The Emails Fly On GM, Ford CEO's Corporate Jets

None of my recent pharma-related posts have received nearly as much feedback as I got from my off-the-reservation blog Thursday about Jetgate.

The poll drew more than 2,000 votes yesterday, running 4-to-1 in favor of the CEOs of General Motors , Ford and Chrysler flying commercial instead of on private aircraft to and from Washington this week. But the emails are more evenly split and actually skew more to the minority position, although most of those who wrote in to defend the use of corporate jets didn't provide their names.

Steve Kauten wrote, "That pretty much sums it up. They have not got a clue."

Roger Brasher, a union boilermaker in Alabama said, "Funny how these guys seem to be so insulated from what is going on around them. Their companies are losing money left and right and they NEED (his emphasis) to fly on private jets. Security reasons, maybe? If these guys' annual salary was comparable to those salaries of the people that work for them there would be no need for special security."

Ray Boleman emailed, "You are right on target. Sell the planes or no money from the taxpayers. Enough is enough. Why can't the CEOs do their part if they expect the taxpayers to pay for poor management, high union labor cost and poor product construction?"

Ashlea Simpson with a somewhat neutral position on the issue raised a good point, " You know as well as I do that if the big three executives had not used their jets there would always be people who would criticize them even for that—saying that they were just pretending to be in poor straits by leaving the planes at home. You simply cannot please all of the people all of the time."

An unidentified defender of the use of private jets said this is a tempest in a teapot. "That whole story was ambush journalism—and you know it!!!!! Once again Washington proved that it's about the sizzle and not the steak."

Jeff Black in Marietta, Georgia said, "The obsession with the mode of CEO transportation is an irrelevant distraction. It looks to me like yet another Democratic Party exploitation of class envy, which is an oldie but a goodie."

Thomas Kulik also didn't have a problem with the $20,000 GM reportedly spent flying CEO Rick Wagoner to and from DC. "To subject oneself to the vicissitudes of commercial air travel, or—worse—to spend precious hours driving from Detroit to Washington would have been, in my view, nothing short of irresponsible in the current situation. For all the legitimate criticism that one can level at the auto execs, it seems to me that to lambaste them for getting to and from DC in the most temporally efficient way possible is utterly ridiculous."

And another anonymous reader wrote, "Your opinion poll is as stupid as your article. You obviously don't have a clue about the complexity of the (auto) industry. Go back to California."

Actually I will be going back to California next week to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I'll be flying commercial and in coach, unless Continental upgrades me. And I'll be back on the pharma beat Monday with live reports from the Schering-Plough Research and Development Day for analysts and investors, including an interview with Chairman and CEO Fred Hassan on "Power Lunch" at around 1:30 p.m. ET.

Have a good weekend. USC has a bye this week. So, go Arizona Wildcats, beat the Oregon State Beavers!

Questions? Comments?