President Obama visits the Detroit area on Friday, and his timing couldn't be better: Today's Detroit Free Press brings more good news from the auto industry: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler all plan to add jobs in Michigan, which stands to benefit more than any other state. Nissan, BMW, Honda, Toyota, Kia and Mercedes-Benz also are hiring. Suppliers are looking to add engineers and technical people, but at a more gradual pace. About 15,000 auto-related Michigan jobs could be created this year, said Sean McAlinden, economist at Ann Arbor's Center for Automotive Research.
Let’s say you’re a huge corporation that’s just spilled oil all over the Gulf of Mexico, or a car company dealing with brakes that don’t brake, or a fast-food chain seeking distance from snot-flinging employees or your own inedible pizza. What’s the best way to say you’re sorry? The somber, full-page newspaper ad was once the obvious venue for corporate apologies.
The Chevrolet Volt was supposed to symbolize the resurgence of America's car industry while fostering energy independence.
Interesting observation from First Read: We said it at the time: As the GM bailout goes, so goes the Obama presidency. It was the bailout everyone in America could understand, and it wasn’t popular. In our June 2009 NBC/WSJ poll, the American automaker had an awful 18%-47% fav/unfav. A year later, however, the Obama administration believes it has a good story to tell. And today, the president is going to tell that story. Later this morning, he heads to Michigan, where he will tour a Chrysler and then a GM plant. After that, he’ll make remarks about the auto industry at 1:40 pm ET.
The most interesting piece I read in the Times last week—excluding the profile in which Reykjavik’s new mayor said that he would rule out as a coalition partner “any party whose members had not seen all five seasons of ‘The Wire’”—was Book Review editor (and TNR contributor) Sam Tanenhaus’s 2,500-word exploration of John Updike’s archive.
Yesterday, I flagged an embryonic attempt by conservatives -- in this case, Chris Stirewalt of the Washington Examiner -- to defend right-wing coal mine operator Don Blankenship, one of whose mines recently exploded and killed two dozen workers. Stirewalt scoffs at the possibility that Blankenship ignored safety standards: We don’t know what caused the explosion – an electric arc, a spark from metal on metal, etc.
I'm not all that fond of dogs myself, but it seems like they need a bit of defending. A few months ago, New Scientist reported that a large dog like a German shepherd has twice the carbon footprint of a Toyota Land Cruiser that's driven 6,000 miles each year—mainly because of the dog's meat-heavy diet. (Cats, by the way, have a carbon footprint comparable to a Volkswagen Golf.) And that's not to mention all the havoc they wreak on local wildlife.
One of the themes that came up while I was profiling White House manufacturing czar Ron Bloom earlier this fall was managerial talent. A lot of people talk about reviving the domestic manufacturing sector, which has shed almost one-third of its manpower over the last eight years. But some of the people I spoke to asked a slightly different question: Even if you could reclaim a chunk of those blue-collar jobs, would you have the managers you need to supervise them? It’s not obvious that you would.
On Labor Day, President Obama appointed Ron Bloom, head of the administration’s auto industry task force, as his manufacturing “czar.” A former United Steelworkers staffer, Bloom recognizes the importance of high-wage manufacturing to the U.S. economy and to the well-being of the Great Lakes metropolitan areas that have been its center for more than half a century. But his experience is mainly in structuring financial deals. Does he understand the non-financial obstacles to reviving American manufacturing?
Via Dave Roberts, a handful of Democratic and Republican senators are now touting a bill to set up a more promising variation on the "cash-for-clunkers" concept—namely, feebates. The idea here would be to slap an excise tax on gas-guzzlers that don't meet CAFE standards and recycle the money into rebates for efficient cars that beat CAFE standards. The fees and rebates would all sit on a sliding scale, so that the more efficient the car, the bigger the rebate (while bigger gas-guzzlers get hit with bigger fees).