An Open Letter

The following isn’t about art but I believe it is important enough subject that I’ll break from any discussion about art and post it.  I’m sending it to my representitive and senators. I’d encourage everyone else in the United States to do the same.  Anyone wishing to may feel free to copy and paste what I’ve written and send it to relatives and friends, and their representities and senators. Or if you think I’m nuts then just ignore this.

An Open Letter to President Bush, President Elect Obama and members of the United States Congress
I have been reading with interest about the CEOs of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors petitioning Congress to provide them with billions in loans to preserve their companies. Considering the potential economic impact that the failure of any one of the three would have on the United States and other countries where they operate I think that action on the part of the United States government is warranted. Simply providing loans though is not enough. Those loans should carry non negotiable obligations that must be met.

What follows is a list of conditions that I believe should be imposed on any type of loan that the United States government would provide. The conditions of these loans should remain in effect until every cent plus a reasonable interest charge is repaid. Any restriction or condition of the loans on wages, salaries and other employee recompense may not be retroactively raised or reimbursed after the loans are satisfied.

1. All salaries and wages are frozen at current levels. Any new hires may not receive wages or salaries higher than current levels for the same or equivalent position.

2. Bonuses of any kind are forfeit. Stock options are forfeit. Profit sharing is forfeit. All stock dividends are forfeit. All retirement packages for all employees waged or salaried that chooses to retire while the loans are in force and for a period 120 days prior to the execution of the loans is subject to congressional approval.

3. Travel is restricted to that which is absolutely necessary to the conduct of the company’s business. If travel by air is necessary then such travel will be by commercial airline and at business class or lower. Hotel accommodations must be limited to that which will provide necessary shelter and conduct of business.

4. All new vehicles introduced after the loans are initiated must achieve an EPA estimated highway mileage of 40 miles per gallon or higher. Any vehicle under development which will not provide that level of fuel efficiency or equivalent must be scrapped. An exception for vehicles intended for transport of 10 or more persons and vehicles intended for transport of goods and materials should be included. Current vehicle models are not required to meet the 40 miles per gallon restriction though they should continue to provide their current or greater efficiency levels.

5. Union employees may not strike while the loans are outstanding. Contracts with unions under negotiation or negotiated during the period the loans are outstanding may not exceed current levels of employee recompense.

6. Congress should appoint a committee which will oversee all aspects the loans and compliance with the conditions of the loans.

These conditions may seem harsh but in fact they are appropriate given the circumstances. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. I would urge Congress to add even more restrictions if they would result in protecting the interests of the people of the Unites States. The automobile manufactures claim they are faced with the failure of their companies and if so, then they should be prepared to take any measure that would result in the efficient and profitable operation of their companies. In all cases, it should be the interests of the people of the Unites States that is protected and not those of the automotive industry.

The requirement for vehicles achieving highway efficiency of 40 miles per gallon is now currently achievable and in point of fact has been achievable for many years. This will not require new break-through technology. Vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt will offer that type of fuel efficiency. There simply is no longer any reason nor has there been for many years for the American automotive manufactures not to produce vehicles that can achieve that level of fuel efficiency. The technology already exists. It is not new or untried. Train locomotives have been using a similar technology for years. I would go even farther in suggesting that Congress should pass and the president should sign into law a requirement that all new passenger vehicles sold in the United States after 2013 must achieve a fuel efficiency of 40 miles per gallon highway or alternate fuel equivalent.
It is time for Detroit to develop and deliver world class vehicles that achieve world class efficiency. While the development of new technology may result in even greater fuel efficiency in the future, it is time that currently available technology was used to its full potential. It is also time for the United States and its citizens to stop pandering to excuses and demand results.

Timothy Stringer
Greenville, SC

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