Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Should the Auto Industry Be Bailed Out?

Subsidizing the Auto Industry v. Union Busting

The pundits on this matter seem to be torn between the Democrats who are allied with the unions representing the workers and the Republicans who, in this particular instance, are salivating at the opportunity to union bust. See former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's op-ed in the New York Times today here.

Search as I do, I can find very few people talking about the auto industry crisis as an opportunity to create a long-term transportation/community building plan for the nation that addresses environmental ills caused by our way of life. I found Mark Brenner on Democracy Now! on November 12, calling for a game changer:

MARK BRENNER: Well, look, Michigan’s lost over 350,000 manufacturing jobs in the last eight years, most of them in the last three years. Unemployment has already hit ten percent in Flint; it’s nine percent statewide. There’s no question that the impact of the free fall of the auto industry has really decimated, and it’s going to continue to decimate, the state and the region.

So, you know, from my perspective and I think from most of the perspective of the labor movement and hopefully the whole progressive community, there’s no question that something needs to be done. The question is, what do we do? And I think, here, we really need a game changer. ...

Read the transcript of this show here.

Yet I'm still waiting for someone to very specifically link the automobile industry to planetary demise, but perhaps people are afraid to go there. Van Jones, author of The Green Collar Economy and budding environmental justice superstar, came close to this on Sunday, November 16 at the San Francisco Green Festival, but he avoided suggesting that Americans and others divorce their cars (or at the very least get separations). Scroll down in this story to see what Van Jones had to say.

There are people weighing in on the current battle between John Dingell (D-Michigan) and Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) for chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with environmentalists siding with Waxman, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refusing to take sides. But it just feels like, three years after Katrina, no one is really tackling these issues.

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