End Times Signs

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Here is a startling tidbit; an urgent wake-up call, really:

Business Week has just reported that GM sold more than 2 million cars in China for the second straight year in a row – 2.35 million this year – and now sells more cars in China than it does in the United States.

Sales of Cadillacs in China are up a staggering 73 percent; sales of Buicks are up 24 percent and sales of Chevrolets are up 18 percent.

GM is also reportedly getting ready to launch a $4,000 price-buster (in China) and company spokesmen say that GM’s near-term goal is to “have 75 percent of its sales” outside the United States.

Your tax dollars at work.

And, a canary in the coal mine.

America is dying.

China and India are the future; we are the past. GM is moving to where the money is, and that ain’t here.

The United States has arrived at the same point that now not-so-great Great Britain found itself occupying after the end of WWII: A bankrupted and exhausted imperially overstretched power that no longer had the will or even the capacity to keep up with the emerging colossus across the Atlantic, which was devoted to commerce primarily – not wars (and empire) the world over.

Today, the colossus is across the Pacific, but the essentials are the same.

In China, it is 1960.

The government encourages business rather than taking pleasure in throttling it, as is the case in the United States. The automakers are largely free to build cars, as automakers were once largely free to do here – but aren’t anymore. The Chinese only possess one aircraft carrier, not a fleet of them – despite having four times our population.

In China, you do not have to “buckle up for safety” – and you can ride a bicycle without a helmet, legally.

The sad truth is that communist China is a freer place in many respects than the U.S. – both for individuals and for businesses. It is why the Chinese middle class is growing while our middle class is shrinking – and why China is literally rolling in cash, with an export-driven economy, while we are not just broke but massively in debt and import almost everything except Internet pornography and professional sports.

All the while, American taxpayers – an ever dwindling group – are forced at gunpoint to provide the capital which GM uses to build its business in China (and India and elsewhere) but what do we get in return – except the bill?

Here’s the inside skinny: GM knows the United States is a dying market for new cars – mainly because Americans are increasingly no longer in a position to buy them. And they are no longer in a position to buy them because they have become so expensive (an average mid-sized family sedan such as the Toyota Camry or Chevy Malibu typically sells for around $25,000). And they have become so expensive because of the endless conveyor belt of new diktats issuing forth from the DOT and EPA in Washington. It also becoming cost-prohibitive to manufacture anything in this country. Hence, almost nothing is in fact made in this country anymore.

Until The Crash, we were able to pretend we could afford all this and more via the helpful hand of easy credit and by dipping into the bubble-financed “wealth” of artificially (and temporarily) jacked-up real estate values and 401k portfolios.

Now it’s all gone – and not likely to return.

But even as the EKG goes flatline,  the mandates continue to flow (most recently, the congressional edict that all new cars average 50-plus mpg within a few years – irrespective of the cost).

GM knows there’s no future in this – or here. And that is why it is shifting its corporate gaze to greener pastures, like China, where it expects it will be doing 75 percent of its business within just a few years.

Already, GM sells many more Buick in China than it does in the United States. In fact, Buick is the most popular nameplate in China.

You can’t really blame GM for this – as galling as it may be to recall that American taxpayers were forced to chuck over billions in “bailout” loans – money used to finance the move to those greener pastures, and with it, the movement of all those manufacturing jobs to places like China.

Americans won’t get the $4k car, either.

Even though it would have a sticker price that’s lower than the government’s loathsome “cash for clunkers” giveaway – which forced some taxpayers to subsidize the purchase of a new car by others. Instead of ripping off one group of taxpayers to provide a government giveaway to another set of taxpayers, GM’s $4,000 car would represent honest productive effort, free exchange – goods produced by a market that freely consents to buy them. People would get the basic, inexpensive transportation that has largely disappeared from the new car marketplace – and which is desperately needed right now.

GM would make money. People would save money. Capital would be built up here rather than being exported over there.

What a concept.

But instead of the $4k car, we’ll just get the bill for it.

Meanwhile, the Chinese colossus will continue to thrive – at least, so long as the Chinese are smart enough to not follow our example.

Throw it in the Woods?

 

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29 COMMENTS

  1. China will make the circle as all great powers do. When the disregard for humans and environment are ok so money can be king they will “Roll In It” until they start dieing in mass just like Love Canal, and other “Superfund Sites”. It seems the great economic writers of our time are not history buffs.

