Economics

Reason Writers Around Town: Shikha Dalmia and Henry Payne in the WSJ on How Detroit Is Betting Its Future on Washington

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Reason Foundation policy analyst Shikha Dalmia and Reason (and Detroit News) cartoonist Henry Payne write about GM's electric-car switcheroo in today's Wall Street Journal. Until recently, they note, GM did nothing but pour cold water on the idea that hybrids and zero-emission vehicles were worth a damn. But now:

GM is not counting on market success for its comeback. It has neither the cash reserves nor the brilliant product line needed for that in a down economy, when sales are expected to be 40% lower than two years ago (the lowest volume since the 1973 Arab oil embargo).

GM is counting on the government to stay alive. It could potentially recover all of its investment in the new battery facility from a $335 million state program to bring green jobs to Michigan. This will allow it to impress Pelosi and Co. and perhaps extract more federal taxpayer money. For example, the $825 billion bag of goodies—otherwise known as the stimulus package—that Congress is working on contains $11 billion for electricity infrastructure needed for the wide-scale adoption of electric cars, as well as $2 billion in loans to build "advanced vehicles and battery systems."

But the biggest payoff could come in March, when GM's newfound green priorities might set the stage for another round of multibillion-dollar bailouts.

More here.

NEXT: Reason Writers Around Town: Nick Gillespie on Bush as a Big-Government Disaster in the WSJ

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  1. For a long time, GM’s been a welfare state that sold cars. Ironically, they’ve graduated to a welfare case that sells cars.

  2. On the bright side, when electric cars do finally become a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine, Nancy Pelosi will have been long dead. With that frozen smile still on her face, I assume. (It made for a ghastly scene at her wake. Children screamed. Men fainted.)

  3. With recent articles by Nick Gillespie, Peter Schiff and now this, did WSJ finally do the right thing after the Bush fiasco by giving Max the anti-libertarian the Boot?

  4. This week, asked by a reporter how a cash-strapped company could afford to build a battery factory, Mr. Lutz responded: “We can’t, but we’re doing it anyway.”

    And with taxpayer money, too! Boy, do I feel reassured that Congress knows how to spend my money responsibly!

  5. Let’s admit it. They are now officially a state-subsidized industry.

    How long do you think it will be before the Dems start pushing for trade protection for our new national auto companies? After all, the taxpayers need to recoup their “investment”, and SURELY trade protectionism will make them profitable again. *sigh*

  6. For GM, this is a good business decision. After all, they are a subsidy driven company that just happens to sell cars on the side.

  7. I’m assuming that this is the weekend political thread.

    President Obama Sets Rules on Ethics and Transparency
    January 21, 2009 3:28 PM

    The president then announced “firm rules of the road for my administration and all who serve in it … We need to close the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely and lets them use their time in public service as a way to promote their own interests over the interests of the American people when they leave.”

    Two Days After Instituting Ethics Rules, President Obama Waives them for Deputy Pentagon Secretary Nominee
    January 23, 2009 5:12 PM

    Two days after introducing what he heralded as the most sweeping ethics rules in American history — ones that would “close the revolving door that lets lobbyists come into government freely” — President Barack Obama today waived those rules for his nominee for Deputy Secretary of Defense, William Lynn.

    Until last fall, Lynn was a registered lobbyist for the defense contractor Raytheon.

    “After consultation with counsel to the president,” said Director of the Office of Management of Budget Peter Orszag in a statement, “I hereby waive the requirements of Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Ethics Pledge of Mr. William Lynn”.

    That didn’t take long.

  8. I’m assuming that this is the weekend political thread

    It has to have an official title? This is libertarianism. No rules, just right.

    Still waiting for the Caroline Kennedy thread. Remember her?

  9. Still waiting for the Caroline Kennedy thread. Remember her?
    Y’know, I kinda forgot, y’know, about Caroline, y’know, Kennedy.

  10. Heh heh. I think right about now she is wishing we’d forget about her as well.

  11. Introducing the Pelosi GTxi SS/RT Sport Edition:

    http://www.youtube.com:80/watch?v=rAqPMJFaEdY

  12. Plus, as Shikha Dalmia could tell you, the Humvee is more environmentally friendly than the hybrid.

    http://www.reason.org/commentaries/dalmia_20060719.shtml

    Or something.

  13. Since this has been declared the political trhead… how about this article:

    Firms That Got Bailout Money Keep Lobbying

    The different approaches from the two banks that have received the most money underscores the growing dilemma facing private companies, which increasingly deal with the federal government not only as rule-maker but also as shareholder, lender and trading partner.

    Pressing federal policy makers risks the appearance of recycling public money to advance a private agenda, while staying on the sidelines could put a company at a comparative disadvantage.

    Well, DUH….
    What the heck did they THINK was going to happen?

  14. This article:

    http://www.reason.org/commentaries/dalmia_20060719.shtml

    relies on the false assumption that all energy expenditure has the same environmental impact.

  15. Meanwhile, I’m p0wning David Weigel. Someone from Reason might want to do him a favor by doing their best to understand my argument and then explaining it to him so he stops embarrassing himself.

  16. “I’m p0wning”

    You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

  17. I like the way Lone Wackoff uses “COLB” instead of “birth certificate,” so he can sound all expertisey as stuff.

    I think it was very thoughtful of Justice Roberts to flub the Oath of Office, so that President Hussein could take it again in private. A good Muslim like him is, of course, going to insist on shouting Allah Akbar three times after such an oath, and he can’t very well do that in front of 2 million infidels and still keep his role in the restoration of the Caliphate under wraps, now can he?

  18. My nomination for quote of the day

    “We’ve been working with the Mexican government for decades at the DEA,” said Garrison Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “Obviously, we ensure that the individuals we work with are vetted.”

