Crash Test Wham-O: GM (General Malaise) Hits the Wall
The public will buy what it deems of highest value. If that takes the form of small, economic, energy-efficient cars, then they will buy them. Forcing them on the population is not going to make them choose GM over Toyota or some other vehicle. It will just decimate our domestic auto industry further.
Furthermore, I am more concerned over the principles that would allow the government this kind of power. I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who said, "Do not give the government any power you would not give your worst enemy." No matter how well-meaning, eventually this power will be abused or used in ways not originally intended. Look at the Patriot Act as an example.
I also believe "Coercion is the root of all evil." I don’t know who said that, but I believe that sums up everything that has anything to do with the credo of Liberty. Forcing people to make or buy certain cars is co-ercion and could easilly be extended to force all manner of things upon people. I do not want Michael Moore in charge of what I drive anymore than I want him in charge of what food I
I agree with what you wrote Patrick. The gov’t should not be in a position to dictate what the consumers drive. The attack on capitalism by Moore and others is unjustified. If GM makes inferior products, they will sell less than the competition. Continue this for a long time and they will go backrupt. Which is where we are now. Let them go backrupt without gov’t bailouts! If the gov’t has it way we could be driving an East German Trabant (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trabant) because not many consumers are going to buy a $40,000 Chevy Volt! Maybe with gov’t incentitives (handouts) the price would come down to $35,000. Let’s get the gov’t out of manufacturing and out of our banking system too.
Michael Moore presents some good ideas in that piece, especially point 9: To help pay for this, impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline. This will get people to switch to more energy saving cars or to use the new rail lines and rail cars the former autoworkers have built for them. Obama should put him in charge of restructuring GM.
You REALLY think this is a good idea? What about people who live in small towns which is most of us in the U.S. How could many even afford to drive to work? Want to kill off an economy that already has one foot in the grave? This would do it. Michael Moore for President! Might as well get this country over with and be done with it.
I normally cringe when government gets involved in our private lives or in private corporations as is the case with GM. However, when it comes to energy and transporation, Michael Moore just may be right(I’m cringing right now). I was recently in Italy, and their high speed trains are incredible! The public transportation, especially in the cities is fantastic. Granted, you may have to wait a little while for a train, as I had to, in the more rural areas, but at least you have the option. Italians, and most Europeans, pay high gas prices in the form of petrol taxes to subsidize the public transportation and the train prices are very, very reasonable. As for the petrol taxes hurting the poor and middle class, well, I think the regular folks have figured it out…there are bicycles, scooters, vespas and tiny micro cars everywhere. And it’s not just the low and middle income types driving the scooters, even the business men in the suits and women in skirts can be found on the bicycles and scooters. It’s quite a sight actually.
As we all know from the Crash Course, energy and other resources will be at a premium in the years to come. I’d rather use those remaining resources to build a low energy use European-style transportation infrastructure that includes more trains, rather than more cars and more highways and bridges to nowhere. I will be willing to pay more, gulp, cringe, higher petrol taxes to do that, as long as those taxes are "used properly". I know, I’m dreaming, back to reality.
… but ‘what’ would be a good idea? I mean, eventually there has to come a time, probably out of the next from tenth highest level of fear, where an idea is put forward that’ll probably be the right one. Yet, with all that has come before, distrust will remain and we’ll most probably have a thread full of people casting it out as another poor choice? Surely some of the idea’s brought forward by Moore are excellent …
In my mind, the eventuality of either a government (however reduced in size) or a businessman (funding gained from God knows where) will come forward to fill the void where ‘need’ has come into play … and I don’t mean all previous results of paying people to dig holes up and another group fills up the same holes either … diminished resource needs a collective to prioritize the future …
… what is a ‘Good Plan’ ? I don’t have one, but surely the brains of this site could build a better one than the ‘None Plan’ that is doing its best to fall down around our ears …
Patrick and others,
There are two issues here that when joined create an unsolveable monster.
First is the issue of GM and our modes of transportation and I agree with M. Moore as regards our need to develop a new model such as a bullet train etc. Let private enterprize develop what is needed via the retooling of our factories. I like the idea of adding a charge to the cost of fuel when the proceeds are directed toward a transportation solution that works for the future. The cost is going to skyrocked in any case so doing something causitively now and directing the proceeds toward a viable end PRODUCT is preferrable to being the effect later with nothing to show for it. We should be operating on oils’ true value as mentioned in the CC.
The second issue is whether government should be involved. Fundamentally, the people should demand transportation alternatives and IF gov’t did represent the people in the utopian world of Thomas Jefferson et al then that might work. I do agree with you that nationalizing GM will be yet another disaster in a long line of them. And trying to develop an alternative to the car through a vehicle (no pun intended) such as GM will not get us anywhere when it is "owned" by the same crew that "owns the FED" and our Gov’t via the politicians.
Lastly, IMHO, the fat lazy American is likely simply going to continue to whine about the high cost of fuel and that somebody ought to do something so they can continue to drive to the local MacDeath Burger joint to pound down another round of MSM and go to the movies. Actually this last point may be a fact rather than a humble opinion. I’m going to check with Damnthematrix on this!!!!!
…… what is a ‘Good Plan’ ? I don’t have one, but surely the brains of this site could build a better one than the ‘None Plan’ that is doing its best to fall down around our ears …
WARNING THIS WILL NOT BE PLEASANT….
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
In my opinion, the plan that works is the one of sustainability. Using only renewable energy sources, less complex life styles, and balanced population growth. We take only what we can give back in the time frame it can give back to us from mother earth. We still need to have technology, so we can adapt to changes in environment and the day red sun scenario ((the we need to get off this rock)).
