Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Opposition to Auto Emission Regulation Enables Addiction of US Car Manufacturers!

The worst thing that policymakers can do for the US car industry and US auto jobs is to continue to "support" [read "enable"] US auto manufacturers by enabling their addiction to gas-guzzling and fuel inefficient manufacturing standards!

Out of complete disgust with the absurd logic of debates over auto fuel efficiency standards in this country, I have written my Congressperson John Dingell. You would think that the gigantic loss of US auto jobs in Michigan over the last several years, even while Toyota and Honda have continued to win more of the share of the auto market by producing more fuel efficient cars, would have taught a lesson to the US auto industry managers and those who say they are concerned about the future of the auto industry in Michigan. But apparently not! As the legal debate over the EPA's failure to uphold its responsibility to regulate auto emissions continues, the Detroit manufacturers and some of their supporters in Congress (Democrats included) still seem wrapped up in the delusional belief that they are somehow doing the US car industry and the Michigan economy a favor by opposing greater fuel efficiency standards and CAFE regulations. They still do not seem to have realized that opposition to regulation of auto emissions by states and the EPA will continue to kill US automaker jobs rather than save them, by guaranteeing that there will not be much left of Ford or GM by 2016.

The loss of Michigan auto jobs over the last years has not been due to governmental regulation! There has been next to no regulation or improvement in auto fuel efficiency standards for decades, and yet a tremendous number of auto jobs were lost! These jobs were lost because the US auto makers, instead of leading the pack in producing fuel efficient cars, have been trailing far behind foreign auto makers like Honda and Toyota, who have been taking an ever larger share of the US auto market precisely because they LEAD the market in producing fuel efficient cars. How long will it take before US automakers and our representatives in Congress wake up and recognize that the BEST JOB POLICY for the US auto industry is one that intervenes to help/force US car manufacturers to break their addiction to gas-guzzling and inefficient cars!

If the US Congress really wants to "support" the US auto industry, the House and Senate need to implement a TOUGH LOVE POLICY toward the industry in support of dramatic and speedy improvement in US fuel efficiency standards! If neither Congress nor the US auto industry wake up NOW, there will not be many jobs left at FORD, GM or Chrysler within the next 10 years..... and Honda and Toyota will OWN the US car market.... So if Congress wants to insure that Honda and Toyota take over the US auto industry within the next decade, all it needs to do is to continue to follow the lead of GM and Ford managers, and not put any pressure on them to change their ways.

But if the US Congress wants to help US auto workers and insure that GM and Ford have a future as US-based companies, it is high time for Congress to wake up and administer some tough love to help GM and Ford to break their addiction. Otherwise, prepare to see GM and Ford go the way of the dinosaurs, while Honda and Toyota take over the US market within the next ten years--

Open Letter to My Rep. Dingell

Dear Rep. Dingell,

As one who voted for the Democrats in this election, I am happy that Democrats like you will now be taking charge of leading the committees that have such fundamentally important issues to grapple with: global warming, war, fair trade, poverty. But I am disturbed and frustrated with your position in opposition to the regulation of auto emissions from cars. As a labor person, I certainly understand the need to balance environmental and job concerns, but in the 21st century the best job policy will be in line with the best environmental policy. The gigantic loss of jobs in Michigan over the last several years (while foreign auto manufacturers are winning an ever larger share of the US market!) due to the inattention of the Detroit car manufacturers to the need for fuel efficient and more environmentally-friendly cars is the most glaring sign of this--

Do you really think that supporting the US car industry's addiction to gas-guzzling and carbon-polluting cars will help the US car industry and preserve US auto jobs?! The last 2 years have shown what a disastrous position this is for BOTH jobs in the US car industry (especially in Michigan!) and the environment!

So long as the Detroit/MI auto manufacturers resist the need to build more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars, they will continue to lose market share to Toyota and Honda--
Sales of Toyota Motor Corp.'s top selling hybrid cars - the Prius and Camry - outsold the entire Saturn car division in North America in the first 10 months of 2006.

A personal story to illustrate: I bought a GEO Metro in 1996 that I am still driving, and which has given me 45 mpg highway since 1996. Unfortunately, due to the age of the car, I now need to buy a new one, and yet I cannot find anything comparable to it in gas mileage unless I buy a much more expensive hybrid. If the US car manufacturers were now building cars like Ford's Focus with attention to fuel efficiency, there is no reason the Focus should not be getting in 2006 what my Geo Metro got in 1996! (at least 45 mpg)-- But because this is not the case (the Focus averages only 30-33 mpg highway), my only self-respecting options now for a car are to go with either a Toyota Yaris or a Honda Fit or Civic (which average 40 mpg hiway), or a much more expensive hybrid Prius or Civic.

Out of disgust with the US car industry and its inattention to fuel efficiency, I will refuse to buy an American car until they become competitive with Honda and Toyota. And I think recent market share sales figures demonstrate how many Americans feel as I do!

So if you really want to support jobs in Michigan, I hope you will PLEASE consider changing your position and supporting the right of states like California AND Michigan to regulate car emissions--in order to help Detroit break its addiction to fuel inefficient cars. So long as the US car industry can get away with inefficient cars, they will continue to do so. Like an addict, the US auto industry will persist in its self-destructive behavior--a strong and clear intervention is needed now to save the US car industry, and if Congress does not act to help the car industry to break its addiction to fuel inefficient cars, then even a Democratic controlled Congress will FAIL to fulfill one of its most fundamental and pressing obligations to the present and future--for the sake of auto jobs in Michigan and the rest of the nation.

If the Detroit auto industry does not start producing MUCH more fuel efficient cars SOONer rather than later, there will not be much of a US car industry left by 2015-- and almost ALL Michigan auto jobs will go away, even as Honda and Toyota replace the US manufacturers and come to dominate the market.

Honda and Toyota are already selling non-hybrid cars that get 50 mpg in Europe!!!! It is a great injustice and outrage that US auto buyers are not even given access to such cars because of the poor regulations and ineffective government policy here. This is also an outrage to all those who would hope to continue to work in the unionized American auto industry and to those concerned about the environment and the havoc being produced by global warming--

Won't you please consider changing your position? If you really want to support the US car industry and auto-related jobs in Michigan, some tough love policy for the car industry is Needed IMMEDIATELY--and NOW is the time, not years from now. 3 to 5 years from now will be too late.

Think of your grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and the world they will have to live in as the result of global warming. Is this really the world you want to pass on to your descendants? And do you really think that an environmentally devastated world will produce more Michigan auto jobs?!!!

For the sake of the future, the jobs of the present, and the future of the US car industry, I beg you to PLEASE reconsider your position on whether the EPA should regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Either states should be allowed to do so, or the EPA should do so. One or the other, but to oppose both at this time is insane! --for future jobs and the global environment!

I hope you will use your new power in the HOUSE to make much higher fuel efficiency standards and the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions a policy priority for this Congress. If the Democrats fail in this, they will have done no better than the Republicans, and WHAT A SHAME it will be for us all--

Sincerely, and with hope for change in your policy position--


At 5:40 PM, Blogger panopticonman said...


Thanks for your kind comment on my review, and for adding me to your blogroll.

I've added you to mine.



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