    From today’s AP article Top Mexico Cops Charged With Favoring Drug Cartel

    The War on Drugs Denial of Reality marches on.

  19. I like the way Lone Wackoff uses “COLB” instead of “birth certificate,” so he can sound all expertisey as stuff.

    Please don’t tell me you clicked on the cyber-village idiot’s link.

  20. Loved the Nomad ‘Vette! (you have to click the picture and look around the site)

    This is obviously not the same GM that was quoting Hayek 60 years ago.

    Not Your Daddy’s Oldsmobile and all that.

  21. I like the way Lone Wackoff uses “COLB” instead of “birth certificate”

    Umm, if you ignore him, will he go away?
    Or is he an essential foil, with which you cannot do without?
    What does that say about you?

  22. I’m still confused about electric cars. They run on batteries, which have to be recharged by electricity…which is generated somewhere else, possibly using coal or some other “dirty” energy source. It’s not clear to me why this is an improvement over the internal combustion engine, environment-wise.

    Won’t the generatng plants spit out as much CO2 as regular cars do now? And considering the efficiency rates of generation, transmission, charging, and storage, won’t we have to generate a LOT more electricity to get the same number of vehicle-miles?

  23. Even a coal power plant is far more efficient and environmentally friendly than an internal combustion engine.

  24. They run on batteries, which have to be recharged by electricity

    Ssshh! This is the dirty little secret! You’re not supposed to question that. Heretic!

    The electrical source of all these “clean” cars will be determined…later…

  25. I’m noticing pretty much a one to one correspondence between posters who think all forms of energy are equal in environmental impact and those who think the data clearly shows global warming is a hoax. hmmm.

  26. posters who think all forms of energy are equal in environmental impact

    Napoleon, like anyone can even know that.

  27. Meanwhile, I’m p0wning David Weigel

    Wishing doesn’t make it so.

    -jcr

  28. Even a coal power plant is far more efficient and environmentally friendly than an internal combustion engine.

    I would agree for the 10% of the vehicles on the road that emit half the pollutants, but for late model, well maintained vehicles I don’t think there is a whole lot of gain in moving to electric power.

    Plus there is the issue of all those lead acid batteries.

    If you must mandate, it would seem that the gain in getting the gross polluters off the road is a more sensible approach than doling out thousands in tax credits to affluent taxpayers.

    One could eliminate HALF of all pollutants emitted by motor vehicles by removing 10% of the vehicle fleet from the highways.

  29. Still waiting for the Caroline Kennedy thread. Remember her?

    She’s a Kennedy. Do we need to say more?

    However, I ran across this picture of her and JFK that I think is ever so cool. It captures why everyone thought JFK was Mr Cool.

    Disclaimer: I am not a Kennedy man, although compared to GWB, JFK looks pretty conservative.

  30. I would agree for the 10% of the vehicles on the road that emit half the pollutants, but for late model, well maintained vehicles I don’t think there is a whole lot of gain in moving to electric power.

    No. From wikipedia’s entry on internal combustion engines

    Even when aided with turbochargers and stock efficiency aids, most engines retain an average efficiency of about 18%-20%

    From here

    According to Hans-Dieter Schilling (Energie-Fakten), the average efficiency of all coal power stations in the world currently stand at around 31%, leaving a vast potential to reduce coal consumption and CO2 emissions.

    And that is coal, the environmentally worst of the power producers.

    There is a reason power plants are not giant internal combustion engines.

  31. There is a reason power plants are not giant internal combustion engines.

    Except for when they’re gas turbines.


  32. I’m still confused about electric cars. They run on batteries, which have to be recharged by electricity…which is generated somewhere else, possibly using coal or some other “dirty” energy source. It’s not clear to me why this is an improvement over the internal combustion engine, environment-wise.

    Won’t the generatng plants spit out as much CO2 as regular cars do now? And considering the efficiency rates of generation, transmission, charging, and storage, won’t we have to generate a LOT more electricity to get the same number of vehicle-miles?

    It’s a good point, but we already know how to take electricity from a variety of sources and put it all on a grid. We can work on electric cars AND greener sources of electricity at the same time, with the bonus that we can use that greener electricity for lots of other things as well.

    I’m not sure of the efficiency of the electrical system, but I’d be shocked if it weren’t more efficient to send electricity down a wire than sending fuel-burning fuel trucks to refill gas stations.

    Kudos to Shikhia Dalmia, though; it just shows that if you keep writing dumb articles stroking the same interest groups, year after year, eventually you’ll get promoted to the WSJ opinion page!

    Next up: Osama drives a Prius!

  33. Also, that coal efficiency # is also generally dictated by the laws of thermodynamics, so there is not ‘vast potential’ to improve that number.

    (that said I agree with both your immediate (internal combustion is ‘inefficient’) and larger (each form of energy gen has advantages and disadvantages) points

  34. Except for when they’re gas turbines.

    Which are massively more efficient than any personal vehicle engine.

  35. I’m not sure of the efficiency of the electrical system, but I’d be shocked if it weren’t more efficient to send electricity down a wire than sending fuel-burning fuel trucks to refill gas stations.

    Like everything else, it depends on the scale.

  36. Ssshh! Chuck,

    Thoreau won’t be able to feel morally superior to you.

    Max,

    You are cherry-picking apples and oranges:

    Overall average efficiency from U.S. power plants (33% efficient)[27] to point of use (transmission loss 9.5%), (U.S. Department of Energy figures) is 29.87%. Accepting 90% efficiency for the electric vehicle gives us a figure of only 26.88% overall efficiency. That is lower than internal combustion engined vehicles (Petrol/Gasoline 30% efficient, Diesel engines 45% efficient – Volvo figures).[28]

  37. You are cherry-picking apples and oranges

    TWEET

    Ridiculous metaphor, 5 yards penalty.

