Friday, November 14, 2008

Neil Young on How to Save the Auto Industry

Neil Young (yes, that Neil Young!) has penned a thought piece about the American auto industry's woes and how best to solve them. He writes, "We need visionary people now with business sense to create automobiles that do not contribute to global warming." And then he goes on to detail his plan.

Young, a long-time environmental advocate in addition to being one of the most enduring musicians from the 1960s, is the driving force behind Lincvolt, an effort "to turn a nearly 20-foot-long, 5,000-pound 1959 Lincoln Continental into a vehicle that will run on natural gas, electricity or some other form of clean energy. His aim is to win the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize, a $10 million challenge to develop a vehicle that can get 100 miles per gallon or better by 2009." Lincvolt even has its own Youtube channel.

I wholeheartedly agree with Young that this moment cries out for bold, visionary solutions to the problems we confront:  on the economy, on the environment, on health care, on education, on foreign policy, etc.  This is the primary difference between the Clinton Democratic moment in 1992 and the Obama moment in 2008.  In 1992, embattled by a rising conservatism, the best the Dems could hope for was a Republican lite version of Democratic politics.  In 2008, though, there seems to be real opportunity to think big and throw long.  I suspect this will ultimately be the measure of Obama's administration:  the degree to which he seizes the historical moment, takes some risks, and goes the visionary route...  or the degree to which he misses the moment by being overly cautious and halting in his reform agenda.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I agree. Let's hope Obama, Neil Young and we ourselves seize the moment. On plenty of the issues you say we need "visionary" action, and again I agree, but Europe and domestic companies have had solutions in place or in the works for many of these problems for years (health care, renewable energy for instance). It's a matter of breaking the short sightedness of for-profit economic growth and neo-liberal ideological dominance in government. I think it's a battle that can be won.