GM

A Letter from Michael Moore

Goodbye, GM
by Michael Moore - June 1, 2009

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?

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.

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.

GM to American Workers: Pay for Your Own Execution

Sign  petition below.

Call to Action by Leo W. Gerard, President of the United Steel Workers Union

The proposition General Motors has presented to the United Auto Workers and American taxpayers in its latest restructuring plan is simple: You must pay for your own execution.

GM, which already took $15.4 billion in bailout money, wants another $11.6 billion and is offering in return this deal: It will close 16 of its American manufacturing plants, terminate 21,000 of its factory workers and double the cars it builds in low-wage Mexico, China and South Korea and ships back to the U.S. to sell.

There it is: GM is demanding that Americans pay to send their own jobs overseas.

From the Mailbag: Michael Moore and the Chairman of General Motors

Remember Michael Moore's Documentary Roger and Me a documentary about how General Motors had turned Flint Michigan into a ghost town as a result of massive layoffs, and how its then chairman, Roger Smith refused to meet with Moore to explain why GM was doing this at a time of record profits and rising automobile sales. Now the tables have been turned and it is former GM chairman Rick Wagoner who has been handed the pink slip. Here is a letter from Moore.

Friends,

Nothing like it has ever happened. The President of the United States, the elected representative of the people, has just told the head of General Motors -- a company that's spent more years at #1 on the Fortune 500 list than anyone else -- "You're fired!"

I simply can't believe it. This stunning, unprecedented action has left me speechless for the past two days. I keep saying, "Did Obama really fire the chairman of General Motors? The wealthiest and most powerful corporation of the 20th century? Can he do that? Really? Well, damn! What else can he do?!"

High Volt-age

Jonathan Rauch/theAtlantic: Electro-Shock Therapy
. . . improvements were being incorporated as fast as they could be conceived; the battery would be on its second generation in January, its third in June. “It’s incredible,” Turner said. “The design they’ve come up with for thermal changed 10 times before they delivered the first battery.”

It looks like GM's going to make their production runs on schedule in 2010 - less than two years - putting them on track to "paint on" those solar cells. Oil? We don't need no stinking oil.
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Photo © General Motors @ iCar.com

Continental-Scale Climate Studies, Climate Change on Mars and Miscellaneous Science News

From the Wall Street Journal,

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Global-Warming Study Weighs Impact of Human Action

By GAUTAM NAIK

May 15, 2008; Page A10


A new study says humans have changed the world's environment more by warming the climate than by directly encroaching on habitats.

The research, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, also establishes a link between climate change and narrower, continental changes such as the earlier spring flight of butterflies in California, the earlier release of pollen in the Netherlands and the increased growth of pine trees in Mongolia.
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An international team of over a dozen scientists, led by Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University in New York, showed very strong indications based on studies done on a continental scale.

In other news,

Car Makers, Labor Takers

[Image: Automobile Magazine, 25 Most Beautiful Cars]
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Friends and me were standing in the driveway when my dad pulled up in one of those '63 split-windowed, 327 'Vettes. It was summer of 1965, and by the time our drool had hit the ground, the old man had flipped me the keys, and as he was walking away said: "Be careful with that thing. It's got a little shimmie at around 125." (It did).

Somedays that's the way I feel about this Country: it's got a little vibration at higher speeds. Some folk think we need to change the tires. I think we need a complete overhaul. The story below reminded me of that this morning.
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David Bailey/Reuters: GM offers all U.S. union workers buyouts or retirement
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp will offer buyouts or early retirements to all 74,000 U.S. hourly workers represented by the United Auto Workers in a sweeping deal with the union intended to clear the way for GM to hire lower-cost replacements.