    We need to seek a balance. I know I would rather have abundant oxygen and clean healthy food at the cost of my bank account.

    Maybe China can eat their coins?

  2. I’m sure that we would all love to turn back the hands of time and go back to the American economy of the early 1960s, before the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, or various other environmental protection laws had even been passed. For absolute certain, except for the lost jobs we live in a much-healthier environment today. Would you really want to go back to working for half of what you are worth today, in a really polluted and unhealthy environment, with little hope for a better future?

    What really killed heavy manufacturing in the country? Was it the rising costs of raw materials, as most of our easily-obtainable raw materials have already been spent, or the rising cost of transportation? Was it rising wages, workers rights, worker safety laws, or rising employee health care costs? Could it be the costs of complying with a whole number of environmental protection regulations? Could it be that high-sulfur coal causes acid rain and has been banned, thereby raising fuel costs, or that the costs involved in complying with several mining and mill site cleanup laws passed since 1977 have made mining for raw materials in America too expensive?

    There is a new book out, written by a former Canadian economist and expert on resource depletion that explains in great detail why the manufacturing economy in the US, and indeed much of the world, is on its last legs. I would highly recommend reading The End of Growth. China and India are destined to become the last bastion of the Industrial Revolution before our dinky little planet begins to rapidly run out of the raw resources necessary to sustain wild economic growth. And, without a minimum of 2% GDP growth, we can not even employ all of our young people entering the workforce.

    In fact, if we can only manage economic growth in the 2% range through 2050, just 38 years from now, by then we will have between 40 and 50 million adults out-of-work. However, there is one bright spot in all of this, as within the next 20-30 years, as China’s middle class and environmental movement begins to demand better wages, working conditions, and air and water quality, it will become too expensive to manufacture products in China and transport them all the way to the US as overseas shipping costs rise too, due to the increasing depletion of oil.

    http://www.postcarbon.org/end-of-growth-chapters/

    http://www.thewif.org.uk/articles/presentation1/page14.htm

    These next few links are to proponents of Chinese environmental protection and worker health and safety legislation. Just like here, it might take 20-30 years to add enough extra costs into Chinese manufacturing as to render it non-competitive too.

    http://chinadigitaltimes.net/china/air-pollution/

    http://www.chinahush.com/2009/10/21/amazing-pictures-pollution-in-china/

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/07/070709-china-pollution.html

    http://drinking-water.org/html/en/Treatment/Agricultural-and-Industrial-Pollution-in-China.html

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/03/air-pollution-and-fossil-fuel-damage-in.html

    Even if we immediately passed retributive tariffs and brought US manufacturers back home, at least to produce products here for sale here, many former jobs would not exist due to increases in technology either. At one time it took 25,000 guys to assemble Pontiac autos from scratch, and by the time that GM dumped Pontiac, 20K of those 25K semi-skilled jobs had been replaced by a couple thousand industrial robots, which had the capacity to double production. Both GM and Chrysler have also replaced large portions of their former human workforce with robots too. At one time it took 50K workers in Cleveland to make iron ore and coal into steel, and now there are huge robotic steel mills with only a few hundred workers that can out-produce the old mills too.

    As of today, the prognosis is for continued stagnation and a lack of economic growth for most of the older Industrial Revolution countries, while a few places with inexpensive labor, an abundance of raw materials, and a lack of worker and environmental protection laws continue to grow, at least until until that day of reckoning comes, and we exceed the ability of our planet and its raw materials resources to support economic growth.

    He with the most money left when the music stops stands to lose the most money too. Let’s just hope that day of reckoning is not sooner than has already been predicted.

    • Trucker Mark you’ve drunken the Malthusian/Ehrlichian Kool-Aid my friend and it’s gonna kill you if you don’t stop!

      The resource-war meme, and its unpleasant cousin the resource-shortage meme, are sheer, utter, unmitigated bullshit. But they’re extremely useful manure to fertilize the plans of the globalist bastards that want to corral us onto little plantations and have us live like medieval serfs.

      Read James Delingpole’s Watermelons and you’ll see; the title is a catchy phrase for environmentalists who, at the top at least, are “green on the outside, red on the inside”.

