You may have already read my complaints about Nutella's deceptive advertisements which I wrote about earlier this year. You may even notice other misleading commercials that blare on our television screens. But a new campaign by Dodge might take the prize for Most Deceptive Advertisement (at least in the year 2014).
Have you seen it yet? It's all about the Dodge brothers.
Isn't this just adorable? It looks like a movie; it feels like a dream. Images of the Roaring 20's, of creative thinking, of brotherly love and arguing capture the viewer's attention. "They believed in more than the assembly line," the narrator tells us. "They believed driving was a holy endeavor". Even in death, their pallbearers were pulled right off the factory floor. Incredible. Apparently, the Dodge brothers were way ahead of their time.
Well, that all may have been well and true... at the time. The Dodge brothers did leave Ford and begin their own company. Whether or not they were all that inventive or successful in the beginning does not concern me. What I do know is that without government bailouts, the Dodge company probably would not exist anymore and that little commercial of theirs would not end so happily.
The government has bailed Dodge out of its own mismanagement more than once. In 1979, Chrysler (which owns Dodge) asked and received a federally backed loan which allowed them to make alterations to their inefficient vehicles and be able to appeal more to the public. Ahead of its time then? Surely not. 30 years later, the U.S. Government poured 80 billion dollars into Chrysler/Dodge and GM because both companies were undergoing bankruptcy. These companies have "recovered" since this bailout, but at the cost of the taxpayers.
Often people think that a failing business is a failure of the free market. If a business was not able to succeed, then that's not nice or fair and they must be rescued.
In reality, businesses closing down shop is the market's way of "cleaning house" and getting rid of industries that we do not need or companies that do not meet our expectations. Even if a company has good management, we might not need their goods and services. Even if a company has valuable goods and services, mismanagement could still be their demise. By the free market deciding who goes and who stays, we allow everyone to be in charge of allocating our scarce resources into the best businesses and industries who deserve them.
If the Dodge brothers instilled such an amazing spirit of ingenuity into their business, why have they needed saving... twice.
Maybe Dodge does produce high-quality cars (although that point is taken into question here, here, here, and many other places I'm sure), but their management stinks. So who is to blame? Still not the free market. Rather, the people in charge are not taking care of business and working to ensure Dodge success.
Consumers reward quality companies with profits and punish inefficient or unneeded companies with losses. If people don't want to buy Dodge anymore, let them. No need to prop up a business that consumers have voted off the island. If Dodge shuts down, that gives other car companies resources they need to expand or a new company or two to come in and start a business.
Do automakers have a right to exist simply because two brothers back in the early 1900's had a dream and worked hard? A lot of people might think so with their heart, but let's try to analyze this with our heads. If we allow Dodge to run its course free of government intervention and the company fails, then the free market has done its job. If we allow Dodge to run its course free of government intervention and the company succeeds, then the free market has done its job.
Let's let the free market work. Please. Just this once. We might be surprised by the outcome and we will surely have a more efficient and resourceful economy in the long-run if we do so. No company is too big to fail if consumers are indicating that they don't want them. Putting off the inevitable only makes our economy less efficient and worse off overall.
Let's stop forcing life into industries the consumers deem lifeless. The Dodge brothers may have contributed to the auto industry early on, put perhaps it is time to let them rest in peace, free from government intervention.