Archive for the ‘Car’ Category

A Look at the Causes of the Credit Crisis

March 17, 2009

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the American credit system.  Personally, I think Americans rely far too heavily on credit, and that is going to come back to haunt us VERY soon if we don’t make some drastic changes.

Back during the debate over the first bailout bill of this year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following comments:

more about “A Look at the American Credit System …“, posted with vodpod

And it’s that type of thinking that leads to the credit crisis that we’re in now.  The credit system is like our circulatory system?  NO!  We should not be relying that heavily on our credit system.  Credit is NOT intended to be the same thing as money.  Equating credit with available spending money is one of the major factors that led to the Great Depression.  People were buying things on credit and laying out installment payment plans.  That enabled them to buy more stuff, and this created an artificially high demand for items (such as radios or cars, both of which were often being bought on credit).  But once they began having to pay multiple payments back, people could no longer to afford to continue buying stuff (thus why I called the demand “artificially high”) – the demand for those items was not necessarily high, people were just buying things immediately that they normally would have saved up for.  And when they didn’t keep track of how much that would cost in the long run, the credit bubble burst.

The other day, I posted a comment on a friend’s blog (Right Wing Reform), and that’s what got me thinking about all of this.  The following is my comment (with a little more added in – I wrote the original comment to be quick and short):

The credit system is intended to be used as a crutch.  You still do the walking, but you can’t quite walk all by yourself at the beginning of an injury (purchasing a large item).  Over time, you begin to pay off the debt (heal), and use less and less of the crutch, until eventually you don’t need it (the item is paid off).  The problem with the current way many Americans are using credit is that they’re using it more like a wheelchair than a crutch.  And it’s used too often, even to take one little step in a room (buying a meal at McDonald’s or a small purchase at the grocery store).  The problem with using it for small items is that over time, you begin to lose track of how much you’re spending (unless you have a GREAT memory), and a lot of people find themselves not being able to pay off the entire credit card bill at the end of the month.  And do you know what that means?  That’s right, they have to pay interest on that.  And that means less money in their pocket, meaning that they are MORE likely to use credit as cash.  And the person (or family) gets deeper and deeper into debt.

When you overburden the credit system and you never try to walk on your own, the crutch breaks.

Honestly, we’re never going to be able to get rid of credit.  And there’s no reason to.  When used responsibly, it’s a great tool.  But a strong financial system would be able to withstand a loss of a credit system (at least small item credit [the biggest example of a small item credit system would be credit cards; another example would be  installment payments for stuff like furniture] – I would argue that it should be able to withstand the loss of large item credit, but this would mean that buying a house would be something that takes a lot of work and time, and you’d go back to the days of people building their own houses and living with other people rather than a single person owning a home by the age of 23).

Right now, America would not withstand the loss of even the small item credit system, and THAT is a problem for us financially.

If Americans want to get through this financial crisis, keeping the credit cards at home more often would be one way to help.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Massachusetts Proposes Using GPS Chips to Tax Drivers’ Mileage

February 18, 2009
Yesterday, on Happening Now on FOX News, there was a  discussion a new idea for a way for Massachusetts to increase their revenue.  The idea was to use GPS chips to track mileage (mileage only and NOT location) of cars, and then tax drivers based on how far they go.  Some like the idea, which is being tested in Oregon.  FOX interviewed Jim Whitty from the Oregon Department of Transportation.  Meanwhile others, such as Massachusetts state Senator Scott Brown views it as Orwellian and an invasion of privacy.  Brown also said that taxes are too high already in Massachusetts.  Watch the video and I’ll discuss it below (video courtesy of  FOX News):

Now, did you catch what Whitty said?  At one point he was talking about the test that Oregon did of using the system and said, “There was no issue with tracking, because we didn’t–we didn’t do that.”  Notice, he never said that “We couldn’t do that.”  He said, “We didn’t do that.”

The whole point of GPS, Global POSITIONING System is to track where you’re at.  Now, I’m sure that the government in Oregon may only be paying attention to the distance that people travel; however, that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t just one day decide, instead of just counting the miles, let’s start paying attention to where these people are going.  Originally, it may be to catch criminals, or determine traffic patterns, but that’s a violation of privacy.  And it leads down a slippery slope.

Additionally, Senator Brown is right, taxes in Massachusetts could be lowered if the government would just better manage its money.

But my main problem with the system is the fact that it is, for lack of a better word, Orwellian.  Even my liberal roommate agrees with me here!  It’s an invasion of privacy.

If you’re going to do anything, put a device that measures odometer changes.  But using GPS, Global POSITIONING System, to track people’s “distance” is in invasion of privacy.

Let me know what you think:

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Meat Industry Is Top Contributor to Global Warming, so Why Isn’t Al Gore a Vegetarian?

