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Thought this week's Rant was good. Sorry if it's a repost:

SOURCE: AutoExtremist.com

July 2, 2008

The Price of Independence.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit. This country is at a crossroads. We are now faced with a burgeoning national crisis that is challenging virtually every aspect of the American way of life as we know it, including the ability to own a home, the opportunity to have a job and even one of the fundamental freedoms that we have longed enjoyed in this vast nation – the freedom of mobility.

That the domestic automobile industry has been a bellwether of this country’s looming national crisis is no secret, at least not to the learned people who understand the key role that our auto industry plays for this nation’s economic health as a whole. Detroit first faced the reality of the global economy and what it really means long before the rest of the country had to give it even a second thought.

As the economies of China, India and Russia have emerged, the demand for the world’s resources has pushed prices through the stratosphere. Everything that goes into the manufacturing of an automobile - steel, aluminum, rubber, glass, plastic, oil, etc. – has gone up dramatically in the last several years, putting tremendous pressure on the auto companies and their suppliers.

Combine that with the auto companies having to deal with health care, pension funding and labor costs in a global economy that has no time for such "trivial" concerns, and it’s no wonder that Detroit has long been “the canary in the coal mine” for U.S. economic experts.

And now, with rocketing gasoline prices pushing Detroit to the brink of disaster, and the crushing housing situation actually getting worse, this nation is facing a perfect storm of circumstances the likes of which it hasn’t had to face since the onset of World War II.

Back then the automobile industry responded to a national need unlike any other part of the manufacturing sector. From April 1942 until the beginning of 1945, no cars were produced in the United States. Detroit’s entire output was given over to producing war machines and the materials this country needed. Think about that for a moment.

Yes, it was a different time and a different era, but I would argue that the biggest difference back then was that this country was at war, but not at war with itself like it is today. Back then there was a common goal that unified this country like no other time before, or since.

Today, we’ve become a nation of warring factions hell-bent on destroying each other, even if it means destroying this country from within in the process.

Our government leaders have placed their own special interests above the overall health and needs of the country at every opportunity, even turning their backs on key manufacturing sectors – the domestic automobile industry being just one example – no matter what the long-term consequences might be as long as it was the expedient thing to do, both personally and politically.

Our public discourse has dissolved into a disgusting cacophony of unbridled near-hatred wrapped in juvenile put-downs and three-second sound bites designed to vanquish and humiliate, rather than help us illuminate and understand the critical issues facing this country, and it shows no signs of abating anytime soon.

Our national obsession with psychoanalysis that grew out of the “I’m okay, you’re okay” 70s has unleashed a firestorm that has almost crippled our modern society in a paralyzing fog of correctness to the detriment of everything else. A direct result of this is that our educational system has been dumbed-down and geared to the lowest common denominator to such an extent that we’re now faced with legions of kids growing up in a pass/fail world of no harm, no foul and no consequences whatsoever for their actions. Young strivers and achievers are not only growing fewer in number, they’re being shoved aside and mocked for their inner discipline and desire to succeed, and it won’t be long before this nation is swarmed-over by a nation of dunderheads who pride themselves on their relentless mediocrity and who aspire only to drag this country down with them.

This country needs an enema, either that or it needs to press the “reset” button and start over.

We need to go back and understand why this country was formed and why it’s important that we not only survive as a nation, but thrive with the principles of our founding fathers alive and intact.

We are now living in a world that places little emphasis on what America once was, but rather, one that’s waiting to see which America will go forward from this moment in history. And it’s no surprise that some would love to see America come to an end.

Are we going to hold those beautiful words of the Declaration of Independence close? Or are we going to dissolve into a sniveling, mewling embarrassment of a nation that once had it all but threw it away in a cloud of indifference, incompetence and rampant mediocrity?

Are we going to rekindle the ideals and the unwavering moral purpose of “The Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw so eloquently put it, the ones whose sacrifices allow us to live freely in this country today? Or are we going to just sit back, shrug our shoulders and let whatever happens happen, sending a giant message of “whatever” out to the world?

Are we going to be a nation of blue sky dreamers who say, “Why not?” Or are we going to be a country of sodden, lazy consumers who can only mutter, “Why bother?”

It really is up to us as a nation at this juncture, isn’t it?

But it’s going to require the kinds of words, concepts and, most important, the actions that have been anathema around here for quite some time.

Words like sacrifice, discipline, focus and commitment.

