Michael Moore says farewell to GM ... and cars?

In the wreckage of General Motors, Michael Moore senses salvation: The demise of GM as we’ve known it offers a tremendous opportunity to catch up to the rest of the world where high-speed passenger rail and solid transit systems – and energy efficiency – are concerned.

The polemicist best known for “Roger & Me,” “Bowling for Columbine,” “Fahrenheit 9/11” and “SiCKO” suggests in this post (also posted at his web site, MichaelMoore.com) that the federal government, now owning 60 percent of the company, retool GM plants and retrain its workforce to build the train sets, transit cars and streetcars that would be needed for the new lines and networks that could be built by the millions of currently unemployed men and women.

Moreover, the plants and people could also build windmills and solar panels needed to expand the use of alternative, greener energy. And to pay for this, tax the crap out of gasoline: “To help pay for this, impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline. This will get people to switch to more energy saving cars or to use the new rail lines and rail cars the former autoworkers have built for them.”

As fans of James Howard Kunstler (who will be a presenter at CNU 17) are keenly aware, Moore isn’t the only one to acknowledge that the Automobile Era is at – you should pardon the expression – a cross-roads. But unlike P.J. O’Rourke’s recent paean to the car, complete with a snippy comment about New Urbanism, Moore is more than ready to drop-kick cars into the grave:

100 years ago this year, the founders of General Motors convinced the world to give up their horses and saddles and buggy whips to try a new form of transportation. Now it is time for us to say goodbye to the internal combustion engine. It seemed to serve us well for so long. We enjoyed the car hops at the A&W. We made out in the front -- and the back -- seat. We watched movies on large outdoor screens, went to the races at NASCAR tracks across the country, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time through the window down Hwy. 1. And now it's over. It's a new day and a new century. The President -- and the UAW -- must seize this moment and create a big batch of lemonade from this very sour and sad lemon.

Yesterday, the last surviving person from the Titanic disaster passed away. She escaped certain death that night and went on to live another 97 years.

So can we survive our own Titanic in all the Flint Michigans of this country. 60% of GM is ours. I think we can do a better job.

Photo courtesy of madaise ... irl, Judi Cox, via a Creative Commons license at Flickr.com


Getting people out of the car

Since the 1900's, when cars first appeared, people were amazed with the ability to get where they needed to go without depending on someone or something else. Even before cars, riders chose the horse before the stagecoach. Look at today, when visitors come from other countries that have and use mass-transit, they choose to rent a car because of the freedom it gives them, and the control of your own visit.
Even if the American Car companies go out of business today, foreign car companies are not; their prices would just increase. Therefore, it will be along time before we will get people out of their cars.

Cars won't go away, but...

I agree with you that we'll never get all the people out of all the cars all of the time. Nor should we try. Moore's point is that the United States should finally treat transit and passenger rail with the same degree of obsession that we've treated cars since the 1950s.

But provide truly viable alternatives to driving, and enough people will take them to make a difference.


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