February 7, 2009

Alright, I was watching Glenn Beck’s show on FOX yesterday, and he had on his show Matt Prescott, a spokesman for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), who talked about a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (a branch of the United Nations) study that revealed that the number 1 contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the meat industry (animal farms).  They account for more than all of the transportation methods’ greenhouse gas emissions combined.  Anyway, I’ll let you watch the video (courtesy of  FOX News), and I’ll discuss it below:

He brings up a VERY good point.  Why aren’t Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Al Gore vegetarians?  Well, I think we all know why Al Gore isn’t – Al Gore is a hypocrite.  He’s never abided by what he tells others to do.  He goes around the country flying on his personal jet!

But the point is – now that has been revealed, are  all of the liberals who are warning of pending doom going to stop eating steak?  I doubt it.  And to those who are going to criticize my “ignorance” of the impending doom, I’m a meteorology major.  Most of the professors I’ve talked to don’t share the doom and gloom that Al Gore preaches.  They teach us that there’s a problem, but also say that we don’t know what’s causing the increase in the earth’s temperature.  Furthermore, neither the National Weather Service nor the National Climatic Data Center say that global warming is human caused; they say that it MIGHT be human-caused (which means that it might NOT be human-caused).

So, regardless of the cause of global warming (and the earth is warming – that’s a fact, so people who dispute that are just ignorant), those who believe that it’s not just a cyclical process should stop eating meat, and those who don’t stop eating meat need to shut up and not preach doom or gloom, otherwise they’re hypocrites.

I hardly ever agree with anything that PETA says, but at least they’re practicing what they’re preaching here.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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House of Representatives Passes $819 Billion Economic Stimulus Package

January 29, 2009

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, H.R. 1, Congress’s latest economic stimulus package.  That bill passed 244-188; 11 Democrats broke ranks, while all of the voting Republicans voted against it.  First, I would like to commend the 11 Democrats who voted against the $819 billion “stimulus” bill.  This bill is an atrocity to the Congressional system of appropriations.  Instead of focusing on true STIMULUS (after all, it is an “economic STIMULUS package”), the Democrats in the House packed the bill with billions of dollars of un-stimulating spending.  For those of  you who want to read the sources, here’s the version of the bill as it was introduced (it has been slightly changed, but not too much), here’s the summary from the House Appropriations Committee, and here’s the cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.  And here’s the link to the roll call vote, Roll number 46.

Let’s take a look at the  following, keeping in mind that this is just a fraction of the spending packed in the 647-page bill (which I unfortunately didn’t have the time to quite get through, although I skimmed most of it): $650,000,000 for digital TV converters, $400,000,000 for habitat restoration, $250,000,000 for NASA climate research, $600,000,000 for the government to lease plug-in and alternative-fuel vehicles, $500,000,000 for airport security, $150,000,000 for bridge removal by the Coast Guard, $1,700,000,000 for National Parks Service maintenance, $200,000,000 to clean up leaking underground sewage storage tanks, $850,000,000 for wildland fire management, $150,000,000 for maintenance at the Smithsonian Institution, and $50,000,000 for the National Cemetery Administration to make cemetery repairs.  And this is all after some apportionments were taken out.  The Republicans urged Democrats to take out some of the unnecessary spending, such as making funds available for “family planning” and contraceptives, as well as $200,000,000 to revitalize and re-sod the National Mall, but I think those were the only 2 spending things that were cut out of the bill.  Either way, the point is – there’s a heck of a lot of spending.

Now, I am not saying that the expenditures in this bill are unimportant.  Clearly bridge removal, airport security, wildland fire management, etc. are very important; however, Congress has an apportionment process for a reason.  This bill takes the traditional apportionment process and throws it out the window, and that is absolutely unacceptable!  The Democrats essentially drafted this bill telling THEIR caucus members, “If you want money apportioned for something, stick it in this ‘stimulus package’ and we’ll get it passed no questions asked,” and that’s exactly what happened.  Keep in mind, a normal apportionment bill is debated for days, but here the House Democrats crammed what would have been hundreds of apportionment bills into one bill and debated it on the floor for ONLY THREE DAYS.  That’s right folks – this was introduced on January 26, and it was passed on January 28.  That is both unacceptable and just plain DANGEROUS.  Half of the Representatives don’t even know what all is in the bill!

If Congress wants to spend money, that is perfectly fine, but they need to do it through the proper channels of apportionment, not by hijacking the taxpayers’ wallets under the guise of an “economic stimulus package.”

So where were the Republicans in all of this?  I’ll tell you.  They were left out until the very end.  Not ONE Republican had any real input while this bill was drafted.  Sure, Obama met with Republicans and “took their input,” but no Republican ever put a pen anywhere near this bill as it was being written.  The only input they had was on the floor of the House during debate and when they were proposing amendments.  And how many Republican amendments were passed?  Only two, neither of which spared us from the utter fiscal disaster that this bill is.

I was watching C-SPAN on-line late last night (waiting for the House to upload the Congressional record so I could look stuff up and write a story on this for my newspaper column) and quite a few Republicans took a strong stand against the bill.  In particular, the Representative from the Central Michigan Area, Dave Camp (R-MI4) submitted an amendment that would have changed the stimulus package to a pure tax-cut instead of this ridiculous spending spree / tax-cut combo, but that substitute bill (labelled as an amendment) failed along party lines, with 2 Democrats crossing over.

