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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Changes in the American Dream

2-18-09 Apex, NC... My Grandfather worked for General Motors from 1929 until 1965. The infant son of Russian/Polish immigrants, the migration to Detroit was certainly not easy. With only a grade school education at best, he was amazingly articulate. He had to go to work at age 13. One thing he was for sure... he was one of the first generation of hard working middle class in America. During the Depression when unemployment was around 35%, he drove to Flint from Detroit to keep his job. Even then, he saw periods of unemployment from 1932-1935... As a member of skilled trades, he was brilliant with tools and could fix anything. As a foreman later in his career, he went from hourly to salaried; raised five children and owned the shiniest Cadillac convertibles on the block. His work ethic was incredible. He had a passion to live his dream.

In essence it was General Motors that gave my Grandfather an open door. The automotive industry created the middle class in this country. He earned his job daily along with thousands of others, and he became and lived the American Dream. He started with nothing and by the end of his life in 1989, he had a huge corner house, a Buick in the garage, and a beautiful garden that filled a third of his well-maintained backyard. He loved his grandchildren and his great grandchildren, loved my Grandmother with all his heart and paid his taxes. Frugal to the end, he never bought more than he could pay for, never had a credit card, and as far as I know, lived within his means. The not "living within means" started this current situation.

If the Big Three, the suppliers, and the dealers go under, it is a huge bruise to these pioneers. Most of the middle class is taking the brunt of this economic challenge. The majority of the employees losing their jobs are, or were middle class.

These people are trying desperately to pay bills, and are assessing their fractured American Dream.

Manufacturers, dealers, and suppliers still exist. If they go bye-bye, I insist the fracture will be so big, it will affect everyone regardless of business or position.

As my Grandfather proved, employment is the way out of this challenge. Customers
are a way out of this as well... We have to SELL our way out of this.

We are watching change every day. It is stunning. Congress is running the country right now. We need to stand up to this. My Grandfather bled General Motors. Today, we need to be more like "Pa". Right now, General Motors is depending on Washington D.C. So is Chrysler. I do not like the smell of that...

I want the American Dream back.

It is not inside the Beltline... But if we look hard enough, we find it in our own hands!

This column is dedicated to Walter Genslak, the man with a dream and a drive for success. He found it in the car business and never looked back...

Happy selling!

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