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Detroit Must Die. That was the title of a column written by Mark Morford of the San Francisco Chronicle’s SFGate (dot com). Those terms should be enough for you to google your way into that abyss of idiocy if your self loathing compels you to do so. Originally, this week’s column was going to be an educational one. I was going to point out the impacts, both far-reaching and highly localized, of a hypothetical Chapter 7 collapse of the country’s largest auto maker. And then I got a link to Mr. Morford’s article. And I was disgusted.

Mr. Morford, do not talk down to the uninformed, unmotivated consumer, because it is readily apparent to anybody who is that you fall into the same category you so snidely disparage. If you were as well-informed as you say, you would know that the Chevy Aveo is a Korean car. You would know that the Chevy Malibu is a better car than the Toyota Camry by every reasonable measure used in the marketplace. You would know that Toyota’s “manufacturing genius” has devolved into such vicious cost-cutting that if it weren’t for the new gadgets and technologies, their current offerings would barely outshine what the Big 3 sold ten years ago. You would know these things Mr. Morford, and you really should if you’re going to be so vocal about them. But it’s quite obvious that you don’t.

You say you’re no economist; I say you’re not really much of a columnist. I don’t really care what else you have to offer, because you’ve inspired me. I now feel compelled to base my opinion on passing familiarity with one example of your work. This approach should be familiar to you, Mr. Morford, after all, it seems to be the same one you employ when making grandiose statements about the fate of millions of American workers and their families. They probably all drive Neons anyway, right Mark? Not new ones, though, since some of them may have purchased a car since 2006, when Chrysler Corporation stopped producing them. You would have known that, too, by the way. But instead of doing your own homework and thinking before you put fingers to keyboard, you decided to subject your small corner of the world to your typographical diarrhea.

Stop blaming the car companies for selling us what we wanted. Just stop. It only makes you look like an even bigger idiot (as if that were possible). You say it was greed; I say it was simple economics. They built what the public bought. For somebody who is so obviously the product of consumerism, you certainly have a shaky grasp on how it works. The game goes both ways. Producers and consumers both create demand. It is not some unilateral manifestation of corporate greed. In short? They wouldn’t have built ’em if we weren’t buying ’em. Direct your frustration inward, Mr. Morford, and begin the healing process. The first step is admitting you’re wrong.

In the end, what troubles me the most isn’t your ignorance, but your gleeful anticipation of  this pending collapse. GM is on the verge of delivering one of the most innovative, forward-thinking vehicles of the past ten years (Funny you don’t mention the Volt, Mr. Morford. Surely you would know about that if you’d asked one of your abundant friends), and all you can be bothered to do is go shopping for the appropriate shoes to wear while dancing on its grave.

And Mark, I encourage you to take a long second look at Toyota. Because for all its advancements in hybrid technology, it’s more “domestic” than most of Detroit these days. Go drive a Corolla back-to-back with a Focus or a Cobalt. The only thing “passably mediocre” will be the interior of the much-ballyhooed Corolla (subsequent drives in a Fusion, Malibu and Camry will further drive this point home). Toyota will talk your ear off all day long about their superior quality while they melt down old lunch boxes for their dashboard molds. But you would never fall for that superficial nonsense, would you Mr. Morford? Surely not.

The Big 3 may not build a class leader in every segment, but they produce high-quality, well-thought-out vehicles for every segment of the population. You ask people to give up ten minutes to do their homework, Mr. Morford, but most people could figure this out for themselves after just two minutes behind the wheel.

And much to my amusement and your apparent disgust, they’ve done just that.

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Byron Hurd

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