A Blame Game to the Death

A Blame Game to the Death

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
November 10, 2013

Growing up in Flint, there were many, many GM facilities scattered in and around town. But the four main complexes were Buick, Chevy in the Hole, Truck and Bus, and AC Spark Plug. Truck and Bus is the only one now still functioning (and actually doing quite well turning out Silverados). Most of what was AC Spark Plug has been gone for quite some time, but the last piece (which final name was Delphi Flint East) is no more. I thought it appropriate to draw a cartoon to mark the occasion. But I didn’t want to do the typical reminiscing of the good ol’ days or the lamenting of the loss thereof. No, the main reaction I had was to the folks not from Flint (or Detroit or Saginaw) who confidently chime in to tell us who was solely to blame: “It was the unions!” “It was General Motors!” “It was the lazy workers!” “It was the incompetent management.”

Yeah, sure. All that and more. But if you’re not from Flint, you have no real appreciation for the subtleties and complexities of how things turned out the way they have. And it’s more than a little annoying to have somebody tell you with great confidence how AC Spark Plug would be a humming beehive of activity if only they had been in charge. I don’t think so. There are historical reasons for why things turned out the way they did. There were some very bad decisions, but there were also some great successes, and we would be wise to learn from both.

So the two folks choking each other to death is more of a cautionary tale for those who have never been to Flint but think they know exactly what happened there. I purposely didn’t draw them as a blue collar guy with a lunch bucket and hard hat, and a rich guys with a top hat and monocle. That’s the past. Future problems are more likely to be caused by folks who appear relatively the same but are still playing the blame game.

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