  38. Okay, looked it up.

    Apparently it’s a wash, with a slight edge to power plants on our current grid.

    That said, locally (pacific northwest) almost all power comes from renewable sources with zero carbon emissions. So here, it would be fantastic. Except for fish.

  39. correction/clarification: by edge to power plants, I mean an edge on creating pollution. So cars are less polluting on average.

  40. Except for when they’re gas turbines.

    Which are massively more efficient than any personal vehicle engine.

    Know your automotive history.
    😉

  41. Please don’t tell me you clicked on the cyber-village idiot’s link.

    Once, a long time ago.

    Umm, if you ignore him, will he go away? You haven’t been here very long, have you, Some Guy?

  42. Except for fish.

    Depends on the fish. Burning a nice, fatty salmon can be a very efficient way to power a vehicle. Tilapia, not so much.

  43. Chuck | January 24, 2009, 3:58pm | #

    I’m still confused about electric cars. They run on batteries, which have to be recharged by electricity…which is generated somewhere else, possibly using coal or some other “dirty” energy source. It’s not clear to me why this is an improvement over the internal combustion engine, environment-wise.

    Won’t the generatng plants spit out as much CO2 as regular cars do now? And considering the efficiency rates of generation, transmission, charging, and storage, won’t we have to generate a LOT more electricity to get the same number of vehicle-miles?

    Big motors are more efficient than small motors. Per mile driven, an electric car, even if powered by a dirty coal plant, pollutes much less than a standard gasoline powered one, because a coal power plant is more efficient than a car’s gasoline engine (even factoring in transmission losses to get the electricity to your house, etc.). If powered by a natural gas plant, even cleaner. If powered by a nuclear, solar, or wind plant, even cleaner still.

    Plus, electricity is much cheaper than gasoline per mile (ignoring the higher price of the electric car is the first place, of course), electric cars have fewer moving parts and therefore are more reliabile (when mass produced), as well as the fact that all sources of electricity (coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar) are domestically produced, so there’s less money to going to the Middle East, Russia, and Venezuela.

    However, I don’t think pure electric cars will ever be successful in the marketplace, because long road trips are not possible. Plug in hybrids are where it’s at. All the benefits of an electric car, plus the ability to take a road trip. Plus, the battery size can be slowly scaled up as the price of the batteries decreases (that is, in 2010, a plug in hybird that costs $25,000 can have an all electric-range of 10 miles, but by 2020, the same priced car, factoring in inflation, will have an all-electric range of 50 miles).

    In general, trying to hit a bunch of singles and doubles is a better path to success than trying to hit home runs all day. Toyota, with the Prius, is in single hitting mode-slowly improving the vehicle. GM, with the Volt, is swinging towards the rafters. There is a great chance they will strike out, unless the feds just throw billions of dollars for them to do so.

  44. Build an electric six passenger car that can go 200 miles with passenger comfort (heat in Minnesota winters, AC in Arizona summers) and the internal combustion engine will be obsolete for passenger cars in two decades.

    Recharging time and infrastructure would not be an issue.

    Until then Nikolaus Otto’s four stroke engine will be propelling passenger vehicles in the U.S. If Ms Pelosi and the assortment of green dreamers think the public is going to give up the family sedan vacation, they are delusional.

  45. Cataclysmic upheavals are the stock in trade of bomb-tossing anarchists. We peaceful anarchists are not so confident that any change will be for the better.
    Will the looming Great Depression cause refrigerator bulbs to light inside the heads of the hoi polloi? Will the hoi polloi begin to question why government ever got into the highway industry?
    Not likely.
    Nothing could be greener than government not being in the highway business.

    Ruthless.

  46. I might as well point out that this year’s North American Car of the Year is the Hyundai Genesis.

  47. Word is the bailout money the automakers got will run out in a couple of months and they’re lining up for more. Lord only knows how long before politicians stop hurling taxpayer money into the abyss.

    The lesson of this recession will be don’t throw good money after failed business models. We have bankruptcy proceedings for a reason.

  48. Build an electric six passenger car that can go 200 miles with passenger comfort (heat in Minnesota winters, AC in Arizona summers) and the internal combustion engine will be obsolete for passenger cars

    And assuming it’s cheaper than a car running on $2 gas, which isn’t easy to accomplish.

    The internal combustion engine is still the most efficient and reliable mechanism for imparting velocity in mobile applications by a good bit, as it has been for a century. New technology could change that but it won’t happen absent a lot of advances in materials science or permanently elevated oil prioes.

  49. Lord China only knows how long before politicians stop hurling taxpayer money into the abyss.

  50. I worked on a Fuel Cell for Transportation program back in the mid 90’s. One of the big issues for battery-powered cars is the consequences of a collision. Massive amounts of lead all surrounded by suphuric acid sprayed everywhere.

    .. Hobbit

  51. Hyundai, huh?

    What a great job they’ve done of building their brand. They came into the market as a cheap, crappy econobox alternative to the cheapest Japanese cars. I couldn’t believe it when they came out with a 100,000 mile warranty – nobody had that. Good car companies didn’t have that.

  52. Not to mention that the Genesis Coupe is extremely awesome. Cheap, fun, performance-oriented RWD car? Check, check, check.

  53. While the genesis coupe sounds interesting I’d like to see an automaker sell a HP sports economy car priced at a level that would lure enthusiasts away from used options. 200+ HP in a < 2k lb car with a manual trans,good breaks and a stiff suspension.RWD preferred but not necessary.More basic models under 2k out-the-door.

