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Old 11-22-2008, 01:07 AM   #169
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Subsidies and the confusion of movin'

But the roads... I'll repeat the statement I posted earlier. When we don't have public transport, we are stating in very clear terms that it's OK to drive without insurance or without a license. We are very nearly saying it's OK to steal a car, because without one you'll almost certainly be at the lowest rung of the social and economic ladders. I don't think we should be saying these things.
I'm not sure I understand your statements...

Where in the world do we (and who's we?) "state" that it's OK? That's like saying if there's no welfare then it's OK to steal food and whatever else I deem to be a necessity! That's so far off-base I don't even know where to start. Are you mandating Socialism or Entitlement?
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Old 11-22-2008, 01:33 AM   #170
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The reference to a railroad above is interesting in this discussion, and not just because most vehicles arrive near the dealerships on trains.
Does anyone remember a railroad called Conrail? I could go on at length about it, but the Reader's Digest version is: The government took over several bankrupt railroads in the Northeast and Midwest, jettisoned a bunch of redundant parts of them, hired outside (non government) people to run it,and turned it into a profitable company. When it was offered back to the private sector, its initial stock offering was the highest in history up till that time, and may still be (I haven't checked lately).
My point (I do have one) is the government may have to do the same with the Big 3. I hope it doesn't come to that, as the above company was a fiasco for many years before it got straightened out. The government has taken over private business before, and I'm sure it will again, in the cause of national interest. Even auto makers. Anybody remember the War Production Board?
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Old 11-22-2008, 02:54 AM   #171
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We need to look at more elegant solutions to moving goods, services, and people than using 5,000 lb cars to move a person over some distance. There have got to be more efficient ways to do it that have a lower impact economically and environmentally. All I'm suggesting is that we redirect some of the money we're spending currently into more efficient modes of transport.
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This coming from the guy who is towing a travel trailer with a motorhome. Hmmmm.... That's got to be the pinnacle of efficiency.
You're right, there are much more efficient ways to travel and, since this is a website dedicated to campers, to go camping. Problem is, Americans don't want to give up their large vehicles for a teenie little econobox for the same reason no one on here is willing to give up their Airstream for a tent. Are you willing to trade your rig for this?
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Old 11-22-2008, 06:53 AM   #172
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I'm not sure I understand your statements...

Where in the world do we (and who's we?) "state" that it's OK? That's like saying if there's no welfare then it's OK to steal food and whatever else I deem to be a necessity! That's so far off-base I don't even know where to start. Are you mandating Socialism or Entitlement?
Not at all. The theft comment was over the top, but it was only for effect.

If we (those of us who vote) choose to run our zoning so we have bedroom communities that support our base industries, and choose not to fund public transport, then we (again, those of us who vote) are stating that to live in that community one must have a car. In many places you cannot walk or ride a bike or a bus to grocery stores, pharmacies, libraries, or other retail. That is, you could technically walk or ride, but there is often no accommodation and in some instances it would be illegal (limited access roads, for example).

So we've forced people who live in a certain place to have a car. A great many places, in fact. If you lived in one of these neighborhoods, where the gated community opens to a four lane highway and the nearest shopping is 5 miles down that road (and the elementary schools are 5 miles up it), and say your insurer drops you through a clerical error, you lose your job and you can't get groceries.

And when our big box mall stores hire recent immigrants to wash and clean, often times they find themselves walking 3-4 miles or riding bikes the wrong way down busy roads to get jobs so they can feed their kids. Yes, even, perhaps especially those here legally. Consequently many of them can afford a cheap car but not the insurance and some don't care - especially those here illegally. The message we're telling them is pretty clear: "Drive a car and you can get jobs your more pedestrian compadres can't." This applies to the neighbor's teen agers (but not our own, of course ) as well.

It's a foolish corner to have painted ourselves into.

Either we accommodate public transit or we find ourselves with ever increasing premiums to cover the uninsured and unlicensed. If I'm going to pay an extra 300+ a year in tax (and this was my experience with no-fault - it was effectively a tax) I'd rather have it go to something I can use.

