Archive for November, 2008

FROM JOE NOCERA, NYT, 11-25-08

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Something like this was suggested months ago in Joe Nocera’s column (NYT).

The bailout banks have their hands out for cash to save themselves and are not lending the money needed to jump start the economy.

Nocera’s sources suggested a ‘Good Bank’ to be created AND FUNDED by the Fed with Fed funds, NOT treasury (taxpayer’s) money.
This bank’s sole purpose would be to loan money, not to those institutions that would have failed anyway due to poor biz policies, but to those that simply need their usual short term bridge loans to conduct daily affairs.

Taxpayers have already provided over $4T in bailout money without an end in sight according to CNBC (see the 11-21-08 issue).

The Fed can print money – enough to jump start the economy, without taking tax money away from needed services from the rest of the country.

Sure, the value of the dollar will start to drop as the Fed prints this money.  As much as $6T was suggested at the time which would have a major impact on dollar value.
Portfolios  will shrivel, which may account for the reason this has not been done from the outset.

The Fed bailout would be in the form of loans.   As the economy is stabilized and they would be repaid and  this money, when no longer needed, would then be destroyed.
The dollar’s value would be re-established at a new stable value.

This way, everyone pays for the bailout, including the wealthy.
Now, that would be ‘Change’.

Am I cynical?  Damn right!
And observant – in the absence of grassroots direction, those in power will do what seems best to them.  And frequently, what is best for their own bottom lines.   Bear in mind, some 50% of Congress is composed of millionaires.  Less than O.1% of the rest of the country are that wealthy.
This is a money driven economy.  Do you think we (the rest of us) are properly represented by millionaires?
Perhaps not, as Congress, in a recent poll,  has been given only a 9% positive rating!

Who will represent us if we don’t?  We have been very, very lazy in this respect.   If we don’t take charge and run things to suit our needs you can be sure there will be those who will run things to suit theirs.

Write your reps in the same manner as then Chicago Mayor Richard Daley told us to vote – ‘Early and often’

The Greenbacker

CARMAKERS, 11-13-08

Thursday, November 13th, 2008

Automakers have seldom been willing to look beyond their bottom line.

Unfortunately, the same is true for the rest of us.

The handwriting has been on the wall since 1988 when NASA climatologist, Jim Hansen, testified before Congress on the dangers of global warming.  Automakers did not see fit to come out with a small green car to meet the coming change in climate, other than the little Chevy EV1 that was worked so well but was quickly recalled and destroyed.

The General Motors EV1 was an electric car produced and leased by the General Motors Corporation[5] It was the first mass-produced and purpose-designed electric vehicle of the modern era from a major automaker, and the first GM car designed to be an electric vehicle from the outset. The decision to mass-produce an electric car came after GM received a favorable reception for its 1990 Impact electric concept car, upon which the design of the EV1 drew heavily. Inspired partly by the Impact’s perceived potential for success, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) subsequently passed a mandate that made the production and sale of zero-emission vehicles a requirement for the seven major automakers selling cars in the United States to continue to market their vehicles in California. The EV1 was made available through limited lease-only agreements, initially to residents of the cities of Los Angeles, California and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.[6] EV1 lessees were officially participants in a “real-world engineering evaluation” and market study into the feasibility of producing and marketing a commuter electric vehicle in select U.S. markets undertaken by GM’s Advanced Technology Vehicles group.[7][8] The cars were not available for purchase, and could be serviced only at designated Saturn dealerships. Within a year of the EV1’s release, leasing programs were also launched in San Francisco and Sacramento, California, along with a limited program in the state of Georgia. from 1996 to 1999.

While customer reaction to the EV1 was positive, GM believed that electric cars occupied an unprofitable niche of the automobile market as they were only able to lease 800 units in face of production costs of US$1 billion over four years    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_EV1

Instead we got to choose between SUV’s without emissions devices, thanks to automakers lobbiest efforts, and V10, go fast, 4 MPG behemoths.

And  consumers who  must  preserve life for our kids and grandkids on the planet with our votes, gobbled up those cars and trucks so we would have a comfortable ride to and from work in the bumper to bumper traffic.

I guess we were all looking at our bottom lines and missing the real news.

