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Goodbye, GM

by Michael Moore

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-06-01/goodbye-gm/?cid=hp:beastoriginalsR2

At the deathbed of General Motors, I find myself filled with—dare I say it—joy. Here are my nine suggestions for transforming the company.

I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the president of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.

As I sit here in GM's birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?

Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM?

It is with sad irony that the company which invented "planned obsolescence"—the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one—has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh—and that wouldn't start falling apart after two years. GM stubbornly fought environmental and safety regulations. Its executives arrogantly ignored the "inferior" Japanese and German cars, cars which would become the gold standard for automobile buyers. And it was hell-bent on punishing its unionized workforce, lopping off thousands of workers for no good reason other than to "improve" the short-term bottom line of the corporation. Beginning in the 1980s, when GM was posting record profits, it moved countless jobs to Mexico and elsewhere, thus destroying the lives of tens of thousands of hard-working Americans. The glaring stupidity of this policy was that, when they eliminated the income of so many middle-class families, who did they think was going to be able to afford to buy their cars? History will record this blunder in the same way it now writes about the French building the Maginot Line or how the Romans cluelessly poisoned their own water system with lethal lead in its pipes.

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img-article---american-cars-gallery_213239682507.jpgview_media.png?v=stage-9.05

AFP / Getty Images

So here we are at the deathbed of General Motors. The company's body not yet cold, and I find myself filled with—dare I say it—joy. It is not the joy of revenge against a corporation that ruined my hometown and brought misery, divorce, alcoholism, homelessness, physical and mental debilitation, and drug addiction to the people I grew up with. Nor do I, obviously, claim any joy in knowing that 21,000 more GM workers will be told that they, too, are without a job.

But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company! I know, I know—who on earth wants to run a car company? Who among us wants $50 billion of our tax dollars thrown down the rat hole of still trying to save GM? Let's be clear about this: The only way to save GM is to kill GM. Saving our precious industrial infrastructure, though, is another matter and must be a top priority. If we allow the shutting down and tearing down of our auto plants, we will sorely wish we still had them when we realize that those factories could have built the alternative energy systems we now desperately need. And when we realize that the best way to transport ourselves is on light rail and bullet trains and cleaner buses, how will we do this if we've allowed our industrial capacity and its skilled workforce to disappear?

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Yeah, I saw Moore on Olbermann last night and while I give him some credit for being a dreamer, I don't think his plan is well thought out at all.

The main obsacle with Bullet Trains in the US, for example, is not the trains itself, but the infrastructure. The tracks we have can't handle it and we need to use eminent domain to claim land to build those tracks. Granted, with all the foreclosed homes we probably could find some to give to those people, but it isn't a happy thing.

As for building trains for mass transit, every city has their own trains and their own makers. They probably aren't all that compatible with each other. I don't see how getting GM involved with that is going to help much.

Also, a $2 tax on gas? Yeah, that's going to go over well, especially when it is highly regressive. :doh:

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Yeah, I saw Moore on Olbermann last night and while I give him some credit for being a dreamer, I don't think his plan is well thought out at all.

Moore is an editorialist not a documentary film maker. I think his positions are pretty well thought out. They're just very controversial.

The main obsacle with Bullet Trains in the US, for example, is not the trains itself, but the infrastructure. The tracks we have can't handle it and we need to use eminent domain to claim land to build those tracks.

Point is Japan and Europe are more densly populated than we are. They've both got extensive Bullet Train systems and have for decades. What we lack is government vision. Yes government vision. Without Government vision we don't have a railway, freeway or air transport system. Obama making bullit trains part of his energy independence plan was brilliant. The east coast of the US is the most densly packed air traffic corrador in the world. We literally are running out of air space to saftly fly more commutor planes from Boston, NY, Phili, Baltimore DC and Atalanta. The prices are growing as the occupancy space for the indivisual are shrinking and we still don't have either the capacity or the price point we need. High speed rail system would be very profitable operating in that region and would dramatically reduce travel costs and fuel expenses. It would put tens of thousands of people to work in good productive jobs the economy could really use.