What I am proposing is that we think of transportation as a whole issue. We shouldn't underestimate the value of personal mobility from the car, but we shouldn't worship it as the only solution either.

Beyond that, as our (national average "our") kids trend toward obesity, we need to think of things to get them off their bottoms. But that's a different subject.

Back on topic, I'm not necessarily against the loans, but we (taxpayers) do need guarantees.
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:20 AM   #173
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So we've forced people who live in a certain place to have a car.

No one has ever forced me to live in a certain place (does the US Army count?) and no one has ever forced me to own anything (does a county property tax bill count?)

We live out in the country now. No sirens, gunshots, people screaming for help, boomboxes, or other noise associated w/ living in the city. I worked for the city of Kansas City for 25 years and my choice is rural.

To that end, yes, I have to drive something to get motorcycle parts, beer, or other necessities. It's my choice!

Mass transit is nice. Among the reasons it will never pass in KC is the sentiment:" It doesn't go down my street so why should I vote for it?"

The bus service in town has been 80% subsidized forever. It never came close to paying for itself. The stop sign analogy makes no sense.

There are people here (and everywhere, I suspect) that blame folks for moving to the suburbs or farther. They blame white flight, urban sprawl, racial disparity, entitlement and a host of other things for the move.

If a bus came by, I'd ride it. There is no bus. If you want to ride the bus, good for you.
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:45 AM   #174
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The reason they don't build small energy effecient cars in this country is because the profit per unit is so much smaller.
Nope, its because not enough people want them. I for one don't!!!
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Old 11-22-2008, 08:59 AM   #175
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Does anyone remember a railroad called Conrail? The government took over several bankrupt railroads in the Northeast and Midwest, jettisoned a bunch of redundant parts of them, hired outside (non government) people to run it,and turned it into a profitable company.
I do remember Conrail. I lived on the east coast then and I rode it. A splendid example, however that is not what the Congress is proposing now. These idiots think they are the smartest people in the world and should run the Big 3 themselves. You know, Congressional oversight! Like FreddyMac and FannyMae.

I do believe the government can do a good job reorganizing companies if you keep the idiot politicians out of it.
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Old 11-22-2008, 11:39 AM   #176
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Originally Posted by Larry in MO View Post
No one has ever forced me to live in a certain place (does the US Army count?) and no one has ever forced me to own anything (does a county property tax bill count?)
We live out in the country now. No sirens, gunshots, people screaming for help, boomboxes, or other noise associated w/ living in the city. I worked for the city of Kansas City for 25 years and my choice is rural.
I realize that rural is quite a different thing, having lived in both rural and urban areas. I was specifically thinking of suburban or extra-urban areas. Isolated enclaves of housing developed with no thought given to access to services. I can think of several "towns" outside of Cincinnati that fit this nicely, as well as a couple of heavy handed homeowner neighborhoods in my own backyard.
I did not say the government (as an extension of our expressed desires) tells you where to live, but it does tell you that to function in society you need to drive. Milford, Michigan is a sterling example. Hundreds of thousands of people driving on combinations of I-94, I-96, and US-23 to access GM's proving grounds (and other areas for the Big 3) - and there is NO alternative. It's insane. It's two miles from the proving grounds to town - no shoulder no sidewalk. And don't let's talk about trying to cross the street in front of GM's tech center. In the modern vernacular: FAIL.
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...
The bus service in town has been 80% subsidized forever. It never came close to paying for itself. The stop sign analogy makes no sense.
...
The stop sign never pays for itself, yet we unblinkingly accept it as an integral part of our transportation solution.
Why?
Or better yet, why do we accept the even more expensive stoplight without question as well?
The question doesn't need answered, but I hope it does make one think, rather than blindly accepting the status quo.
It's the premise that fuel taxes cover the cost of optimizing our infrastructure for things that burn fuel. This isn't quite accurate as the sources of funding come from other than solely gasoline taxes. License fees, wheel taxes, tire taxes, and other state, local, and federal revenues also are gathered and distributed - and yes even that township bridge was likely built with some federal money. Beyond that, suppose we add another 6 lanes of highway through KC over the next 20 years. How much real estate (and subsequent loss of property tax revenue) will be recovered before the 12 lanes of the new I70 pay their own way?