Personally, I don’t think that a spending spree is what we need right now, but even if the Democrats insist on increasing spending, they need to do it through the proper means of apportionment instead of shoving it into one big bill.  That way, maybe at least some of the frivolous spending will fail, but the way it’s going right now, the Democrats are on board with this “all or nothing” crap.  I really don’t see how the Democrats think that all this spending is going to stimulate the economy, especially since some of this stuff is just so focused, like repairing graves at national cemeteries.  Sure, it’s probably a good expenditure, but it’s not economic stimulus.

Hopefully the Senate votes against their version of this bill, but somehow I don’t see that happening.  If they could at least cut out some of the spending though, it’d make me a little happier.

We’re gonna be in for a rough period if Congress keeps this kind of stuff up.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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President Bush Approves $17.4 Billion Auto Bailout

December 19, 2008

Alright, well this morning, President Bush held a press conference where he announced his plans to give  a $17.4 billion loan to GM and Chrysler.  Here’s a video of  that press conference (courtesy of FOX), and I have a transcript (again, courtesy of FOX) which I’ve done a “play-by-play” analysis of below:

STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN TO ASSIST THE AUTOMAKERS

Roosevelt Room

9:01 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. For years, America’s automakers have faced serious challenges — burdensome costs, a shrinking share of the market, and declining profits. In recent months, the global financial crisis has made these challenges even more severe. Now some U.S. auto executives say that their companies are nearing collapse — and that the only way they can buy time to restructure is with help from the federal government.

This is a difficult situation that involves fundamental questions about the proper role of government. On the one hand, government has a responsibility not to undermine the private enterprise system. On the other hand, government has a responsibility to safeguard the broader health and stability of our economy.

Well, personally, I think that the best way to safeguard the health and stability of our economy is to NOT give out loans to companies who were irresponsible!

Addressing the challenges in the auto industry requires us to balance these two responsibilities. If we were to allow the free market to take its course now, it would almost certainly lead to disorderly bankruptcy and liquidation for the automakers. Under ordinary economic circumstances, I would say this is the price that failed companies must pay — and I would not favor intervening to prevent the automakers from going out of business.

How exactly would the bankruptcy be disorderly?  The whole point of  bankruptcy is to keep the process orderly.  And if President Bush means liquidation as in the entire company, then this press conference was just a scare tactic to get the American people behind the auto bailout.  The companies wouldn’t go under.

But these are not ordinary circumstances. In the midst of a financial crisis and a recession, allowing the U.S. auto industry to collapse is not a responsible course of action. The question is how we can best give it a chance to succeed. Some argue the wisest path is to allow the auto companies to reorganize through Chapter 11 provisions of our bankruptcy laws — and provide federal loans to keep them operating while they try to restructure under the supervision of a bankruptcy court. But given the current state of the auto industry and the economy, Chapter 11 is unlikely to work for American automakers at this time.

American consumers understand why: If you hear that a car company is suddenly going into bankruptcy, you worry that parts and servicing will not be available, and you question the value of your warranty. And with consumers hesitant to buy new cars from struggling automakers, it would be more difficult for auto companies to recover.

Then by this argument, Chapter 11 would NEVER work for an auto company, because people would be hesitant to buy.  And how do you remedy these fears?  You emphasize the fact that 3rd party institutions offer warranties, and you don’t HAVE to go to the dealer to get your car serviced.  There are lots of other shops that do just as good of a job, if not a BETTER job than the dealership.

Additionally, the financial crisis brought the auto companies to the brink of bankruptcy much faster than they could have anticipated — and they have not made the legal and financial preparations necessary to carry out an orderly bankruptcy proceeding that could lead to a successful restructuring.

Um … when they were losing money years ago and asked the UAW members to take a pay cut, but the union said no, so in order to avoid a strike, the companies gave in, the companies should have known that continuing to pay wages that you can’t afford would make you go into bankruptcy eventually.  Like I’ve said before, it’s the companies’ heads’ fault for not cutting wages of the workers as well as taking pay cuts themselves, and it’s the UAW members’ fault for being greedy and refusing to budge at all.

The convergence of these factors means there’s too great a risk that bankruptcy now would lead to a disorderly liquidation of American auto companies. My economic advisors believe that such a collapse would deal an unacceptably painful blow to hardworking Americans far beyond the auto industry. It would worsen a weak job market and exacerbate the financial crisis. It could send our suffering economy into a deeper and longer recession. And it would leave the next President to confront the demise of a major American industry in his first days of office.

Are these the same economic advisors who encouraged the Economic Stimulus Package and the first bailout bill?  Because if so, they suck, and I would have fired them a LONG time ago.

A more responsible option is to give the auto companies an incentive to restructure outside of bankruptcy — and a brief window in which to do it. And that is why my administration worked with Congress on a bill to provide automakers with loans to stave off bankruptcy while they develop plans for viability. This legislation earned bipartisan support from majorities in both houses of Congress.

