Monday, June 8, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
In case you haven't been watching, the Obama administration has taken over GM and Chrysler with the helpful thought that these two companies should make "Greener" cars. Cars that get 39 miles a gallon, and trucks that get 30 miles a gallon. This development of technology, while quite useful, will be quite expensive for the automotive industry and you. Average of about $1100 per car more. But you have the money for that right?
This plan is a quiet way to make sure that American auto companies make smaller cars. Increasing the proportion of small cars that they make is the only way that the automotive companies can hit the targets. This is why the administration is forcing Chrysler to be sold into the hands of Fiat, abrogating hundreds of years of standing bankruptcy law, and flaunting it in the face of investors who had loaned Chrysler money against the assets that Chrysler had put up as collateral. Wouldn't it be nice if you, dear reader, could simply decide that you don't want to pay your car payment anymore, but you want to keep your car.
The administration has made clear that they intend to force Americans to buy these wonderful "Greener" cars, by adding tax incentives, and subsidizing GM and Chrysler with giant amounts of your money. The administration has to use tons of your money to do this for one simple fact: Americans don't want to drive little cars. Let's review:
Pimps want to drive Escalade's, not escorts.
Soccer moms want to drive SUVs and minivans, not Malibu's.
Businessmen want to drive Lincoln town cars and Chrysler 300's, not Festiva's.
Families want four-door pickup trucks and station wagons, not too seated electric cars.
Let's be honest, the car is the status symbol for many people. It's a practical tool. You can't fit daddy, mommy, the two kids and a dog into a mini car. Well you can, but no one wants to, and that's the point.
Even though he was in the Senate, Obama wasn't paying attention, he was busy campaigning for president for his two years in the Senate. So he's apparently unaware that Congress has been forcing United States automakers to make smaller more fuel-efficient cars at a loss for several years. Aware that Americans love big trucks and SUVs, Congress has put giant 25% tariffs on imported pickup trucks and SUVs, so the US auto companies can fight off competition, and make a profit on them.
So read this, Mr. President: I don't want a mini car. I'm a 6 foot four 285 pound wall, and I have a hard time getting out of a car like that. I don't want them, and neither does the rest of America, that's why we haven't been buying them. And if we do buy them we don't buy the American ones because they're poorly made. Instead of hassling the auto industry about higher fuel mileage, how about cutting the ridiculous wages they have to pay, that are way out of line with the rest of industry. How about doing all the things that a competent CEO would do to make a company work, lower costs and make a better product. Seriously dude, you don't know anything about running an automotive company, you have no real world experience, youve always been a politician. Your a slick politician and that's great. But don't pretend you know what you're doing when it comes to running a company, you have no experience at that, and neither does the team that you've chosen to run the automotive industry.
Obama forcing these higher fuel mileage standards on the automotive industry now is akin to kicking somebody while they're down. But after all, that's the time to kick them, when they can't defend themselves.
In desperation to distance themselves from the "Failed Bush Policies" (many of which they still follow), our new administration has done some pretty silly new stuff that you need to know about. And, as per usual, it's more about style than substance.
Regarding the substance bit, our new administration intends to follow all the Bush policies in regards to the prosecution of the war on terror. For instance President Obama still has the same rights to water-board detainees, and use other enhanced interrogation techniques, "at the discretion of the President". Despite all the things that he says about it being torture, he can still authorize these techniques in the same manner that Bush could. He intends to continue to detain the terrorists who are housed at Guantánamo Bay, he just wants to find somewhere else to put them. He intends to continue using military tribunals, while making a big deal of the slight changes he is making to the tribunals. He intends to continue prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, just the same way, or actually even more vigorously since we intend to commit more troops.
But, it is in the style department that our dear new beloved president intends to distinguish himself.
Consider if you will the fact that the administration will no longer be referring to "The War on Terror". Instead, those brave soldiers who are defending us from multiple attacks are involved in what the administration has turned as "Overseas Contingency Operations". Because, after all, we're not at war... or something.
Equally important is the fact that the administration will no longer refer to "Terrorism", but rather "Man Caused Disasters". And no longer shall the United States administration refer to the folks who blow stuff up in order to kill civilians as "Terrorists". These folks shall now be known, by decree of the president, as "Implementers of Man Caused Disasters"
Folks, I wish I was making this stuff up. But as usual, reality is stranger than fiction.
And now, I'm going to get silly. If it is the desire of the Obama administration to cool the rhetoric around global extremism, there can be no doubt that they are succeeding. The Taliban has announced through its spokesman that it will no longer refer to the chopping off the heads of Americans captured overseas as "Beheading". Wanting to be part of the cooler heads that are prevailing, and more in line with the zeitgeist promoted by the Obama administration, "Beheading" will now be called "Redevelopment". And no longer shall they refer to the act where they beat a teenage girl mercilesslyfor the simple crime of appearing without a head scarf , while holding her down as she screams, as "Flogging". Instead this inhumane treatment shall be termed "Juvenile Assistance". And of course the Guantánamo Bay detention camp will be shut down, at the order of Obama. It will be reopened the next day as "The Sunshine Center for Implementers of Man Caused Disasters".
