Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Michael Makes Sense


However you may personally feel about Michael Moore, of Roger and Me fame, his blog post yesterday made total sense to me. General Motors is bankrupt, now mostly owned by the US government, requiring at least another 30 billion dollars of taxpayer money. So why not take this lemon and turn it into lemonade?

The last thing we need this company to do is to provide the types of vehicles they provided in the past. The invention of "planned obsolescence" started with GM. In it's arrogance, it built cars that would fall apart after a few years, so people would have to buy new ones. It fought all attempts at environmentally safe vehicles, instead shipping thousands of jobs out of the country to Mexico and other countries at the height of record profits during the 1980's. But what is done is done. Now what?

Here is the good part.

Moore suggests converting our industrial infrastructure at GM to produce 21st-century modes of transportation. This was done during WWII in no time at all. The conversion could start right now. Putting our skilled labor force to work making the following:

  • Bullet Trains - Japan has had them for 45 years. We still do not have one! Average speed is 165 mph, average late time is 30 seconds. They have the capacity to go from New York to LA in 17 hours, Chicago to Detroit in less than 2 hours, Miami to DC in under 7 hours, Denver to Dallas in 5.5 hours.
  • Light Rail - Factories could be producing these immediately. Have local people working on the lines and infrastructure, training to run the system, in every large to medium city in the US.
  • Clean energy-efficient Buses - For small cities an infrastructure of these vehicles.
  • Electric or Hybrid Cars - A few factories to produce cars of the future as we wean ourselves from the combustion engine. If everyone is driving small energy-efficient vehicles - the need for bigger to be safer becomes less of an issue.
  • Wind Mills and Solar Panels - Thousands of solar panels are needed right now.
I believe that once we get started in this direction, many new and innovative ideas will surface. If we do not have a massive effort, immediately, our world will not sustain the degradation. Not to mention now is the time to put people to work. It's time for us to insist that our elected officials bring us into the 21st century, and I think in this case, Michael Moore makes sense.

What do you think?

BTW - Send comments to the White House this way: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

36 comments:

Rachael said...

I think those are ALL excellent ideas. The world is changing... scratch that... our country is changing, and it's time to change with it. WE will become obsolete if things don't shape up soon. The time is now for action, and positive action can only make things better for everyone!

Thanks for sharing this, I did not know he had a blog!

California Girl said...

Those are great ideas. I've heard a number of them debated recently on mainstream talk shows & public radio. It seems every time these ideas are brought up, the naysayers are very vocal about how long it would take to convert the infrastructure, the plants, not to mention the cost to the taxpayers. But, we're paying for everything now anyway on the off chance the govt aka the people will be able to underwrite a turnaround for all these companies who've been screwing us and each other for years. I don't mind paying my taxes as long as the money goes to really help other people or something in which I believe. Light rail and a bullet train seem sensible. Europe manages beautifully with both. Wind power intrigues me to no end. I doubt it's any more harmful to migratory birds than high tension wires or phone lines. We really need to get our priorities straight.

scarlethue said...

I completely agree. I just hope our government sees this as an opportunity and goes in that direction at least a little bit. The status quo has got to change!

Lover of Life said...

Rachael - I found that blog post on the Daily Beast.

California - I am so tired of the nay sayers - they live in fear of anything new - During WWII the conversion was done in no time at all. We have the ability - now we need the willingness.

scarlethue - We really must insist that it does. We need to be louder than the people against it. Those people never have any new ideas anyway.

Brian Miller said...

great thoughts. if only the government would read them. this is a great opportunity to make strides in helping the environment and the populus by providing clean, economical transportation. unfortunately we seem to be bailing out the same old same old...

Mental P Mama said...

Should have listened to him 20 years ago.....

Kathy G said...

I think they're all great ideas, but I'm pretty pessimistic that they'll happen.

The company has too many "bosses" (people who have a say in their business policies)--the government, the Canadian government, the bankruptcy court, and the unions. Getting that many people to agree on radically new ideas will take a very long time.

CrazyCris said...

Talk about an example of synchronicity! (if I've got the concept right)
I've been thinking about bullet trains in the US all weekend, since we heard on the news that a US Secretary of Transportation (I think) was here in Spain meeting with people from RENFE (Spain's train company) and the companies who build and maintain our bullet trains, they were talking about a possible deal for a Spanish company to lend its expertise and technology to help the US start developping its own bullet train network. Dunno if it will be Spain though, from what I've heard they're also considering deals with France and Germany.