If bipartisan you mean Democrats along with traitorous Republicans, then yes, I guess it was bipartisan.  HOWEVER, I commend the brave and honorable REAL Republicans who stood up against this bailout, and the other bailouts.  I especially commend Bob Corker (R-TN) for standing up against the UAW.  Of course, Ron Paul (R-TX) must be mentioned, since he’s hugely against this as well.  I commend all 28 Republicans who had the common sense to vote against this bill.

Unfortunately, despite extensive debate and agreement that we should prevent disorderly bankruptcies in the American auto industry, Congress was unable to get a bill to my desk before adjourning this year.

This means the only way to avoid a collapse of the U.S. auto industry is for the executive branch to step in. The American people want the auto companies to succeed, and so do I. So today, I’m announcing that the federal government will grant loans to auto companies under conditions similar to those Congress considered last week.

These loans will provide help in two ways. First, they will give automakers three months to put in place plans to restructure into viable companies — which we believe they are capable of doing. Second, if restructuring cannot be accomplished outside of bankruptcy, the loans will provide time for companies to make the legal and financial preparations necessary for an orderly Chapter 11 process that offers a better prospect of long-term success — and gives consumers confidence that they can continue to buy American cars.

Because Congress failed to make funds available for these loans, the plan I’m announcing today will be drawn from the financial rescue package Congress approved earlier this fall. The terms of the loans will require auto companies to demonstrate how they would become viable. They must pay back all their loans to the government, and show that their firms can earn a profit and achieve a positive net worth. This restructuring will require meaningful concessions from all involved in the auto industry — management, labor unions, creditors, bondholders, dealers, and suppliers.

Well obviously they have to pay back the loans.  It’s not a loan if you keep the money!

In particular, automakers must meet conditions that experts agree are necessary for long-term viability — including putting their retirement plans on a sustainable footing, persuading bondholders to convert their debt into capital the companies need to address immediate financial shortfalls, and making their compensation competitive with foreign automakers who have major operations in the United States. If a company fails to come up with a viable plan by March 31st, it will be required to repay its federal loans.

OK, this is where this whole thing just confuses the crap out of me.  We give them the money, and they spend it.  If they don’t have a plan by March 31st, they have to give all the money back.  But does Bush really think that they’ll have all the money that we gave them?  If they do, then it’s OBVIOUS that they don’t NEED the loan, because they still have enough money!  If they can’t repay us back, how is it any different than a normal loan.  How are we going to force  them to pay us back?  The entire PREMISE around this bailout is just idiotic!

The automakers and unions must understand what is at stake, and make hard decisions necessary to reform, These conditions send a clear message to everyone involved in the future of American automakers: The time to make the hard decisions to become viable is now — or the only option will be bankruptcy.

The actions I’m announcing today represent a step that we wish were not necessary. But given the situation, it is the most effective and responsible way to address this challenge facing our nation. By giving the auto companies a chance to restructure, we will shield the American people from a harsh economic blow at a vulnerable time. And we will give American workers an opportunity to show the world once again they can meet challenges with ingenuity and determination, and bounce back from tough times, and emerge stronger than before.

Thank you.

END 9:08 A.M. EST

Well, I have now lost most all of the approval that I still had for the Bush administration.

There’s still a glimmer of hope: Once Treasury Secretary Paulson actually makes a formal request, the money will be released unless Congress rejects the request within 15 days.  I can only hope that Republicans oppose it and that enough Democrats, angry at the way Bush has handled the release of money, will oppose this awful plan.  Sadly, I don’t see that happening; however, I will hope and pray and continue advocating that we put a stop to all of this economic nonsense!

This bailout plan is NOT the solution.  Like I said, the entire premise of it is flawed: We’ll loan you money to spend, but if you don’t have a good plan, you have to give that money back.  Well, either the money is STILL in their bank accounts (meaning they didn’t NEED the money), or the money has already been SPENT (partially)!

We need some strong fiscal conservatives to show what the Republican party truly stands for.  We need more people like Neil Cavuto, Bob Corker, and Ron Paul.  I’m tired of the Republicans here in Michigan supporting the bailout because it will help our state.  It’s selfish and wrong.  I’m especially disappointed in Representative Pete Hoekstra, who has always been very outspoken about fiscal conservativism.  We need people who will fight for economic justice!  We need people who will fight for the American TAXPAYER!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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2 Michigan Teens Arrested for Throwing Rocks at Cars

December 18, 2008

Yesterday, 2 cousins from Eastpointe, Michigan, both high school freshmen, were arrested for throwing rocks on cars driving along I-94 in Saint Clair Shores.  The teens claimed that they did it because they were bored of playing  video games.  In all, 16 cars were damaged, and in addition to probably paying for the damage, the teens have been charged as juveniles with malicious destruction of property.  Here’s a FOX 2 video report on the incident:

Now, these teens should have known better.  And they did know better.  Freshmen in high school aren’t stupid.  If you drop a rock on a car, that’s going to shatter the windshield if it hits it (as it did) or put a dent in the metal.  What happens when your windshield shatters?  Somebody could die.  And people have died in the past.

