Mary Barra vs the Dysfunctional GM Culture

by Scott Pickard

Sarah, very interesting article and your recommendations are well-intentioned and truthful, but, I give them a slim chance of making a dent in the sprawling, dense and calcified GM cultural fabric which has deeply embedded within it the familiar dysfunctional qualities of a massive bureaucratic organization. In this regard, human nature repeats itself with disappointing consistency. In very large corporations, universities, government units, and military, this is what we face and deal with every day.

It confirms to me that GM was probably not “too big to fail.” Failure could have been the disruptive event necessary to purge the dysfunction and clear a path for renewal — a “corporate reboot” if you will.  Bankruptcy would have provided the platform and mandate for sweeping away all the dead wood, political toxicity, cronyism, greed, and staleness that builds up over time inside society’s largest institutions.

Law Crime, Corruption, Power, Violence How can we rethink security beyond mass incarceration? How can transnational organized crime networks be stopped? Is there anything goingon in the company that can result in an Enron-style financial collapse? (a) self-dealing; (b) undisclosed insider trading; (c) unauthorized compensation; (d) debt-loaded limited partnerships in general: archive: Crime Library | biology: The Anatomy of Violence Raine | city shootings: ceasefirechicago, Cradle-to-Grave Program | cybersecurity: antiphishing, AccessData, onguardonline | depravity: Crime and Punishment Dostoyevsky | gangs: Home Boy Industries, knockout game | gun violence/control: gun-rights lobby | insider trading: Rajaratnam | jewel thieves: Pink Panthers | kidnapping | organized crime: Hell’s Angels | policing software: Mark43 | research: Crime Lab | school shootings | sex offenders: Miracle Village | TV shows:, Orange is the New Black prison | white collar: nw3c insider trading: Has the company made a reasonable effort to make all insiders (executives, employees, directors) aware of the insider trading rules? | documentary: To Catch a Trader | SEC Filings: power: How is power consolidated in the company?  Are directors careful to not get involved in the internal politics of the company? | greed:  about, The Wolf of Wall Street vigilante: about | Bruce Willis | fiction/comics: batman, robin hood, superman | Mexico: drug cartels | Paul Newman | Death Wish | Steven Sigal | Three Days of the Condor weapons: bombs: toothpaste books/movies: Crime and Punishment Dostoyevsky | Inside Job | Syndromes of Corruption: Wealth, Power, and Democracy Johnston | The Onion Field Wambaugh Decisions | Issues | Emotions | Ethics | Smart Grid | War | Survival | Sports

Had that happened, then “creating opportunities for collegiality to take root….encouraging questions that create context….. helping employees to feel safe by reshaping the work environment…,” might have been introduced into a clean, fear-free, accepting cultural landscape.

But, it didn’t happen, so best of luck to Mary Barra.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all-in for capitalism with its faults, but we all know the aggressive pursuit of profit in BIG BUSINESS (with power and greed lurking in the headquarters’ shadows) has its dark side.


Debt in retirement

We’ve chosen to keep our mortgage in retirement.  We refinanced to take advantage of the historically low rates and that  has dropped our monthly payment amount which is good during retirement mode.  And we get to keep the deduction for mortgage interest which helps at tax time.  If something comes up where we will need some cash (emergency; health issues; remodeling), we can easily open a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and also get a deduction for the interest on that loan.  With bank, CD, and mutual fund rates so low, for our house in our neighborhood in our town, it is the most reliable performing asset we have, having consistently appreciated over the long term (30 years).

Credit cards

For a disciplined credit card user, the interest rate is essentially irrelevant because a credit-smart consumer pays off the most recent transactions with each monthly bill; i.e., you never carry an outstanding balance which is the most powerful way to build a solid credit rating.  If you want a rewards program with your card, then that generally requires an interest rate greater than 0% and the higher the interest rate, the better the rewards since interest income is what covers the cost of the rewards program for card issuers.  But as previously stated, if you are paying off the transactions each month and not carrying an outstanding balance, the high interest rate is irrelevant.  BOTTOM LINE: use a credit card for convenience, security (don’t have to carry alot of cash around), and to create a detailed transaction record,  but not as a loan!