December 19th, 2008
GM just put a new car plant on hold. It’s not just any plant — it’s the Flint, Michigan plant where the new plug-in electric Chevy Volt will be built. While Detroit management has been unquestionably short-sighted about energy efficient cars, Washington is also culpable for short-sighted CAFE standards — and now the future of the American car industry, the one hope that GM had for thriving after we get ourselves out of the muck, is in jeopardy. And not just that, the Volt and other cars modeled after it represents the main hope of the American manufacturing sector to survive in the 21st century. For the extreme right-wing in congress to jeopardize that future just to bust the UAW is symptomatic of their sick dependence on ideology instead of reality.
At the same time that we are leaving our car industry on the side of the road bleeding and ignoring its cries for a sip of water, we are allowing Goldman Sachs Group Inc, who got $10 billion from the TARP to get away with tax evasion on a massive scale, effectively paying only 1% in taxes (down from 34% last year). There is no possible moral justification for giving money to a white collar company that is stealing from us while withhold money from a blue collar company that got caught by a financial meltdown not of its design in the middle of an important product-line transition. This is class warfare at its most stupid.
December 18th, 2008
Many of president-elect Barak Obama’s choices for his cabinent are a bit baffling, and I fear that he may be relying too much on his own moral authority and charisma to control everything, but I’ve been willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Until now.
His choice of Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture is heart-breaking. Being the pragmatist he is, I had anticipated that Obama would turn to someone who generally supports big agriculture, but for him to choose someone who is so close to Monsanto that he flies on a Monsanto jet (and who of course also supports genetically modified food), who demonstrates so little nuance in his thinking about biofuels (which have had disastrous effects on food prices), and who has systematically moved control of agriculture from the local to the state level in Iowa (and who has supported similar moves from the state to federal levels), is just awful.
Corporate agriculture is the cause of the world’s food problems, not the solution to them. And as Michael Pollan points out, Vilsack shows no concern for eaters, in either rich nations (where corporate agriculture has ruined people’s health) or in poor nations (where corporate agriculture is killing subsistence farmers, through starvation, poisoning or desperation so deep it ends in suicide).
This isn’t change. This isn’t progress. It’s retrograde acquiescence to food-business as usual, to the dollar rather than to the people.