November 9, 2008 Associated Press Article: White House, Congress on brink of auto deal
The play “Death of an Salesman” was on the reading list while I was a student at Columbia High School. The title of the play is particularly relevant now, in November 2008, when a range of industries both at home and abroad are affected by America’s financial crisis. The play is a critique of the main character Willie Loman, a salesman. Two themes the author Arthur Miller writes about are the ‘system’ and the American Dream.
Currently, salesmen of – real estate, automobiles, retail – are working hard to stay afloat. More Americans cast their vote this presidential election with the economy in mind than for any other issue.
Around the country local dealerships are facing harsh realities. Many of these business owners can’t, for example, get credit to run their business, finding it impossible to stock parts and make payroll. In Maplewood, the floundering automobile industry is visibly affecting our community, resulting in the loss of businesses. Business owners at the local level, including car dealerships, need assistance getting their voices heard.
This post is particularly ironic because I am a strong supporter of public transportation and walking. I support the mass production of solar cars, seeing hybrid cars more as a diversion than a solution. The technology is there, as is the engineering capability. Solar cars have been tested and proven functional. I look to the future, not to the past. Example 1. Example 2.
I am standing in the present, however, and i believe that now is not the time for Congress to chose favorites, Wall Street over the average American business owner. The decision not to provide assistance does not immediately impact the car industry/manufactures. The immediate impact is on local communities like ours. Separate the car industry/manufacturer from the car dealership owners, and one can see that the industry itself is still viable and will remain viable. Yet, as it stands, Maplewood’s Ford dealership, part of our community for 75 years, is bankrupt, it’s location standing empty. Our main street, Springfield Avenue, is visibly showing the repercussions of the financial crisis.
In my opinion, the automobile industry should not be abandoned by the federal government in a time of economic crisis and hardship. This will serve to compound the problem of job loss. The loss of the car dealership (and other businesses) in a community has a multiplier effect on that community. The reality is that Maplewood has lost two automobile dealerships, and this is significant because it means 1). The loss of local businesses, 2). A shrinkage in our tax base, 3). The loss of local history and networks of people.
The role that residents can play is a simple one. Put your ear to the ground and you will hear politicians say that they listen to their constituents. Politicians vote based on what their residents speak up about. Often a disconnect exists between residents and politicians – it usually occurs after votes are cast. At that point residents think their ‘civic duty’ is done – let the politician handle the issues. Active participation by residents makes for good government. Politicians have gone on record and said this. President Elect Barack Obama said to Americans on the night of his election that the work has only just begun, and that Americans should be active participants in his administration. Speak up, he is saying. In the state of NJ we currently have government officials actively seeking the participation of citizens in the work they do. One example? NJ Sentaor Robert Menendaz emails his constituents (and anyone interested) updates on his record, legislation, and invites comments via email, titled “Welcome to the Menendez Message.” This week he’s on Volume 4, Issue 4. Talk about impressive.
What you and I can do. Maplewoodians through citizen participation should seize this opportunity in American history to look around our town, pool our talents and resources, and see how, as a community working in partnership, we can assist our state and federal government in keeping our local resources and economy viable.
© 2010 W. S. Hughes