Now, to bridge back to topic... The loan approved last month essentially specified highly efficient or electric vehicles from the 3. An electric car generates no fuel taxes, consequently "will not pay its own way" in the same sense that a bus or passenger train does not. But I'm thinking that electrics aren't bad things, (nor is natural gas), as it gives our economy a cushion against the shock of wildly fluctuating energy prices. Tying the loans to that, then makes sense to me, BUT in any case it means we have to rethink our transportation policies.
What can we do, what should we do, and what precious assumptions are no longer relevant are all critically important questions.
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:02 PM   #177
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At this point being shocked by the death of GM is like being shocked at the death of a 101 year old man who has been in failing health for 40 years.

A week after the funeral no one will care, not even the overpaid executives and overpaid union employees who ran it into the ground.

There are plenty of other car companies. To think people will stop buying cars is ridiculous. To think anyone will lose their jobs (other than the above named execs and union employees) is likewise ridiculous.

People will keep buying cars, and the auto industry will keep on as before.

If the government decides to keep these zombies on life support, that will cost billions of $$$$ and may well hobble us from getting out of this mess.
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:13 PM   #178
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I'm wondering, then, if the "Conrail Idea" might be a better plan than the "throwing money at it" idea. For their billions, the government should appoint an outside person to oversee the companies, and only step aside when the companies have again gained viability as companies.
BTW, we rode the city bus a few days ago to a local mall. A half hour wait to catch the bus, and another 45 minute ride to get to the mall that was less than two miles away. We took a taxi back, it took 5 minutes. If cities would work on their bus routes, instead of making every bus go to several points along their route (every bus route went to the mall, and other places, no matter where else they went), more people might ride them, and they would not spend so much in fuel getting from A to B in those buses.
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:35 PM   #179
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Not at all. The theft comment was over the top, but it was only for effect.

If we (those of us who vote) choose to run our zoning so we have bedroom communities that support our base industries, and choose not to fund public transport, then we (again, those of us who vote) are stating that to live in that community one must have a car. In many places you cannot walk or ride a bike or a bus to grocery stores, pharmacies, libraries, or other retail. That is, you could technically walk or ride, but there is often no accommodation and in some instances it would be illegal (limited access roads, for example).
Just as "we" state that to live in some communities you must have a 6 figure income - in order to afford the house and property taxes and etc. The responsibility of every individual person is to determine if they can afford the house, the car, and the related expenses associated with living wherever they choose. It is not our (voters) responsibility to make sure they can afford a car or provide an alternative means of transportation.

Quote:
So we've forced people who live in a certain place to have a car. A great many places, in fact. If you lived in one of these neighborhoods, where the gated community opens to a four lane highway and the nearest shopping is 5 miles down that road (and the elementary schools are 5 miles up it), and say your insurer drops you through a clerical error, you lose your job and you can't get groceries.
Personal choice to live there (wherever there is). Someone who can't afford a car should obviously not choose to live where one is "needed". (Recognize also that "need" is very subjective).

Quote:
And when our big box mall stores hire recent immigrants to wash and clean, often times they find themselves walking 3-4 miles or riding bikes the wrong way down busy roads to get jobs so they can feed their kids. Yes, even, perhaps especially those here legally. Consequently many of them can afford a cheap car but not the insurance and some don't care - especially those here illegally. The message we're telling them is pretty clear: "Drive a car and you can get jobs your more pedestrian compadres can't." This applies to the neighbor's teen agers (but not our own, of course ) as well.
Without getting too far off-topic of the already off-topic topic I won't address the legal vs. illegal, but that's the kind of work ethic I admire. A person that is willing to do whatever it takes (within the bounds of the law) to earn an income and support themselves and their family has earned my respect. It's a shame too many Americans (of every race and gender) have developed a lazy, entitlement mentality that says you owe it to me.

I think you are the only one who somehow derives that conclusion. What about simply living closer to your place of employment? Or finding another job? It's not like the job example you gave is high paying, or one that requires a specialized skill.

