Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

October 5, 2013

Ag Forum: GM, Ford, Chrysler and food

TRAVERSE CITY — Close your eyes for a moment and imagine our Great Lakes state, from Detroit to the Sault, and across the U.P. to Ironwood.

We’re a big, proud, two-handed state. For an entire century we’ve been known for greatness, and the one proud thing to rule them all is the great American automobile. It started here, innovated here, and is still struggling to re-emerge here. Remember Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad, “I got a question for you. What does this city know about Luxury?”

As you stroll through your own town each day, look at the streets. If they’re like mine they’re lined one upon another with big, glorious, American steel beasts, pickup trucks, SUVs, and big old sedans. Sure, there’s a growing infestation of smaller, more svelte Asian and European invaders, but Michigan lives by its“Big Three,” and for these we’ll fight to the death. Just up the block from me is Hagerty Insurance, where there’s always a brightly polished reminder of better days on display. These Fords and Chryslers and GMs all harken back to a time when tires came from rubber trees and steel was hacked from the Earth by Yoopers singing Woody Guthrie songs. We’re proud of this heritage. Our fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers labored to provide Michigan this great story. Are you singing “This Land is Our Land” yet?

Now, imagine if you will a time when we walk down these same streets and the tables are turned. Instead of mostly American made cars, the parking lots are filled with 95 percent imports, with only a small smattering here and there of the American breeds. For whatever reason, Michiganders are happy to ignore our homegrown brands. How might it make you feel that all this great American genius was pushed to the wayside? How would it effect the emotional state of that relative of yours who once worked for GM? How would our economy be impacted? Are you angry yet? O.K., now take a breath.

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