Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Letter To President Obama

I was so inspired by my buddy Kent's letter to Obama that I had to add one of my own.

Dear President Obama,

I'm very impressed with the Job you are doing also in the way you have confounded the chattering classes in Washington. Thanks for that, and congratulations on the stimulus bill. I suppose that you are finding a very "fun" level of intransigence but that you will continue to reach out to those with whom you disagree, just out of principle. I would not be so magnanimous but that's why I'm not President.

As I was reading about the big three auto makers need for more money in this quarter. It's a terribly vexing issue for me as there are so many working people who stand to be financially ruined. On the other hand, I haven't seen a GM or Chrysler product that I would want to buy since I was 12 (we all wanted a Corvette or Camaro back then but most of us grew out of that) and I feel like many people agree with me. If the Heartbeat of America is still beating, it has a pronounced murmur and very clogged arteries, a debilitating palsy, and a taste for bourbon whiskey.

GM's restructuring plan is particularly egregious and shows that they haven't been in the auto business for a long time. Cutting 47,000 additional workers is supposed to help matters? To whom exactly was GM planning to sell their cars. For an inspiring take on the matter, take a look at a very inspirational guy who may succeed you if the economy gets worse.

If the auto industry fails or is bought out by foreign producers, can we lower our slaven approach to subsidizing auto culture? Can we then tax cars as they are taxed in other industrialized countries to mitigate the huge burden they place on us? Can we truly look to other alternatives for transporting people that do not financially enslave them (in the name of freedom, no less), poison them, or endanger them and their very safety? Air and rail are statistical universes safer than private autos. In fact, people have become so innured to the risks that if somebody came up with a Star Trek style transporter that cost as much as cars do, that killed as often as cars do, nobody would use it because it would be too risky. Never the less, people drive cars because all the little personal choices associated with driving underline a personal freedom that is actually quite illusory.

If we are to continue with bailing out the auto industry, could the government at least take a stake in the businesses and start mandating production of mass transit and high speed rail? This change of operating procedure would come with a guaranteed $2-4/gallon fuel tax to completely revamp our transportation sector and change car buying habits, also funding mass transit projects across the country and inspiring people to walk, cycle, skateboard, and the like. Keep those poor people employed and really become the change you pay so much lip service to. That's a win win, as they say. Without a serious fuel tax, behavior will never change, and your presidency will never reach the level of change it purports to embody.

As for the financial sector, I have much less sympathy for those people. You are doing a great job seizing and nationalizing the banks and I am amused that this all started under the former administration. Now would be a great time to nationalize the insurance sector too so that we can easily mandate a single payer healthcare plan. If they need money too, well, by all means we should help them, but they should start helping us too, completely.

Now is the time to change entire sectors of the economy for the good of working people, not just monied interests. Don't let a perfectly good financial crisis go to waste.