These teens need to be taught a lesson and need to be given a strict punishment.  Michigan Compiled Laws Chapter 750.377a (Act 328 of 1931) states:

750.377a Willful and malicious destruction of property; personalty.

Sec. 377a.

(1) A person who willfully and maliciously destroys or injures the personal property of another person is guilty of a crime as follows:

(a) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $15,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $20,000.00 or more.

(b) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $1,000.00 or more but less than $20,000.00.

(c) If any of the following apply, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine:

(i) The amount of the destruction or injury is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.

(d) If the amount of the destruction or injury is less than $200.00, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00 or 3 times the amount of the destruction or injury, whichever is greater, or both imprisonment and a fine.

I’m guessing that most of the damage is going to fall under subsection (c), meaning that the teenagers could face  up to 1 year in prison or a fine of $2,000 (since I’m guessing that most of the repairs won’t be more than a few hundred dollars).

Personally, I’d be locking both of them up for 16 years (as long  as all the damage was over $200 for each car).  They knew better, and they need to pay, in both a criminal and civil court (civil court would be where the teens would have to pay for the damage, probably around $500/windshield if it’s totally busted, so they’re looking at a few thousand dollars depending on what all was done to the different cars).

Make an example out of these teens to show that you don’t play around with dangerous stuff like this.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Another Perspective on the Auto Bailout

December 17, 2008

I came across a column by economist Thomas Sowell this morning entitled “Postponing Reality,” and I’d just like to discuss part of this column with you:

We are told that the collapse of the Big Three automakers in Detroit would have repercussions across the country, causing mass layoffs among firms that supply the automobile makers with parts, and shutting down automobile dealerships from coast to coast.

You should hear the news stations here in Detroit.  The news anchors night after night of covering House and Senate votes keep making comments like, “Some Senators just don’t understand how detrimental this will be to Detroit,” or “The Southern Senators don’t understand what’s happening here in Detroit” or “Talk to your friends in other states about contacting their representatives to explain how bad this would be for Michigan.”  And you can substitute the word Senators with Republicans for a lot of the news anchors, since the media here in Detroit tends to lean left (as does all of Wayne County).

A renowned economist of the past, J.A. Schumpeter, used to refer to progress under capitalism as “creative destruction”– the replacement of businesses that have outlived their usefulness with businesses that carry technological and organizational creativity forward, raising standards of living in the process.

It’s survival of the fittest, economic style.

Indeed, this is very much like what happened a hundred years ago, when that new technological wonder, the automobile, wreaked havoc on all the forms of transportation built up around horses.

For thousands of years, horses had been the way to go, whether in buggies or royal coaches, whether pulling trolleys in the cities or plows on the farms. People had bet their futures on something with a track record of reliable success going back many centuries.

Were all these people to be left high and dry? What about all the other people who supplied the things used with horses– oats, saddles, horse shoes and buggies? Wouldn’t they all go falling like dominoes when horses were replaced by cars?

Unfortunately for all the good people who had in good faith gone into all the various lines of work revolving around horses, there was no compassionate government to step in with a bailout or a stimulus package.

They had to face reality, right then and right there, without even a postponement.

He actually brings up a really good point here.  Industries go through cycles, and to stop these cycles with the use of  government funds is only going to harm us more in the long run.  Like I’ve said before, the main reason that Michiganders support this is because it helps Michigan.  If the technology industry were to suffer detrimental losses, I’d be willing to bet that you couldn’t find 30% of Michiganders who would be in favor of spending billions of tax dollars on helping Silicon Valley in California.

Who would have thought that those who displaced them would find themselves in a similar situation a hundred years later?

Actually the automobile industry is not nearly in as bad a situation now as the horse-based industries were then. There is no replacement for the automobile anywhere on the horizon. Nor has the public decided to do without cars indefinitely.

While Detroit’s Big Three are laying off thousands of workers, Toyota is hiring thousands of workers right here in America, where a substantial share of all our Toyotas are manufactured.

 But Toyota doesn’t have union workers.  Without unions, their workers make (on average) a measly $30/hour.  Wait a minute, that’s not measly.  In fact, that’s more than the average GM worker ($29.78/hour).  The difference comes in pensions and health care.   GM has to pay out an extra $39.22/hour (that includes pensions for retirees), while Toyota has to pay out an extra $18/hour (with far less retirees).  So, the average Toyota worker (assuming he worked 40 hours/week with 4 weeks of vacation), would make $57,600.  That’s not that bad folks.  You assume that his spouse works part time (20 hours/week at $10/hour), that’s another $9,600.  That’s a yearly total of $67,200, which is DEFINITELY enough to live off of (My family of 4 lived off of about $80,000/year until my mom got a job, but she did that more out of boredom than need for more cash inflow.  And we were decently well off.  We aren’t rich, but we’re definitely nowhere close to going broke.), even though they may get a little less when it comes to health care.