    Would build brand loyalty among young first time buyers and offer a nice 2nd ,3rd car option for more well-helled yet frugal customers. A “Honey, it gets 30+mpg per gallon,I’ll drive it to work” type sports coupe that could double as an autocrosser/eventual track car.

  54. #: I used to work with a guy that drove a Subaru WRX STI to work everyday… complete with a babyseat in the back. “But sweetheart, all wheel drive means it will be extra safe in the snow!”… This was back in 2004ish before insurance companies realized a small 4-cylinder 4-door sedan was actually putting more horsepower to the ground than a V8 Mustang GT.

  55. Watching LoneWacko go after Dave Weigel reminds me of when I was in third grade and my mother told me that the reason a certain classmate always teased me and followed me around and wouldn’t leave me the hell alone was because he had a crush on me. Turned out she was right, and once the boy hit puberty his manners improved considerably.

    Note to Dave Weigel: Hang in there! Things will get better! LoneWacko’s testicles are bound to drop sooner or later.

  56. So Max, you’d rather the government subsidize upper middle class families with tax credits for buying a Prius than to remove half the vehicle generated pollutants by removing gross polluters from the nations highways? [shrugs]

    Well, okay. Charge on.

  57. Word is the bailout money the automakers got will run out in a couple of months and they’re lining up for more.

    Yeah, it seems that giving them all that money meant they were able to maintain their bad habits. Eventually, arithmetic wins.

    -jcr

  58. With recent articles by Nick Gillespie, Peter Schiff and now this, did WSJ finally do the right thing after the Bush fiasco by giving Max the anti-libertarian the Boot?

    Conservatives are fair weather libertarians when out-of-power. I’m surprised you didn’t know that. Of course, like everyone else, they are crack addicts when they are in power.

  59. LMNOP
    It makes sense for any party out of power to talk like libertarians since they are skeptical of “the government.” I’d feel sorry for Max Boot if I didn’t know that for neocons, the door is always open at the Weekly Standard and National Review…

    TWC-I may be misunderstanding you, but I imagine you’d be ok with having government subsidize upper middle class families with tax credits in order to create, say, school choice. They call those “vouchers.” Any tax credit incentive program that does not pay the full cost of whatever you are fostering is going to help those folks out and do nothing for those who, even with the credit, cannot afford the thing fostered.

  60. Education tax credits are different than vouchers. Tax credits are given to families that are already using private schools while vouchers usually are used to get kids in crappy schools out of them. I approve of using government funds to possibly break the cycle of poverty caused by not educating a segment of society, I don’t want to see rich people getting a tax break just because they opt out of public schools.

  61. Y’know, I kinda forgot, y’know, about Caroline, y’know, Kennedy.

    It’s still somewhat disheartening that the only reason we avoided a nepotistic, monarchy-smelling appointment was the fact that the candidate was completely retarded…

  62. One observation on the car companies bailout debacle:

    If it is true that we are bailing out the car companies only because sales are down, as we are told, why didn’t the government simply buy $25 billion worth of vehicles?

    Why? Because its a sham. The reason GM, et al, got bailed out is because they can’t sell their cars for more than the cost of producing them. This fact alone is enough to prove that they are poorly structured companies and that they will falter, economic downturn or not…

  63. A study last week by the Boston Consulting Group found that extended-range, all-electric vehicles like the Volt will account for no more than 5% of the North American market by 2020 (assuming last year’s peak oil prices and $7,500 in tax credits for electric car buyers). Hybrids, around for almost a decade, today command less than 2% of the market.

    Found?

    The study may have estimated, or projected those numbers, but I wouldn’t use found.

    Stuff like that bugs me.

  64. Are you saying that a voucher program would only be available to poor kids, kind of a “poor kids get a free private school education” program?

  65. If you must mandate, it would seem that the gain in getting the gross polluters off the road is a more sensible approach than doling out thousands in tax credits to affluent taxpayers.

    But TWC… that would require some sort of rational economic analysis. Like, you know, a conscious intent to derive the largest marginal gain for the lowest cost.

    Alan Blinder had an editorial in the NYT a while back suggesting a “cash for clunkers” program; compared to the ongoing bailout of Detroit (anybody who thinks GM won’t be siphoning money out of the Treasury for years, I have a two-hundred-mpg carburetor to sell you), you could do a lot of good with what amounts to spare change.

  66. It’s still somewhat disheartening that the only reason we avoided a nepotistic, monarchy-smelling appointment was the fact that the candidate was completely retarded…

    It’s funny how “unaccustomed to public speaking” becomes “retarded” when it’s someone you don’t like.

  67. http://www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/vehicles/emissions_electricity.html

    The GREET report shows that EVs reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19% and nearly eliminate petroleum use because U.S. electric power is not generally produced from petroleum. Electric cars reduce fossil fuel use by 28% despite the fact that electricity is largely generated by fossil fuels-a sign of good system efficiency. A more recent study, Full Fuel Cycle Assessment: Well-to-Wheels Energy Inputs, Emissions, and Water Impacts (PDF 1.5 MB) by the California Energy Commission, shows that with the electricity fuel mix in California, EVs reduce GHG emissions by 74%.

  68. It’s funny how “unaccustomed to public speaking” becomes “retarded” when it’s someone you don’t like.

    She’s a Kennedy,it is genetic that they are retards.

  69. She’s a Kennedy, it is genetic that they are retards.

    Another sad, sad case of ressentiment. It borders on hilarious how even libertarians adopt the language of class warfare when a rich person *dares* to be liberal.

  70. On Electic cars.

    Mass production on several models starts this year.

    Electric Mini from BMW 2010, China will be selling one (with a back up gas engine) for 22k this year, Toyota has one coming out also.