Quote:
Either we accommodate public transit or we find ourselves with ever increasing premiums to cover the uninsured and unlicensed. If I'm going to pay an extra 300+ a year in tax (and this was my experience with no-fault - it was effectively a tax) I'd rather have it go to something I can use.
How about simply enforcing the laws that require insurance? (I do realize that statement alone could sound kind of naive - I understand it's not quite that simple). Or restructuring the insurance industry so that we don't pay for the uninsured and underinsured - that's just not right.
(Tongue firmly planted in cheek) We could just let the government provide insurance for those who can't afford it right? Since we're already talking welfare or entitlement. If you think public transportation will prevent the uninsured from driving, well...
Why don't we ever address the root of the problem, be it auto insurance, or health insurance, or the banking system, etc.

Quote:
Back on topic, I'm not necessarily against the loans, but we (taxpayers) do need guarantees.
Exactly! Without a viable business plan, (i.e. something that is NOT business as usual!) then all the "loan" would be is another government handout that would simply postpone the inevitable.
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:46 PM   #180
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I am not shocked that some dont want to LOAN the auto companies money. Those mean spirited posts like the one from "Ganaraska" are hurtful. I am a union member, thats how I support my children, thats how I hope to send them to college so they can get a better education than I had. So someday my son could take advantage of his many talents. So what your saying is you just dont care that my ex wife will lose her home because I cant pay child support? and next year it will be forgotton?
What do you do for a living? if your going to attack others, put your rate of pay for us to see and evaluate. Ill tell you if your worth it. Where do you work? I would like to post sensless negative posts over the internet in high hopes I may ruin you financially!
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Old 11-22-2008, 12:59 PM   #181
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Actually, the Nike missiles were long and skinny-about 10 or 11' long and were a foot, or so, in diameter. Maybe you're thinking of the Atlas. It was about 10' in diameter as I recall. I think the Eisenhower theory was that men and machinery could be moved around w/out a lot of trouble.

The Nike missile system was originally built as an anti-aircraft weapons system. They were housed in silos in the ground and were basically ringing large cities. The first one was the Nike Ajax followed in 1958 w/ the Nike Hercules which was made to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles. The Nike Zeus, later renamed Spartan, came around in the late 60's. All of these things were installed in concrete silos and had a command center for 12 or 14 of these silo sights. These centers were manned 24 hours a day but the silos usually were not. If the need arose, a concrete and steel door would move off the underground silo and the missile would be launched.

Once the missiles were in the ground, there were not moved unless they were upgraded. The area south of Kansas City had a bunch of sites. They were identifed as a square chain link fenced area about 200' square w/ a gravel drive and a blue number such as D-13 on the fence. There are several of these sites w/ 15 miles of my house. I grew up around these things (I live across the road from a decommissioned command center now-KC 30, if you're interested) and it wasn't a big deal. If it got boring, we used to walk up to the wire and shake it really hard and then run. Usually, in about 20 minutes, a helicopter w/ armed air force APs would arrive. Great fun!

See: Microsoft TerraServer Imagery

The command center is about 1/4 mile south of where the E-W road curves S. It is the rectangular area just south of the trees. The buildings are to the west. I live just across the E-W road but the house wasn't there in1996.

Sorry about the lesson but it was pretty neat to be in the middle of all of this. It was not a big deal--just the air force and their missiles down the street. What could be neater?
Greetings Larry~
My experiences was so much different than yours. When I was a teenager, due to relatives, I got to visit one Nike site in the Tidewater, Va. area. It was manned by the ARMY personnel, not the US Air Force.
ciao
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Old 11-22-2008, 01:12 PM   #182
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I don't think the alternatives in the GM mess are a good vs. bad one. They're all shades of bad. The question seems to be: what are the losses for the various solutions and which are the least bad?

