Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2 Cents plus $17.4 Billion Dollars

For whatever it’s worth, well actually for the $17.4 billion tax dollars that it’s going to take to save the 3 big auto companies, I’d like to add an additional 2 cents. Not because I’m feeling particularly generous, and not because I have money to spend, but because I’d like to think that as an American tax payer, my voice should be heard. So, here's my 2 cents worth....
The United States should pass legislation to prevent foreign auto makers from importing any new electric hybrid, or new innovated vehicle into the U.S. auto market, until the above mentioned loan by tax payers has been paid in full AND the American auto industry can once again sustain itself and be made viable.

It seems like a “No Brainer”, but just in case… NO imported innovated automobiles can come into the U.S., until the American tax payer has been paid back the $17.4 Billion dollars that it took to bail out the Big 3!

I’m only writing this, because outsourcing and deregulation have proven to be so detrimental to the American economy, that it seems very necessary to say it out loud. So, please follow the bouncing ball and read along with me… NO imported innovated automobiles that would present an unfair competition to the Big 3 Auto makers in America.
Let's face reality, whether we like unions or not, they have had an adverse effect on the bottom line. And they've had a negative impact on the way U.S. auto companies compete with foreign imports. So, it is imperative that congress take steps to even the playing field. That is, provisions need to be put into place that will ensure success for the Big 3. Because, believe it or not, American auto makers can be quite brilliant when they want to be, they just need a little legislative push.

In 1976, Congress passed legislature for the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act. It was meant to encourage development of new technology in the car industry; which included improved batteries, motors, and other hybrid-electric components. And guess what? It worked.

General Motors funded research in 1988 and by 1996, the EV-1 was introduced into California and Arizona. Ironically, GM never offered the EV1 for public sale. It was only available to consumers under a 3 year/30,000 mile lease program that had a "no purchase" clause. And then, in 2003, quite inexplicitly, the EV-1 program was cancelled. It was declared as not being profitable. And now we’re discovering that since that time, nothing that the Big 3 have done has been very profitable!

There’s a documentary entitled Who Killed the Electric Car?, written & directed by Chris Paine that shows how the Big 3 Auto companies cut their noses off to spite their faces, when they ended the EV-1 program. It’s no surprise that they’re hurting, after all it’s been the “Same old, Same old” for so long, that they became stagnant. And now, they’ve had to admit that they’re hurting.

But maybe now that they don’t have the big oil companies in their pocket, they’ll get back to being a leader in the auto industry. Now’s a good a time as any to go forward with another EV-1 program, call it a sequel.

So, that’s my two cents… the American auto industry needs to produce an electric car, just as they did in the 80’s, except this time, it shouldn’t be leased, and it shouldn’t be sold at profit. It should be sold at $1 above manufacturing cost. Oh, and let them keep the two cents.

Monday, October 13, 2008

In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash

Anxiety, that’s what millions of Americans felt when the U.S. government agreed to bail out Wall Street, at a cost of $840 billion dollars.

I thought there would be a run on the banks like in the movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life”, or maybe people would start jumping out of tall buildings or the sky would fall. I waited for something to happen, and while the Dow on Wall Street continued to fall, the sky did not.

I know, because I looked up and watched as the sky went from blue to a peaceful purple, just like a hundred other nights, with just so many stars and planets out in space.

It’s been over a week since the historic, unprecedented Bail Out of Wall Street and nothing seems to have changed. McCain is still losing to Obama and the American people are still living beyond their means, that is they're still using credit cards to shop and the economy didn't get better, but we thought it would.

$840 billion dollars doesn't buy what it used to buy. Maybe it’s the price of war, or the price for outsourcing American jobs, or maybe it’s inflation. I'm reminded of the cardboard sign that use to hang on the wall in my neighborhood store:

"In God we Trust, All Others Pay Cash."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Does The God Particle Matter

Does The God Particle Matter?
I’m not a rocket scientist, but I think I need to pay close attention to Higgs Boson.
Higgs Boson is commonly known by scientist as “God's Particle”. Some physicists suggest that an experimental observation of the particle would help explain how otherwise massless elementary particles cause matter to have mass.
I don’t see why it would matter, but apparently it does because there's an European Organization for Nuclear Research, called CERN that's located on the France-Swiss border and they've spent $6 billion dollars and have over 2,500 full time employees, working 200 feet underground in the world's largest physics laboratory!
Last week, CERN went on line with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to provide experimental evidence that will confirm or reject the God Particle’s existence. Massive superconducting magnets cooled to near absolute zero by liquid helium, bent to 20 micron-wide beams of protons into precise trajectories, to be crashed into each other. Which may help to prove or not prove The Big Bang Theory.
I'm not a rocket scientist, but why are we concerned with the creation of the universe when we're so busy destroying it?
Is it me, or are we not at war? Have we not committed acts of mass destruction? Genocide? Intolerance? Have we found a cure for Cancer? AIDS? Have we lowered infant mortality rates? Have we stopped global warming?
What’s the point of understanding God’s Particle, when we haven't figured out the basic human principle of life?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Middle Class America For Rent

I was born into a long line of renters. My grandmother rented, my mother rented and I rented. No one in my family acquired real property, no stocks, no bonds, no retirement plans and nothing of real value to pass down to the next generation.
In fact, no real wealth had been accumulated throughout any generation of my family, for as long as my family has stood on American soil, more than two hundred years by a genealogist's account.
This fact became even more poignant in 1997, when my grandmother passed away at the age of 78. Nana died and left the unexpected expense of a funeral (her insurance didn't cover the burial). She also left us a few sentimental trinkets, her cherished memory and a host of dust bunnies under her bed. That was it. The life legacy of a renter. I decided then and there, that I would do better.

I attended a wealth building workshop that taught saving techniques for a First Time Home Buyer. As my knowledge grew, so did my self-worth. Three years later I purchased my home and officially became a member of America's middle-class.

The equity in my home grew and I had credit that allowed me to make home improvements, general repairs, purchase a newer car and ultimately to afford a college education for my kids. But most importantly, in the event of my death, my children would have something more than just a funeral debt.

In 2007 everything went terribly awry in the housing market. Like so many other middle class Americans, I felt it's affects through the trickle down method. It came in the form of increased mortgages, increased property taxes, increased water & sewer bills, increased food bills and the reality that our homes, as lovely as they were, weren't worth as much, as the money that we owed on them.

In other words, the equity that had been built up and borrowed had begun to ebb and I failed the Income to Debt ratio, and suddenly, credit was being denied. Then came a series of small emergencies-- failed car brakes and broken eyeglasses, I tapped into my savings, until my savings were tapped out. It was then that I saw the first "For Sale" sign on our sidewalk, then a line of them, like fence pickets.

I'm lucky. I've found a part time job to supplement my income. But, I don't have the time or energy to mow the lawn, so our once plush grass, is overgrown and looks more like chaffs of wheat than blades of grass and each day is a struggle. Yesterday, I put out a "For Rent" sign.

It reminded me of my family's legacy, a legacy of renters.