      We’re NOT running out of resources. Here are some fun ideas:

      1) Every moment of sunlight gives an average of 1,000 watts per square meter on the earth’s surface. It’s tens of thousands of times our current energy usage, and we haven’t even begun to tap it.
      2) Thorium–look up the thorium fuel cycle. It’s three times as abundant as uranium and it’s just begging to be exploited.
      3) Fusion–the most neglected research avenue in the world, and there’s a reason for it–the powers that be
      don’t want us having abundant energy because it breaks down a fundamental avenue of control. But fusion will happen, and it will lead to an abundance of energy that’s difficult to imagine.
      4) Mining–we keep hearing we’re “running out” of X, Y, and Z. But we ignore the fact that we keep finding new materials to replace older, scarcer ones made of rare elements. Look up ocean-floor mining, and the highly pure minerals basically lying there waiting to be picked up near volcanic vents. And, now that we’re getting States out of the way of space exploration, some smart lads are going to make themselves very rich mining asteroids and/or the moon.
      5) Hydrocarbons–there’s some pretty good science advocating abiotic generation of oil; it’s worth looking into. In the meantime, we have scads of coal, natural gas, shale oil…and that’s BEFORE we exploit the literally tera-barrels of oil equivalent trapped in methane gas hydrates on the ocean floor.

      No, the scarcity memes are meant to keep you poor, hungry, scared, and waiting for the State to stick its nipple in your mouth.

      All that’s required for abundance is to unleash human ingenuity by removing the State’s suffocating shackles.

  3. Could we convince Chrysler and Ford to go with them?
    All these cars have the worst record of repairs in the business. Including Garbage Motors, they have made a farce out of producing an automobile by American Manufacturers.
    What ever happened to American Pride in manufacturing the best products in the world?
    Take their bean counters with them please . . .
    I personally think any agency that has 3 truckloads full of bull and regulations is illegally operating in this country. It was once said Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Well when it is so cumbersome as to be impossible for anyone to really understand the law I think it is an excuse worth pursuing. Personally I feel that law that no one can comprehend is really unconstitutional. That applies to our tax laws and to the EPA.
    You would think with 99% of our Congress holding a law degree, that they could get together and actually write laws in plain English.
    Lawyers spend 3 years of law school learning how to create problems. The last year is spent learning how to solve them. Guess what lawyers do best?
    Perhaps it is time to clean up our own house a little bit. Maybe do away with complicated procedures and laws. In the computer industry there is a saying: KISS(Keep It Simple Stupid!). It belongs in the houses of Congress!
    I would eliminate any bureau that exists “For My Own Good.” If ever the devil had a catch phrase, that would be it. It encompasses a mountain of rules and regulations. Whether it is the EPA or your local city zoning codes, they are all designed to take away what little freedom you have.
    You would think that lawyers would learn from the prohibition in the Great Depression. But you have all sorts of agencies out there designed to tell you what you can and cannot do.
    Law should be about victim crimes. Not about telling you how to live.
    You want a fair tax code. Tax everyone 10% across the board. No exceptions.
    Eliminate all other taxes period. Make the state, county, city, and any other tax illegal. Fire the entire lot of parasites involved in local government. Pay for everything out of that 10% tax across the board. That means no more real estate taxes, no more sales taxes, no more anything except that flat 10% across the board. Make the government live within that budget of 10%.
    Not going to happen. For one thing the banks will never go along with it. The churches will not go along with it. The Corporations cannot stand to do away with their free lunches and the new competition from small businesses. The Social Security and Medicare alone support millions of older people. The nursing homes would have to close. That does not even include the fat cats in D.C. that would have to shut down.
    Redistribution of wealth is really communistic. A lot of our redistribution is breaking our old people’s wealth by Health Care. Once you get a terminal disease, the medical industry wants to kill you their way. But only after lifting your wallet first.
    China is going to break GM. First they will be so nice to deal with. Then gradually as GM becomes more at home, they will nationalize the factories and steal the patents on the cars. China is great at one thing. They will steal your pants right off your back as you walk through a crowd of people. Look at their respect for software in the computer industry if you do not believe me. There are literally millions of copies of Windows stolen in China right now. No one can get China to do anything about it.
    SO let us sit back and watch. Let us see which thief will win in the end. I would bet on China. But GM might have a few tricks up their sleeves. For instance, parts that only GM can provide from abroad. Making the cars useless once the break.

