The 31-Year Old “In Charge Of” Automakers? I’m More Qualified Than This Guy!

So what happens when you go from your PoliSci undergrad degree, float through various political and think tank jobs, begin a law degree, and have no formal training in either economics or business?

You get the job of running GM!

It is not every 31-year-old who, in a first government job, finds himself dismantling General Motors and rewriting the rules of American capitalism.

But that, in short, is the job description for Brian Deese, a not-quite graduate of Yale Law School who had never set foot in an automotive assembly plant until he took on his nearly unseen role in remaking the American automotive industry.

But now, according to those who joined him in the middle of his crash course about the automakers’ downward spiral, he has emerged as one of the most influential voices in what may become President Obama’s biggest experiment yet in federal economic intervention.

While far more prominent members of the administration are making the big decisions about Detroit, it is Mr. Deese who is often narrowing their options.

Now, I don’t want to say anything personally negative about Mr. Deese here. As a bit of a follow-on to my last post, it sounds to me like he’s at no deficit of intelligence. I’m not going to focus on his age as a negative here, because he sounds like he’s quick on his feet and able to learn on the job. I’ve got some understanding for such a person, because my typical way of doing most things is to jump in headfirst and only afterward to learn how to breathe in the new environment. “Sink or swim” is a hell of a lot more exhilarating than treading along carefully.

That being said, I tend to take leaps where I have a working knowledge of swimming and the currents are minimal. Deese just jumped into the ocean, and he’s going to be battling a riptide (the economy) and sharks (the unions, management, debtholders, shareholders) the whole way through. And while he’s apparently [informally] studied some economics, as I have, he has no experience in business.

I can see this ending very badly. Experience is not the end-all be-all of success, but it certainly helps. I’d be less concerned if Deese had some experience in business in general, because while there are certainly peculiarities of one industry to another, general good business sense is widely applicable. But he doesn’t have any business experience. He has academia and “public service” in his past, and that’s about it. What’s scarier? Most of the people he’s advising have the same background, so they may not be able to discern his good recommendations from his bad ones.

General Motors and Chrysler, filled to the brim with experience, couldn’t manage to run their businesses profitably. It’s pure hubris to assume that the Obama administration, staffed with people who have little to no experience, could fare better. And the idea that you trust some bang-up whiz kid who’s the baby of the bunch with this much responsibility? This is either going to be a spectacular moment of greatness in Brian Deese’s life, or one of the most spectacular failures of government meddling we’ve ever witnessed.

I can tell you which way I’d bet.

  • southernjames

    A week or so ago, there was a 2-3 day series of Dilbert cartoons; the plot/punchline centered around and MBA and “you’re one of those MBAs who ruined the economy.”

    I’m betting the same way you are.

  • Don Lloyd

    I’d prefer someone who might at least entertain the possibility that they didn’t have all the answers, and have a healthy fear of screwing up, both characteristics likely to be scarcer than hen’s teeth in this administration.

    However, I kind of expect the results to be more a function of the structure of reality, than a function of the individuals involved and their limited range of action.

    Regards, Don

  • bob

    This is unbelievable! This person has no experience in basic business economics and now is in charge of dismantling GM?! But, then again Obama really doesnt have the neccessary experience to be president. He cant even follow along with a telepromter for his speeches. This country is headed for huge problems. Scary times ahead.

  • Quincy

    Let’s be honest here… *No one* is qualified to do this in the way proposed by the Obama administration.

    Instead of playing within the laws and the existing economic ecosystem that has developed over the last two centuries, the Obama administration is trying to reshape the entire economic landscape to produce certain results. This is a mission that is simply beyond the intellectual capacity of human deliberation.

    The recent unemployment news has little to do specifically with the stimulus plan and much to do with Obama’s mission to remake the economy. In practicing pre-Bastiat economics, the Obama administration has inflicted massive amounts of unseen damage to the economy that are just starting to come to light. No matter what he does, Brian Deese will do the same. His mission leaves no other option.

    Put simply, Brian Deese will fail.