It may be prophetic that among the brands GM chose to kill was the Pontiac Firebird, a classic hot car of the 1960s sporting the fabled Phoenix on its hood. In mythology, the Phoenix was a colorful bird that incinerated itself in its nest, then rose from the ashes as its own offspring. GM too, says Michael Moore, could be reborn as something else. In a June 1 eulogy of sorts, he wrote:
“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 … 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!”
What would we want with a car company? Moore suggests that the bankrupt mega-builder of obsolete gas guzzlers can be transformed into a mega-builder of things we need more—mass transit vehicles, including bullet trains, light rail mass transit lines, energy efficient clean buses, hybrid or all-electric cars, and alternative energy devices such as batteries, windmills, and solar panels. The factories that built the cars that helped destroy the environment can become the tools for cleaning it up. This would, of course, take some investment; but Moore suggests that to pay for it all, the government could impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline.
It sounds good right up to the gas tax, a regressive tax that would hit hardest in the wallets of the poor and would raise alarm bells for politicians, the oil lobby, and voters. Isn’t there some way to fund the plan without driving up the tax burden or the national debt? In fact, there is.