In other words it's the AVE vs the TGV vs the ICE. Personally I'm rooting for the AVE! ;o)

Lover of Life said...

Brian - Since we already own it - shouldn't we have a say what it becomes? I think it's time to send another e-mail to the Obama/Biden team. I have the website bookmarked - and use it. I'll post a link.

Mental - That's what he said. :-)

Kathy - It will take a concerted effort, no doubt - but it would be helpful if certain "groups" didn't take it upon themselves to fight it - just because they can. Require our government to actually do something that will benefit the people for a change.

Crazy - The network is beginning to work - I can feel it! Yay!

Lover of Life said...

I added the White House contact information to the post , if anyone is interested in sending them your two cents! I must admit, I have done it several times. And I must not be alone, because each time the issue was addressed, if not to my liking, at least addressed.

Reya Mellicker said...

Michael Moore is brilliant, if obnoxious.

Bullet trains are great in Japan which is a tiny country. Here it would mean a whole lot more work - though - that could be OK, too. People need jobs.

I'm on board.

Jeff D'Antonio said...

As a general rule, I hate Michael Moore. Although I do respect him for his passion, even when I don't happen to agree with him.

That said, I'm afraid I have to agree with him in this case. It is time for a radical change in the way we think about transportaton and energy and conservation. For decades, it has been put off - "It's not our problem, let the next generation worry about it" - now the next generation is us, and our children and grandchildren. And it IS our problem. It is time to act.

Rock Farm said...

Wake up people. There is NO MONEY for bullet trains or any of the other programs this administration wants. We are essentially BANKRUPT. That is not to say the last admin didn't have a hand in this too. It is a cultural mindset we evolved into that we can Have It All. WE CAN'T. We will do well to be able to afford to drive cars at all, let alone thses expensive little hybrids everyone is so enamored of.
Sorry if I sound pessimistic, but the realities are there in black and white for all to see.

http://www.321gold.com/editorials/casey/casey052909.html

Lover of Life said...

Reya - I think it is something we need to consider.

Jeff - It is our problem, and it is now.

Rock - We may have to visit that bugaboo of a word - Taxes - maybe on gas. We pay less than half for gasoline than the rest of the world. No one likes them - but we do have two wars we are supporting. To the tune of TEN BILLION DOLLARS per month!

Expat From Hell said...

As a former regular user, bullet trains are terrific, and it's a great idea. However, bear in mind that they are run by the Japanese government. Round trip between Osaka and Tokyo (about 300 miles each way) is about $275. So, not a bargain. But...all electric. Can you say "clean energy"? We have a lot to catch up.

EFH

Whitney Lee said...

For all the naysayers and the pessimists, the current situation does seem rather bleak. That said, what do we have to lose? There are so many jobless, homeless, hopeless out there; can't this be an opportunity? And as for the cost of the hybrids and energy efficient vehicles, if they are made more readily available the cost will come down.
Obama's campaign was all about change; lets insist on some.

Lover of Life said...

Expat - I wonder how it would compare to a round-trip flight? It also brings up the problem of clean electricity...

Whitney - Agreed.

Verily I go. said...

Mostly owned by the U.S. Govt. That's us. There's never a better time to start. Today. Great ideas. Can anyone hear you? I'm in.

MzzLily said...

The bottom line... Ideas only work if someone does it. Gm is not in the position to retool. It's extremely expensive to put in one new assembly line. Many plants? I am a retired tool & die maker. It's not cheap, it's not fast. We don't have the same stuff we had in WWII. I like the idea, but there are some huge hurdles.

We have to maintain a strong manufacturing base, whatever we build. That is a segment that they underestimated in the seventies when the 'think tanks' decided we should be a service society.

Joanne said...

It seems like America's love affair with automobiles is keeping us rooted in the past. I mean, what does GM plan to produce - more 2 ton suburbans to take us to the grocery stores? I'm with you on this one, all amazing ideas.

JC said...