Concepts like believing in - and caring for - each other, while having our leaders put this country’s long-term interests in front of self-interests and special interests.
MORE HERE
 

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I shudder to think what happens to the USA should a "World War 3" break out on the scope of WW2. The domestic auto industry was known as the "arsenal of democracy". Can you imagine Toyota, Honda, Nissan, et al suspending auto production to build armature, tanks, etc.? Never happen. Something for the "import defenders" to ponder.
 

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Writing about the problem is the easy part - implementing the solutions...

Social promotion, everybody's a winner, its cool to be dumb - though all that pales in the shadow of an ethics catastrophe. When did it become ethical to pay yourself 50 million to run a company into the ground. Back in the day - those executives would jump out the window of their office on the 53rd floor and were making no more than 10-20 times the lowest wage in the company - and we wonder where the middle class went.
 

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I shudder to think what happens to the USA should a "World War 3" break out on the scope of WW2. The domestic auto industry was known as the "arsenal of democracy". Can you imagine Toyota, Honda, Nissan, et al suspending auto production to build armature, tanks, etc.? Never happen. Something for the "import defenders" to ponder.
It'd take about 15 minutes to nationalize all their US plants...
 

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It'd take about 15 minutes to nationalize all their US plants...
Won't argue with you there, that's very true! There's no doubt manufacturing has declined overall. Having the Arsenal of Democracy remain on our shores is so important to our country's security. We can't lose the ability to produce what's needed to defend us.
 

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There is so much ignorance and arrogance in America that have led us to where we are. The domestic auto industry thought for years the Asian manufacturers were nothing to worry about and let them eat away at our market before there was even a serious reaction. The ability to recover from that is still debatable. Americans in general have let government drain their wallets and detrimentally manipulate the free market while inexplicably electing the same republicrats year after year as if the machine that broke the system is going to fix it. Greed, stupidity, arrogance and ignorance are hallmarks of America these days. This is still an amazing country but we are letting it slip through our hands in many ways.
 

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I think the arsenal of democracy is alrwady gone. Yeah you could nationalize the off shore car companies but where would the raw marerials come from? America dosen't have the steel manufacturing capacity it once had. Most comes from offshore. Bad news
 

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It'd take about 15 minutes to nationalize all their US plants...
Yeah, but could the government manage those plants as well as GM, Ford, Chrysler, etc. did back in the '40s???
 

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Thanks for posting! I enjoy reading many of his articles.
Thanks Tony, I appreciate it. I like De Lorenzo's stuff to. I've even emailed him a time or two. This one struck a cord with me.

My favorite quote has to be this:

Our national obsession with psychoanalysis that grew out of the “I’m okay, you’re okay” 70s has unleashed a firestorm that has almost crippled our modern society in a paralyzing fog of correctness to the detriment of everything else. A direct result of this is that our educational system has been dumbed-down and geared to the lowest common denominator to such an extent that we’re now faced with legions of kids growing up in a pass/fail world of no harm, no foul and no consequences whatsoever for their actions. Young strivers and achievers are not only growing fewer in number, they’re being shoved aside and mocked for their inner discipline and desire to succeed, and it won’t be long before this nation is swarmed-over by a nation of dunderheads who pride themselves on their relentless mediocrity and who aspire only to drag this country down with them.
I believe that 100% as it relates to education. Its a far more complex issue for any one person to handle, but I must say it rings true with me. I have friends all over the world who laugh at our public education system compared to their own.

Folks around the world want to come here to get a great COLLEG education - ours is just about second to none.

But as the same people if they'd want to come here for elementary/middle/high school and they will almost assuredly tell you no.

Sad business.
 

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I agree with you. The strength of this country lies within the people, not Washington.
Government cannot act for the common good,everything is politics. When we
finally take back our freedom, whether thru peaceful or violent revolt, only then will
we return to greatness. Our politicians live the high life while the electorate struggles
from day to day. Americans should voice their displeasure with a government that has long ago forgotten THEY WORK FOR US. Republicans and Democrats need to remember
they are all AMERICANS FIRST.
 

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Americans should voice their displeasure with a government that has long ago forgotten THEY WORK FOR US. Republicans and Democrats need to remember they are all AMERICANS FIRST.
Politicians have been wrestling control of the government away from the people for at least the last six decades. We are now at a point where government power is so great and centralized in Washington that Americans feel powerless to change it and at the very least, totally disconnected from it. The mind-numbing aspect of this is that we continue to support the same two parties that have created the monster and rarely question the government's activities - all to our detriment.
 

