Thursday, January 1, 2009

Let Them Build Plug-ins

It's a dream come true for bashers of gas-guzzlers. The scourge of the planet, the American SUV, has been driven to the brink of extinction, killed off by high gas prices and bad PR from guilt-tripping greens. Here's part of a recent New York Times obituary:

"Even a federal bailout could not save three of the last remaining plants in the United States still making sport utility vehicles.

Reeling from its financial problems and a collapsing S.U.V. market, General Motors on Tuesday closed its factories in this city and in Moraine, Ohio, marking the passing of an era when big S.U.V.’s ruled the road. The moves followed the shutdown last Friday of Chrysler’s factory in Newark, Del., which produced full-size S.U.V.’s.

The last Chevrolet Tahoe rolled off the line here in Janesville shortly after 7 a.m. in the 90-year-old plant, which had built more than 3.7 million big S.U.V.’s since the early 1990s.

Most of the plant’s 1,100 remaining workers were not scheduled to work the final day, but many showed up for an emotional closing ceremony. Dan Doubleday, who had 22 years on the job, broke down in the plant’s snowy parking lot afterward.

“I was a fork lift driver,” he said, glancing at his watch through welling tears. “Until about seven minutes ago.”

Only now will public attention turn to the assembly plants that will be shuttered, and the jobs lost, to the consumer choices that will be narrowed and the motorist safety sacrificed, because of the SUV's demise. That part of the story wasn't talked about much before. Nobody have a damn about the fork lift driver in Janesville.

Are SUV-haters -- putzing along in the slow lane in their matchbox toys, munching tofu burgers and anxiously searching for someplace to plug in their plug-in -- feeling a tinge of guilt or regret about the SUV's decline, or the economic hardship this will bring to those who built and sold and maintained these Mastodons? Not a bit.

Such sacrifices are required to "save" the planet. "Let them build plug-ins," they'll say, echoing Marie Antoinette.

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