All we need it the will to do it.

Granted, with all the foreclosed homes we probably could find some to give to those people, but it isn't a happy thing.

Do we have the will to invest in our infrastructure in order to remain a great country even in bad times? In bad times we need the jobs, and we always need the infrastructure. especially bullet trains which can move a ton of materials literally more than 100 miles on less energy than one gallon of gasoline. Energy efficiency wise it's a no brainer.

As for building trains for mass transit, every city has their own trains and their own makers. They probably aren't all that compatible with each other. I don't see how getting GM involved with that is going to help much.

Mass transite trains were never meant to be interlinked. they're too slow. Besides today folks change traines a few times to get anywhere on sub ways. Why can't they change trains one more time in order to traverse cities/states? Have the bullet trains stop at subway acessable stops.

I'm readdy to commute from DC to Boston in 2 hours for say 10$ per trip... Think of all the jobs openned up around the country if we had that kind of infrastructure. think about all the cars taken off the streets.

Also, a $2 tax on gas? Yeah, that's going to go over well, especially when it is highly regressive. :doh:

World oil production is too tight when measured up against demand. OPEC isn't callling the shots anymore, cause all of them today pump to their capacity and most live hand to mouth with their petrol dollars.

It's only a matter of time before the speculators once again take control of the oil markets again. When that happens you will again see 4-5 dollars a gallon for gas.

The only solution is to introduce competition into the energy market. High speed rail would be significant competiiton.

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Ive seen him speak on GM and he knows what he is talking about in some spots but I just cant get past my hatred for him to give him a fair shake.

You know what's even worse than hearing him speak? Actually watching one of his movies. His movies make the most wild, informative, outragous statements and they invariable turn out to be true...

I think of myself as a pretty well read person. MM in his 9/11 movie or in his sicko movie put out some facts which were pretty dammed near unbelievable. All of them true.

The critisms of his facts were almost laughable compared to the accusations he made on Bush and the US healthcare system.

Examples...

  • Bush Sr was sitting across the table from Osama Bin Laudin's brother on the morning of 9/11.
  • Bush Jr had been personally bankrolled in several unsucessful business deals by the Saudi's before becoming President.
  • Bush senior anual check / pension for being president is dwarfed by more than 50-1 from the money Bush has made from business deals involving the Saudis.
  • 1$ in every 200$ spent on healthcare in the United States goes to pay the salary of a single executive in United Insurance company.

That's just a couple I remember.

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You know what's even worse than hearing him speak? Actually watching one of his movies. His movies make the most wild, informative, outragous statements and they invariable turn out to be true...

I think of myself as a pretty well read person. MM in his 9/11 movie or in his sicko movie put out some facts which were pretty dammed near unbelievable. All of them true.

The critisms of his facts were almost laughable compared to the accusations he made on Bush and the US healthcare system.

Examples...

  • Bush Sr was sitting across the table from Osama Bin Laudin's brother on the morning of 9/11.
  • Bush Jr had been personally bankrolled in several unsucessful business deals by the Saudi's before becoming President.
  • Bush senior anual check / pension for being president is dwarfed by more than 50-1 from the money Bush has made from business deals involving the Saudis.
  • 1$ in every 200$ spent on healthcare in the United States goes to pay the salary of a single executive in United Insurance company.

That's just a couple I remember.

links?

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Every time Michael Moore's credability comes up, I'm obligated to post this link:

Truth about Bowling for Columbine.

I goes through all of the edits and distortions Moore had to use in just a few seconds of his movie. Short version: In order to produce a scene that lasted about 15 seconds, Moore had to splice together video and audio from, IIR, seven different speeches, given on three different occasions, including splicing together two partial sentences to construct a sentence that the speaker never said.

In another scene, in which he attempts to prove that George Bush ran a racist campaign commercial, he takes a George Bush commercial, removes only the first sentence and the last one (the "I'm George Bush and I approved this message") and places a different commercial in between them. And then edits that commercial to say things that it didn't say.

