Michael Moore’s letter about the bailout of the big three automakers hits the target when he proposes conditions Congress should impose if they are to get the money. Moore writes: “The Big 3 are, from this point forward, to build only cars that are not primarily dependent on oil and, more importantly to build trains, buses, subways and light rail (a corresponding public works project across the country will build the rail lines and tracks). This will not only save jobs, but create millions of new ones.”
He’s also on target when he says the problems of depending on carbon-based fuels have been well-defined and ignored by the auto executives for at least thirty years.
Here in Geneva the first thing you notice when the metro bus pulls up is that it’s clean and graffitti-free. An eye-catching LED sign flashes the route number. And, as most buses today, it’s wheelchair accessible and the driver can lower it pneumatically for those needing the extra assist. Step inside and a wide aisle makes it easy to maneuver and the cloth-covered seats positioned along the outer wall are also clean. Oh, did I mention that when you register at a hotel you are given a transportation card for free access to the city’s public transportation system for the duration of your stay?
In addition, Geneva has light rail and electric trolleys, all equally accessible and inexpensive.
Observe traffic and you see mostly small, compact autos, a huge number of motorscooters, bicycles and motorcycles. Smart Cars, those two-seater battery powered city scamps, roll past as well. And Geneva isn’t alone in its transport system. Nearly every major city in Europe and industrial Asia has similar transportation capabilities.
This relates directly to Michael Moore’s point. Fuel-saving alternatives exist and are in use outside the U.S. Among governments that view it their responsibility to save energy and the environment, and also to move people about, enlightened transportation practices have been in operation for decades. It’s the U.S. and our automotive industry that is behind, embarrassingly, maddeningly behind. And now the taxpayers are being asked to bail them out due to their own recalcitrance and short-sighted resistance to change.
If the government does agree to shell out our money, the least lawmakers could do is require the automakers to behave in the interests of the public that’s saving them and the environment they have so callously disregarded for three decades and more.