I still don’t know how I feel about the buyouts. I’ve read a lot about how the automobile industry has created the type and extent of capitalist/ economic/ political/environmental systems we now have. I don’t like these systems and tend to agree. If cars stopped being made tomorrow, certainly lots of things would change, but I can’t say that it would make me sad to lose cars.
On the other hand, the automobile industry is tied to so much in our lives, as we are now witnessing. It is also iconic and somehow synonymous with North American identity – in a strange way, despite “killing my baby”, the Big 3 are tied to a national/regional understanding of myself and my history.
On the other hand, the one which happens to speak to me more loudly, the Big 3 have been criminally negligent in a lot of ways. I don’t like that my tax dollars (OK, I get all of my taxes back and then some – would be tax dollars) are helping to sweep that fact nicely away from public attention so that the world is protected from the knowledge that fundamentally, our system is failing. Likely, no one will ever be prosecuted for any of the blatantly criminal actions they’ve committed. Mostly because by ‘criminal’ I of course mean ‘questionable’ and actually ‘criminal’ only according to the criminal code in my head. At least in one of these situations however, I do believe laws need to be made against what was done. Specifically, GM’s EV1.
For those who don’t know the story, GM introduced the EV1 – their first commercially available, purpose built electric vehicle – in 1996. In 1999 they recalled and destroyed all but a very few of them. Criminal waste.
I hate waste. I compost and adamantly recycle. I cringe when people I eat out with don’t take home their leftovers, no matter how small, and usually cajole them into giving them to me. I have rubbermaid containers full of fabric, ribbon, paper, and wrapping material scraps because I can imagine another distant use for them. My household only takes a plastic bag for meat and have an unofficial ‘must be used twice’ rule for the plastic that does make it into our house, like from bread. Still, my household makes an average of 2 bags of garbage a week and I feel that is far too much. Can you imagine throwing out a whole entire run of a vehicle?
The phrase is ‘throw away society’, and it’s certainly true. GM’s act, and other acts of waste, are such perfect examples of blind opulence and careless privilege; it is easy to ignore the value of something we consider leftover when we’ve never felt want of anything. GM’s particular indiscretion deserves the title of criminal for the sheer volume of what was wasted. We should not be allowed to simply, irresponsibly discard of that which is not convenient to have around any longer if it has further possible utility. No, recycling isn’t perfect but mindless waste and bottomless landfilling are much much worse.
Like all facets of society, the legal system is in desperate need of an environmental revolution and I think criminal waste would be a good place to start.