(When caught at this fraud, he removed the footage that he added to the commercial from the VHS version of his movie. Then re-inserted it (although correcting his factual error) in the DVD version.)

Sorry, Mr. Moore. But I frankly can't imagine why anybody would want to watch a "documentary" where, when the "documentary" shows you footage of something which was recorded on video, you can't trust that the video hasn't been faked.

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I like Jalopniks take. :D

http://jalopnik.com/5275891/michael-moore-posthumously-hates-roger-wants-gm-to-die

Michael Moore Posthumously Hates Roger, Wants GM To Die

By Ben Wojdyla, 5:30 PM on Tue Jun 2 2009, 1,838 views

Upon GM's announcement of bankruptcy, celebrated self-promoter Michael Moore patted himself on the back while typing out one of the most singularly anti-capitalist, reality-free diatribes we've seen in quite some time.

Take a couple minutes to head over to his cute little website and read it. No seriously. Though if you have a weak stomach or troubles with high blood pressure we'd advise you to be careful. HERE it is.

Now that you're back, we're prepared to address Moore's points. First, his obviously biased introductory statement. Moore's central argument is GM needs to die because his lazy friends and family in Flint didn't have the guts and motivation to build their own companies and provide for themselves when GM closed a poorly performing plant. Furthermore, GM is evil for pursuing profits and reacting to the business environment in a prudent fashion.

We can agree GM has made some heinous mistakes in the past and that's why they're in Chapter 11, but vilifying capitalism for working properly is plainly moronic. Moore goes on to outline his vision of a transportation future free of personal choice and based on bullet trains and electric cars and rainbows and unicorn farts. We'll make fun of all the points in order:

:hysterical:

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The iconoclast in me wants Moore's movies to be fully credible. But they just aren't. And they certainly aren't documentaries.

I really don't know why he engages in distortion and (occasionally) flat-out deceit in his films. The topics he picks are slam-dunks, no BS necessary. Witness:

- GM moving jobs to Mexico in search of profit devastated swaths of Middle America.

- We are a country with a significant gun problem that affects everyone.

- The Bush Administration used 9/11 to justify all sorts of shady garbage including oppressive legislature and elective war in Iraq.

- Our health care system is riddled with great big problems.

Not exactly cuckoo-crazy claims. Whether you agree with each individual message or not, you have to admit that a credible filmmaker could easily make a very convincing and fully legitimate film full of well-researched and substantiated evidence to advance each of those points of view.

OR.

Or he could lay down his Get Out Of Truth Free card over and over, and diminish even the good points he makes by peppering them with manipulated tripe labeled as "evidence." ...Thereby calling into question not only the affected parts of a particular film, but all parts of all of his films.

It's such a stupid thing to do. I think he believes that convincing people of the truth requires going beyond the truth; that some "snap-back" phenomenon will leave people believing less of the movie a year later than on the day they see it -- so he had better stake his claims out there at 150% of what reality would support, if he wants to get people to believe all of the actually-true parts in the long term. And of course the movie has to be entertaining as well as convincing, so showmanship and simple ego probably play a major role as well.

Of course, the outcome is that his credibility is shot through, which is a shame because it was totally preventable and he drags down his causes with him.

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- GM moving jobs to Mexico in search of profit devastated swaths of Middle America.

- We are a country with a significant gun problem that affects everyone.

- The Bush Administration used 9/11 to justify all sorts of shady garbage including oppressive legislature and elective war in Iraq.

- Our health care system is riddled with great big problems.

Not exactly cuckoo-crazy claims.

See, I very much agree with you here. These are issues that could and should be constructively talked about without all the partisan mudslinging. There absolutely are valid points that need to be considered in all of these cases.

The problem is with the way Moore goes about broaching these topics...it's completely dishonest and disgusting. And it's a real shame, because this stuff DOES need to be brought up and discussed, but he does this so divisively it's hard (okay, impossible actually) for me to see his name attached to anything and not have this visceral reaction of complete contempt for this bozo.

Is there no one else in this world who is able to make an intelligent, non-partisan piece of work about specific problems in our country and the different solutions being looked at by ALLLLLLL sides???