The hard and not so nice part of all this is that, at this sustainable level of life we have too many people to be support. Population reduction needs to happen, whether it be controlled family sizes or whatever. I know may people hate to look at this and if somebody can explain a better method great. I just do not see it.
Well, I would ask that everyone take a hard look at American culture. We are a country of the automobile.
In the smaller town that I just moved from (around 12,000 people) there is not even a single taxi cab to serve public transportation. I moved to Greene County with a population of about 250,000 and here there is a public bus system, but it doesn’t go where most people live, so that doesn’t do much good.
The auto is the only option if you want to go anywhere and you do because the food stores don’t deliver.
Moore’s suggestions are simply not well thought out. If gasoline were taxed another 2 dollars a gallon, minimum wage employees couldn’t afford to go to work any longer. Trucks that get food and merchandise into stores would have to charge exorbitant prices and prices would skyrocket. People like me who travel for a living (I cover all of Southern Missouri) would have to go out of business.
They also are not well thought out because he doesn’t seem to understand the business world. Who would turn GM plants into building windmills, solar panels and the like? The market is already saturated with these products or manufacturers would be producing more of them right now. That’s called a free market.
I read about 3-5 hours a day. I parse a lot of data. Few articles I read are focused like a laser, few authors know enough to hit on more than one or two salient points, hardly any get the entire thing, hardly any explain things with such clarity.
Your articles are beyond great! I re-read them and learn more each time.
Thank you for the time you take, I post them on the DG so they hit the front page where they can help more people to help themselves, and as always I look forward to the next.
Paul said: … but ‘what’ would be a good idea? I mean, eventually there has to come a time, probably out of the next from tenth highest level of fear, where an idea is put forward that’ll probably be the right one.
Regarding GM, I think we need to understand the problem before coming to a rational solution. While there may be a myriad of problems that led to the demise of GM, one stands out front and central – "free trade."(H/T to Elaine Melankis for the chart)
Remember Ross Perot and the great sucking sound as NAFTA and free trade suck the life out of American industry – well, he was absolutely right. We may distract ourselves vilifying trade unions, social programs and our inability to compete with third world labor rates, but the real reason why our industry has been decimated is because of free trade; which should be immediately replaced by "fair trade" that serves our national interests first.
And we continue the insanity of damaging trade policies as evidenced by this: "Nissan Motor Co. is likely to receive more than ¥100 billion in low-interest loans set up by the U.S. government to promote the development of and transition to electric vehicles and other fuel-efficient cars, sources said Friday." So, we will go deeper into debt so that Nissan may better compete with GM, which is now owned by the taxpayers.
We threw away one of the few Weapons of Mass Production: tariffs and barriers. Few Americans know that before the Federal Reserve and the income tax laws, our entire government was funded by tariffs and barriers! All of it! And ran in the green, too!
It helped our own factory system to develop into the mega-monster of WWII fame! It made ‘Made in America’ a boast and not a rarity! It created General Motors. It made our cities big. It made our nation an empire. Free trade killed our nation and turned it from a creditor nation to a debtor nation. Our rivals don’t need tariffs and they most certainly have many, many barriers to trade still….they benefit from free trade because the US has no BARRIERS and tax the workers to pay for our entire empire, all of it. Corporate taxes are extremely small and the very rich park their profits offshore!
Many, many text books…make tariffs look evil! Oh, the horror. Things cost more but we had more workers who got higher and higher wages as they organized to get their share of the profits. And the great middle class began to swell from holding less than 20% of the wealth to over 50%. Now, it has shrunk back down to less than 30% and dropping like a rock.
Eventually, people will wake up and figure out why GM was able to become a major corporation in the first place: TARIFFS AND BARRIERS. And why it is now dead.
… I’m going to work backward up this thread so you’re first…
… short term goals have kept the US government passing the buck for generations. Short term fixes will have Hell to pay in the long run. Without a new infrastructure being put into place from now and today, there won’t be any jobs to go to by car in the future of any great merrit. If the implementation of a $2 tax on a gallon of gas is going to kill the lower and middle classes dead if it happens, then we’re a long long way down the road to oblivion indeed …
Mat Simmons stated in February 2007 that prices were cheap compared to what it will be in the future. Here :-
… and James Howard Kunstler is well respected and recognised here at CM.com, particularly with a quote he made in 2003 that was used in the film ‘The End Of Suburbia’ where he said, "We’re literally stuck up a cul-de-sac in a cement SUV without a fill-up". Coverage of which is the sheer madness of the suburban sprawl that has been a mainstay of the American dream who’s time has come … driving a 50 mile round trip to work every day is not sustainable in the long term …
… In other words, the car as a mode of transport needs to be faised out and scrapped, pronto, and localized living and local jobs need recreating; this is no mean task ahead …
You’re so right. No matter what ever we do now, limits to growth have hit their marker and an extreme decline is in order. What we’ve had and where we’re headed, to me, has been best described by Ray Anderson, here :-
… we are those that see the ground rushing up sooner than others … Our ‘Legacy’ is one thing, but adopting a philosophy that you and I may not be survivors would go a long way to recognising that some great sacrifice needs making now, for our future generations …
…your last paragraph is most definately a stated fact, no matter whether you refer to Damnthematrix or not …… !!!
… but seriously, if there is no dramatic push for the general public to be unified along factual lines so as to see what is ahead, the picture of the future looks oh so bleak for the US … Boy, am I thankful so many people on this site are pushing the ‘Crash Course’ videos out to everyone they know!!!