Your picture makes me want to cough !!!

~~~ If you're interested, I'm having a Pay It Forward on my blog ~~~

Lover of Life said...

Verily - We need to start somewhere don't we?

Mzz - That has been a bugaboo with me forever. From a family science point of view - exactly how did they expect people to make a living in a service-only society?

Joanne - I totally agree. We have enough car makers. Some companies that make really good cars - time for our country to re-tool and look to the future. But it will take the people sending a clear message of authority on this one.

JC - Me too! I'll stop by...

Natalie said...

Great ideas, wonderful woman. Keep up the great job you are doing.xx♥

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Where GM went really wrong was with the Hummer. After the tax code was changed so that Hummers - and their ilk - became tax write offs, the number of them in our area, S Fl, proliferated. It seemed that every other car on the road was a Hummer, getting oh, maybe five miles to the gallon. And there were a lot of women driving them, women who were interviewed by the local newspapers. "I love my Hummer. I feel so safe inside of it." Comments like that.

Once gas hit $4 a gallon, there were many fewer Hummers. Tonight on the news, I heard that the Hummer division has been sold to...yes, China.

Bogey said...

For years everybody just catered to the big oil companies believing there would be an endless supply. Even though they knew the truth, they greedily pocketed the profits instead of reinvesting it environmentally friendly alternatives. Even the delay in producing such vehicles en masse is their way of keeping the profit margins as high as possible. Compensating for the fact that they have to sell the gas guzzlers for a little more than cost. Shameful waste.

Here where I live, they are looking into a rail line that would run from one end of our city to the other. The debate rages on.

Lover of Life said...

Natalie - Thanks, Nat

Rob & Trish - I think putting a tax on gas is going to be the only way to have the money to re-tool.

Bogey - Portland, OR has a light rail and it is very popular. The people want it in more parts of the city. Of course, $$ is the issue.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Thought provoking indeed and all such good ideas. Just this week I have been told that I owe the IRS $14,000. Now I have to hire a tax accountant to help figure this mess out. Upon reflection, though that seems a mere drop in the bucket of the problems our country faces. One of the jobs created by the so-called stimulus was to hire additional tax auditors to go after sinners such as I. This in turn will no doubt keep all the TV lawyers in the big bucks as small businesses try to survive this magnifying glass they are under. I am disgusted with our government....can you tell?

Lover of Life said...

Kathy - We had a similar surprise tax bill. I know your pain.

Missy said...

Did they really build cars to intentionally fall apart? That's a fact? I did not know that. I have one question....what is the government going to do when none of us can pay all these taxes they are planning on charging me? Personally, we are stretched as tight as we can be and our salaries keep decreasing because everyone wants to pay less and so all the companies trying to make money charge more for everything. My health insurance just went up by $100 per month, groceries are outrageous, etc, etc. I have a 10 year old Honda and I love it and also have a burning desire to move to a walking community but would never be able to sell my house. Also, I work at an insurance brokerage and every single company we work with has had a rate increase. I talk to angry people every day.

Jun Bullan said...

I used to admire the industrial might of America. And I feel sorry your country is about to witness the demise of an industrial giant.

By the way, I have passed on to you
an award. I hope you will stop by again to accept it.

Leah J. Utas said...

I wish the world would change before a crisis instead of in response to it.

Rain said...

Hi LOL, sorry this is off track from Michael Moore, I have an award for you on my blog if you're interested! It's today's post (Wednesday).
Rain

Lover of Life said...

Missy - We certainly have many many problems in this country, but we have to get the economy rolling and provide jobs for people. I don't think it's going to be based on consumerism, which is what it has been based on. People used credit cards to fuel it, and that's not sustainable - not for the planet, either. But green technology and infrastructure may be what we need to get things rolling again. It's taken a long time to get us in this position, it will take a while to straighten it out - but it must be sustainable in my mind.

Jun - We are no longer an industrial giant, thats for sure. I have always argued against a "service economy" which did not benefit families. Thanks, I'll stop by.

Leah - I think the crises is here. Maybe we'll learn this time? One can hope.

Rain - Thanks! I'll stop by.

Ruth said...

Yes, yes, and yes. We have the factories, we have the man/womanpower, we have the expertise. Let Michigan thrive on the new technology.

Phoebe Miriah Kirby said...

I voted yes for the light rail this last year when I voted for our next president. Here in Texas, they make all of these excuses.
"It will take over 20 years to build" and so and so. I don't care if I don't live to see it, my children and grandchildren will.
WE need to do something now, before it is too late for us.

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