Will this save Detroit or Michigan? No.

Detroit and Michigan have followed classic liberal policies of treating businesses as prey, rather than as assets. They have helped kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. So have the unions. So have managements that have gone along to get along.

EXACTLY!  I was just talking about this the other day.  Every time one of the Big 3 is in financial trouble, they go to the UAW and ask them to take a pay cut.  The UAW, being filled with greedy Americans says no.  So instead of setting a good example and taking a 50-75% pay cut, the management simply sat there and said, “You need to take a pay cut, otherwise we may go bankrupt.  The UAW continues to say, “No.  And if you don’t give in, we’ll go on strike.”  So, the company heads wind up giving in.  If I were head of any of the Big 3 right now, I’d immediately decrease my pay to $0.  Then, I’d tell the unions, “Take a pay cut, or go on strike.”  If they didn’t take a pay cut, I’d let them go on strike and hire new workers.  If a court ruled that I’m not allowed to hire new workers, I’d let the strike continue.  Eventually, the workers will have to come back to work or the company will fail.  If the company fails, it was the union’s fault for not showing up to work.  But the UAW wouldn’t let the company completely fail, because then their workers would be out of a job.  The corporate heads need to 1) lead by example, and 2) have some guts and stand up to the UAW.

Toyota, Honda and other foreign automakers are not heading for Detroit, even though there are lots of experienced automobile workers there. They are avoiding the rust belts and the policies that have made those places rust belts.

A bailout of Detroit’s Big Three would be only the latest in the postponements of reality. As for automobile dealers, they can probably sell Toyotas just as easily as they sold Chevvies. And Toyotas will require just as many tires per car, as well as other parts from automobile parts suppliers.

So, there you have it.  This was one of the best analyses I’ve seen on the auto bailout, and I couldn’t agree more.

Who’s at fault, the UAW or the corporate heads?  Both.  The UAW needs to stop being greedy and be willing to take a pay cut.  The leaders of the Big 3 need to lead by example and take MASSIVE pay cuts and start standing up to the unions.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Michigan House of Representatives Votes 68-32 to Ban Texting While Driving

December 15, 2008

Alright, this is somewhat of an old story, but I really wanted to do a post on it, and I got caught up with exams last week:

On December 4th, the Michigan House of Representatives voted on House Bill 5117, A bill to amend 1949 PA 300, entitled “Michigan vehicle code,” (MCL 257.1 to 257.923) by adding section 602b.

The bill was introduced by Steve Bieda (D-Macomb).  Here’s the original version of the bill:

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

SEC. 602B. (1) A PERSON SHALL NOT READ, 1 WRITE, OR SEND A TEXT

2 MESSAGE ON A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE, INCLUDING A RADIO

3 TELEPHONE USED IN CELLULAR TELEPHONE SERVICE OR PERSONAL

4 COMMUNICATION SERVICE, WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE ON A HIGHWAY

5 OR STREET IN THIS STATE.

6 (2) A PERSON WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR A

7 CIVIL INFRACTION.

I like this version of the bill.  It’s quick, and to the point.  Frankly, I think the House butchered this bill (although they did add a couple good clauses).

Here’s the version that was passed by the House (along with my commentary):

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN ENACT:

SEC. 602B. (1) A PERSON SHALL NOT READ, 1 WRITE, OR SEND A TEXT

2 MESSAGE ON A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE THAT IS LOCATED IN

3 THE PERSON’S HAND OR IN THE PERSON’S LAP, INCLUDING A WIRELESS

4 TELEPHONE USED IN CELLULAR TELEPHONE SERVICE OR PERSONAL

5 COMMUNICATION SERVICE, WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE THAT IS

6 MOVING ON A HIGHWAY OR STREET IN THIS STATE. AS USED IN THIS

7 SUBSECTION, A WIRELESS 2-WAY COMMUNICATION DEVICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

8 A GLOBAL POSITIONING OR NAVIGATION SYSTEM THAT IS AFFIXED TO THE

9 MOTOR VEHICLE.

I will say that lines 6b-9 were a good addition.

(2) SUBSECTION (1) DOES NOT APPLY 1 TO AN INDIVIDUAL WHO IS

2 USING A DEVICE DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (1) TO DO ANY OF THE

3 FOLLOWING:

4 (A) REPORT A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT, MEDICAL EMERGENCY, OR SERIOUS

5 ROAD HAZARD.

6 (B) REPORT A SITUATION IN WHICH THE PERSON BELIEVES HIS OR HER

7 PERSONAL SAFETY IS IN JEOPARDY.

8 (C) REPORT OR AVERT THE PERPETRATION OR POTENTIAL PERPETRATION

9 OF A CRIMINAL ACT AGAINST THE INDIVIDUAL OR ANOTHER PERSON.

10 (D) CARRY OUT OFFICIAL DUTIES AS A POLICE OFFICER, LAW

11 ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL, MEMBER OF A PAID OR VOLUNTEER FIRE

12 DEPARTMENT, OR OPERATOR OF AN EMERGENCY VEHICLE.

Again, another good provision.

