Sunday, December 21, 2008

Keeping Up With the Car Bailout Talk

Ok, as of today, the 2008 Winter Solstice, the auto industry is still teetering on the brink of insolvency, though lame duck President George W. Bush threw it a lifeline recently. That lifeline is a grant of $13.4 billion now, with another $4 billion to come in February if necessary. Bush is tapping the TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, more colloquially known as the bailout of Wall Street and the financial institutions, which Congress approved in October, to fund the auto industry.

Meantime, Newsweek has done a story on the link between Republican congressmen and women (especially southern ones) and the their resistance to bailing out Detroit-based auto design and manufacturing companies. What's the basis of their resistance? Why, foreign auto companies, especially Toyota, have a number of factories in southern states that employ tens of thousands of workers, NON-UNION workers, mind you ...

And yet, Toyota's sales are also down ...

Folks, are we screwed or what?

Last night I went to a winter solstice celebration (we do that kind of thing in San Francisco, a refuge for the unconventional, the pentagonal pegs among us who just do not fit into round holes and celebrate the holidays the way the rest of the world does). At one point the hostess made sure we all had unlit candles, turned off the lights, and the music, and started a lovely ritual to usher in the increasing daylight in the days, weeks, and months to come. One at a time, she invited us all to say what we wished for in the coming year. She lit her candle first and started, taking my own wish: to be able to travel nearly anywhere in the country via public transportation.

Thanks, Terry!

Her wish will not be the answer to all our economic and environmental woes. But it will certainly be a beginning.

I'm thinking now of two major, 20th century public works projects in the so-called free world that supposedly began the process of lifting nations out of periods of economic malaise -- the New Deal and the Marshall Plan. I know that president-elect Barack Obama is thinking along the lines of the New Deal now, thinking really big. But as he moves forward, I hope he brings back that campaign word of his -- change -- and starts getting the nation ready for huge changes, necessary changes in the way we live. That's because change is going to be necessary if we're going to save the planet and the principals so vital to democratic society -- transparent government, and political and artistic freedom of expression. In fact, a December 21, 2008 editorial in The Huffington Post suggests that Obama may in fact be contemplating change, planning to commit "industrial policy," though schizophrenically at best.

Coming soon: Steven Chu and Ray LaHood ...

2 comments:

JimB said...

I am cautiously optimistic about the new administration and their plans. Of course, nothing good will happen without enormous pressure from us. I only wish gas prices were higher. That would help.

Sue said...

I agree. I wish gas prices were higher also. I also think we should all be cautiously optimistic , but the choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation sure is a blow to those of us who were hoping for change, if you know what I mean.