Blueprint For a New American Industry

Next: Developing a 21st Century Transportation Industry

Strategic Transportation Planning

A more comprehensive analysis of China’s strategic planning and commitment to development of a 16,000-mile network of high-speed trains reveals that the system is intended to extend modern, state of the art passenger train service to 80% of its national, and 83% of its urban populations. Most strategically, the new rail network will integrate with, and connect to 87% of the nation’s GDP.

While China is building a rail system to serve as a vital engine of commerce and economic growth, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is proposing to build the first segment of its rail network by plowing through farmland between two rural towns in an agricultural area of the state so remote that it has been dubbed “The Train to Nowhere.”

An American industrial development and transformation perfectly suited to the creation of a domestic monorail industry is under way at the General Electric Corporation. In response to substantial losses experienced by GE Capital in the current financial crisis, General Electric has successfully reinvigorated and expanded its historic foundations of technology-based manufacturing, driven by a dynamic and innovative bolstering of research and development, guided by a campaign of “ecomagination” that has accounted for $20 billion in recent sales. The redirection of GE’s product development toward the cutting edge of high-tech heavy industry, guided by the corporation’s ecomagination paradigm, permits General Electric to define the evolution and character of US industry for the next decade, and beyond. Projecting General Electric Corporation’s successful and profitable manufacturing of cutting edge jet engines, nuclear plants, power turbines, locomotives, solar panels, water treatment systems, wind turbines and other heavy electrical equipment into future industrial development should significantly influence the growth, direction and productivity of US industry. However, a recognition of the diminishing profitability and shrinking international market share of nearly every American industry should bring even the most successful of US companies to a reassessment of their global, as well as, domestic competitiveness; and the strategic advantages of consolidation and expansion into new domestic production, markets and development.

Applied to the American transportation industry, General Electric Corporation’s environmentally focused heavy industrial development model could serve as a comprehensive implementation program for the transformation of US mass transportation planning and development. A key component of American Monorail’s proposed financial implementation strategy could be reflected in a restructuring of GE Capital’s investment portfolio and financial services away from such holdings as its recently sold $2 billion Mexican consumer mortgage portfolio, to underwrite monorail system development by providing infrastructure development financing for all aspects of monorail system implementation; from the construction of guide ways and manufacturing plants, to purchase of monorail vehicles and operational systems. While of little effect in preventing the writing-off of GE Capital’s current multi-billion dollar portfolio of bad or nonperforming loans and investments, such redirection of underwriting and capital investment could provide useful precedent and performance standards for development of federal infrastructure banks and initiatives. Further incentive for such reinvestment should be derived from the rather telling failure of GE Capital’s efforts to sell its rail car leasing business over the past three years; that would permit GE to shift an estimated $3 billion to underwriting and financing research, development, advanced transportation technology and manufacturing processes. Under any circumstances, deductions and reductions in corporate tax liabilities based on costs of research, testing, product development and expansion of domestic plants and production facilities would appear to be more productive and supportive of US manufacturing industry than those based on financial market and investment losses; or the costs of developing factories and transfer of advanced medical equipment manufacturing technologies to China. While profitable or unprofitable investments and financial services tend to produce few, if any long-term US jobs, investments in the research, development, and expansion of advanced domestic manufacturing that implementation of a new monorail industry would entail, could create and support hundreds of thousands of the nation’s most productive, long-term, technology-based employment opportunities of future decades.

Development of a domestic monorail industry could lead a renaissance of innovative, capital-intensive, advanced manufacturing capability that has nearly vanished from the US economy. With the goal of creating an all-encompassing, self-sustaining US monorail industry capable of maintaining 100% of the research, engineering, manufacturing, planning, construction and operation of the most advanced and efficient mass transportation systems in the world, America’s industrial capabilities can be fundamentally reinvigorated, and directed toward the dual objectives of solving many of the country’s persistent transportation problems, while providing state of the art transportation services to a broad constituency of riders, communities and transportation authorities. Monorail fabrication and manufacturing facilities can employ the most advanced production processes, composite designs and modular construction methods to achieve optimal use of materials and energy with greatly reduced environmental impacts; while significantly expanding US manufacturing industry, improving economic conditions wherever monorails are manufactured or built, and creating stable, long-term employment opportunities in an entirely new field of American industry. Development of a new monorail industry and modern workforce would improve every aspect of the production, implementation and long term operation of monorail systems and services in a uniquely comprehensive domestic transportation capability that is not likely to emerge in any other US industry.

The domestic content and financial benefit to every level of the US economy that an entirely American monorail industry could represent should be supported by federal, state and local governments through tax and regulatory policies that enhance the effectiveness and competitiveness of the pioneering US monorail industry. Without resorting to importing the advanced technology and industrial products of nationalized competitors, all levels of government throughout the United States can support the efforts of domestic American industry in implementing a fundamental transformation of the nation’s mass transportation networks into the primary engine of the 21st Century US economy.

Advanced manufacturing, plant design and production processes are defining the cutting edge of applied 21st century nanotechnology in a successful and growing joint venture between the Albany campus of the State University of New York, some 250 high-tech companies and the State of New York. With the support of $6 billion from high-tech industries and $1 billion from the State of New York, the Center for Emerging Sciences and Technology Management on the Albany campus employs a staff of 2600 researchers and engineers who are developing the next generation of industrial and manufacturing processes, along with the facilities and structures to house them. Applying the Center’s advanced research, development and manufacturing processes, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will open a $4.6 billion chip manufacturing plant 20 miles north of Albany in 2012. It does appear that a new monorail industry, unburdened by the legacies of mid-20th century manufacturing and rail transportation industries, could begin and grow from such a starting point; at the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing and transportation technology.

The argument for pursuit of a completely self-generating, self-supporting US monorail industry is underscored by the success of Swatch Group in establishing the Swiss watch maker as the world’s largest manufacturer of fine watches, while elevating the entire Swiss watch industry to the definitive position it holds atop the world’s fine watch manufacturers. By insisting that Swiss industrial standards require Swiss watch makers to manufacture all of the component parts of their respective watch assemblies, and that their quality be second to none, Swatch has reinvigorated both the Swiss watch making industry and its international prestige, along with its market share and financial strength.

Monorail systems capable of completely independent operations, by means of on-board power generation sources and electrical energy systems, can provide greatly needed leadership in advancing the fields of green energy, alternative fuels, and energy independence to US transportation industry and the American economy. Demonstration of comprehensive energy systems providing sustainable power to the entire monorail industry can help set standards and goals for the transformation of American energy and transportation industries, as well as, reducing the costs of energy to the US economy. With fuel costs for US car and truck drivers topping $460 billion in 2010, any and all efforts to reduce dependence on fuel-consuming transportation, power plant and urban energy demands can be enhanced by the successful implementation of sustainable, energy-independent monorail systems.

The target, or eventual status of the American monorail industry may well be set out to represent the state of the art in monorail design, engineering, production and development, but should project beyond the current state of the global monorail industry by creating the first high-speed monorail systems as a product of American industry. This would set two fundamental goals for the new American industry: That of defining and assuming a leading position of monorail technology and service in American transportation, and, providing a superior alternative to imported high-speed rail systems currently under consideration in several regions of the country. In planning for the eventual development of monorail systems capable of operating at speeds over 150 miles per hour, all inter-city and extended monorail guide ways should be designed and built to high-speed engineering and performance standards. This will set the ambitions and goals of the American monorail industry at the high point of domestic, as well as, international transportation industry.

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