Monday, June 1, 2009

GM is bankrupt.

It is hard to hear that announcement regarding GM's bankruptcy. I used to enjoy listening to my boss at Chatham announce that we went to present concepts to the largest automotive corporation in the world. But when I listened to The GM CEO last May dismiss the alternative cars because no one wanted them, even though he was a southerner and even though he was a Duke graduate, I felt he was just wrong.

I'm reading my new book, Two Billion Cars, and remembering working with GM extensively from 1998 until 2004. The book's explanation and my experiences have me shaking my head. It came on like a freight train. We could see it. I knew that GM designers had a hard time presenting sustainable, environmental friendly ideas in design to their purchasing departments, but I had hoped it was a middle management problem and not a problem with less -than-visionary leaders. I think that must have been how most folks felt about England in 1776.

Thank goodness for the "energetic minority." I'm liking that phrase. I can see it on a tee shirt. Or how about a new bumper sticker? How about " My other car is electric" ? Well, not too creative. But, it takes a little revolution every once in a while, right? Something unexpected...

My brother recommends the book, The Black Swan, as a reminder to all of us about the importance of expecting the unexpected or in some cases, believing the impossible. I would nominate Kings Mountain as a Black Swan event. Ferguson never expected such a response to his verbal threats.

This leads to my bankruptcy connection to NC in the revolution. This link has a good discussion of the economics of the Revolutionary War. Draper's book about Kings Mountain has a little story about money. How did we pay for that campaign? Well, mostly the overmountain men brought their own hunting rifles and other equipment - tommyhawks, haversacks, etc... BUT, where did they get their gun powder and balls and how did they pay for it? What did this battle cost?

King's Mountain and its heroes history of the Battle of King's Mountain, October 7th, 1780, and the events which led to it By Lyman Copeland Draper, says;

"Colonel Sevier endeavored to borrow money on his private responsibility to fit out his men for this distant service for there were a few traders in the country who had small supplies of goods. What little money the people had saved had been expended to the last dollar to the Entry Taker of Sullivan County, John Adair, the State officer for the sale of the North Carolina lands the same person doubtless whom Colonel Shelby had sent as his express to Colonel Arthur Campbell . Sevier waited upon him and suggested that the public money in his possession be advanced to meet the military exigencies at this critical juncture His replv was worthy of the man and the times "Colonel Sevier , said he "I have no authority by law to make that disposition of this money it belongs to the impoverished treasury of North Carolina and I dare not appropriate a cent of it to any purpose but if the country is over run by the British our liberty is gone. Let the money go too. Take it. If the enemy by its use is driven from the country I can trust that country to justify and vindicate my conduct so take it Thus between twelve and thirteen thousand dollars were obtained ammunition and necessary equipments secured Colonels Sevier and Shelby pledging themselves to see the loan refunded or legalized by an act of the Legislature which they effected at the earliest practicable moment.

It costs Everything.

Nancy Ferguson was a member of OVTA and a historian who worked beyond belief to tell the story of the revolution and save important sites, particularly Gilberttown. Her links are included here. Its the other sides version of the time of Lt. Allair's diary. She notes there was a hospital in a tavern at Gilbertown. I wonder what Revolutionary hospitals were like as I sit here in UVA.

I see a new brainstorming exercise. What ever you are doing. Where ever you are, compose a question about it and add the words " in the Revolutionary War"

Who are the doctors who manned the hospitals in the Revolutionary War?

What did people eat when they traveled in the Revolutionary war?

How did people communicate in the Revolutionary war?

Okay that's little lame, but truthfully, they had to do many regular things on the road and at home that we also accomplish. How did they do that especially without indoor plumbing and electricity?

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