  71. It borders on hilarious how even libertarians adopt the language of class warfare when a rich person *dares* to be liberal.

    Does Caroline Kennedy have any demonstrable skills other than being a socialite?

  72. Elemenope/Taktix-

    While calling Caroline Kenedy “completely retarded” is, at best, Sunday morning hyberbole, or, at worst, a rather nasty inaccuracy, the fact that she was seriously considered for the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton is testament to how the brains of so many turn to tapioca when it comes to dynastic political families in general and the Kenedys in particular.

  73. Does Caroline Kennedy have any demonstrable skills other than being a socialite?

    I have no idea. I wouldn’t want her to be my senator mostly because I don’t know where she stands on issues. I don’t have to care, because I don’t live in NY.

    I just find it alternatively funny and disgusting how much and how viciously people who are not from NY give a damn. It has to do with the bagaboo that is *KENNEDY* [dah, dah, DUHHH!].

    Pathetic.

  74. P Brooks,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline_Kennedy#Public_career

    She can, apparently, raise money, write books, and pass the bar.

    Take that for what it is worth.

  75. It’s funny how “unaccustomed to public speaking” becomes “retarded” when it’s someone you don’t like.

    Sorry, but big political families don’t get the benefit of the doubt…

  76. While calling Caroline Kennedy “completely retarded” is, at best, Sunday morning hyperbole, or, at worst, a rather nasty inaccuracy, the fact that she was seriously considered for the Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton is testament to how the brains of so many turn to tapioca when it comes to dynastic political families in general and the Kennedys in particular.

    Actually, we have no idea whether she was “seriously considered”. Only Patterson really knows. Personally I think he just floated it so he’d have political cover to pick someone else: the distraction becomes the story, so everyone is fucking exhausted by the time he picked his actual pick (which, by all accounts, is a much better pick anyway).

  77. Sorry, but big political families don’t get the benefit of the doubt…

    Oh I see. So Kennedys are not human. It’s all so clear now.

  78. It has to do with the bagaboo that is *KENNEDY*

    Exactly.

    I thought we abandoned the idea that people are deserving of political power based on their family name about, oh… 225 years ago…

  79. CK’s books seem to focus on civil liberties.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0679744347/reasonmagazinea-20/

    Looks like something that might get put in Reason, fwiw.

  80. I *want* to see continued research and development on electric vehicles (with private investment).

    I believe electric vehicles may have a future, in the relatively near future, in fleet use. As for the general public, they will remain a luxury lifestyle accessory for the forseeable future.

    I have spoken.

  81. I thought we abandoned the idea that people are deserving of political power based on their family name about, oh… 225 years ago…

    Bush,
    Clinton
    Bush,
    (almost) Clinton

    Yeah.
    We say we’ve abandoned it, but…

  82. It’s funny how “unaccustomed to public speaking” becomes “retarded” when it’s someone you don’t like.

    It’s funny how my numerous references to George “the retarded special son” never brought any admonishments from members of the team blue.

    I guess mean spirited characterizations like that are only unfair when it is your ox being gored.

  83. I thought we abandoned the idea that people are deserving of political power based on their family name about, oh… 225 years ago…

    Did she get the seat? No?

    Then what’s your problem?

  84. That book she co-wrote (?) about the Bill of Rights didn’t seem bad to me many years ago when I read it. It even had a third amendment case about a prisoner who had to give up his cell to a national guardsman on drill and claimed it was a case of “quartering troops” in his “home.”

    But she came off as, you know, like, Palin-esque imo.

  85. You know, this “family dynasty” stuff that I started hearing so much regarding HRC I don’t remember hearing much at all when W first ran. In fact it was talked about how great it was because he would, like his father, restore “honor” to the POTUS…

  86. Oh I see. So Kennedys are not human. It’s all so clear now.

    I’m not saying she can’t make her case, but after the Bush/Clinton dynasties of late, the burden is on those who seek power over us to prove it’s not some gross display of nepotism.

    I suppose I am also reacting to the media’s assumtion that her nomination was a fait accompli. The Kennedys are plenty human, but I don’t default to the position of trusting those seeking power based on their word…

  87. It’s funny how my numerous references to George “the retarded special son” never brought any admonishments from members of the team blue.

    I have said on many occasions (here, and IRL) that I do not believe George W. Bush is either an idiot or deserves to be called one.

    On the other hand, he was a pathetic president. Given the record, I think it within the bounds of reason to call him Bush the Lesser (as I do to distinguish him from his infinitely superior father, which is not saying much).

    There is a world of difference between calling a person an “idiot” or a “retard” and calling them “bad at politics”, “inept”, or “maleficent”.

    On the other hand, I am not a member of this “Team Blue” you speak of, so that may account for some of the disparity.

  88. Elemenope, you may be right that only Patterosn really knows. That does not excuse all of the journalists, reporters, teleprompter jockeys, historians and other political cognoscenti who did not, at a minimum, question the proposition. To borrow a phrase applied to her Uncle Teddy some 2 score and 7 ago, if her name was just Caroline Schlossberg, her candidacy would be a joke.

  89. On the other hand, he was a pathetic president. Given the record, I think it within the bounds of reason to call him Bush the Lesser (as I do to distinguish him from his infinitely superior father, which is not saying much).

    It takes Bush the Lesser’s record to make Bush the Elder’s look anything but horrible.

    I have said on many occasions (here, and IRL) that I do not believe George W. Bush is either an idiot or deserves to be called one.

    He deserves to be called “unwise” and, perhaps, “willfully ignorant,” but he is not stupid. The question is, does the word “idiot” indicate low intelligence, or a lack of wisdom?

  90. We should not be overly impressed because one has graduated from an Ivy League School. That, in and of itself, merits a big, fat, BFD.

  91. Additionally, I called her a retard not because she is a Kennedy, but based on the fact that when I heard her speak on T.V., it sounded like she was a retard…

  92. Panhandling for”worthy causes” is the ultimate socialite skill. Maybe she could be sent out, tin cup in hand, amongst the glitterati, to raise voluntary contributions for the Treasury.
    Another lawyer in the Senate is hardly cause for celebration (unless, unbeknownst to me, she worked for the Institute for Justice).

    As for the books, I have no knowledge of them.

  93. Taktix? | January 25, 2009, 12:19pm | #
    Additionally, I called her a retard not because she is a Kennedy, but based on the fact that when I heard her speak on T.V., it sounded like she was a retard…

    Along that line, when I hear/read the word “retard” from someone, I am usually convinced that they are either a 4th grader or functioning at a similar level.

    Just saying…

  94. Elemenope, you may be right that only Patterosn really knows. That does not excuse all of the journalists, reporters, teleprompter jockeys, historians and other political cognoscenti who did not, at a minimum, question the proposition. To borrow a phrase applied to her Uncle Teddy some 2 score and 7 ago, if her name was just Caroline Schlossberg, her candidacy would be a joke.

    Reporters chase stories. When there are no stories to chase, they must create one.

    It’s like a dog who no longer has a car to chase instead entertains itself by chasing its own tail.

    He deserves to be called “unwise” and, perhaps, “willfully ignorant,” but he is not stupid. The question is, does the word “idiot” indicate low intelligence, or a lack of wisdom?

    I think the common sense is “lack of intelligence” and so trying to weasel on calling a somewhat short-sighted or unimaginative person an “idiot” is out-of-bounds, IMO. “Idiot” is a term of scorn, not generally a description held forth for its own merit.

  95. You know, this “family dynasty” stuff that I started hearing so much regarding HRC I don’t remember hearing much at all when W first ran. [italics added]

    Many recommend a proper regimen of diet and exercise to improve memory.

  96. We should not be overly impressed because one has graduated from an Ivy League School. That, in and of itself, merits a big, fat, BFD.

    Passing the Bar, on the other hand, is no joke.

  97. MNG-

    In 2000, I was doubling down on the family dynasty thing with both GWB and HRC.

  98. P Brooks,

    Are you, then, counting the lawyering and authoring as demonstrable skills?

    What skills would you want her to have to be a senator?

    It seems public speaking is one that people value for the position.

  99. Neu-

    While I agree that Tatkix should not have used the word “retard”, his posts do not reflect that he is functioning at a 4th grade level. I guess hyperbole begats hyperbole.

  100. The only demonstrable skill possessed by the majority of politicians is an ability to win elections. So there is plenty of room to debate what does and does not count.

    An understanding of Constitutional Law (and a view of the proper extent of government authority which conforms to mine) would be nice. It might be a completely undeserved cheap shot, but not everybody whose name appears of the front of a book actually wrote it.

  101. libertymike,

    I guess hyperbole begats hyperbole.

    Or sarcasm.

  102. Elemenope-

    Yes. She passed it the first time. We know that we can’t say that for her brother. OTOH, I know a guy (through my father) who took 9 times to pass the bar and he went on to make a mint-not in law, but in real estate development. He kept taking the bar long after he had started to make money in real estate. It was a matter of pride.

  103. P Brooks-

    That last point might hit too close to home, you know, “Profiles in Ghostwriting”.

  104. The rumors currently in circulation imply thyere are Ms Kennedy has some sort of “tax problem”. Maybe she’d make a good Treasury Secretary.

  105. It might be a completely undeserved cheap shot, but not everybody whose name appears of the front of a book actually wrote it.

    Sure, but given the fact that we have a lawyer co-authoring books about the Bill of Rights/ Civil Liberties that are based around individual cases, it seems likely that her name is there because she was, well, a co-author. She is first author on one and second author on the other. Also an potential clue that there was some consideration of the level of contribution for each book.

    The topic of those books, also, seems to conform to you wish that a politician have at least a working knowledge of the founding documents.

  106. Nice proofreadin’

    “..imply Ms Kennedy has…” would be better.

  107. Has Ms Kennedy ever expressed an on-the-record opinion (pro- or con-) regarding the continuing erosion of the Fourth Amendment?

  108. Again, if Caroline Kenedy Schlossberg was Caroline Schloossberg, would this thread have evolved as it has?

  109. John Woo was a lawyer who authored memoranda on the Bill of Rights and civil liberties.

  110. Along that line, when I hear/read the word “retard” from someone, I am usually convinced that they are either a 4th grader or functioning at a similar level.

    Just saying…

    Jesus Christ on a cracker, I was just making a passing comment for laughs. This is Hit & Run, not Hit & Completely Over-analyze.

    When I complete my 5-part, double-blind, grant-funded study on the intellegence of an otherwise-meaningless politician, I’ll be sure to return and post the link.

    Of all the places I thought could post a potshot at a politician for the sake of levity…

    You guys play too rough, I’m taking my ball and going home.

  111. Taktix? | January 25, 2009, 12:51pm | #

    I never really pegged you for someone who couldn’t take a good nature ribbing.

  112. Again, if Caroline Kenedy Schlossberg this universe was Caroline Schloossberg replaced with a parallel one, would this thread have evolved as it has?

    I’m gonna go with no.

    Still not seeing the point, though. Saying “If things were different, things would not be the same” is about as meaningful as the average collection of words spoken by…well, a politician. She is who she is, and things have evolved as they have. And since none of us have middle-knowledge, subjunctive explorations must remain fanciful.

  113. Jesus Christ on a cracker, I was just making a passing comment for laughs. This is Hit & Run, not Hit & Completely Over-analyze.