Really, this is a time when people really, really, really need to be putting their heads together and lay every possible solution on the table, ESPECIALLY in regards to our healthcare crisis. I've discussed this topic for what seems like an eternity with physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, friends I have who actually work for Blue Cross, people working in state-funded and federally-funded healthcare programs and so on, and the one thing we can always agree on is that this is a massive problem with no single, definitive solution to this mess. Every option should be looked at and followed-up on...yet people like Moore do this issue a MAJOR disservice by injecting his outlandish partisanship into his work, further politicizing this issue, pissing people off, and essentially ruining any chance there is to work together to figure this cluster**** out, not only for us, but for the future of this country.

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Bullet Trains are losers - financial sinkholes.

The TGV did nothing to revive the economy of Lyons, for example. Amtrak has been grossly subsidized for decades, and now we want to pump billions more for a sexy sounding idea that's been a proven money loser. Brilliant!

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The only reason trains work in Europe and Japan is because they are small countries. America is way to large for that to financially work. Neat idea though.

You really want to claim that Europe is smaller than the route between DC-NY-Boston?

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Yeah right I'm giving up my vehicles for the failed on arrival bullet train concept.

Let them start in The peoples Republic of California especially SoCal, and Florida first and see how generation Ipod and other avid car lovers/owners in those areas embrace it.

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Ironically, i just spent the last few weeks researching the history of the US. Interstate System, and its effect on the US economy. Most of what Michael Moore proposes is impossible now. For the people that dont know, The United States was built from the interstate system. ( influenced from the German's mobility on the Autobahn during WWII). Originally the interstates role was to get people from the center of the city to the periphery ( and from coast to coast) in the case of an emergency.

As the federal government hired more and more executives from GM ( the head executive as the US Secretary of Agriculture to name as an example) all the federal grants were outsourced to the auto industry, and subsequently the interstate system. The auto industry and the highway industry fueled new jobs in a time of depression. If cities had any desire for growth, they had to encompass the automobile; even if they had no need for a highway system.

This killed off the use of railroads. Without the federal grants necessary to upgrade or repair the railroads, both the railroad and trolley companies died out. So the auto industry fixed the economy, and now it is killing it. People live in the suburbs, needing to travel to the center of the city to work, using a lot of gas and wasting a lot of possible work time. Not to mention the obvious problems, like building cars that do not suit the average american. Its too late to fix our interstate system and in retrospect, too late to destroy GM.

The US economy is built off the automobile, so the very thought of spending all of our tax dollars on reintroducing trains ( or bullet trains rather) would become a double edged sword. It would provide tons of jobs, just as the creation of highways did. But there is not a pressing need for a mass production of bullet trains in America. Meaning, not many factories, not many industrial cities, tons of displaced workers, etc.

The best thing we can do is start designing smarter cars. More efficient cars. More ECO- Friendly cars. Business need to be awarded more for supplying recharging stations in their buildings, or offering eco friendly work vehicles. Sustainability is the wave of the future. Its not a fad. If the United States is to save itself from this debt, it needs to embrace the capabilities of sustainability. The Auto Industry, and GM in particular need to get on it. The jobs and savings that would result from this change in philosophy would be magnanimous.

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One of the chief problems for increasing the use of commuter trains is the amount of freight we move by rail in this country. In some ways, we are complete opposite of Europe, which uses rails to move people and roads to move freight.

I once traveled across PA by train, and the amount of maneuvering for freight trains was very interesting. It doesn't happen nearly as often in the DC-Boston corridor though.

So, the real issue is acquiring space for the tracks because we certainly can't just piggyback on our current capacity.

GM diversifying as a train/battery company is not the worst idea in the world. But they need a place to sell those products first.

I say this as someone with a lot of left-wing ideas, but too many people on the left get the suppyl/demand issue backwards. Who is going to buy this stuff from this new GM?

And more importantly, why would you have GM become a new company? Wouldn't it make more sense to just let GM die and start "General Bullet Trains?"

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