Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Full GM Record Should Be Aired Before A Bailout

I'm guessing that Congress will fashion some sort of financial package for the US auto industry, but before the deal is struck, it would be helpful to generations of Americans less aware of history to have two GM-related items put on the record.

The first was GM's sabotage of its 1960's electric car, then its more recent literal destruction of all its revolutionary EV1 cars now the subject of the documentary "Who Killed The Electric Car?"

(Answer: its builder, GM, so as not to highlight how dirty and wasteful were all its other nameplates.

As the auto company pleads for taxpayer dollars in the billions to help it stay afloat in a period highlighted by its launch of the electric Chevrolet Volt, let's have GM acknowledge and explain why it killed off its own electric car nearly a half-century ago.

And let's have the House of Representatives reproduce the findings of the late Wright Patman, a Democrat from Texas, who was among those who documented the conspiracy among GM, Firestone and Standard Oil to destroy urban electric rail transit systems in favor of buses that ran on rubber tires and combustion engines.

I remember when the trolley tracks were ripped out of the streets in my hometown of Washington, DC in favor of buses.

I cannot say if Milwaukee's electric trolley systems were specifically part of the GM-Firestone-Standard Oil cabal, but it's well known that the city had both intra-city rail and numerous high-speed interurban trains west to Oconomowoc and south to Chicago that could hit 120 m.p.h.

These losses are still felt today, and the ironies are obvious, as we are trying to introduce modern city trains (light rail) and high-speed Midwest Rail to replace Amtrak.

GM, Firestone and Standard Oil companies used a front company called National City Lines to buy out the rail lines and convince municipalities and other operators to bring in bus systems instead.

After court proceedings, guilty verdicts and appeals, some convictions were upheld, and small fines levied, but the policy and environmental damage had been done, with electric transport again sidetracked in favor of GM non-electric engine and vehicle sales.

GM has a lot of explaining to do that predates its reliance on SUV's and light trucks at the expense of fuel-efficient cars and hybrids.

Congress has a teaching function to perform along with its fiscal stewardship of our tax dollars.


Anonymous said...

No Bailout! The automakers got them self's in this they can go bankrupt> The UAW is to blame too insane wages and benefits. hundreds of dollars
is added to each car sold to pay for that, not up to be to keep the bloated dinosaurs going on my tax money!
Let the Son of God push something when he takes office so should it pass he can get the blame he so richly deserves.
50 Billion will not last them 9 months.
Mr Rowan with respect tell me how do you force the use of trains? because that will be what it takes to move us to your trains.
Case in poit if I from Racine would take the KRM to a job in Milwaukee that started at 8 AM I would to leave my home by 5;30 AM not going to happen

James Rowen said...

To Anonymous:

Whatever the UAW got, they got through bargaining. Remember that GM fought government healthcare,preferring company-paid plans, for ideological reasons, so the company has no one to blame but itself.
I am fascinated by all the nicknames the Right has for Obama. Why can't you use his name?
And you are planning to blame him for something that the Congress is planning now.
Think about it.

As to trains: no one is forcing you to do anything. We are talking about options. Choices. Alternatives.
Like the roads: use them, or take an alternative - - walk, bike, rail - - for various purposes.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I thought I sighed my last post.
Why the names for Obama easy I had to put up with name calling on Bush for 8 years I think the man who is going to heal us can put up with a few.
You are right be it GM or the UAW they did this to them self's I will not miss them. Years ago by working together this could be stopped but none of them can think about anything other them them selfs they have it coming.
My guess is that Obama will have to do something to pay off a union that supported him so much.
The American people will not think the same way.

On the other point why should we spend millions on transit systems that no one will take?
For the hand full who MIGHT take a train we should TAX via an unelected body the rest of the area?

Anonymous said...

I would love to not have the expenses needed to be absorbed to own a gasoline engine passenger vehicle and to be able to take a safe and efficient rail option. In my rural WI, we don't even have bus service to someplace like Green Bay, much less on to other state or regional destinations.

Auto makers and big oil in collaboration with road builders have dictated public transportation for way too long. Change will not come easy but will be forced upon us through the mere fact of having passed peak oil availability. Auto bailout will waste public money and not begin dire transport changes needed to effect any future economic viability in any sector.

Not meaning or desiring to punish unions or labor in any way. Oil economy is near dead. Plain fact. The money could simply be spent on schools, hospitals, county services and food/housing for the inevitably growing population of disenfranchised.

Just heard news auto bailout denied without a plan for restructuring from them.

Anonymous said...

"...The money could simply be spent on schools, hospitals, county services and food/housing for the inevitably growing population of disenfranchised..."
I think we have been doing this for, oh, say, 30 years. What has that gotten us. Better schools? Efficient and streamlined county services?