    This is Hit & Run on a Sunday. No new articles, bored as all hell. I’m at work, and have nothing really better to do. What do you expect?

  114. P Brooks,

    Has Ms Kennedy ever expressed an on-the-record opinion (pro- or con-) regarding the continuing erosion of the Fourth Amendment?

    Yes, she co-authored a book length examination of the topic.

  115. AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!AAAAAAAAA!!!Owit pikken on me!!!!
    AAAAAA!!!!! AAAAAA!!!!AAAAAAmmmm a lawer en a Soshulight!!!!!! Im RITCHER then U!!!!
    DADDY wuz teh PRESUDENT!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

  116. Elemenope-

    Which Molina is it?

    Or, how about this subjunctive exploration:

    Would Teddy’s handlers/PR people have kept their positions if they had responded to Massachusetts Attorney General and Senate candidate McCormick’s allegation that if Teddy’s name was Edward Moore, his candidacy would be a joke as you have? Hey, things have evolved as they have….. Teddy was kicked out of law school for cheating and he does not have any experience but he is Edward Moore Kenedy, not Edward Moore and he is the president’s brother…..

    Just some Sunday afternoon flights of fancy…

  117. “Bored as all hell”

    The Sunday between the conference championships and the Super Bowl will do that.

  118. Bored as all hell; what are you talking about? We’re in “hour 23” at Daytona with three, possibly four, cars in contention for the win.

  119. Neu Mejican | January 25, 2009, 12:54pm | #

    Taktix? | January 25, 2009, 12:51pm | #

    I never really pegged you for someone who couldn’t take a good nature ribbing.

    Well, if I didn’t complain, what reason would I have to type “Jesus Christ on a cracker”?

  120. Well, if I didn’t complain, what reason would I have to type “Jesus Christ on a cracker”?

    Communion wafers is people! PEOPLE!!!

    [/Heston]

  121. Communion wafers is people! PEOPLE!!!

    [/Heston]

    Speaking of cool-ass old dudes, I finnaly saw Gran Turino yesterday. Good movue, and glad to see the true reasons for the 2nd Amendment on display (i.e., not just hunting).

    Thoughts?

  122. It was a good movie too…

  123. MNG, fuck yea, vouchers are only for poor people. If politicians would stop buying votes from the less-than needy we’d be in a lot better shape right now. Then again pigs can’t fly yet.

  124. Ard
    If we are talking about a program that would provide those without the means to have the money that would otherwise go into educating their kids in voucher form then I can really not think of any good reason for anyone to be against that. If we are talking about giving all parents some % of the money necessary to go to private schools then I’m against that.

    Taktix-Gran Turino rocked, and yes I thought of the 2nd Amendment and how useful it can be as well when I saw it.

  125. In fact, I’d only offer vouchers to blacks, and call it reparations. Whites don’t have the excuse of centuries of racism holding them back.

  126. Which Molina is it?

    Huh? I’m a little dim today, it being Sunday, so I’m not getting the reference. 😉

  127. El-

    Do the names Jose, Bengie and Yadier mean anything to you?

  128. Do the names Jose, Bengie and Yadier mean anything to you?

    No. You are talking to not the biggest sports fan in the world.

    Playing sports is fun…watching them is something I need to be much drunker to do.

  129. They are extremely slow pro catchers who happen brothers.

  130. …to be…

  131. They are extremely slow pro catchers who happen to be brothers.

    I see. Well, thanks. 🙂

  132. Conservatives are fair weather libertarians when out-of-power. I’m surprised you didn’t know that. Of course, like everyone else, they are crack addicts when they are in power.

    True enough, but Shikah Dalmia is a regular contributor to the WSJ. I see her in there a couple times a month.

  133. Elemenope-

    Boston, in part, answered your question.

    You are never dim. However, the one thing that you may not know as well as Joe and me is sports.

    I am sure you know the name of Luis de Molina, given your posts on argumentation, ethics, logic and philosophy. Molina is the last name of several major leaguers who happen to be catchers and brothers. A few years ago, some ESPN SportsCenter anchor, in describing a given play in a game in which one of the Molinas was involved, coined the question, “which Molina is it”? It has become a kind of running joke on ESPN. They are not great ballplayers and, IMO, the question is a kind of a dig-since they are not great, well known ballplayers, it would be easy for a fan to confuse them.

  134. Alan Blinder had an editorial in the NYT a while back suggesting a “cash for clunkers” program; compared to the ongoing bailout of Detroit

    Union Oil had a privately funded clunker buying program in California years ago. Surprisingly enough they were totally ridiculed in the press and in government and in enviro circles.

  135. Taktix-

    I have seen it twice. Awesome, baby. Walt Kowalski is my new hero. His character is a blend of Blondie, Inspector Callahan and Josey Wales. Speaking of which, last night, I watched The Ooutlaw Josey Wales for the upteenth time. That flic is easily one of the 5 best westerns of all time-if not one of the five best American films, period.

    In the last month, I have seen two movies that may well be in my top 10 for the decade-Slumdog Millionare and Gran Torino.

  136. Surprisingly enough they were totally ridiculed in the press and in government and in enviro circles.

    The concept of marginal gain is not widely understood, I fear.

    Or else they thought it was some devious backdoor scheme to destroy the environmental establishment by showing people not every problem requires a BigNanny solution.

  137. I am sure you know the name of Luis de Molina, given your posts on argumentation, ethics, logic and philosophy.

    Oddly, no. I had to look him up. The one period I am weakest is Western Medieval, and so while I know the broad strokes of Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, and Duns Scotus, I really don’t know that much more about the period until you get to names like Spinoza and Descartes.