I’m sure there are reasons to bail automakers out, such as preservation of autoworker’s jobs.
If there is a bailout I hope it will include emphasis on making cars more real in these fragile environmental times.
And I’m sure it will because we all have become smarter and more sensitive to or world in light of current events.   Right?

The problem is one of introducing ethics into lifeless corporations that must operate in a competitive climate without destroying their bottom line, and without socializing businesses.

This calls for regulation of industry, long term decision making and federal tax incentives along with help from good science.
Otherwise short term policies and the exhausts of industry threaten to  drive us off the planet.

Tell your representatives.  Write ’em all so they know where your support lies.


Here’s where to go to do that:

http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

If we’re going to pay for a bailout, there needs to be something in it for the rest of us beyond the auto companies (and our own) bottom lines.

The Greenbacker

PUBLIC FUNDING, 11-1-2008

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

The wealthiest  form most of the leadership and are expected to represent the rest of us of whom only 1% are millionaires.

Congress, according to a recent poll, has been given a   9%  positive rating by its constituents. That’s us – the constituents!    91% of those polled believe Congress fails to represent them !

We elect the same people, under the same terms, over and over again and bitch about their lack of attention to our problems.  Why do we expect them to act differently?  They won’t – they’re paid not to.

Even when they come into office with the best of intentions.   The system (which we allow) eventually corrupts them and they succumb to peer pressure and the need to remain influential in office.

What to do?

We need a different system of governance.  One that is accountable to voters rather than to special interests.  And one that is accountable to voters rather than to party doctrine,  and, particularly, one that allows elected officials to represent their constituency without fear of sabotage by a shadow power structure should they stray from doctrinaire paths.

PAC’s and Lobbies don’t vote.  Nor do corporations.  They control leadership by buying influence.
This is not news.   We are all aware that money buys influence among our country’s leaders.   Party affiliates respond to this.  Legislators vote with their pocketbooks, much as do voters.

We, the voters who bitch about lack of representation , are the ones that allow this to happen, and,  funny thing, it happens –  to us!
We shoot ourselves in the foot and blame it on ‘them’.   It’s either denial or insanity, or both.

It’s also a lethal manner by which to run a country.  Witness the current state of affairs.  We elect legislators that tank the economy and we bail them out with tax money – time after time.   Which means we no longer have the necessary money to pay for things the country needs like universal healthcare, infrastructure – roads, bridges, etc,  entitlements,  education programs, green programs,  environmental concerns, and so many other things .   Instead our taxes go to pay for failed policies.

This is also not news.

The Obama campaign, for example, has offered much political commentary over grassroots donations under $200.   But the fact is that ~ 75% of his campaign money comes from donations over $200, from special interests and corporate sponsors and individuals that expect to buy influence.   The McCain campaign is even more indebted to special interests for its funding.
This must stop.

Public funding of campaigns is one answer.  Funding public electorate entirely with taxes – no gifts, no gratuities, no donations in any amount.

What would that cost?
$50 per registered voter would yield more than $6B toward this effort.  Far more than will be spent in this 2008 election year on all campaigns combined.
What would we get out of this $50?
Representation!

Accountability is another answer! No more “Impeachment is not on the table” for those who see fit to exceed ethical and legal boundaries!  Elected officials need to expect to account for their actions for their own as well as for our protection.

Another answer:  Some have suggested a Parliamentary system of governance which would allow  several parties to be seated in congress according to the number votes they receive in a primary election.  If the blue party gets 15% of votes, the Orange party gets 7%, the Black party gets 3%,  these party’s delegates are seated in Congress with respectively, 15%, 7%, and 3% of the seats.   That would effectively neutralize the top heavy power where all the seats are held by the two major parties.    A legislator could represent his constituency without fear of being shunned by Congress.
Under this system, a Vote of No Confidence could be used when a legislator acts irresponsibly.   He would have to compromise his policies in order to garner enough votes among the various parties in the House in order to overcome a No Confidence vote, or loose his position.

Sound familiar?
It happened recently in Italy. The newly elected leader was unable to overcome a No Confidence vote and was fired after 20 months in office!   Not 8 years.   He wasn’t allowed to destroy the economy of his country.   He was summarily removed.  No single party determined whether or not he could remain unaccountable.

Britain has a Parliamentary system as do many other countries.

The Greenbacker