13 (3) ENFORCEMENT OF THIS SECTION BY STATE OR LOCAL LAW

14 ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES SHALL BE ACCOMPLISHED ONLY AS A SECONDARY

15 ACTION WHEN THE OPERATOR OF A MOTOR VEHICLE HAS BEEN DETAINED FOR A

16 SUSPECTED VIOLATION OF ANOTHER SECTION OF THIS ACT.

Here’s where they really butchered it in my opinion.  Making this a secondary offense means that in order to give somebody a ticket for texting, they have to have been pulled over for something else.  I have 2 problems with this: 1) It gives cops a motive to pull somebody over for something that they normally wouldn’t pull somebody over for, so that they can give them a ticket for texting; 2) It should be a primary offense.  While driving to work on Southfield Freeway (M-39) I’ve had several encounters with teenage drivers (mostly girls) texting and coming into my lane.  I did have a guy do the same thing the other day, except that was on Fort Street (M-85), but it was in the 35 MPH area, so it wasn’t quite as dangerous.  How permanent this will be is up for debate.  Originally, Michigan’s Click It or Ticket seat belt law was a secondary offense, but that changed pretty quickly.

17 (4) AN INDIVIDUAL WHO VIOLATES THIS SECTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR

18 A CIVIL INFRACTION.

Same as the original bill.

19 (5) IF A LOCAL UNIT OF GOVERNMENT ADOPTS AN ORDINANCE

20 SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR TO THIS SECTION, THE ORDINANCE SHALL INCLUDE

21 THE SECONDARY ENFORCEMENT PROVISION IN SUBSECTION (3).

Again, another butchering happened here.  Not only do I disagree with the basic premise of subsection (3), but I disagree with subsection (5) based on the fact that it’s the state government sticking its nose into the business of local municipalities.  If I city wants to make  it a primary offense, good for them.  If they want to keep it a secondary offense, that’s fine too (although I disagree with that decision, they’d have that right).  But to take away municipalities’ rights to make this a primary offense is just wrong.

22 (6) POINTS SHALL NOT BE ASSESSED UNDER SECTION 320A FOR A

23 VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION.

Again, another terrible amendment to the bill.  There’s no reason that people should be texting while driving.  Tack on the additional punishment of points and that will deter people from doing it.

24 Enacting section 1. This amendatory act does not take effect

25 unless House Bill No. 5396 of the 94th Legislature is enacted into

26 law.

Alright, so that’s the bill as passed by the House.  Currently the bill is in the Transportation Committee of the Senate.

I wanted to post a copy of the roll call vote:

Roll Call No. 1003 Yeas—68

Accavitti Dean Johnson Opsommer
Amos Dillon Jones, Rick Pearce
Ball Donigan Jones, Robert Polidori
Bauer Ebli Knollenberg Proos
Bennett Emmons Law, David Rocca
Bieda Espinoza Law, Kathleen Sak
Booher Farrah Leland Schuitmaker
Brown Gaffney Lemmons Scott
Byrnes Gonzales Lindberg Sheltrown
Byrum Green Mayes Simpson
Clack Griffin McDowell Smith, Alma
Clemente Hammel Meadows Smith, Virgil
Condino Hammon Meisner Stahl
Constan Hansen Melton Stakoe
Corriveau Hood Miller Valentine
Coulouris Hopgood Moss Wenke
Cushingberry Horn Nofs Wojno

Nays—32

Acciavatti DeRoche LeBlanc Pastor
Agema Garfield Marleau Pavlov
Angerer Gillard Meekhof Robertson
Brandenburg Hildenbrand Moolenaar Shaffer
Calley Huizenga Moore Sheen
Casperson Hune Nitz Spade
Caswell Jackson Palmer Steil
Caul Lahti Palsrok Walker

In The Chair: Sak

So, it’s pretty apparent that the vote fell mainly along party lines, but there were definitely a good amount of cross-overs (6 Democrats and 21 Republicans).

Representative Caul (R-Isabella) told CM-Life  reporters that he voted against the bill because it was “overstepping the government’s role. … In this case, it’s difficult for enforceability, whether it’s someone using a cell phone or eating a cheeseburger.”

I’m an advocate for personal freedoms (I voted for Proposal 1), but I think allowing texting while driving  goes too far.  Ban it, and enforce that ban.  Hopefully this will pass the Republican-controlled Senate, and with as much Republican support as  this got, I think it will.  I’ve been advocating for a bill like this for a long time, so I’m glad that it’s making some progress.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford: “Don’t Bail Out My State”

November 22, 2008

mark-sanfordThe following in South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s (R) editorial that was posted in the Wall Street Journal, with my thoughts and analysis spread throughout:

I find myself in a lonely position. While many states and local governments are lining up for a bailout from Congress, I went to Washington recently to oppose such bailouts. I may be the only governor to do so.

