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As we discuss bailing out automotive corporations, I have some ambivalence.   The automotive and related businesses are an important part of our economy (my father was an auto mechanic and owned a Gulf Truck Stop in west Texas).  In addition we do not want to break the unions; we need those jobs and the UAW.

But, what about the decisions the industry has made...?

As we look at what the automotive industry has done while they claim that they are simply building the products that the public wants gives me pause.   The so called safety "crash tests" are basically designed to promote that larger, heavier vehicles are safer than small, efficient autos.   That plus using sex to sell bigger, more powerful autos is a self-fulfilling manipulation of the public through psychological advertising.

Then when we look at the role that General Motors (GM) played in the demise of the urban rail and mass transit systems in the last century, makes me want to be punitive toward them.   I hope the USA buys into the GM stock, votes in a green board of directors, and demands that GM build non-commercial vehicles that weigh less than 6,000 pounds (or much less) and that do not get less than 35 miles per gallon of gasoline.   Based on the information I see about GM, we could consider giving Ford and Chrysler a bit more of a break, but GM needs to be heavily regulated.  

The USA needs to promote rail, urban and long-haul rail, and start getting the long-haul trucks off the high-ways.  Trucks for local distribution are logical, but we don't need them for ALL the interstate commerce.

Here is the link to the transcript about GM's role in dismantling the urban mass transit systems in the first half of the 20th century.    Below are quotes and links to several events from the electric car to the trolleys, and in all cases General Motors was the main mover and shaker behind the messes.

"He said that the evidence uncovered showed that GM and others had set out to destroy the streetcar. In his testimony, Bradford Snell said that, "As long as people had adequate mass transportation, they wouldn’t buy the product that GM was fundamentally interested in selling, meaning automobiles. The only way to bring about a situation where it sold more cars was to eliminate rail alternatives and to supplant them with buses, which were unattractive." "

And here is a link to a description of the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car".   Watch the video clip preview on this link (about 3 minutes).

And finally, here is a link to "Taken for a Ride" (unfortunately this one does not appear in NetFlix): Taken for a

Ride - How General Motors (GM) Conspired to Destroy ...
"Taken for a Ride"

The Pacific Electric Railway served the Los Angeles basin with trolley service through World War II. In 1950, it abandoned most of its lines. The "Red Cars" were junked, stacked and left to rot. Similarly, General Motors targeted over 100 other U.S. cities through its front company, National City Lines.
This is a story about how things got the way they are. Why sitting in traffic seems natural. Why our public transportation is the worst in the industrialized world. And why superhighways cut right through the hearts of our cities.
Narrator: When you're talking about public transportation in America, for the first part of this century, you're talking about streetcars. Trolleys ran on most major avenues every few minutes. Steel track and quiet electric motors made the ride smooth and clean and comfortable. The center of the road was reserved for streetcars, and the new automobiles had to move out of the way.
Bradford Snell, who has made a career researching the auto industry for 16 years: In 1922, only one American in ten owned an automobile. (Everyone else used rail.) At that time Alfred P. Sloan (President, General Motors) said, 'Wait a minute, this is a great opportunity. We've got 90 percent of the market out there that we can somehow turn into automobile users. If we can eliminate the rail alternatives, we will create a new market for our cars. And if we don't, then General Motors' sales are just going to remain level.'

Peace, Terry DuBose (PeaceVet)

Originally posted to PeaceVet on Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 02:27 PM PST.

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