Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Shuttle Discovery & Obama’s Auto Plan – 3/30/09

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A couple of news items I wanted to touch on today include the return of space shuttle Discovery to Earth and the Obama administration’s announcement today that GM and Chrysler’s restructuring plan fall short of their goals.

The Discovery mission to the International Space Station was mostly successful.  Astronauts installed the final set of solar panels, which will allow for fully planned power generation.  They also worked to repair the station’s water recycling sytem.  Both the solar panels and the water recycling system must work as planned if the station’s crew is to grow from 3 to 6 persons.  One negative from the mission was two external storage containers getting stuck during deployment.  The storage will hold station spare parts for the 2010-2014 time period when NASA won’t have a shuttle or their next generation craft flying.

Part of me supports the Obama administration’s rejection of the GM and Chrysler restructuring plans.  Both corporations are lacking innovation and a solid working model.  As such, they don’t deserve to receive billions of additional dollars in taxpayer money.  Another part of me recognizes that there are a lot of Americans that depend on GM and Chrysler for their jobs – directly and indirectly.  If these auto manufacturers are headed for bankruptcy reorganization, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.  Plenty of other corporations have emerged from bankruptcy changed for the better.  At the end of the day, if GM and Chrysler can’t get it done, other companies are ready and waiting to expand in the void.  Will it be painless?  Of course not.  Nobody can say that change is painless.  Is it necessary?  It’s looking increasingly like it will be.

At the same time, Wall St. firms have ripped off the government (read: taxpayers) for billions of dollars.  They’re not being held to the same standards as are GM and Chrysler.  I would support the Obama decision more wholeheartedly if those standards applied to every corporation looking for corporate welfare for their crappy decisions.  If this decision marks a new chapter in the unfolding economic disaster we’re currently experiencing, all the better.  Greedy Wall St. corporations deserve this same kind of treatment and more.  If they don’t have valid, up-to-date operating plans, they deserve no more money than GM or Chrysler do.  Enforcement of laws already on the books to control Wall St. corporations should begin immediately.  The American people would be better served by fewer financial institutions that are held accountable.

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