Saturday, February 21, 2009

We are told that the big car makers must be “bailed out” because otherwise millions of workers and their families would lose their incomes. Since it is the workers’ incomes that are in question I propose the following measures:
(1) Every worker who loses a job because the company has gone bankrupt should be given, by the government, the salary that was previously received, until he or she finds another job, or for at most one year.
(2) The government should take over some of the car factories and convert them to making trolley cars. And other factories could produce passenger cars for railroads. (Note that all this would require not only hiring assembly line workers, but administrative personnel at all levels.)
(3) In cities where trolley transportation is to be set up or enlarged, tracks must be laid and other facilities provided. These activities would require something like the Public Works Administration of the 1930’s and would provide many more jobs at all levels.
(4) Manufacturing facilities for such things as solar panels and wind-turbines should be set up, preferably in areas where there is much unemployment.
(5) These much-needed measures, most or all of which involve the use of electrical power, would require major improvements in our electrical transmission system. Here again, jobs would be created at all levels.
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All of this would require an enormous effort. But our country showed what it could do in the way we waged World War II and by the success, in just eight years, of the project to put a man on the moon. Those achievements did not involve simply handing $25 billion to three corporations.
Andrew Linn Dec. 1, 2008