, but not to worry, we’ll be back in full swing following shutdown. I think you’ll like what you see. More to come on that later.

For our U.S. readers, have a great 4th of July weekend. – Adam Denison, GM Social Media Coordinator

Gone fishin’. OK. I know. FastLane is not designed to opine on corporate financial issues. And all the A-list social media and PR bloggers froth over it. I know I’m missing something. So let’s hope it returns after the summer shutdown. In fact, let’s hope GM returns as a company that isn’t in bankruptcy protection. New York Times: “Merrill Says GM Bankruptcy Possible.”

Oh well. Maybe I can walk to Starbucks. That’s if the Starbucks close to my house is not on the company’s soon-to-be-closed list. Looks like people won’t be waiting in line anymore at as many as 600 stores — and this follows a previous announcement that 100 stores were being shuttered. Uh, I’ll take my grande (is that large?) nonfat soy lattee with double sugar and cinnamon to go. According to the article in The Times:

A cavalcade of economic troubles, from imploding housing markets to rising gas prices, has pinched consumers, hurting not just Starbucks but nearly all retailers. The chain is struggling to attract customers for the afternoon frappuccinos they once bought eagerly, said Sharon Zackfia, an analyst at William Blair & Company.

“I don’t think it’s overly surprising,” she said of the announcement. “These stores were in aggregate unprofitable.”

Looks like the days of the afternoon frappuccinos are over. Mom, apple pie, frappuccino and Chevrolet. Something like that. For the one or two of you out there who read this blog regularly, you’ll recall that I advised Starbucks months ago to organize its stores so there would be two lines: one for douche bags like me who just want a cup of coffee and The New York Times and another for those willing and eager to pay $5 or more for a cup of coffee by another name.

Anyway, this gets me back to a theme that I have written about previously and will continue to write about. We need to have an honest, candid discussion during the upcoming election campaigns about the economy and the future direction of this country. When both big industrial corporations like GM and well-managed retailers like Starbucks are in the dumper we clearly face some problems. And we have some hard choices to make about jobs, education, housing, energy and a host of other issues. I hope the news media — what’s left of it — will write and talk about the important issues and hold the candidates to do the same. Another couple days of Wesley Clark campaigning to be vice president on cable TV and I’m going to lose my lunch. And I don’t eat lunch. His point: McCain isn’t necessarily qualified to be president just because he was a war hero and a resident of Hanoi Hilton. OK. Let’s move on.

As Maureen Dowd wrote in her column yesterday in The New York Times:

Maybe instead of refighting the Vietnam War while we’re still fighting the Iraq war, the candidates can figure out how to feed the world, find enough fuel for everyone and oh, yeah, catch that bin Laden fiend who’s running around free.

And it is possible to have a discussion of the big issues important to our nation. Check out last Sunday’s NYT column by Thomas Friedman, “Anxious in America.” He writes:

I do not believe nation-building in Iraq is going to be the issue come November — whether things get better there or worse. If they get better, we’ll ignore Iraq more; if they get worse, the next president will be under pressure to get out quicker. I think nation-building in America is going to be the issue.

Yeah, nation-building in America. Let’s talk about that.

Well, it took me long enough to write this that it is not raining any longer. Might as well hit the pavement.

And tomorrow is Independence Day: Mom, apple pie and Chevrolet.


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