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LETTERS : Bureaucracy Disease

December 14, 1986

I should like to expand on some points raised by James Flanigan's excellent Dec. 2 column, "Perot Sounded Alarm but GM Likes Its Sleep."

How can a company remain a leader if its product line is low in quality? A friend of ours bought a new Cadillac, and within a week the raised letters on the back had fallen off and an interior door panel was loose. More objectively, Consumers Union polls its readers on their experiences with the products they buy, and the latest poll shows GM cars at the bottom of the quality heap.

Of the three Cadillac models rated, one earned a "worse than average" and two a "much worse than average" rating for mechanical reliability. No company can prosper or even remain profitable if it continues to turn out an inferior product. No wonder that Ford's earnings probably will exceed GM's this year for the first time since 1924. No wonder that Mercedes-Benz and BMW are skimming off the upscale buyers.

GM has the bureaucracy disease. The symptom is disdain for the consumers of one's product, and the cause is enchantment with one's own perks and power. Such disease is chronic in government, but not only here. Recently, for example, it cropped up in the Bank of America.

Of course, naming the disease is one thing, while curing it is another. H. Ross Perot has some ideas, but he has been easily brushed aside by GM Chairman Roger Smith. My own notion is that GM's condition will gradually worsen over time, until stockholders or raiders finally force a change. Meantime, Roger, may I lend you Nero's fiddle?

MICHAEL STRIEBY

Chatsworth

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