skill level. When the two processes are brought together—the advanced mind working with the advanced machine tool— actual productivity growth generates the upward movement of the economy. Each skilled worker and machinist grasps this principle more or less—if not fully consciously, then intuitive- ly. His or her activity in production is guided by this under- standing.
What will be produced at each GM plant that would be retooled will have to be decided by those who are directing the process. No pre-selected list exists. The machinists, skilled workers, and engineers who engaged in this process with the LaRouche movement, contributed their ideas. They are com- mitted to achieving the retooling, and they have developed insight into how the process would work, based on decades of experience with this process.
Eugene Morey, president of United Auto Workers Local 849 in Ypsilanti, Michigan, which represents employees of Ford’s primary parts supplier, Visteon Corporation, said in a discussion on LaRouche’s re-tooling proposal, “We could just as well produce at this plant components for high- speed rail systems, and a maglev system, as we could pro- duce automotive components. Look, we used to produce shock absorbers/struts at this plant, also horns. Today we specialize in starters and ignition coils. Obviously, we know how to retool to change over from the products we used to produce.”
Morey described how the plant regularly draws together workers, engineers, and management, to discuss what prod- ucts it could produce, and to make bids for new work. A highly skilled machinery repairman himself, he described how the deliberation process could contribute. Once it has been decided to build a certain product, he and engineers will select “equipment makers who make the equipment we will need. We will look at the machine tools they have made, and then suggest to the equipment makers the modifications we want in the machine. We will work with that person. Once the construction of the new machine tool is partly done, we will . . . make sure it meets standards.” Morey’s plant has 30 machine shops, several of them small, which they work with. This is precisely the sort of collaboration that is vital to the re-tooling.
Morey said, “We can have the engineering and skilled workforce to produce new things. With the right machines and workers, you can produce almost anything that is needed.”
An array of projects to rebuild and improve America’s col- lapsing infrastructure, cry out for construction. Many are off- the-shelf; and some are authorized as soon as funding is brought forward. A retooled auto sector, covering important portions of GM, Ford, and the parts suppliers, could produce the requisite quality and immense volume of capital goods and
May 6, 2005
transportation systems needed.
1. America’s rail system is in crisis. There is a great need to shore up and improve Amtrak, America’s main passenger intercity rail system. This also is true of sections of America’s freight railroad system. The neglect is highlighted by the fact that the workforce that makes rail equipment has been chopped up (see Figure 3).
Simultaneously, America should embark on the construc- tion of high-speed rail, and ultimately, magnetically levitated train systems. Figure 4 shows the U.S. Department of Transportation’s designated High-Speed Rail Corridors, 11 in the Continental United States and one in Alaska (not shown). The 12-corridor system would cover 12-15,000 miles in the most densely populated parts of the country. The passenger rail side of the system should travel at 150 mph on double-tracked lines.
As the system would be electrified for great efficiency, this would require the mass-scale building of electric-pow- ered locomotives. It would also require the construction of rail passenger cars, signalling systems, etc. There is also great need to build the rolling stock for intra-city and com- muter rail systems.
2. The rebuilding and forward development of America’s physical economy—including the tremendous electricity requirements for an electrified rail system—necessitate mass construction of nuclear power plants, featuring high- temperature gas-cooled reactors. An engineer told EIR that while retooled auto plants may be able to produce nuclear containment vessels, they certainly can produce transmission lines, sub-stations, and everything needed for an electricity grid.
3. The U.S. inland waterways are, due to age and obso- lescence, on the verge of breakdown. The April 22 EIR pub- lished (page 52) a map of nine of the approximately 40 “critical ready-to-go waterways projects” that await appro- priated funding. These projects are lock-and-dam systems, some of which require one or several mitre gates. EIR is investigating how retooled auto plants could produce water infrastructure.
4. Since 1979, U.S. machine-tool production has plummet- ed by two-thirds; the retooled auto sector could overcome this shortage by producing machine tools and necessary heavy capital goods. There is a direct lesson from the economic mobilization for World War II of 1939-44, in which the key bottleneck was the lack of machine tools to precisely produce other machinery. President Roosevelt solved that problem by directing the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to build new machine tool-plants and capacity.
5. Tractors could be built by the auto sector for U.S. use, but in such a mobilization hundreds of thousands of tractors could go to Africa, Asia, and Ibero-America. Henry Ford’s original Ford Motor Company had an entire division producing tractors.