Your April 30 editorial, "Looking up at Toyota," failed to recognize that the changes you suggest - and more - are already well under way at General Motors.
GM had a record first quarter, with sales increases in our three regions outside of North America, and we continue to strengthen our North American business. While we still have work to do, we have made a great deal of progress.
Despite common misperceptions, GM values fuel efficiency. In fact, we offer and sell more models that get an EPA estimated 30-mpg or better on the highway than any other automaker, including Toyota. And while the Prius has been a successful halo vehicle for Toyota, the company also sells increasing numbers of larger trucks and SUVs, many of which get poorer mileage than comparable GM vehicles.
We strongly advocate energy diversity and are pursuing multiple solutions, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, bio-fuels, fuel cells, and electric vehicles. We are in development or production in each of these categories, and view minimizing global dependence on oil as a business necessity and contribution to society.
The global auto industry will remain hyper-competitive. But we believe GM is well positioned for long-term success.
Before we plant all available acreage with corn to turn into ethanol to burn in our cars, consider the following:
1. E10 (10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline) would result in 2 percent to 3 percent worse fuel economy in your car.
2. The savior E85 (85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline) would result in 30 percent worse fuel economy in your car.
These facts are available to review in the November, 2006, edition of Boating magazine (www.boatingmag.com). Search ethanol at that site.
If you pay the same price for a gallon of regular gasoline and E85 blended gasoline, say, $2.50 per gallon, and you factor in the 30 percent decreased mileage of E85, it results in the equivalent of paying $3.25 for that gallon of E85.
To put it another way, if you get 30 miles to the gallon with regular gasoline, you will now get 21 miles to the gallon with E85.
While I am in favor of cutting America's dependence on foreign oil, the country's headlong dive into ethanol being the savior is not the answer. Is anybody keeping track of the rise in price of corn lately? Prices are already climbing for corn products and animal feed. The price of beef is already on the increase.
The information that is being provided to the public regarding the safety record on the bridge project has been, at best, very misleading. In the April 21 article there was reference to the lost-time injury rate of 1.66, compared to the national average for this type of work, of 3.7.
What's misleading is that, the "lost-time injury rate" does not include injuries resulting in immediate death.
Let's say that these five workers had been seriously injured and happened to be off work as a result of their injuries for several months. Fru-Con's "lost-time injury" rate would be off the charts.
Comments were also made that there was no place to tie off. I don't agree. The bridge is concrete, an anchor could have been drilled and the tie-off connected. They could have placed a "concrete barrier" - they have plenty of those - next to the work area and tied off to it. They could have parked a truck there, removed the coil wire, set the brakes and locked the truck, then, tie off to the truck.
Accidents happen as a result of unsafe behaviors and/or unsafe acts. The goal for all workers is to eliminate these unsafe behaviors and unsafe acts. It is management and supervision's responsibility to see the job is worked safely.
News reports and editorials imply that Paul Wolfowitz used his position to promote a woman whose only qualification was her personal relationship to him. The facts make sobering reading about the integrity of the press.
Before he was hired, Mr. Wolfowitz informed the World Bank directors of his personal relationship with an employee of the bank. The directors referred the matter to their ethics committee. That committee recommended that the employee be seconded to another international agency at the bank's expense and, because her career would be sidetracked through no fault of her own, she be compensated through a promotion and accelerated salary increases.
Mr. Wolfowitz implemented these recommendations and was praised by the committee chairman for his probity. Where is the scandal? His critics charge the recommendations should have been approved by the board and only then should they have been implemented. Mr. Wolfowitz has acknowledged the procedural error but no one has ever claimed that the board was unaware of the recommendations or that they didn't fully endorse them.
The media have known that the opposition to Mr. Wolfowitz centers on bank employees. World Bank positions are the ultimate sinecure: modest responsibilities, highly paid, tax-free, and ironclad protection against dismissal. However, the bank's income has steadily declined in recent years as more Third World countries use private banks for their development projects.
Mr. Wolfowitz has acknowledged the bank's problem and seemingly threatened the employees' future. He has also demanded stricter oversight for loans to reduce graft by local officials. As these local officials are the sponsors of many bank employees, they have pressured their clients to get rid of him.
So the press smears a Bush appointee whose real offense is that he takes seriously his responsibility to the poorest people on earth.
Whoa! Wait a minute! The American Cancer Society joined with the Ohio Beverage Association in litigation over the private club smoking exemption? I was under the impression that donations to the American Cancer Society were for finding a cure for the disease. Obviously, this is not the case.
One would wonder if the society's "not for profit" status with the IRS allows for this seeming misuse of people's contributions. I know I surely won't be donating any more money to be used to attack veterans' organizations over smoking rules.
An online story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that a few fans in Toledo booed and insulted a Korean-born baseball player because the Virginia Tech shooter was a Korean-American.
As an Asian-American who was born in Toledo and went to school in the Sylvania public school system (Southview class of 1990), it bothered me a great deal to think that some in the community I grew up in would engage in such racist behavior.
Growing up I occasionally weathered ignorant comments but very rarely did I encounter racially based hostility, and I would hope that Toledo remains an area where Midwestern values equate with decency and courtesy, not ignorance and prejudice. I understand that the Virginia Tech shooting was a massive tragedy and people's emotions run high, but that is no excuse for racism.
I think it's very regrettable that for many Asian-Americans their only impression about Toledo will be such an anecdote. As Toledo works to keep and attract business and talent, it can ill afford such a reputation.
I just returned from a visit to Hoover Dam and found it amazing that in four years the Colorado River was diverted and one of the greatest engineering marvels of all time was built. This is Year Five of trying to fi x the Martin Luther King Bridge in Toledo?
Something is just not right!