Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Another Auto Factory Job, or Less Dependence on Foreign Oil?

Last night, as thrilled as I was to hear a commitment to social equality and an acknowledgement that climate change affects us all, I couldn't ignore a contradictory theme in President Obama's acceptance speech.

"We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."

"You’ll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who’s going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift."

"And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil."

I feel frustrated that the auto industry remains such an important symbol of American manufacturing, even as it is incontrovertibly clear that our dependence on oil is a massive problem. I look forward to a day when there's a consensus that a large truck represents overconsumption that ultimately keeps working families underwater (maybe literally), rather than being a hearty symbol of American labor. Courtesy of Mr. Rogers, here are some videos that show other things American workers can make (or used to). The bottom line is that we need more quality manufacturing jobs in better industries. Or maybe Ford and GM can go full circle and start manufacturing bicycles. They're useful beyond nostalgia.

Penny Farthing as Nostalgic Spectacle at Henry Ford's Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI