NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I find it frustrating to see a company do all the right things and get punished for it. Looking back at the actions of Ford (F - Get Report) reminds me of the old saying "no good deed goes unpunished." It eloquently applies to both Ford and GM (GM - Get Report).
I need to take a step back and explain my latest frustration with the administration's actions and the consequences for taxpayers. I will begin with Bob Lutz, a self-described "car guy" who I respect, but left me scratching my head yesterday after reading a piece he wrote on Forbes' Web site. Lutz recently wrote an article on Forbes about the possibility of GM declaring bankruptcy again.
Lutz gained my respect about four years ago when, as noted on the Web site FrontBurner, he stated he was a skeptic of global warming and that the Japanese hybrids didn't make economic sense.
Even though Lutz was, at the time, praising GM's plans for its own fleet of hybrids, including the Volt, I had to admired his integrity in stating his opinion so boldly. It is difficult in today's politically correct world to speak your mind, especially as an executive of a public company knowing you face wide-spread differences in opinion.But Lutz's remark about the Japanese cars was clearly correct for hybrids in general. Even after pouring on tax credit after tax credit like gravy on top of Thanksgiving potatoes, hybrid sales remain lackluster. GM's Volt is currently about as popular as any other model, but should be selling for much more than buyers are paying. If it wasn't for all the taxpayer's money subsidizing these battery-packed federal deficit increasers, they would (and should) have price stickers well over $100,000 each. I have to give Lutz credit; he was a key decision maker in GM bringing the Volt to market. Despite knowing better, he went ahead and gave the company (and government) what they wanted. In Lutz's Aug. 17 article he states "No other car company has yet demonstrated the ability to duplicate the Chevrolet 'Volt'." It's factually correct, but I thank goodness common sense has prevailed in avoiding more "Volts," because as Lutz very well knows, we cannot as taxpayers afford many more without worrying about Washington going bankrupt. Hundreds of millions in taxpayer money went into the car battery maker A123 Systems (AONE), which is now in part-owned by foreigners, as reported by Reuters.