Sir Elton John told an audience at Carnegie Hall that fans have gotten “into the habit of believing that in Trump America, you can always count on tradition, you can always count on tradition, the first rule of Hollywood, the first rule of Trump is you can’t, you can’t count on it.”
He concluded that “if you wait long enough, you can never be left behind.”
The classic subject of firsts and rule breaks, Ford Motor Company is now about to go its first quarter without a profitable month in the U.S. market. Their new top-selling models like the F-150, the Mustang and the Fusion have seen sales fall dramatically. But, all things being equal, no company is more affected by Trump’s pro-tariff policies than Ford. For the last several months, the company has publicly complained about how it can no longer produce any models in the United States without having to pay huge extra tariffs on imported parts and components.
Ford has not been the only company hurt by Trump. The other big producers of vehicles in the United States, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, have also borne the brunt of Trump’s anti-tariff policies. According to The New York Times, GM has experienced “financial setbacks … in its power to access raw materials like metals and parts from other countries.” During the fourth quarter of 2018, GM’s U.S. sales fell 10 percent. As part of his attacks on GM, Trump suggested that the company close down factories and lay off workers. GM responded by announcing its plans to invest in some of its other plants in Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky.
Ford, however, appears to be in a worse position right now than GM. In addition to its problems with tariffs, Ford appears to be having difficulty overcoming its recent reputation as the “death wagon.” A recent New York Times piece appeared to show how businesses found themselves rescuing a sick industry from bankruptcy and carmaker collapse:
“The financial problems of domestic automakers have caused me to lose sleep a few nights,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book, an auto pricing service. “Each was an industry, and an automobile industry, that should have been structurally insulated from the economic downturn that enveloped the rest of the country.”
I get that. But car companies are not, for want of a better term, a “life raft.” Just because the United States gets a relatively good weather forecast or suffers fewer pandemics does not mean we deserve to live in a better country than the rest of the world.
The question that remains: Are we worth living in an economy that would be better off without either of these companies?