Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “car industry”

Game On. Go Vote!

Today there are no fancy views, no links, no cool pics. Today there are no excuses for dithering – if you are undecided (really undecided) then you simply haven’t been paying attention ­– or you are denying something to yourself that only you can fathom.

Decide. This is too important a moment to pass up.

Breaking News: Left Coast Voices endorses Barack Obama! Actually, if this is breaking news to you, then you haven’t been paying attention to this blog!

I can understand the top 1%. They are voting for what best represents their interest and most people will do that. It is a rare individual who will put his/her country first and vote for the other guy because, in their heart, they know this country (and maybe the world) needs such a candidate. I want to declare my admiration for those 1%-ers who vote for President Obama.

But beyond the 1%, I am somewhat mystified why the choice isn’t clear. Mitt Romney is a proud Republican, so is Paul Ryan. They were members of a government that sent this country into massive debt and economic hemorrhage. That they have the audacity to use statistics on President Obama’s first day in office as a mark of measurement for the President is incredulous. That they don’t see it as a mark of shame is scary. That the media and social commentators aren’t calling them out for this is either pathetic or really scary.

The suggestion that eight years of Republican greed and irresponsibility can be fixed in a day, a week, or a month, is stupid and insulting to the intelligence of the populace. That it has taken four years to stop the hemorrhage and institute a measure of stability is an illustration of the gravity of Republican mis-governance.

Barack Obama not only saved the car industry, but also galvanized it to enter the 21st Century and compete with Toyota and Honda. This must be a model for how we govern. He is bringing us out of two wars that are financially bankrupting us, and laying the foundation for new financial and economic sustainability that will be appreciated by our children if not us. More than anything else: we owe it to our children to repair the damage. Let the sins of the fathers (and mothers), stay with the fathers.

Some are frustrated at the pace, at the emphasis, or the inability to create comprehensive policy in, for example, health care. But huge steps have been taken. If you are on the left and even contemplating not voting, or casting your vote for a candidate who, while genuine in their beliefs, are irrelevant to what we, the American people, have deemed a two-horse race, then you are not taking responsibility.

I am frustrated at the Obama campaign for not speaking out consistently at Governor Romney’s inability to provide a clear and understandable policy. His running mate, the ‘numbers man,’ has consistently and condescendingly told us that he has crunched the numbers but can’t share them with us because they are too complicated and time-consuming.

Mr. Ryan – the voter is your consumer and your boss. You owe us an explanation in a language we understand or you run the risk that either: WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU or WE THINK YOU ARE HIDING THE TRUTH – or possibly both.

Four More Years – in a world of instant gratification, this has almost become a curse. But the American people, fueled by Republican greed and public apathy, have allowed us to dig ourselves a deep hole. It is going to take time to fill the hole and cement a firm foundation.

Barack Obama has taken on this responsibility. His campaign would have been more effective if he had played the sugar daddy and promised to wave his magic wand and deliver vague and impossible dreams. But he is too principled for that – a rare trait in politics.

The reality is that we need four more years to continue the recovery and repair the damage. We probably need more than that, in truth, but we need to embrace consistency, rather than chase the magic bullet.

President Obama hasn’t been perfect, but he took office in a deep depression and he has remained a consistent and responsible leader. He deserves the opportunity to continue advancing everything he has built and he needs us to be honest partners, not only today, but for the next four years.

Tomorrow, he needs your endorsement. Your country needs you – GO VOTE!

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Jewish Student Center, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Oil Conspiracies

A few days ago I suggested that we phase out production and imports of cars that do not reach a minimum mpg of, let’s say, 35 mpg, within a couple of years. It makes so much sense that you have to ask what is stopping us? I posed this question to a couple of friends, admittedly people who might well be, okay, who are conspiracy theorists.

Shirt reads: Global oil industry = Weapon of mass destruction

Now before you click away to see how Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen are doing, I want to warn you that there are two kinds of conspiracy theorists in the world – the crazies and the astonishingly smart. It is easy to differentiate between them: the former rants on and loses you before you realize you are gulping down your wine in order to excuse yourself to get a refill, while with the latter you are determined to crush their logic and simply can’t, no matter how you try. The worse part of interacting with the astonishingly smart is that you walk away, maybe even lie in bed a few hours later, wondering whether they might just be right.

Here are a couple of neat articles:

The Truth Will Set You Free

BP Oil Spill Conspiracy Theories

Even Fox News are happy to participate in the conspiracy world, though I can’t help suspecting ulterior motives.

I could go on just drowning in theories regarding the oil industry. When I wrote The Accidental Activist, in which an oil company’s policies and their power with governments are exposed, I was surprised to see how easy it is for big business to quickly become indispensable in the economy of smaller and poorer nations.

The question is: if an inspired President, backed by his party, did embark on such a policy as I outlined the other day, who would try to prevent him succeeding, and what weapons do they possess in their arsenal?

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Changing Car Production

On Monday, I said we would begin to tackle the serious issues we are facing. I’m not going to write here about the benefits of hybrid cars. I’m going to take it as given that most of the Left Coast Voices readership believe in the threat of global warming and understand the environmental benefits of hybrid cars. If you disagree with me, feel free to state your case in the comments section. I plan to write about alternative energy at a later date.

What I want to ask is: if we already have the technology to create the hybrid car, then why are we still producing non-hybrid cars? While every other car in the Bay Area is a Prius, did you know that Porsche are producing a hybrid sports car? Also Jaguar are busy producing their own hybrid line, and both cars should be ready to coincide with my fiftieth birthday (to help this come true, please contact your local top fiction publisher or blockbuster movie company!).

I only want one so that I can commute to work in the car pool lane!

The Chinese, I believe, use the same word to mean disaster and opportunity. With the collapse of the American car industry, there was an opportunity that was only partially grasped. The American public seemed willing to bail out the US car industry but insisted that it become relevant in today’s economy. I had the opportunity to hold this discussion with about a dozen patriotic, forward-thinking Americans, almost all of whom are loyal Toyota, Honda and Lexus drivers.

Ford Escape Hybrid - the top choice for my next family car.

In restructuring the American car industry, why didn’t we insist that only cars with a minimum mpg be produced? Why not decide now that no car with a fuel consumption of less than 35 mpg will be made on American soil by 2013 – the technology is there, so why wait for a few more icebergs to melt?

Can we go further and not import cars that fail to adhere to such standards? Instead of fearing repercussions from our fellow business partners abroad, why not build consensus by bringing them on board to adopt the same standards? The country that manufactures Toyota, Honda and Lexus, fully understands what happens when the natural world goes out of sync.

What’s holding us back from taking this simple, but bold step? We’ll discuss that on Friday.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

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