  4. Eric, I like what you have to say but visiting your site is a pain, what is that blackout bullshit? I don’t have time to be worked, you should be more subtle.

  5. Every time I start to write a comment on this it quickly begins to be a essay as I try to cover many facets. To boil it down China is the next step to the sort of organized world order the wealthy ruling elite want. It is the model for the world.

    Americans turned on company towns and other earlier attempts at engineering society. The problem is most americans did not and still do not understand the real use of government. Thus many mechanisms including the government schools remained in place after americans rejected that form of living.

    China is a communist country. But communism really means central control and planning. It’s not like someone can just start a business in China. People’s lives are very well controlled. Many workers live in company housing. The elite have never lost control of the US government and thus have used it to extract our wealth to further their world domination and their investments.

    And don’t think I am using some nebulous evil group. They are not monolithic by any means but share some common interests. They are essentially the families that we are told the government saved us from. The ones that set up the government schools, the federal reserve, the income tax, run the policy groups and think tanks, and much more.

    Think of those Henry Ford angered when he increased pay and gave up on company town notions. Ended policies of running workers’ lives.

    Ultimately economic mobility beyond a certain point will be denied in China. No Chinese peasant is going to be allowed to threaten the system any more than some descendent of a slave would in the USA. China’s prosperity is tied to its people’s willingness to accept terms americans won’t. Sad that americans only understand that company towns and such are bad, but not much more of the picture of how society is to be organized.

    “Things to Come” by HG Wells gives a kind of outline of this desired society. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFUCH7ppwSI

    • BrentP, you are so right about a simple response turning into an essay. I thought it was just me (okay, maybe we’re both just “wordy”). (Sigh) I’ll try to keep this short.

      When I ride through the burbs of any major city, I can’t help but feel that we still have company towns. Maybe they’re not the dirt floored shanties of the coal mines or even the rowhouses of the northeast. But collective cracker box subdivisions for the debt slaves are just a softer form of the same thing. Sure, we can paint the walls of our bank owned cells whatever colour we like, but don’t build on a porch unless you ask a bureauRAT’s permission first.

      Then once you pay off the banksters (if you ever manage to), you still have to keep right on paying the city or county rent on that property. Let’s face it, if you don’t pay property taxes on that house you “own”, then the man evicts you (at gunpoint if necessary) and someone else gets to rent it for a while. Sounds like the county is the landlord to me.

      The poor folks that were caught up in the company town hamster wheel were often paid in script or chits only redeemable at the company store (and just enough to get by on if that). Federal Reserve notes are the same scam writ large. The elite can’t have the slaves being paid in gold and silver. They might start saving up and then buy their freedom. No siree, can’t have that; who would pick the cotton and mop the floors? Everyone just needs to buy the lie, stay on the plantation and do as they’re told, with their heads down and their mouths shut.

      • It’s called neo-feudalism, and it’s by design.

        Brent: you’re spot-on when you call out China as the globalist’s wet dream. It’s their prototype for the future controlled society.

        I bet ya’ll already have, but if you haven’t look up the UN Agenda 21 program. It’s here in America already; the SWAT raids on organic dairy coops and farms is not an accident. They are going to make it very hard to live off the grid out in the country; they don’t WANT independent-minded, self-sufficient people. They want you crowded into dingy cities like scenes out of the movie Brazil, cowing in your hovel and meekly sticking your nose out of your cage for your morsel of daily slop.

  6. Real nice, we won’t even get the $4k car – just the bills. Getting even a smidgen of material benefit in return for getting fleeced would be way too generous.

    • Corporations enjoy the moral fiction of legal personhood, entitling them to the benefits and rights of being a citizen of this country – including the right of free speech – yet they (being corporations) are not capable of bearing responsibility for their actions, as there’s no “one” there who can be held responsible. Corporations are also entirely sociopathic, having no interest in anything other than the bottom line, irrespective of who pays it or how much it costs – and are essentially given a pass to do as they will, since there’s no effective way to do anything about their misdeeds.

      It’s outrageous.

      First, I’d end the notion of corporate rights – as only human individuals have rights.

      Second, I’d end any subsidies/transfer payments to any big business (or small business) on the same basis and for the same reason that no individual has the right to live by force on the back of another individual.

      Third, I’d get rid of all government mandates/regulations that can’t point to a specific harm perpetrated against an actual individual against his will for their justification. Hence, no laws requiring air bags, or that cars have to meet bumper impact standards of any kind other than those demanded by consumers.

