If the government were to actually take charge of GM, instead of playing the pathetic role of passive owner, the bankrupt and seriously troubled auto giant could move beyond just making more cars and more problems to become a forward-thinking pioneer in actually solving problems.
Instead of just cranking out more and more steel dinosaurs and contributing more to the greenhouse gas crisis and the country's reliance on imported oil, a state-owned GM could start making and selling a line of electric vehicles, maybe marketing them as a package deal to car-buyers together with installed solar panels or wind generators, so that each car buyer would have his or her own source of off-the-grid electric power.
By selling solar and wind units in the millions, GM could bring down the cost of personal power generation to reasonable levels, making a huge dent in the nation's carbon footprint.
A state-owned and run GM could also become a major promoter and producer of mass transit alternatives, from subways and high-speed rail systems to computerized street-level light rail and people mover systems, further protecting the future jobs of GM workers.
Instead of shutting down "surplus" car plants and letting these huge investments in industrial infrastructure decay and collapse, or be razed, these huge facilities (nine to 12 are slated for shutdown at this point) could be geared up for alternative uses, saving jobs and whole regional economies.
If, that is, leaders in Congress and the White House could somehow be deprogrammed out of their blind faith in the mumbo-jumbo cult of America's state religion of "Free Enterprisism."
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-area journalist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net