Los Angeles - Widespread dismay was the overriding reaction among most suburban yuppies upon hearing the news that GM planned to idle four truck and SUV plants and increase production of smaller vehicles. The top US automaker also hinted it may eliminate its popular Hummer – an elite gas guzzler – altogether.
"How in the heck am I going to buy two-ton bags of basmati rice at Sam's and Costco if they eliminate the Hummer ?" wailed Sherman Phillips, a brokerage auditor in Orange County, Calif. who says he buys a new vehicle every six months and carefully scans headlines for news of food rioting in Haiti and Asia. "When there are food riots in Haiti over rice shortages, I like to hop in my Hummer and buy all the rice I can – just in case," he said. "Now, I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to do that."
Lorraine Garfield, 45, of Jupiter Island, Fla., suggested a switch to smaller vehicles might even spoil the appeal of her house. "I can't imagine a driving a small car, not when I live in a 34-room house! It just seems like it would be such a waste not to have excess capacity in my vehicle as well."
Marjorie Winston, a 22-year-old homemaker and mother of 12 in Redondo Beach, Calif., was more concerned about the impact on her children, aged two through five. "Between tuba, skydiving, synchronized swimming, ballet and javelin classes, we're always on the road," said Winston. "And that's just the Wednesday schedule for Skype, my four-year-old!"
Guenther Baller, 25, of Hewlett Bay Park, N.Y., was concerned about the effect downsizing his vehicle would have on his ability to maximize his carbon footprint. "I've spent the last week of my life really organizing a lot of opposition to this whole green scam," said Baller. "All that work now could be jeopardized!" Baller said he could still find ways to act in defiance of the environmental movement, vowing to leave his thermostat set to 85 instead of only 80 in the winter to compensate for any future efficiency increases in his fuel consumption.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke suggested GM was being selfish. "Why can't they find ways to give the American consumer what it wants – and what it deserves – what ever the costs?" asked Bernanke. "Why is it that our airline industry has figured out a way to offer below-cost goods and services, even in the face of hilarious oil prices, while GM cannot? Have they explored cutting pay, eliminating pensions, and simply operating at a loss on a routine basis? If they have, they certainly haven't done so enough."
In all, GM's moves will involve 10,000 workers, with more cuts expected soon.