I saw Paul Ingrassia speak about his book Crash Course yesterday.  The description on Amazon describes the book as “the epic saga of the American automobile industry’s rise and demise, a compelling story of hubris, denial, missed opportunities, and self-inflicted wounds that culminates with the president of the United States ushering two of Detroit’s Big Three car companies—once proud symbols of prosperity—through bankruptcy.”

In his presentation he drew similarities between the automobile bailout of 2009 and the debate over the debt ceiling in 2011.  He points out that both involved enormous debt (brought about by noble intentions), warring factions (labor/management, democrats/republicans), and a focus on fighting instead of solutions.

Mr. Ingrassia identifies the following lessons.

  • In 2009 and 2011 there were/are dangerous levels of debt and denial
  • Solutions require shared sacrifice and tough terms
  • Journalists play an important role – covering success and solutions as well as failure

I would add one more.  There are unpredictable forces at play in the world that are beyond our control.  We have to be prepared to react to the unexpected.  However, there are a great many things that are predictable and we can influence.  We would do well to be on guard and vigilant to engage those things which can be anticipated.

The video below is very similar to what I heard.  His presentation lasts about 30 minutes.  The Q & A adds another 30 minutes.