Category Archives: InCity Voices

Goodbye, GM

By Michael Moore

June 1, 2009

I write this on the morning of the end of the once-mighty General Motors. By high noon, the President of the United States will have made it official: General Motors, as we know it, has been totaled.

As I sit here in GM’s birthplace, Flint, Michigan, I am surrounded by friends and family who are filled with anxiety about what will happen to them and to the town. Forty percent of the homes and businesses in the city have been abandoned. Imagine what it would be like if you lived in a city where almost every other house is empty. What would be your state of mind?

It is with sad irony that the company which invented “planned obsolescence” — the decision to build cars that would fall apart after a few years so that the customer would then have to buy a new one — has now made itself obsolete. It refused to build automobiles that the public wanted, cars that got great gas mileage, were as safe as they could be, and were exceedingly comfortable to drive. Oh — and that wouldn’t start falling apart after two years. GM stubbornly fought environmental and safety regulations. Its executives arrogantly ignored the “inferior” Japanese and German cars, cars which would become the gold standard for automobile buyers. And it was hell-bent on punishing its unionized workforce, lopping off thousands of workers for no good reason other than to “improve” the short-term bottom line of the corporation. Continue reading Goodbye, GM

Black like me: Worcester’s Black leaders – a brief history (part 1)

By William S. Coleman III

I will always remember the night of November 4, 2008. On this night America elected a qualified man – a black man – to be the next President of the United States of American and leader of the free world.
That night I joined a packed house of people gathered at a Green Street pub to watch the election returns.

There were all races of people: male and female, 21 and older, digital and analog. We came together to witness history and hoped history would be on our side that night.

The room would erupt, as the election returns would come in first from the East Coast: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and then New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, and the big shocker, Florida – all for Barack Obama. Continue reading Black like me: Worcester’s Black leaders – a brief history (part 1)

Proposal for an annual Worcester “Car of the Future Conference”

By Jim May

A unique opportunity exists in 2009 for the futures of both Worcester and WPI. The long range opportunity could be enormous. In the short term it is still a very attractive marketing opportunity.
Not that long ago, the last place on earth you would have found me on my Fourth of July weekend was Lincoln Square, the epicenter of the Summer Nationals car show. However, over the last five years I have come to increasingly appreciate the passion that the car restorers have for their craft which is not unlike my own: remodeling older homes and historic buildings in the Highland-WPI area.

Needless to say, I am a pretty “green” kind of guy: anything pro-environment is a plus for me.
I responded strongly to the forward thinking appeal of Obama’s messages of fuel-efficient cars, alternative solutions and providing incentives for inventors. Continue reading Proposal for an annual Worcester “Car of the Future Conference”

War and genocide

By Richard Schmitt

It’s this time of year again, the season of genocide remembrances and conferences; President Barrack Obama went to Turkey and without using the dreaded word “genocide,” spoke harshly about the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Turks. It is the time of year to remember genocides and its victims.

The local paper displayed a bar graph of different genocides: 200,000 persons killed in Bosnia – Herzogovina from 1992 to 1995; 800,000 in Ruanda in 1994; 2 million in Cambodia under Pol Pot, 1975 – 1979; 6 million in the Nazi Holocaust, 1938 – 1945; 300,000 killed by the Japanese in Nanking, China, 1937- 1938; 7 million killed in Stalinist Russia during the forced collectivization of agriculture; 1.5 million killed in Armenia in 1915. Continue reading War and genocide

“We the People” to “King of the World”: “YOU’RE FIRED!”

By Michael Moore

Nothing like it has ever happened. The President of the United States, the elected representative of the people, has told the head of General Motors — a company that’s spent more years at #1 on the Fortune 500 list than anyone else — “You’re fired!”

I simply can’t believe it. This stunning, unprecedented action has left me speechless. I keep saying, “Did Obama really fire the chairman of General Motors? The wealthiest and most powerful corporation of the 20th century? Can he do that? Really? Well, damn! What else can he do?!”
This bold move has sent the heads of corporate America spinning and spewing pea soup. Obama has issued this edict: The government of, by, and for the people is in charge here, not big business. John McCain got it. On the floor of the Senate he asked, “What does this signal send to other corporations and financial institutions about whether the federal government will fire them as well?” Continue reading “We the People” to “King of the World”: “YOU’RE FIRED!”

The government’s work

By Richard Schmitt

In a recent guest column in InCity Times, Harvey Fenigsohn wrote wisely that after eight years of George W. Bush we are entitled to have some fun at the expense of the former president but, more importantly, we need to learn from the failures of the previous administration.
They did a pretty terrible job because from President Bush down many bigwigs in the government were incompetent. But they also did a horrible job because they believed a lot of things which are plainly false.
One of those falsehoods is the dogma that government cannot do anything right and that if you want something to be done properly you need to allow private enterprise to do it. For the Bush people this became a self-fulfilling prophecy. They underfunded government agencies; they deregulated whatever they could. On their watch the government was therefore not able to do many of its jobs. Continue reading The government’s work

Is there an upside to the capsizing economy?

By Chris Holbein

It’s hard to find a silver lining in a recession. Stocks are plummeting, 401(k) plans are shrinking and businesses are either scaling back or folding. But there is one bright spot: Food magazines have stopped force-feeding their readers recipes featuring foie gras.

Gourmet and Bon Appétit have reportedly forsaken foie gras in favor of more budget-friendly options, and the editor in chief of Food & Wine recently announced that the magazine will no longer feature “recipes that involve loads of foie gras.” That’s a good thing. It’s just a shame that it took a tanking economy—rather than an ethical revolution or even a sense of revulsion—to make some foodies give up diseased duck livers. Continue reading Is there an upside to the capsizing economy?

Clean up time!

By Sue Moynagh

On Saturday, April 18, 2009, the City Manager’s “Keep Worcester Clean Team,” in a joint effort with Oak Hill CDC, held a clean up of the Vernon Hill neighborhood. Numerous volunteers from area colleges, Worcester Academy and other sections of the city joined area residents in this effort. People began to gather at the Worcester Senior Center on Providence Street by 8:30 A M. and picked up bags, gloves and T- shirts. Teams were formed and sent out into the Union and Vernon Hill streets and sidewalks, collecting approximately 3, 640 pounds of trash by 11:00 A.M. It was great seeing so many people pitching in to help clean up all the trash that has accumulated over the winter and early spring! Unfortunately, some private lots remain litter- filled, but the Department of Public Works compiled a list of “nuisance properties” that will be dealt with in the near future. Continue reading Clean up time!

The US and Cuba

By Richard Schmitt

Recently President Barack Obama relaxed the previous restrictions on Cuban-Americans returning to their native land to visit their families. He also eased telephone communications between the two countries. Over the weekend, at the summit of the Organization of American States bringing together all the heads of governments in the hemisphere – except Cuba – President Obama reached out to President Chavez of Venezuela and signaled that he wanted to try for better communication with Cuba.

For more than 50 years, successive US government have been more or less hostile to Cuba. There have been some thaws before, but the embargo on Cuba has been in existence since the early 1960s. US companies have been forbidden to do business in Cuba and in periods of heightened anti-Cuban sentiment, the US also attempted to force European businesses to refrain from doing business in Cuba. Continue reading The US and Cuba