A bit of good news comes out of Motor City (No, the Tigers will not catch the Indians.), as General Motors reports increased August sales, relative to the period in 2006. Whether this indicates an upswing in the market, or simply a one-time aberration, remains to be seen, but surely it brings some comfort, even if only fleeting, to autoworkers and stockholders of the company.
Less certain is whether or not this news really is good for the United States, the world even. GM credits sales in trucks and SUVs for the increase; even with continued fuel efficiency and cleanliness improvements, this still threatens us environmentally, as well as economically. One needn’t be a Kunstler-esque doomsday prophet to understand that something must change with regard to our consumption of fossil fuels.
Success in Detroit should concern us beyond these issues. As Peter Griffin notes to his biological father whilst they compete in the game of drink, obesity is one of our greatest health care issues. We must be careful not to place all of the blame on any one source, as many come into play, but our obsession with the car, and the subsequent auto-centric urban design that we have employed over the last half-century, unquestionably has led to the great American paunch. (I could say plenty more about urban design, architecture, and planning here, but would inevitably find myself on a never-ending tangent, and as such will reserve such commentary for numerous forthcoming posts.)
Economic upswings are always nice to see, at least in the short term, particularly when they occur in sectors that still occasionally provide good jobs. We should, nevertheless, be vigilant and willing to question the long-term benefits of strengthened growth in Detroit.
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