Thursday, December 04, 2008

Work with me

I've been at a clean energy venture conference during much of the last few days, and all in all, it was a very good one, lots of venture folks, policy makers, and lawyers. There weren't a lot of actual industry folks, but that wasn't the focus of the conference. There was a lot of focus on carbon trading and the road ahead.

During one of the panels, in which an influential "R" still maintained that the jury is still out on climate change, I whispered to a colleague next to me that the discussion was strangely void of the economic reality that exists outside of the new paint and big ceiling beams of the impressive UT conference facility where the event was held.

I mean, think about it, the Princes of the World are once again in Washington begging for mercy from the court of the King. What is happening to our consumer driven economy is nothing short of breathtaking. And the speed of the apparent demise of those who create the very foundation of the post war "everyone has a car, and an electric garage door opener" dream can only be matched by the speed in which the other guys watched their former Soviet Union dissolve like snow on a hot sauna.

Here's part of the story from the NYTs.

Back on Capitol Hill, Auto Executives Still Find Skeptics
New York Times

WASHINGTON — As the Senate banking committee debated a potential rescue package for American automakers, the committee chairman, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, suggested that it would be difficult for lawmakers to approve a financial lifeline for the three companies. (clip)

“There are a number of ways that we could address this issue,” Mr. Dodd said. “The one that has received a lot of attention is whether Congress will act. If Congress is going to act, it is going to require some significant effort of the coming days. There are alternatives to that.”

Mr. Dodd then used his questioning of a witness, Gene L. Dodaro, the acting comptroller general of the United States, to highlight the authority that the Treasury or the Fed could use to aid the auto companies, either by tapping the $700 billion economic stabilization program approved by Congress in the fall or the Fed using its existing powers to aid imperiled industries.

“Both of those avenues of authority are available,” Mr. Dodaro said.

Mr. Dodd’s skepticism about the ability of Congress to generate enough support for a new rescue plan, coupled with opening comments by Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the banking committee, who announced that he would strongly oppose a taxpayer bailout for Detroit, signaled just how steep a challenge the auto executives were facing even before any them fielded a single question Thursday. (more)

And well they should. These Princes have managed to drive their once great companies into the Wall Street dirt. And they shouldn't be bailed out, they should be bought out.

Here's Michael Moore:

Members of Congress, here's what I propose:

1. Transporting Americans is and should be one of the most important functions our government must address. And because we are facing a massive economic, energy and environmental crisis, the new president and Congress must do what Franklin Roosevelt did when he was faced with a crisis (and ordered the auto industry to stop building cars and instead build tanks and planes):

The Big 3 are, from this point forward, to build only cars that are not primarily dependent on oil and, more importantly to build trains, buses, subways and light rail (a corresponding public works project across the country will build the rail lines and tracks). This will not only save jobs, but create millions of new ones.

2. You could buy ALL the common shares of stock in General Motors for less than $3 billion. Why should we give GM $18 billion or $25 billion or anything? Take the money and buy the company!

3. None of us want government officials running a car company, but there are some very smart transportation geniuses who could be hired to do this. We need a Marshall Plan to switch us off oil-dependent vehicles and get us into the 21st century.

This proposal is not radical or rocket science. It just takes one of the smartest people ever to run for the presidency to pull it off. What I'm proposing has worked before. The national rail system was in shambles in the '70s. The government took it over. A decade later it was turning a profit, so the government returned it to private/public hands, and got a couple billion dollars put back in the treasury.

This proposal will save our industrial infrastructure -- and millions of jobs. More importantly, it will create millions more. It literally could pull us out of this recession.

In contrast, yesterday General Motors presented its restructuring proposal to Congress. They promised, if Congress gave them $18 billion now, they would, in turn, eliminate around 20,000 jobs.

You read that right.

We give them billions so they can throw more Americans out of work. That's been their Big Idea for the last 30 years -- layoff thousands in order to protect profits.

These idiots don't deserve a dime. Fire all of them, and take over the industry for the good of the workers, the country and the planet.

What's good for General Motors IS good for the country.

Once the country is calling the shots."

The idea of nationalizing the transportation industry will put more than a dent in the collective capitalist's philosophy, it is downright anathema to who we say and think we are.

But the times before us are extraordinary, and they will call for action that would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.

With climate change, and global competition for limited resources,

We're are facing challenges as dangerous and dire

as any that we faced in the last century

when the last new world order was established.

So let's give unfettered competition and unregulated greed a rest,

and lets cooperate to make a new world and a new order.

As the new president might soon say:

Work with me, here.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, the president of Ford has made $50M in the last two years while driving the company to the edge of ruin. I don't see him ponying up anything while he asks for a handout.

4:02 PM  

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