Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fly or drive?

A couple of weeks ago, the heads of the three big auto companies (GM, Ford and Chrysler) showed up in Washington singing the old "Brother can you spare a dime" song. Trouble is, they showed up in private jets. Congress railed them and sent them packing back to Detroit without a dime to show.

Looks like this time they've learned a lesson and will drive instead. (see here). I know I will have folks who disagree, but I'm not sure that having them drive is better.

The question is, if you were a stock holder, how would you want Mr. Wagoner to spend his day, driving or conducting business. Oh sure, he could go in a big car, hire a driver and sit in the back and conduct business. I can see him shuffling papers, talking on the cell phone with a fax and computer on his passenger side desk at 70 mph. But doesn't it seem that he would be more productive in an office where he could walk around even if it was at 30,000 feet.

It certainly was bad PR to show up in a private jet and ask for money. But I think the congressional reaction was a little off key on this one.


Ashley Beth said...

I agree. At my company, we are encouraged to use the company jet. The jet is paid for. The pilots are full-time employees who get paid regardless of whether they fly anywhere that day or not. The hanger is paid for. The only expense is the gas, which is actually pretty cheap right now. I think the cost of driving + the opportunity cost lost during those hours of driving, far out weigh the cost of flying.

Brooke said...

I think the PRIVATE jet is what hacked folks off.

What's wrong with the commercial airlines? Heck, I'd even be OK if he flew first class instead of in the back with the plebes.

Brooke said...

Isn't the Congressional reaction always a bit off? LOL!

Randy said...

Thanks Ashley. "Opportunity cost" - - That's one of those MBA words, isn't it..

Brooke, you know, if congressional reaction is only "a bit off", it's doing a lot better than normal. :)

It's very likely that these folks didn't go by themselves. When you look at all of the man-hours (or woman-hours) wasted in security, waiting on flights, transfers, delayed flights, etc. the costs grows exponentially. Personally, I hope these guys are spending their time fixing problems, not just sitting around an airport.

Chuck said...

I'm with Brooke, I think it was using a private jet (and owning 5 of them) that is putting people off. It just seemed arrogant and self-important