      That would take care of a lot of this, I suspect.

      • Eric you’re talking about a return to Common Law–or, no victim, no crime. I totally agree.
        Granting corporations “personhood” in roughly 1880 was a HUGE mistake; as you say in essence, it creates a bunch of billionaire sociopaths…and I think one Soros is quite enough!

        • Exactly – and amen!

          The whole system’s screwy; all sorts of victimless crimes that entail serious punishment – while at the same time, gross criminality goes unpunished, or even rewarded, if it’s committed by a “too big to fail” corporation.

          • It’s totally screwy but it does make sense from the state’s standpoint. Temperance crusades are always a good way to divert the public’s attention. It’s like saying, “Don’t pay any attention to the bailouts, rising debt, senseless wars, waste, taxes, and horrible economy. Rest assured that we are handling those highly complex matters admirably and in America’s best interest. Progress is being made. Instead, look over there at your sinful neighbor. People like that are the cause of all our troubles! If only we could clean things up once and for all America would be a much better place to live.” Most Americans harbor at least a few Puritan psychological traits which have been passed along culturally from generation to generation since the early seventeenth century. Today, however, the average person is not opposed to all earthly pleasures. Far from it. But those pleasures derived from unapproved or unseemly sources are entirely another matter. The absence of a victim is irrelevant. Government’s scrutiny and iron fist is required. Unscrupulous politicians instinctively know how to play that factor like a violin and have often done so since the earliest days of the Republic.

  7. Seems to me there are only two options available for the state to use to avoid global revolution: 1984 or Brave New World. Take your pick. Apathy seems to rule, so I’m not optimistic.

    • Richard, what we’re getting is 1984 AND Brave New World.
      Panem et circenses–bread and circuses, fuh-ball, bay-ball, American Idol, all the celebrities you can eat. GM food that sterilizes you in three generations, fluoride, vaccines, and psychotropic drugs to keep you docile, cancer-ridden, and numb. A police state FAR more effective than the kindergarten version in 1984.

      The true Elites had to bring America down, because until forty years ago it was the beacon of hope–hope for liberty.

      Now look at it. It sickens me.

      The China situation is no accident; their society is a model for what the New World Order’s would-be dictators crave. It’s the perfect expression of fascism.

      Unfortunately what the Elite didn’t account for properly was two things:
      The middle class in America, and the middle class in China.

      Here, we’re finally figuring out (my god, how long did it take us?) that we’re being screwed.

      There, as the middle class rises, it will do what every middle class does: figure out there’s an oligarchy, and that they’re not in it, and that it doesn’t like an uppity middle class. They’ll start demanding the freedoms they’re being denied.

      We can rebuild after this collapse. It requires about ten percent of the people to agree to a solution; that solution has to be individual liberty as (imperfectly) enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. This time around, make the Federal government responsible for one thing and one thing only–national defense. Period. Keep authority local and accountable.

      • Methylamine, I agree with you on the concept of rebuilding after the collapse…for the most part that is. The Declaration of Independence enshrines ideals that unfortunately are not law. We would need to fix that. The Constitution (a document I once had to swear to uphold and protect) upon closer scrutiny is seriously flawed. We would have to change Article I, Section 8 from “The Congress shall have to the power To…” to read “The Congress shall be strictly limited To….”. Then set strict limits with prejudice. Granting anyone or any group “power” sows the seeds of destruction of that institution at its inception.

        The same with, Article II, Section 1: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Once again, granting power to one man without sufficiently restricting its abuse (Lincoln, T.R., F.D.R., “A-bomb” Truman, the Bush boys, the current mass murderer in chief, et al, prove my point). I’m not sure exactly how it would need to be changed, but we need to make sure the office of the presidency has at least as much actual power in most cases as the Queen of England currently has: essentially none, other than ceremonial. I can see the need for a Commander in Chief if the nation is actually attacked and war is declared. But I do mean “actually attacked”, not taking the neighbors’ land and resources at gun point.

