As automakers return to Congress to plead their case for a bailout, two of the country’s leading voices for change in Detroit are speaking out. Ralph Nader’s ground-breaking book, Unsafe At Any Speed, led to historic reform in vehicle safety, fuel efficiency, and emissions standards. Michael Moore’s breakout documentary, Roger and Me, is a hard-hitting yet humorous look at the devastating impact of GM’s closings of auto plants in Flint, Mich., in the late 1980s.
“Put in people who know how to produce fuel-efficient, emission-controlled safe motor vehicles.”
“The automakers dangle the electric car, they dangle new kinds of propulsion systems, but it never happens. We’re still saddled with the infernal, eternal, internal combustion engine. And GM came [to Congress] yesterday with the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt is going to cost at least $40,000 to $50,000 to anybody who wants to buy it. That’s just more window dressing by GM. That’s why the management and the board of directors have to be removed completely, and put in people who really know how to produce cars that are in consonant with consumer needs and the environment.
“So, what I think should be done is for the government to say, OK, you want our help. We are going to own a part of you. We are going to be creditors and restructure you; remove the board of directors and the executives that are deemed not to be performing over the years; put people who know how to produce fuel-efficient, emission-controlled safe motor vehicles in place; and reform the whole area of shareholder rights, because the government will be a shareholder. And since the government is effectively an insurer, they can move to apply the principle of insurance and loss prevention and produce motor vehicles and alternative transit, mass transit, that will damage less people on the highway and the environment. So, I call it government capitalism, where the government plays the role of a shareholder, the role of a creditor, the role of an insurer, and restructures the entire industry.”
Appearing on Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now.
“Build cars that are not primarily dependent on oil.”
“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 important, 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.
“You could buy all the common shares of stock in General Motors for less than $3 billion…Take the money and buy the company! (You’re going to demand collateral anyway if you give them the “loan,” and because we know they will default on that loan, you’re going to own the company in the end as it is. So why wait? Just buy them out now.)
“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.”
From Moore’s article “Let’s Buy the Big Three” on TheDailyBeast.com.