I am no longer clear on whether it's a $25 B or $ 50 B bailout. The first $25 B was to encourage green cars, the second may subsume the first, or be separate as a bridge loan. So whether it's 25 or 50 is up in the air. If the Big Whatever (2.5, 2.8, or 3) get the bucks to last for a while, what are the costs to the society vs. the costs if they go under? What are the chances they will go under? What if one or two go under, and one or two don't? Will they go bankrupt under Chapter 11 (debtor in possession, thus continue to operate under supervision of the bankruptcy court) or under Chapter 7 (dissolution, also under court supervision and what will that mean?—everyone out of a job, parts of the business sold and continues, etc.)?

How many jobs will be lost in each scenario? How many homes will be foreclosed on? How many suppliers will go broke? How many dealerships will close? How many communities and even states will suffer? Seems like every scenario means a loss.

Is it better we loan them $25 B now knowing they have less than an even chance to survive one year because it will actually cost the country less than letting them die in the next 3 months? Do we know how long they will survive? If we give them the other $25 B for green cars and trucks, who will own the technology for those cars and trucks if the rest of the company goes away? Maybe it should be us.

Is there a moral danger in loaning money to executives who have failed? But have they failed as much as they appear to? If the financial industry had not made such a mess of things, maybe the auto companies would not be in this mess. So, maybe, the auto executives are failures, but not as much a failure as the financial execs, and thus, if we loan money to the financial failures because we can't afford a collapse of the banks, why can't we loan money to an industry so important to the country's manufacturing sector? Is the failure of the execs the way to measure whether to help the industry and all the ancillary companies and communities?

Shall be we keep them alive so we can convert them into manufacturing for a green energy and transportation industry? In WWII the auto industry rapidly converted to making war products—they had too and it was patriotic. Why can't it be done again? Otherwise we are going to have start with creating those new industries anyway and it seems less efficient to not use existing factories and workers.

If they go into bankruptcy, why should we believe a bankruptcy judge is going to make sense of this? Bankruptcy judges will take a lot of time to gear up to supervise the industry and we don't have a lot of time to solve this.

There are a lot of numbers being thrown around, but this all seems so complex and full of variables, I don't think we will know with any exactitude the actual results until we live through whatever happens. Waiting until we have the numbers means we've made a decision not to do anything. This is an uncomfortable dilemma.

All the choices (and they don't feel much like choices) are ugly. I think they need to be made without ideology. There are people who can crunch numbers and though they could be wrong, it's the best we've got to determine what to do by asking them (economists):

What costs the country the least and brings us the best chance at an outcome that is desirable.

What is the outcome desired? To me it is saving as many jobs as possible (thus helping the real estate market, providing health care, and economically healthy communities), converting excess capacity to other, though related manufacturing which I think could be renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.), green transport (vastly improved mileage for personal vehicles, mass transit, a national passenger rail system that works as well as it does in Europe), and creating confidence by having a hopeful plan and making it happen. Consumer confidence is a big part of the equation. When FDR became president he was good at instilling confidence in the people and recreating a belief in America. That helped a lot. Right now the perception is nothing much is being done, and what is being done, only favors rich bankers. That needs to change because without support from the public, nothing will work.

It really is better to act than watch the whole thing fall apart. That was tried in 1929-32 and it didn't work. Actually, some things were tried (Reconstruction Finance Corp., for ex.) and they were not close to being enough.

This is not a question of either laissez faire economics or socialism without other possibilities. To call any regulation socialism is to ignore all the possibilities in between. It is also intellectual reductionism. To call it a "command economy" is to confuse communism (which, it can be argued is nothing more than state capitalism combined with a political dictatorship) with socialism and anything to the right of it. What came out of FDR's New Deal was a blend of things and it worked though things were such a mess, it took a long time. After WWII, a greater percentage of people became members of the middle class than ever and this nation prospered as never before. Simultaneously, Western Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan also prospered much like we did. Those countries have single payer health insurance and somewhat more regulation. They are all democracies and have a regulated capitalism. By some measures, some of those countries are more prosperous than the US is. As some of the regulations here and in some of those countries (Great Britain for ex.) have been eliminated, middle class prosperity has declined for the first time since the Great Depression. To go back to the 1920's or 1800's is incomprehensible to me. It is to ignore the lessons of the period 1933 to the 1960's.

Gene
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