Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Tangled Webs Weaving - Big Oil May Be Worse Than You Thought

Anyone else remember that O. Roy Chalk bought the D.C. trolley system @1955 and tried to promote it, but the D.C. government, WaPo and the Senate District Committee wouldn't allow it, and replaced it with buses? Picture D.C. today with an electric above ground system instead of those fuming behemoths - of course, now there's the Metro, but it makes occasional stops only - and we might have still had both.

So last night I chanced by PBS's History Detectives, on a review of how the Cleveland, OH, trolleys suffered a similar fate. Then watched in horror as the report pointed out that the very political personages who'd worked to let go of the trolley to the gas belch had later been rewarded by GM. Of course, collusion was never proven, but the pattern occurred in one city after another.

Let me confess, though, I hate to see GM show up as an evil abuser of the environment - I have investments there.

The text is pdf, you can read it if you like, but I'll transcribe the (forgive me) "money" part.

Wes: Black shows me how GM tried to monopolize bus sales around the country.

Edwin: This is an internal document from National City Lines. It says "I am enclosing a GM survey of Tampa, Florida, together with a map of Tampa's streetcar system showing the streetcar routes together with a summary of their schedules." From that they began to map out exactly how many buses it would take to convert them. Tampa was typical of the way GM operated.

Wes: Black says once they understood the local system, GM and its partners would fund the purchase of the streetcar line.

Pant, pant, pant, sorry, I'm not used to all that going back and forth and typing, which is why I don't like pdf documents. But it is as close to proof of complicity as anyone had gotten in all the attempts since 1949, evidently, to establish that streetcars had been targeted for replacement by GM, Standard Oil and Firestone tires to use their products instead, and lock in decades of profits. GM et al. claimed that it was market forces that brought about their demise.

They used graft, paid off politicians willing to exchange the public trust for their own personal gain. The Duke Cunninghams don't just rob the public to fill their trough, they subvert the controls put in place to keep the safety of the public, and their future best interests, protected by our government. Deregulation has more than just the present in mind, it looks to future wastrel practices, and practicers.

Of all the unintended consequences of crimes, global warming is the scariest. Do we have some idea now of why oil, and its related, industries are so adamant against that concept?

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Blogger shrimplate said...

I recall seeing a television documentary decades ago about the removal of Los Angeles' trolley lines so that they could be replaced with bus and auto traffic.

We will rue the day.

8:58 AM  

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