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If everyone who wants to see America set itself right again made their next car purchase a domestic brand, we would be on the right path to prosperity again very quickly. And to those who are finally coming to the realization that Globalization is a zero sum game and hyper-inflationary, I find it a bit hard to believe that it took them so long to figure it out. It should have been obvious to a 10 year old. Not that it will change anything for some people who will continue to promote it until there is very little left for Americans. How sad!
 

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De Lorenzo got this subject right. I'm sick and tired of so many people embracing mediocrity. This country needs to realize that there is a huge difference between lending a helping hand to the world, and laying down and handing the sword to those who would do us and our country harm.
 

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So far, with what I have read in this thread, everyone seems to be pretty much in agreement. The problem is, talk will not solve our problems. So what are we going to do about it?

We Americans have become fat, dumb and lazy over the past 10-12 years, and with the exception of 9/11, have not allowed much to rouse us from our lethargy. Things have become too easy and we expect problems to magically disappear, or that somehow, the bureaucrats in Washington will tackle them and allow us to maintain our laissez faire attitude. Well, that will not work this time and I believe the people are finally starting to see it.

For example, the AP just released a story yesterday that a larger percentage of Americans now want to drill for oil as opposed to conserve. I don't believe for one moment that not conserving is a viable long term answer, however, it is just one example of the necessity for a crisis to develop to force our people to action; even if not everyone agrees.

Additionally, I just read of a neighborhood in the suburb of Natomas in Sacramento, California that has formed there own quasi-police force. They use the technology of the internet to transmit pictures of criminal activity around their neighborhood network, notifying everyone of crimes in progess and then transmitting that information to the Sacramento PD before they ever get a call via the phone. This type of action has become necessary in a city that once had a police force of 804 and now has only 90. What does all of this mean? Simply that we cannot sit on our behinds and let the government or 'someone else' solve our problems.

Most of government is too concerned with getting re-elected or with maintaining their cushy GS rating, to rock the boat. Don't believe me? Just look at our two mediocre presidential candidates. No real answers for the most pressing problems of the day; just fallacious promises to make your life better. Hogwash! JFK said it best, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country".

So, what are we going to do about it?

My .02
 

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I shudder to think what happens to the USA should a "World War 3" break out on the scope of WW2. The domestic auto industry was known as the "arsenal of democracy". Can you imagine Toyota, Honda, Nissan, et al suspending auto production to build armature, tanks, etc.? Never happen. Something for the "import defenders" to ponder.
Are wars even fought like that anymore? I remember hearing on the History Channel or Military Channel that it took hundreds of bombers in WWII to destroy one target. Now that same target can be destroyed with one bomb and that bomber can destroy several targets in one flight.
 

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It'd take about 15 minutes to nationalize all their US plants...
Well since the Japanese did the same to GM and Ford prior to WWII, I say 30 seconds. As I have said before what is good for the Goose is good for the Gander!...and just in case, spare me the America can't compete, we can, ever wonder how many small cars GM Ford and Chrysler would make if they had been allowed access to Asia as Asian manufacturers are allowed here? What we need is a Governement that works to support American companies not foreign nations companies, is that too much to ask for?
 

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Here's a newsflash for our dear Peter.

THE AUTO COMPANIES FOUGHT AGAINST 'TOTAL MOBILIZATION' back in '42.

As did all of private industry. They didn't want rationing and figured they could still sell and build cars through the war.

I repeat: Private Industry bitterly opposed price controls and rationing - as well as the 'command and control' munititions production system imposed by the FDR administration.

Look it up.
 

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the point is that America isnt a place where manufacturing thrives anymore. People can armchair quarterback about GM and Ford all they want but the odds are stacked against them. The domestic auto industry is still here with nearly 50% share and that is actually good if you compare domestic share in other industries. The steel industry, railroads and so many other industries have gone under in this country. Some of it was bad management but globalization means that things are made elsehwere and bought here or are made here by companies based in other places. In order to have cheap goods America has embraced the idea that whomever makes it cheaper is the best choice to make anything and everything. The only reason the auto industry is different is because foreign companies have to make specialized vehicles for the US market that arent sold elsewhere so it makes sense to establish production here. As fuel prices go up and small cars grow in importance look for the Asian autoamkers to rely more and more on imports like the Fit, Prius and Yaris. Nissan already plans to convert its Titan plant to commercial vehicles. Very few (if any) hybrids or subcompacts are made in American and the Asian automakers havent announced plans to change that as far as I know. Once the Big 3 are beaten down to the point where the Asian automakers are seen as the de facto native brands there will be no need to worry about backlash and the Asian companies can stop building plants here.
 
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