        I agree that a coordinated national defense is a necessity. As I’ve pointed out before, returning to the Swiss militia model, which we are supposed to have (or a hybrid thereof) is about the only safe way to accomplish this. I believe that the only people who should actually be allowed to vote (i.e. make decisions for everyone’s well being) in the next system must meet these basic criteria: They must show up for drill (at the local level, no “National Guard”, state only) at least quarterly, with their own (not taxpayer provided) main battle rifle and a minimum amount of ammunition, have at least seventy two hours of supplies to live in the field, must be self sufficient (not on any form of public assistance to include government employment) or have completed their militia service (i.e. reached the age where they can no longer take up arms in the common defense…say, 65).

        If one is not physically, emotionally or mentally able or doesn’t care enough about their neighbors to defend hearth and home, then one should not be making decisions for the actual wealth producers and defenders (i.e. the “Middle Class”) of the country. Period.

        Coincidental to that, we must immediately return the schools to local control and defund the education bureaucracy as much as practical initially. Then public schools must be phased out and locally privatized (big corporations need not apply). Education (like delivering messages) is too critical to be left up to government. Like any other commodity, it needs competition to foster innovation and efficiency. The main reason we’re in the mess we have today is intentional mis-education and indoctrination of the masses by bureaucRATs (and let’s not forget the lame-stream media).

        The problem I see right now, is that there are a lot of people really want to do anything for a living in Amereica. A major component of the OWS movement wants their bills paid by government (i.e. the rest of us), a stronger EPA to clean up the environment for them (i.e. more regulations), a stronger IRS (i.e. a bigger police state to take our property and redistribute it to them) and they really want no responsiblity. The OWSers have lots of kindred spirits “working” for the government or on the dole.

        Until these people figure out “dey ain’t nuffin free”, that voting themselves money from the treasury will end in catastrophe and that they need to pick up a shovel, a hammer or a wrench and start producing, nothing’s going to change for the better. As long as they’ve all got a full belly, a roof over their heads, cable teee-veee, and a sail fawn, they have absolutely no incentive figure it out.

        • Boothe, all good points. I like the idea of conditional voting; certainly we had that early in the Republic, though the terms remain…er-hem…controversial not least in not permitting women to vote. But making it a condition of being willing and ready to defend said Republic is quite clever; never seen that one before, I’ll think on it.

          Agreed too that statism/collectivism is so deeply ingrained in most idiots’ heads that they cannot conceive of taking care of themselves. Thanks, Prussian publik skools!

          At the end of the day, the Constitution is great, I’d love to return to a strict interpretation of it; but it’s flawed. We need a newer, stricter one as you allude to.

          Ultimately I’m an anarchist; the State will always be a thief, a liar, a predator, and a murderer. I just realize it’s an ideal and I’ll gladly work toward a moderate interim goal, like America in the early 1800’s.

      • I knew I was being screwed in elementary school.
        I’m 58 now. Been kicking and screaming all the way but I haven’t been able to slow this slide down at all.

        More people need to be aware of Eric’s web site, it being one of only a few beacons to freedom left.

        I still think we are screwed and wait the return of Jesus.

  8. And the Occupy Wall Street nuts are pushing for more and more government.

    Further empower the EPA to shut down corporations that don’t buy into eco-lunacy.

    Forgive student loan debt.

    Pass the DREAM Act.

    While China relaxes their Communist state, we’re ratcheting ours up.

    • Yes, and ours will be worse because unlike China, which doesn’t have a permanent underclass and isn’t a society eaten by envy and hate, we do – and are.

      • China has hundreds of ethnic minorities who don’t necessarily like each other. The Tibetans come to mind right off the top. The authoritarian regime they have is as embedded as ours. Quit simplifying this argument. It isn’t a simple world. Their authoritarianism is essential (at least in the minds of the ruling elites) to keep the minions from destroying the country. It is also a land of more than a billion souls. That’s a lot to try to keep complacent, especially when most of them are dirt-poor and getting wise to the riches in the cities that they don’t have a share in. Do any of you remember Tiananmen Square? Do you really believe that spirit has been crushed? They were killing each other, for god’s sake. We haven’t taken that plunge yet.

