Many of the most pressing problems all nations face are a result of failing to adequately tackle our increasing level of global interdependence.
Mobilized capital can play the tax-regime of one country off against another with ease, such that there is a race to the bottom with respect to the corporate tax revenues which might be expected from even the wealthiest transnational corporations. Such economic arbitrage is possible precisely due to the propagation of widespread variations in the distribution of social justice across the planet. There are no national solutions to such problems, which ultimately require the more equitable distribution of social justice on a global scale.
The hype and unsubstantiated hope behind the self-driving car movement continues unabated, distracting from addressing necessities of old “mobilities” such as inadequate public transit and upgrading highway and rail infrastructure.
Bob King, the new president of the United Auto Workers, whose membership is down under 400,000 from a peak of 1.5 million in 1979 is rolling out an initiative to organize foreign auto plants in the U.S., expand the union’s reach overseas and forge alliances with social justice organizations.
Ordinarily, the response to these ambitions would be “With What?” Few unions have been beaten down as much as the UAW whose workers enduring the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009 and a debt-burdened Ford Motor company. During this period the UAW gave up billions of dollars in wages and benefits. Thousands of workers were laid off to save these companies.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
The U.S. government bailout of, and acquisition of a majority share in, General Motors was an exceptional action, taken in response to exceptional circumstances. The U.S. stake in GM obviously poses novel managerial challenges to the government. The appropriate response to those challenges, however, is not to run from the responsibility through passive ownership and premature sale at a loss to taxpayers.
It was Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist, James Carville, who in 1992 created the election slogan: “It’s the Economy, Stupid.” For the 2010 Congressional campaigns, the slogan should have been: “It’s Corporate Crime and Control, Stupid.”
But notwithstanding the latest corporate crime wave, the devastating fallout on workers, investors and taxpayers from the greed and corruption of Wall Street, and the abandonment of American workers by U.S. corporations in favor of repressive regimes abroad, the Democrats have failed to focus voter anger on the corporate supremacists.
Let’s celebrate some good news, before some qualifications are considered. Traffic fatalities in the U.S.A have dropped to a 60 year low. There were 33,808 deaths in 2009—a 9.7 percent decline from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety administration (NHTSA). The reduction was across the board from passenger vehicles, light trucks, large trucks, motorcycles and pedestrians. Continue reading →
The Obama Administration’s treatment of its current majority ownership of bailed out General Motors and its standoffishness toward the pioneering but troubled ShoreBank, a community bank based in Chicago, are lessons in how the Big/Bad fare in Washington, D.C., as compared with the Good/Small.
Having shed its bad assets and abandoned its common shareholders, the new GM emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 with a clean balance sheet and lots of taxpayer cash. For the first two quarters of 2010, it has signaled a comeback by reporting over $2 billion in profits.
Excuse me, Charlie Wilson, for parodying your 1955 line as chairman of General Motors that “What is good for General Motors is good for America.” Especially since 53 years later GM’s stock is at an all-time low with little prospect of zooming back up.
It seems that dinosaur GM helped extinct itself through a series of errors. They are well documented by financial trader Adam Hewison, co-founder of the MarketClub.com, in his linked article and DVD. The errors include developing an electric car in 1996 when gas was $1.28 a gallon, naming the battery powered car the EV1, then scrapping it in 2002 when prices were climbing to $4 a gallon. Oops!
As a materials and manufacturing engineer with decades of experience with failure analysis of manufactured products, and as an owner of a Toyota vehicle, I am saddened by the lack of expertise and insight shared with Congress and the public about the sudden acceleration problem.
When products fail due to a systemic design, materials or manufacturing flaw, large and statistically significant levels of problems emerge fairly rapidly. This is definitely not the case with the Toyota problem. With many millions of Toyota models on which even more millions of miles have been driven, if there had been an inherent materials or manufacturing design defect, then we would have seen untold thousands of cases of sudden acceleration. It literally would have been virtually a daily event happening all over the country in many Toyota models. But, in fact, little more than 1,000 Toyota and Lexus owners have reported since 2001 that their vehicles suddenly accelerated on their own. This is a tiny, minuscule percentage of Toyotas.
Ralph Nader on the GOP Filibuster of Unemployment Benefits Bill, the Collapse of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Proposal, and the Latest Auto Recalls
Senate Republican Jim Bunning is continuing to filibuster a key spending bill to extend unemployment benefits for hundreds of thousands of American workers. The blocked bill also affects several governmental agencies, rural television customers and doctors receiving Medicare payments. At the same time, Senate Banking Committee Chair Christopher Dodd has abandoned an idea proposed by President Obama and favored by consumer groups to create an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect consumers against abuses in mortgages, credit cards and other forms of lending. Meanwhile, General Motors announced today it is recalling 1.3 million compact cars in North America because of a power steering problem that has been linked to fourteen crashes. GM blamed the fault on a supplier partially owned by Toyota. We speak to longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader. [includes rush transcript]
Japan should not allow itself to be publicly humiliated by the world’s biggest human rights abuser. It has many tools at its disposal which can be used to persuade sanctimonious senators and flannel-mouth congressmen that they need to stop their belligerent grandstanding for the cameras. The new Japanese government–particularly Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama–should be proactive in defending the reputation of its premier car manufacturer and national icon, Toyota. This is more than just a matter of saving face. It’s way to change the fundamental relationship between the United States and Japan by demanding that each partner be treated with respect and dignity. To achieve this goal, the prime minister should convene an emergency meeting of his administration and top members of the business community. They should outline the steps that will be taken if there is not a manifest improvement in the rhetoric and an end to the Japan bashing.
Business ethics has become an oxymoron. Wall Street bonuses were up 17 percent to over $20 billion in 2009, the year taxpayers bailed out the financial sector after its meltdown. So, everyone has many reasons to hate the banking and financial sectors that dumped our economy, and the general corruption of American politics by corporate interests. There are good reasons to detest the pharmaceutical industry. Besides raping people with onerous prices for prescription drugs, corporate greed coupled with ineffective government regulation and oversight is actually killing Americans through unsafe drugs.