You’re better than my governor, Governor Jennifer Granholm, one of the people leading the charge for the auto bailout right now.

But I suspect I’m not entirely alone, as there are a lot of taxpayers who aren’t pleased with Christmas coming early for politicians. And I hope these taxpayers make their voices heard before Democrats load up the next bailout train for states with budget deficits.

Several questions led me to oppose bailing out the states. They are worth asking, even if you supported bailing out Wall Street.

Who bails out the “bail-outor”?

Washington is short on cash these days and will borrow every dime of the $150 billion to $300 billion for the “stimulus” bill now being worked on. Federal appetites may know no bounds. But the federal government’s ability to borrow is not limitless. Already, our nation’s unfunded liabilities total $52 trillion — about $450,000 per household. There’s something very strange about issuing debt to solve a problem caused by too much debt.

A very good question.  The answer, in my opinion, is eventually the taxpayers.  If we keep this set of bailouts going, we’ll ultimately just crumble the economy and economic infrastructure.  Heck, there may not even be a United States to bail out any more if we keep this up.  We’re entering dangerous territory economically, and if we aren’t careful, it may cost us permanently.

Do you now have to be a financial “bad boy” to win?

Community bankers tell me that they are now at a competitive disadvantage for being careful about who to lend to, because others that were less disciplined will get a federal bailout. This is also true for states. Those that have been fiscally responsible will pay for or lose out to the big spenders. California increased spending 95% over the past 10 years (federal spending went up 71% over the same period). To bail out California now seems unfair to fiscally prudent states.

But this has been the whole mindset since the beginning.  “I’ll take the risk, and if I suffer, they’ll HAVE to bail me out.”  I’ve been warning about this from the beginning!  But economically/fiscally dumb and irresponsible lawmakers in Washington have given in and now think, “If __________ fails, the whole economy will suffer, and we can’t let the economy suffer.”  Let companies go bankrupt.  Let people lose their homes.  It’s called a free market.  Companies and people never should’ve bought more than they could afford or taken risks that they couldn’t handle.

Was the economist Herb Stein wrong when he said that if something cannot go on forever, it won’t?

Medicaid grew 9.5% annually over the past 10 years. That’s unsustainable. But if Congress opens the checkbook now, there will be no reform.

Isn’t government intervention supposed to be the last resort and come only when it can make a difference?

EXACTLY!  And even then, in my opinion, the government probably shouldn’t intervene.  But it’s visible in the proposed auto bailout: Some in Congress are saying that the auto companies shouldn’t try bankruptcy first (even Represesntative Joe Knollenberg [R-MI9] said this!).

In 2008 bailouts became the first resort. Over the past year the federal government has committed itself to $2.3 trillion (including the tax rebate “stimulus” checks of last February) to “improve” the economy. I don’t see how another $150 billion now will make a difference in a global slowdown. We’ve already unloaded truckloads of sugar in a vain attempt to sweeten a lake. Tossing in a Twinkie will not make the difference.

That’s a really good analogy.

However, there is something Congress can do: free states from federal mandates. South Carolina will spend about $425 million next year meeting federal unfunded mandates. The increase in the minimum wage alone will cost the state $2.6 million and meeting Homeland Security’s REAL ID requirements will cost $8.9 million.

Based on what I saw in Washington, the bailout train is being loaded up. Taxpayers will have to speak up now to change its freight, tab or departure.

I feel that it may already be too late.  While Congress won’t give in to everybody who asks for a bailout, I think they’re going to give in to a lot of them, and who knows how detrimentally that will affect our economy.

Mr. Sanford, a Republican, is the governor of South Carolina.

So, there you have it.  Governor Sanford’s op/ed.  I couldn’t agree more with what the Governor said.  We need more people like him (although I don’t agree with all of his stances, I think he’s absolutely right when it comes to this issue).

If we continue these reckless bailouts, we’re all going to suffer.  And we may not be able to recover.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Representative Sherman to Auto Executives: Raise Your Hand if You Flew Here Commercially. No Hands Went Up

November 20, 2008

The following is a video courtesy of C-SPAN, from today’s House Financial Services Committee:

 

more about “Automotive Industry Assistance, Auto …“, posted with vodpod

Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA24), but he’s absolutely right here.  If the automakers’ executives are going to fly to D.C. on a PRIVATE jet, they shouldn’t be lecturing Congress that they need more money.

Heck, I’ve been working on getting a big-name former Congressman (whose name I don’t want to give out) to come speak on my campus, and his booking agent told me, “I don’t know if Southwest Flies near you but they have great prices these days.”  If a big name Congressman can fly Southwest, then Rick Wagoner (GM), Alan Mulally (Ford), and Robert Nardelli (Chrysler) can.

Until these CEOs learn to fly Southwest or Airtran or something, they don’t deserve anything close to a bailout.  Additionally, the Union heads (and even workers) need to learn to take a pay cut.  I’ve said before that UAW workers are so overpaid, it’s just ridiculous.

Don’t bail out the auto industry, and especially don’t do it by giving into arrogance like this.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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