What a lot of foolishness. Obama must learn that semantics are not the point. The point is that we have folks who want to kill Americans, and that means we are at war with them. That is by definition the term used when we send tens and hundreds of thousands of American soldiers to go stop evil. Leadership is not about words or smoke and mirrors. It's about creating positive change. And that's what we're waiting for.
I would like to give credit to the unnamed folks whose writing I had
plagiarized and regurgitated to write this article. I promise if I knew
who you were I would give you credit. Please feel free to write in,
and I will do so.
Dear reader: in today's Wall Street Journal was an article I felt needed to be shared with you. I hope they don't sue me for posting this entire article. However for those of you who are not reading the Wall Street Journal on a regular basis (you should), I wanted you to have an opportunity to hear this interesting commentary. The original text of the article can be found at here.
Obama's America: Too Fat to Fail
The age of the induced industrial coma.
Studebaker, Nash-Kelvinator, Packard, Hudson, Stutz, Pierce-Arrow, Stanley, Checker and American Motors were once household names of the U.S. auto industry. Unlike General Motors in our time, they were not too big to fail.
Despite mergers and rescue efforts by their owners, each was shut down.
Their legacy lives on as classic cars, restored with erotic affection by collectors.
GM's end is different. In the spirit of the new age, General Motors, like Citigroup and AIG, will be kept alive in an industrial coma. One has to ask:
Is this where the entire country is headed? Since January, it looks like it is.
After GM's bondholders last weekend refused to answer the bell for another round with Uncle Sam, the White House put out a statement: "As a result, the President has deemed GM's plan viable and will be making available about $30 billion of additional federal assistance to support GM's restructuring plan."
Read that sentence again, slowly. It holds what look like the keywords of the American future: the president, deems, viable, making available, federal assistance, support, restructuring plan.
Last week's column in this space, "Obama vs. the Beach Boys," drew some responses from readers who thought its tone too nostalgic for a lost era of fast but inefficient cars with low mileage and high maintenance. Recognize and embrace the future, they said, which includes high-tech bikes and high-tech cars.
"Just pick up a copy of magazines like Euro Tuner or Import Tuner," said Thomas Alves, "and you will see many ads and articles about adding turbochargers, reprogramming engine management computers and the like to four cylinder engines. . . . California and Washington will try to kill and regulate, but the constant desire for innovation is still strong in this country, and there are more of us than there are of them."
Mr. Alves is right that the instinct to innovate lives on in America. The question is whether the innovators going forward will have an economy and system that gives them room to breathe, or whether the government's rescue of Old GM is the new paradigm.
So far Mr. Obama has used his personally exciting presidency for initiatives that are spending public money on a scale not seen since ancient Egypt.
Besides Obama Motors ($60 billion to $100 billion), there is Obama-Care for health insurance ($1.2 trillion over 10 years), the stimulus ($800 billion), a global-warming offensive called cap and trade that hopes to siphon hundreds of billions of dollars from the economy, and a fiscal year 2010 budget of $3.59 trillion. Out of these mists of federal "investment" they promise five million "green collar jobs." Only public-sector lifers could believe, or assert, anything so fantastic.
Then there is the never-ending march of the financial-rescue armies -- TARP, TALF, PIPP, EESA. The Federal Reserve's balance sheet stands at some $2 trillion and growing. Last week Treasury floated the possibility of a single financial regulator for the entire banking system.
All this is the Obama government's idea of innovation. It is all public sector because all any of them know is public sector.
Without exception, the Obama people with responsibility for the private economy come from a lifetime in politics, public administration or academia.
Besides Mr. Obama himself, the list includes Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, EPA's Lisa Jackson (16 years with EPA), Commerce's Gary Locke (zero private experience), or Transportation's Ray LaHood (14 years in the House). The bio for Agriculture's Tom Vilsack says he "has served in the public sector at nearly every level of government." How can the private sector -- especially the world of risk capital, sweat equity and start-ups
-- be anything but an abstraction for this group?
Many of Mr. Obama's supporters surely thought this young, dynamic generation of public leaders would elevate the hip, cutting edge of the U.S. economy -- nanotechnology, genomics, robotics, even health and medicine technology.
Instead, we've gotten the Old Economy on dialysis. General Motors has been commanded to restart aging UAW factories to output product on behalf of the administration's hybrid-car obsession. Where's the New Economy in any of this?
Or ObamaCare. How will a build-out of Medicare (b. 1965) to cover everyone and costing $1.2 trillion over 10 years not kill innovation in medical and health technology by siphoning away growth capital and its potential financial rewards?
All of this seems so out of sync with the persona and promise Barack Obama conveyed in the campaign. A lot of his Web-based supporters probably thought Mr. Obama was going to be about promoting young guns with new ideas seeking risk capital for the next big thing. Instead, it looks as if the Obama years will be about managing soft landings for mature industries and old unions in the American autumn.
Congress is talking about a "bad behavior" tax on beer and soda pop to reduce obesity and fund mega-Medicare. How about a bad-behavior tax on government? Slim as the president looks, Uncle Sam is looking like quite the fat boy.
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Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A13