        And by the way, quit blaming regulations for the price of automobiles. A 1925 Buick sedan cost $2225. Translated to today’s dollars, that’s almost $29K: for something so primitive that most of us would abhor driving it. New cars cost so much because we put so much unnecessary crap in/on them that regulations have absolutely nothing to do with. Who needs 300 hp and two tons of material and “technology” to haul their dead ass a few blocks to get coffee? I for one want air that’s breathable and understand that 12 mpg is an absurdity that the world can’t afford any more. The people that make and sell these dinosaurs (yeah folks: that’s what you’re driving) get what they get for them because the population of this “land of me” we call a country has been taught that spending money we don’t have to buy crap we don’t need to impress people we don’t like is the way of our world. What was the profit margin on SUVs when they were at the height of their popularity? That was driven by some regulation? Get frigging real, already. Greed drives prices. We’re addicted to greed and it’s made us so stupid we keep electing fools like us to tell us what to do. The fools we elect don’t want to lose their jobs or to be proven what a craven bunch they are, so they keep making laws that encourage the construction of the police state we now have. We get what we deserve.

        • SUVs were the product of regulation. The CAFE law specifically. Yes people -chose them- but only because the cars they used to buy had largely been removed from the marketplace in 1985 model year.

        • You’re partially right.

          No question, today’s cars (in general) are far too heavy, laden with features and equipment (and capability) that most of their owners don’t – or can’t use. No argument from me at all. In fact, I have written about the absurd wastefulness of hausfraus going to the mall and back in those 300 hp SmooVees and so on.

          But you’re wrong about the costs of regulation. Air bags alone have added at least $1,000 per car to the up-front cost of a vehicle and massively increased repair (and thus, insurance and thus ownership) costs.

          Multi-port fuel injection (and so on) needed mainly to make fractional improvements in tailpipe emissions (cars have been 90-plus percent “clean” at the tailpipe since the 1980s) adds another layer of cost.

          The need to comply with federal bumper impact standards has made cars heavier – and thus, less economical.

          And: CAFE regs gave us the SmoooooVee bubble, incidentally. The law of unintended consequences in action.

          Your 1925 Buick analogy is way off, by the way.

          In 1925, Buick was a high-end car. Equivalent to an Audi or Lexus today.

          A more apt comparison would have been to compare the cost of a Model T (a basic car at the time) to a basic car today. By the 1920s, the cost of a Model T was about $290. That’s about $3,300 in today’s dollars. (The price of the Model T kept going down, by the way, from the time it was introduced through the end of its run.)

          The least expensive new car you can buy in the US today is the Nissan Versa. It has a base price just under $10k. Stripped.

          But in India and other markets, you can still buy a new car for less than $5,000.

          Why?

          Because those cars do not have to comply with all the regulations a car must comply with here. True, these cars are small, not powerful or luxurious – just “a” to “b” transportation. So was the Model T. It put America on wheels; it made cars affordable for almost everyone. It raised people’s standard of living. It helped employ hundreds of thousands – no, millions of people.

          And that’s what we’ve lost, courtesy of the endless ukase spewing out of DC.

          • Why isn’t a 1925 Buick a reasonable comparison to the price of a Lexus or Audi? Those are the kinds of vehicles more people seem to want to drive than a so-called “basic” car. The $29K isn’t far off from the price of a base model of these makes. I don’t think anyone would argue the current iterations are much better vehicles. The Model T Ford was obsolete in 1925 (it was replaced by the Model A three years later). Maybe a 1925 Chevrolet would be a better choice for a comparable “basic” car. It was more modern than the T and it sold well. It cost about twice what a T cost.

            Given the many improvements made to autos over the years that were not driven by regulations, I would think a reasonable cost for a basic car would be somewhere in the mid teens. Look around: there seem to be a lot of them out there (Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Chevy Cruze, etc.) Few in today’s America seem to want to drive a basic car. It was a different world in the 1920s and many of the buyers of the Model T were still the dirt-poor farmers who never had a car that Ford, a dirt-poor farmer, wanted to put into his product. That market segment has mostly disappeared here, but is huge in places like India and China. Have no fear though: we’ll succeed in creating an impoverished class that will need a $5000 car. That’s where the used car market comes in, I suppose.

