Commentary: Czardom in business

By Stu MacKay, MacKay & Company

In the event that a few of you have been napping for the past several months (in itself not a bad idea), allow me to bring you up to speed.

Over these months, HRH Obama and his Pennsylvania Avenue cronies have appointed a couple of dozen “czars” to help protect us from ourselves. The criteria for appointments appear to be a direct function of being tightly wired into the 1600 PA cadre. It helps if you’ve thrown in a bunch of money in the last year or two – or thrown in a bunch of union workers (themselves being political currency).

And, it really helps if you’re wired into Chicago and Illinois politics, whose standards, as we know, are above reproach. Reproach is apparently some small town adjacent to the Joliet prison, by the way.

We have czars for all sorts of areas of this fragile economy. One for cars, one for health care, one for Wall Street, one for banking, one for executive compensation and so on. Little by little, we are seeing slices of our domestic world being handed off to a “FOB” (friend of Barack) to be examined, chastised and overseen.

It is apparently obvious to the FOB crowd that we, in our respective businesses, really know very little about what makes those businesses run – and we really need stern, serious oversight. GM, Chrysler and Bear Stearns may have been the poster children for this newly established “nannyism.” I fear that this is just the first chapter in what will evolve into a very long book.

Being in the research business (when do we get a czar?), I have extensively researched the forthcoming plans for the expansion of czardom. I care little about the czars for carbonated beverages, salons and pizza shops that are to be appointed shortly; it’s certainly about time we regulated these wild businesses!

I am very concerned about the czar selection for wine, however. I understand that we wine drinkers will be limited to one bottle per week – and only from the state in which you live. Have you ever tasted wine from Illinois or Arizona? Time to move to Oregon and live out the next few years on a Pinot Noir ration.

What we should all be concerned about is the forthcoming appointment (in January, as I understand it) of a czar for the truck parts business. Rumors have it that this czar will be selected from a group of candidates representing the Postal Service, Amtrak and the National Health Service (the last because we are perceived to be in a very unhealthy industry). A preliminary transcript of the press release announcing this appointment has been leaked and reads in part as follows:

“The White House announced today the appointment of a czar to oversee the truck parts business. The president’s announcement focused on the strong need to ‘clean up a very dirty business’ and to stabilize and rationalize both supply and demand in an overcrowded, cyclical industry. An investigation by the truck parts oversight commission has uncovered rampant waste in this business. ‘There are truck parts lying around in the hands of both distribution businesses and truck operators for which there is no immediate need,’ read the announcement. The commission has recommended the czar eliminate this wasteful practice and require suppliers to only produce parts when a vehicle is deemed (by federal inspectors) to be unable to operate.”

The announcement went on to say that the unsafe industry practice of removing dirty, greasy parts and rebuilding them must cease. These parts should be thoroughly cleaned before removal (eliminating any health hazard) and, once removed, immediately destroyed. This will eliminate the unsanitary procedures of disassembly – and stimulate the demand for new parts (again, only available direct from manufacturers once the vehicle condition is certified).

It was also noted that the new truck parts czar will be appointing several deputies, 50 state directors and regional inspectors wherever parts are sold and trucks repaired. The budget for this infrastructure is estimated to be approximately $50 billion and will be offset by a “small service fee” added to the $15 billion truck parts business.

Let’s hope the Feds don’t read this and really decide to proceed!

Stu MacKay has headed MacKay & Company since its inception in 1968. MacKay & Company serves manufacturers and distribution organizations serving the vehicle, equipment and engine businesses. The company provides its clients with proprietary research and consulting, participation in multi-client studies and its DataMac aftermarket tracking services.

The views expressed in the guest editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of Truck Parts & Service magazine.

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