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I was talking about the auto-industry bailout with a friend today, and he linked me to a couple of blogposts that I'm still mulling over. I agree with the poster's view that unions were vital to creating an American middle class, that we have a lot to thank them for, and that if the American auto industry was allowed to fail as the Republicans want it to, it would be completely devastating for the workers of this country. But then I reached this part:

So why do crunchy Detroit-hating liberals refuse to acknowledge GM's innovation? Why is it so much easier just to follow these common memes of hatred and loathing rather consider that these companies might be worth saving not just for the jobs and the economy of the Rust Belt, but for the innovation that our American engineers and designers might bring to the table?

- and it was like, where has this guy been for the past twenty years? I don't know specifics about the auto industry, but I do know that the big three have been doing everything they could to stifle competition and innovation and prevent Congress from imposing necessary environmental standards, and for anyone to claim otherwise seems kind of insane. Where was this guy when GM founded the Global Climate Coalition in 1989, which funded denialist think-tanks and spent millions of dollars deriding climate change as unproven science, which is probably the single biggest reason why many Americans think that Climate Change is a controversial theory? Where was he when GM pulled the plug on its electric car over ten years ago because they thought that its gas guzzlers would be more profitable? Where was he when GM was pouring millions of dollars into Washington lobbying against raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, threatening massive job losses and bankruptcies if they were passed? Where was he when they were filing lawsuits against states that attempted to limit vehicle carbon emissions? Where was he when they pushed for a legal loophole for SUVs that made them exempt from the fuel efficiency guidelines smaller vehicles had to follow and allowed buyers to deduct their costs, which resulted in thousands of professionals buying those vehicles and a loss to taxpayers of about $1 billion for every 1,000 such SUVs sold? Where was he when they funded the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which launched several misleading ad campaigns stating that increased fuel economy standards would decrease the safety and functionality of automobiles? Where was he when the CEO of GM called global warming a crock of shit and claimed that fuel efficient cars made no economic sense? Where was he when GM was doing everything it could to stop states from adopting stricter environmental standards?

Am I just supposed to forget these things because OH LOOK, GM says that there's a car coming out two years from now that will be completely fuel efficient, we don't need the government to impose harsher restrictions, we're doing everything we can for our consumers and this country and this world trust us we promise??

GM does not stand for innovation; it's a reactionary company that has done everything it could these past twenty years to block it, and it's going to take a lot more than ludicrous attempts at greenwashing or empty promises of fuel efficient cars to make me believe that it has changed, especially when those promises seem to be nothing more than another political ploy, a way to once again stop Congress from passing higher CAFE standards. Because what's at stake here isn't just auto workers from Detroit; what's at stake is the survival of the three billion poor in the world, the ones that live on less than $2 a day, some who can't afford to move from the coasts, and if the current trend isn't reversed, stand lose their homes and possibly their lives to floods or cyclones; some who will lose their livelihoods because of desertification; some who will face water shortages because of retreating glaciers; some who will die of diseases directly attributable to climate change; some who will die, are dying, of hunger because the environment that they depended on is no longer able to provide them with enough food. And to not acknowledge this is just as infuriating and short-sighted as the so-called latte-sipping liberals on the coasts failing to acknowledge the hardships of the auto-workers in Detroit. And, yeah, I find the amount of derision and hate directed towards this demographic, in that post and others, quite amazing, especially considering that the ones who are blocking the auto bailout are the conservatives. There are many cases where progressive liberals have gotten things wrong, but their distrust of the big three, imo, isn't one of them.

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Date: 2009-01-03 02:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] one-if-by-land.livejournal.com
the reasons you write about are exactly why I felt/feel uncomfortable about some of the justifications thrown around for the auto bailout. even with the current struggling economy and the need to boost spirits, people still need to question whether companies deserve to survive or not.

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