From an NYT Blog post entitled "The Big Three? Try the Small Many":

Detroit a century ago looked a lot like Silicon Valley today. It was a city of small businesses, with an entrepreneurial genius on every corner.

This is what I've been pondering when I hear about the bailouts. Of course, like seemingly every American male, I've wondered what it'd take to start up a car company. It would seem that the barriers to entry are simply too great. You could build a few kit cars in your glorified garage, but to really compete takes quite an investment, starting with safety regulations, which essentially bar the tinkerer from starting from scratch.

Still, there are inroads with biodiesel and electronic engine conversions, and if you have mounds of cash, you can make something that bucks the old trend. Tesla Motors seems like an interesting new firm with some phat funding and a great idea. In any event, I'd rather see lots more Teslas than huge loans to GM.

Ford can handle themselves, for now at least, so what's the problem next door? Obviously it's mismanagement, not that they're alone. The country has a hard time learning the lesson of the ant and the grasshopper. There's also a lesson around here someone about teamthink. Could more giant companies converge around the same practices and ideas? They're unable to invent. I'm looking forward to the Volt as much as anyone, yet look at Saturn. Initially a great, groundbreaking idea -- cheap, extremely reliable, efficient cars sold in a low pressure, fair [seemingly] environment -- and now it's dropped right back with the rest of GM. Saturn no longer has a bare bones car (the Ion has drive by wire, for heaven's sake), does have an SUV and a two-seater sportscar. They've tried to keep those who bought Saturns with Saturn, growing the line along with those initial buyers, rather than try to keep new versions of the same sort of buyer showing up at their doorstep. And anyone who has stepped on a Saturn lot in the last five years knows it ain't a bunch of shining happy people clapping when you get your keys. It's back to the shark stereotype at the three I've visited. Convergence teamthink.

In the end, the lesson has to be that without planning some go hungry through their own fault. It's a shame that so many have their wagon tied to the same horse, but it's going nowhere, and, to ridiculously extend the metaphor, that horse's appetite is now potentially starving others as well. Let 'em go.