            People have always wanted bigger, better (whatever that means), more powerful vehicles. The builders were/are always willing to accommodate those desires. Laying on over-priced options helps the bottom line and makes the customer at least temporarily happy. I’m sure these are significant factors that are driving GM to invest so heavily in China

            Yes, regulations have jacked prices up. So have many other factors. I had a t-bone collision in a car with no airbag. I was injured in a way that an airbag would have mitigated or avoided. I want my airbags and I willingly pay for them. I can’t speak for the other regulations you discuss because cars aren’t that important to me technologically, and I’m no fan of over-regulation, but I still want clean air and a safe vehicle, especially considering the fools driving these days who are more concerned with what’s in their laps or stuck to their ears than what’s on the highway. I’m not convinced the manufacturers wouldn’t have added much of the stuff the regulators have mandated over the years for these reasons, like the high cost of fuel driving toward more efficient engines and better gas mileage. They would most likely have taken more time to do it. Lethargy when you’re making tons of money is an easy out.

            GM and other builders are also employing hundreds of thousands. Just not here. It’s the future and it came upon us faster than we could have imagined. We created it and we’re paying the price. Ergo the fools we elect who write the rules that make it easier to send jobs elsewhere. That’s a more egregious failure in my mind, yet we keep reelecting them. It’s like the definition of a crazy person: keep doing the same thing with the expectation of a different outcome.

            • You misunderstood; I said a 1925 Buick (in context of its era) is comparable to a current Audi or Lexus. My broader point, though, was that a 1925 Buick was a higher-end car; not a basic car. Hence, pointing to its inflation adjusted price as a yardstick of the cost of a current-era basic car isn’t really fair.

              The Model T was obsolete by 1925? Sure. So? The VW Beetle was obsolete in 1955 – yet it sold for another 40-odd years (20 of them in the United States; it was driven out of the market in the late ’70s not by lack of demand but because it could no longer comply with federal regulations).

              And “obsolete” aside, the point I was trying make is that the T cost about a third what a current-year basic car like the Versa costs, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Why? In part because new cars must by law have things like air bags – which add $1,000-plus to the base price of each one.

              A 1925 Chevy may have cost about twice what the same-year T cost – ok, that’s still only about half the inflation-adjusted price of a basic new car like the Versa.

              I think I’ve made my point, haven’t I?

              And, bear in mind that maintenance/upkeep costs on a modern car – any modern – car – are orders of magnitude more than they were in the past. Almost any owner could do most normal/routine repairs on a car like the Model T, or a 1925 Chevy – or a 1970 Chevy, for that matter. But today? Forget it. Other than oil and filter changes, most service is beyond the ken (or the tool set) of the average person. And why? Because modern cars are vastly more complex. And, to a great extent, they are more complex because of the need to comply with various regulations. Right?

              I agree with you that people (those who buy into it) are culpable, in terms of wanting “all the bells and whistles” – even though they may never use them (example: 300-plus hp and 150-plus MPH capability). I think it’s ludicrous that even minivans now come with 17 and 18 inch alloy wheels and low-aspect-ratio tires and 300 hp engines. Absolutely. I know a woman – typical suburban Yuppie – who drives a brand-new BMW. She doesn’t need or use more power/capability than one would find in a 1985 Taurus; she never drives faster than maybe 70 MPH; she certainly doesn’t “corner.” All that technology, all that capability – all the brain sweat and resources that went into building that BMW… a car that was built to safely run 130-plus for hours and corner at twice most posted recommended maxes (in the hands of a skilled driver)… totally wasted on her. She bought it entirely for the image. Ridiculous – and disgusting. We are on the same page here.

              On air bags: You want them; I don’t. Why should I be required by law to buy them? Shouldn’t they be optional – and if you want them, you buy them?

              I agree with you on the outsourcing of jobs. I advocate ending the legal fiction of corporate personhood as a good first step back toward sanity.

  9. The American Dream used to be to raise up those in the lower economic levels to where the richer people were. Now the American Directive (no one can afford dreams anymore)is to lower the rich until they are poor. This will be the equality that liberals and socialists crave. The galling part will be when they tell us that this is really better than the way things were. Ayn Rand is rolling in her grave!

    • Indeed.

      Though I would qualify this somewhat. What we’ve got is an ever-accelerating trend toward an authoritarian oligarchy, which maintains the illusion of consent by mouthing platitudes about “democracy.” This is key. The populace is kept docile (or at least, quiescent) because it is given “the vote” – even though it has no real choice. A duopoly that pretends to be a multi-party system acts as a front for the corporate-oligarchical interests that actually control the country. The oligarchs have learned from history; that it is crucial not to give the appearance of one-man or one-party rule. So long as the cattle have the idea that the system operates with their consent, that there is real choice, they will acquiesce in their own enslavement.

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