California has lots of problems as everyone knows, and manufacturing is in a virtual free fall there. I suppose it is a case of the forest and the trees, in which Californians have their noses pressed so hard up against the bark of their favorite tree that the big picture is hard to discern. From my lofty perch in Illinois, however, I can see a pretty obvious solution: Kevin Meyer needs to host a 'Wine Summit' in his backyard and the State can get on the fast track to turning it all around. I know Obama is more of a beer guy, but this is California and he will just have to make accommodations.
It's all fairly simple:
GM backed out of NUMMI, so it is folding and over 4,000 auto manufacturing jobs are going down the drain early next year.
Toyota is threatening legal action if California does not give them the $2 million promised last year for worker training. It seems that a guy named Barry Broad– a liberal Democrat, a union champion and an Obama guy – sits on the board that doles out the grants and he does not think the State should honor their promise because the workers were trained for auto jobs and there are no auto jobs for the soon-to-be-unemployed NUMMI folks to perform. He apparently bought into the 'vast right wing conspiracy theory' and thinks the whole collapse of GM and NUMMI was a well orchestrated plot to scam the State out of the $2 million.
Way down south is the Fisker Automotive company. They are rolling out an environmentally and politically correct car called the Karma that the Hollywood gang – who are lockstep Obama folks – is lining up to buy in advance. Fisker are also Obama guys – in fact Al Gore has a big stake in Fisker.
Back up north is a guy named Matt Rogers – another Obama guy – who runs the Department of Energy's Advanced Technologies Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program. He scrounged up better than a half a billion bucks for Fisker so they can manufacture Karmas for the celebs. The problem is that Fisker and Mr Rogers decided to send that big sack of cash to Finland so the Finnish economy could be stimulated by making the cars.
From 2,000 miles away it seems to me that Toyota will gladly take their $2 million and walk away from California. If Rogers will pay them from the $528.7 million he plans on sending to the Finns, that would still leave him with a hefty sum. The rest of the cash should go to getting the Fisker folks set up in the old NUMMI plant with those trained workers. Are you beginning to see the logic? Keep the cash in California and keep the auto jobs Mr Broad thinks are gone for good? And it is all Obama folks involved, so they ought to be able to pull it off (except the Japanese and they just want cash).
I am sure there are a few flies in the ointment. The most obvious is that the Hollywood gang is pretty entrenched in the their conviction to buy stuff made anywhere but in the USA, but perhaps the NUMMI plant could be sold to Finland for $1 and leased back from them for 99 years by Fisker for $1 a year, which could appease the Karma buyers that the cars are being made on Finnish soil. It might take some arm twisting to convince them that a car made by ex-Toyota employees is as good as one made in that center of world class manufacturing excellence – Helsinki – but it is worth a shot.
The Finns might be a bit peeved with the plan, but I think we can survive the bloodletting of a trade war with them. I know that, as an Illinois resident, I am willing to sacrifice the sudden absence of Finnish goods in my life this might cause for the good of my American brothers and sisters in California, and I think the rest of the country will show similar solidarity.
It seems to me that everyone involved follows Mr Obama with a passion, and that might just be enough to form the basis of an agreement. As the map shows, Kevin is situated smack dab in the center of the concerned parties, and those who follow Kevin on Twitter know that he is quite the wine aficionado. It's worth a shot, Kevin. Invite Obama and the folks from NUMMI and Fisker over to Morro Bay, along with Messrs. Broad and Rogers. Ken Howard is the new President of the Screen Actors Guold and I am sure he can help protect the Karma customer base. Pull the cork on a couple of bottles of the good stuff and see if you and Barack can't make history and save California from itself.