Vox Civitatis the Sustainable City News weblog
11/30/2008: "Re-Training for Full Employment"What to do with the Big Three? What to do with Chrysler, Ford, and GM, who have repeatedly proven themselves arrogant and incompetent over seven decades; who have steadfastly opposed innovation in the name of short-term profit; who consistently have insisted on making a product that directly kills 45,000 Americans per year (and many more worldwide), kills millions more through pollution, requires huge indirect subsidies in the form of roads, highways, bridges, and parking, and which is now killing the very planet itself, while engaging us in vicious and unjustifiable wars?
Now their CEOs are asking the US public to hand them billions of dollars so they can continue on the same course a little longer, and line their pockets a little thicker, all in the name of jobs--jobs they have been slashing away at for decades anyhow.
Yet the jobs that remain are real, and they might amount to as much as 10% of the employment in the country.
Is the only possible way to save those jobs simply to throw more money at those pinstriped pirates who have mismanaged the industry into the dilapidated state in which we now see it?
If we let them go bust, what will all those workers do? Certainly Toyota, Honda, and BMW's US plants can't absorb them all.
Is there nothing to do but throw big money at the Big Three CEOs, and watch them fail their way into oblivion just a few years later?
Maybe what we need is a re-training program...no, not the sort that teaches machinists how to do data entry. I mean something else altogether.
Years ago, GM and a number of other companies were convicted in Federal court of a conspiracy to buy up and dismantle the urban rail systems that used to serve this country so well, even unto the magnificent Pacific Electric Red Cars of Los Angeles (whose routes the freeways still follow).
If we still had those rail lines, we might now have compact, efficient, and elegant cities where residents would have a choice of whether to drive or not, whether to travel in clean conviviality, or to grind alone through traffic if they felt they must drive. People, despite decades of Big Three agitprop, still want that choice, and so our cities are re-building, at great expense, those rail lines that GM and its cohorts had destroyed. Even cities such as Los Angeles, the Ground Zero of Carmageddon, and Denver, and Salt Lake City, and Dallas, and others where the warlordism of a car-only culture has so long reigned.
In each of these cities, money to rebuild the rails is in eternally short supply. And once the rails are built, the trains that run on them must be bought from Italy, Canada, Japan--anywhere, it seems, but here.
The re-training we need is the rebuilding of a native urban railroad system, with its components sourced within our own economy.
Let's use the money that the Big Three are begging for to accelerate all the urban rail transit projects now in progress, and to jump-start new ones anywhere they're wanted!
And let's re-tool the Big Three so they, and their workers, can make the rolling stock these systems need now, and will need in the future.
Think of all the orders they could receive if America were to rebuild, and expand, the 1500 urban rail transit systems the National City Lines conspirators destroyed! And even more once high-speed rail finally comes (half a century late) to the US!
And instead of making something that destroys community, sucks up public funds, and poisons the earth we depend on, they'd be supplying the country with clean and convivial mobility, and strengthening communities while reducing to a minimum the acreage needed to accommodate the daily travels of our citizens--leaving more room for housing and businesses, and more money for schools, squares, and libraries as well.
Don't bail the Big Three out--retrain them, so they can re-train America!