Tuesday, June 07, 2005

HOLY BATMOBILE! Cars Drive Off the Cliff

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Here it comes, the perfect toy for anxious people who want to appear powerful and well, remember, Batman was a rich dude who liked fast cars.
The SLR started as a pipe dream, just a long-shot ''vision'' car at the 1998 Frankfurt auto show. But when people started talking, Mercedes and McLaren, the world-champion Formula 1 race shop, responded. It was an unusual alliance. Mercedes revels in large, luxury √úbersedans; McLaren is wedded to stripped-down speed. There were delays, disagreements and tension over how it would look and what would go inside. Ron Dennis, C.E.O. of McLaren, compares the competitive relationship to two men at the reins of a chariot. ''It's complicated,'' he said. ''There was always a rivalry on how we could do things better.''
Seems this toy is hand made at great expense. Like a Rolls Royce. The very rich who are getting richer and richer while the rest of us sink into economic sands want better toys. They can have their cars hand made, singular and gold plated. Like the last super rich cars produced as the Great Depression set in.

Meanwhile, the mainstream American auto makers drive off the cliff!
General Motors will cut at least 25,000 jobs in the U.S. by 2008 in an effort to generate $2.5 billion in annual savings, Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner told shareholders at GM's annual meeting in Delaware Tuesday.

"The most challenging and important operating issue we face is getting GM North America, our biggest business unit, turned around and back into a profitable position," he said.

Shares of General Motors (GM: news, chart, profile) gained almost 2% to $31 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Along with the layoffs, GM plans to close additional assembly and component plants to fully utilize capacity as part of a four-step plan to get GMNA back to profitability.
Fire the workers and the stock shoots up! Downsize the everyone is joyous!

These 25,000 souls will be thrown to the wolves. The autoworker's union fought the raising of CAFE standards back when oil was cheap. They hated the idea and wanted to build big, fat gas guzzlers. This was a bad move by the unions who refused to understand the logic of the Hubbert Oil Peak. Now all those workers will be thrown out of work, have no union protection. Their homes will become worthless as everyone flees Detroit searching for work in some casino or store selling foreign goods. The whole family will have to work now to make up for losing one income only already the wife works and so does Jr, for that matter. So they will have to go into debt as an increasingly desperate job search grinds them down. Maybe the father will go into the building business, shingling roofs (murderous work in the hot sun). Who knows? And if the housing boom busts, then they will be living in their SUV, panhandling for gas as they go about, seeking some job somewhere.

Who knows? The fact is, these jobs are top jobs that have top benefits and pay and are now gone forever. The auto factories being built in America are built by Asian powers who want to throw us a sop because they are concerned that we will lock them out of our markets. These factories are not unionized.
The focus will also be on surging health-care costs, which has been a highly-publicized drag on GM's earnings.

"Our $1,500 per unit health care expense represents a significant disadvantage versus our foreign-based competitors," Wagoner said. "Left unaddressed, this will make a big difference in our ability to compete in investment, technology, and other key contributors to our future success."
They will "fix" this by eliminating health coverage. When Hillary tried to fix this mess, the auto unions were ticked off. They were scared their privilages would be cut so they didn't support this. And significant numbers of union members supported Republicans because their nice income meant they paid higher taxes. I warned everyone years ago that it is much better to pay high taxes on a high income than no taxes on a crummy income.

Alaska oil production fell by 75%. Just as Hubbert predicted. The oil fields become exhausted as we pump out this finite resource. Where does this oil mainly go?

To Japan where we now have a vast trade deficit!
The Prudhoe Bay field sprawling over an area the size of Howard County still pumps more oil than any other site in the United States. But its shrinking production reflects a trend throughout the country: After years of pumping, fields in the U.S. are drawing less oil from the ground.

The implications for U.S. energy policy are profound. At a time when President Bush and members of Congress are talking about the need to be less dependent on foreign oil, the country is becoming even more dependent. As U.S. production declines, demand has been increasing.
All this "talk" is hot air and they know it. Bush kissing the Saudi Prince says it all. There is no way of "fixing" this except for one: to raise CAFE standards brutally. To raise taxes on oil. Use the much higher tax on oil to subsidize the purchase of oil by the lower classes, that is actually simple to do. Ration gas like Nixon and Carter did works, too. Lower the speed limit to 55 again.

Bring back my Geo Metro! I drove it for 200,000 miles when it finally died and can't be replaced.
"You just hate to see [Prudhoe Bay production] winding down the way it is," said Vincent Leonard, a BP manager who has worked here since the late 1970s, when production began. "They told us years ago, 'Eventually you're going to hit this point where things are declining,' and they are."

Oil companies like BP are trying to extend the life of U.S. fields by using a variety of new technologies to wring more oil from the ground. But the technology and increased Gulf production are not enough to reverse the declines.

Nationally, daily production of oil and natural gas liquids dropped last year to an average of 7.2 million barrels a day -- a 36 percent decrease since peaking in 1970. At Prudhoe Bay, average daily production last year was about 450,000 barrels a day, a 72 percent drop from its peak.
The "they" Vincent is referring to is Mr. Hubbert. The shame of America abusing oil use during the nineties is going to haunt us forever. I said in 1976, "The window of opportunity to retrofit for tomorrow is today! We can't wait until the relentless logic of the oil peak is biting to change!" Every year we dally, the cost to change shoots up. I am exquisitely aware of this. I still haven't finished my home energy system and this gnaws at me every day.

In the future, if we want transportation that isn't Old Sparky the horse, we will be using small, light electric cars that use energy from the sun to charge batteries and they will go only around 40 mph which will be nice, actually. Cars, as we have now, will not exist. Nor should they.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said at a recent news conference as he pushed to allow drilling in the wildlife refuge. "People fail to realize that our dependence on rogue states and militant nations makes us weak."

But analysts said that none of the congressional plans on the table would come close to shaking U.S. dependence on foreign oil. They said companies already are doing what they can to boost sagging production at Prudhoe Bay and other big fields.

Steps could be taken to help reduce consumption, perhaps easing somewhat the imbalance between the demand for oil and the supply. But in the long run, geologists say, the only question is how rapidly production will fall.

Few large-producing oil fields remain to be tapped in the United States. U.S. geological officials believe the best prospect to be about 60 miles east of here in the wildlife refuge. But even with that oil, imports are forecast to increase significantly.
This is so sad to watch. Consumption is already being reduced...by the poor. They are tightening their belts and wondering what will happen next. People will start freezing to death in winter, for example.

This brutal way of confining the pain to the bottom while the top plays with all sorts of nifty car toys is exactly the worst way to go about fixing things.
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