I go to a lot of auctions.
A few of these are held at workplaces that are selling off surplus equipment, but most of the time the company has simply gone bankrupt. Auctions are the best way to determine fair market value when selling assets to pay back creditors.
At some point during the sale, I usually find some excuse to visit the CEO's office, sit down in the chair from which he directed his vast empire, and wonder what went wrong.
Some places suddenly go under with 6 months' worth of orders still waiting to be manufactured. Others are slowly starved out of existence. Sometimes, there's a lawsuit that shuts them down.
Occasionally I can stroll through the maintenance area and understand the big picture. There will be a vast collection of hot rods, boats, classic cars, 4WD hunting vehicles, plus lots of other toys the owner purchased with company funds. Never a good sign.
Last night, I had a dream....
I'm walking down Highway 360 in Arlington, Texas. It's sometime in the year 2014.
The weather is pleasant, considering that the earth is supposed to already be past Al Gore's "Tipping Point" in 2014.
I follow the "General Motors Auction" signs to a vast factory.....
The parking lot isn't very crowded, considering that billions of dollars worth of equipment is about to change hands. Several of G.M.'s infamous 48-year old retirees are milling around the entrance.
"Want to buy our pensions?" one of them asks. "Sorry, but I'm already on the hook for them," I apologize.
I fight my way past several Union Organizers who are still trying to register passersby for Card Check, and am surprised to see that there's no waiting line at the registration table.
This is unusual.
I give the clerk my business card, and a letter of credit for $350 million dollars. (Remember, its the year 2014, and the bailout and stimulus money has now infiltrated our financial system. It now takes at least fifty grand to get a pizza delivered.)
"Here's your auction catalog and bidder number," says the clerk. "You'll be bidder number 4."
"There are only three other bidders here?" I ask.
"Well, the gentleman from China registered yesterday, the Japanese representative arrived sometime this morning, and the Taiwanese government is bidding online. This could be your lucky day !"
I walk past the registration desk toward the famed G.M. assembly line. It's a manufacturing geek's paradise. There are robotic welders that could weld Juicy Fruit wrappers to a Coke can. There are massive punch presses that could stamp a block of steel into a Chevy Tahoe. These machines demand respect and reverence as you approach them. These are the machines that made the parts for Buicks, Cadillacs, Saabs and Saturns.
I'm walking down the assembly line that for the last five years has manufactured the Michelle 4x4, the Sasha 401K, the new GTO (Malia edition), and the Biden Gaffemaster convertible. Incredible.
With nothing on the assembly line but chassis assemblies, it's hard to tell what particular car was in production when the line shut down. Possibly the Geithner Evader 4.0
"All right, everyone, it's time to get started," I hear the auctioneer say.
This is surreal. There's no one in the plant but the Chinese bidder, the Japanese bidder, and me.
"We're here this morning to sell off the assets of the General Motors Arlington Texas Facility, at the request of the United States Government and President Barack Obama. Getting a facility of this size ready for an auction isn't easy, and we're thankful for all the help and cooperation we've received from General Motors President and CEO, unhhh, Barack Obama."
"All goods are sold 'as is, where is, and with all faults noted'
, and all sales are final. You will have 10 days to remove your purchases from the factory unless you are high bidder on the building and surrounding real estate. The real estate is part of a package bid that will include The George W. Bush/Texas Rangers Ballpark, the Dallas Cowboys' Arlington Stadium, the Jerry Jones Triumphal Arch, and several other bankrupt taxpayer-funded boondoggles."
"Any questions before we begin?" the auctioneer asks. "Good. Let's get started. Lot #1 is a Kyoto brand emissions tester....Who'll give me $50,000 Who'll start the bidding at $50,000?"
I wander away, leaving the Chinese, Japanese, and Thai bidders to fight it out for the regulatory equipment. I look into the design rooms. The progression from drafting tables to Autocad to Solidworks to Feng Shui Lao Tzu (3.0) has made these auctions a lot less interesting. There are never any leftover drawings to burrow through. But I do find a clay mockup of the prototype Lewinsky Hummer, a model that never made it into production. Everyone said it sucked.
I journey down another hallway, trying to find President Obama's office. This is one of those dreams where each hallway leads to another. I go past the Office Of Regulatory Oversight. I see the Office Of Parallel Authority. I accidentally wander into the lair of the U.S. Government Dispensers Of Red Tape, whose jobs required them to keep the U.S. Government Red Tape Elimination Bureau in business and running at full capacity. I spend an hour trying to find my way out of the Department Of Diversity, the Chamber Of Change, and the Hall Of Hope. Everywhere I look are papers. Filing cabinets full of papers. Reports about papers. None of them have anything at all to do with making cars. The auctioneer's voice begins to fade in the distance as my walk carries me closer and closer to Waco, Texas.
Finally, I see what I'm looking for. At the end of the hallway is a door labeled "Barack Obama, CEO, General Motors". I wipe my feet on the "Hillary" doormat, and go inside. I just woke up and hit my alarm clock. This dream will probably continue tonight.
Photos from here