thoughts from New England

The Big Three Killed My Baby November 15, 2008

So first we bailout the banks, and now we are talking about bailing out the auto industry? I’m torn. I’d like to think that we can save all of these jobs in the auto industry, but is that possible? This article from Slate says that there should be a bailout because allowing them to go to bankruptcy would mean they would linger there forever. But it’s true — people would really suffer as a result. I was thinking cyclically earlier and wondering about our nation’s history to see where we are headed. We need to look at the factors of major economic catastrophes in our nation’s history to see what possibilities we have.

30s : today :: dust bowl migration : a possible rust belt migration? As our nation develops technologically, so too must our predictions for cultural shifts and radical events which reshape and drastically alter the state of our society. Events such as the Revolutionary War and the shift from colonization to democray; the Civil War and the surrounding Industrial Revolution; the Great Depression and World Wars I and II and the shaping of the modern era — are we due for another radical cycle?

What I’m trying to say is that perhaps what will happen is something akin to what happened in the 30s with the Dust Bowl era. Perhaps one or more of the automakers go out of business — but perhaps there is new technology or better opportunities elsewhere in the country? The Joads in the Dust Bowl era migrated westward because they heard there was work out Californee way; the rural sharecropper moved up from the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta to the factory floors of Chicago and other Midwestern cities — Detroit, Cleveland, etc. Let’s say GM and Chrysler go out of business, but a new green technology is booming in another part of the country, like Colorado or something — would we see a mass migration of citizens? Or perhaps when politicians say things like “we’re gonna make this old shutdown Maytag plant re-open as a solar panel factory” — can they really follow through on that? The potential for converting existing auto plants with a skilled manufacturing workforce into a company that can actually make environmentally and energy-saving products? That would be awesome.

It would also be neat to see someone like a consortium of Google and Warren Buffett buy GM and turn it into a company that was not a car company but a “transportation company.” They are General MOTORS, after all, and not General Cars. What other motors you guys got?

Whatever happens, this man should be involved.