    But this Molina fellow sounds interesting, so I’ll have to read up on him. 🙂

  138. Taktix-

    I also cried both times. I found Gran Torino quite moving.

    One caveat: One of the “sins” to which Walt confessed to the 27 year old virgin. That did PISS ME OFF!

  139. The best thing about Josey Wales was Chief Dan George. Not that it wasn’t a pretty good movie.

    Daytona-
    David Donohue wins. Montoya p 2.

  140. [Via Wiki]The omniscient God, by means of His scientia media (the phrase is Molina’s invention, though the idea is also to be found in his older contemporary Fonseca), or power of knowing future contingent events, foresees how we shall employ our own free-will and treat his proffered grace, and upon this foreknowledge he can found his predestinating decrees.

    I was unaware he was the guy who introduced the concept of middle-knowledge. Neato.

  141. Back on topic:

    The cityZENN is planned to be a fully certified, highway capable vehicle with a top speed of 125 KPH/ 80 MPH and a range of 400 kilometres/250 miles. Powered by EEStor, the cityZENN will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes, feature operating costs 1/10th of a typical internal combustion engine vehicle and be 100% emission-free! The Zero-Emission, No-Noise cityZENN will be designed to meet the transportation requirements of a large percentage of drivers worldwide.

    http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Zenn-Motor-Company-TSX-VENTURE-ZNN-837653.html

  142. Offtopic:

    President Obama’s plans to expeditiously determine the fates of about 245 terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and quickly close the military prison there were set back last week when incoming legal and national security officials — barred until the inauguration from examining classified material on the detainees — discovered that there were no comprehensive case files on many of them.

    Instead, they found that information on individual prisoners is “scattered throughout the executive branch,” a senior administration official said. The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.

    Several former Bush administration officials agreed that the files are incomplete and that no single government entity was charged with pulling together all the facts and the range of options for each prisoner. They said that the CIA and other intelligence agencies were reluctant to share information, and that the Bush administration’s focus on detention and interrogation made preparation of viable prosecutions a far lower priority.

    WaPo

  143. Target date for making the cityZenn available is fall of this year.

  144. Elemenope-

    I recall one thread, many, many months ago, where you impressed me with your command of Descartes. My guess is that you have given that man some serious study.

  145. P Brooks —

    Yeah, I read that at Obsidian Wings and did a “WTF?!”

    At least, in better news, Slate had a front pager on the resuscitation of the FOIA.

  146. P Brooks-

    And Eastwood’s best line, ever.

  147. My guess is that you have given that man some serious study.

    Too much. Right now I’ve been more interested in recent responses to Kant’s Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysics on the subject of whether there exist analytic a posteriori statements. My current intuition is that there are, and Descartes as usual has the assist. “Cogito ergo sum” is an experiential statement that Descartes pretty persuasively argues is analytic…

  148. Another thing was the realistic depiction of union soldiers. Even in the 8th grade, I knew that the yankees were not the good guys.

  149. Eastwod’s best line?

    Would it have something to do with “whistling Dixie”?

    I liked, “Worms gotta eat. Buzzards, too.”

  150. That Caroline Kenedy is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier is an analytic a posteriori statement, Kant be damned.

    Couldn’t resist…

  151. The young bounty hunter says: “its a livin'”

    Josey Wales: “Dyin’ ain’t much of livin’ boy”

  152. Kant be damned.

    After one reads Kant, one is logically certain that he is, was, and will be damned by students everywhere. Heh, analytic a posteriori…

  153. This article is pretty disingenuous. The author pretends like the bailout money is just being given away. NO. These are bridge loans that have to be paid back to the taxpayers. Just like with the bailout of Chevrolet in the early 80’s… chevy stayed afloat and paid all the loans back within a couple years.

  154. Back on topic:

    The cityZENN is planned to be a fully certified, highway capable vehicle with a top speed of 125 KPH/ 80 MPH and a range of 400 kilometres/250 miles. Powered by EEStor, the cityZENN will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes, feature operating costs 1/10th of a typical internal combustion engine vehicle and be 100% emission-free! The Zero-Emission, No-Noise cityZENN will be designed to meet the transportation requirements of a large percentage of drivers worldwide.

    http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Zenn-Motor-Company-TSX-VENTURE-ZNN-837653.html

    See my post upthread.

    You often post about these allegedly economically and environmetally superior technologies that for some strange reason nobody can make a profit on. I respond with something like, “If true, the problem is solved and the government just needs to get out of the way”.

    Lastly, a press release by a small company looking for investors should be taken with a shitload of NaCl.

  155. Several former Bush administration officials agreed that the files are incomplete and that no single government entity was charged with pulling together all the facts and the range of options for each prisoner. They said that the CIA and other intelligence agencies were reluctant to share information, and that the Bush administration’s focus on detention and interrogation made preparation of viable prosecutions a far lower priority.

    Color me completely unsurprised.

  156. KDLD/KDLE, which had been the best station on the air in LA, is now yet another Mexican polka station. I’m headed over to Lonewacko. Oh well. At least now I can tell the difference between a Pistols song and a PIL song by listening for Steve doing backup vocals.

  157. JsubD,

    a press release by a small company looking for investors should be taken with a shitload of NaCl.

    Without a doubt.

    You often post about these allegedly economically and environmetally superior technologies that for some strange reason nobody can make a profit on. I respond with something like, “If true, the problem is solved and the government just needs to get out of the way”.

    Yes, you do respond that way, I have noticed.

    On Zenn and EEstor

    http://bariumtitanate.blogspot.com/2002/07/if-fascination-of-eestors.html

  158. This article is pretty disingenuous. The author pretends like the bailout money is just being given away. NO. These are bridge loans that have to be paid back to the taxpayers. Just like with the bailout of Chevrolet in the early 80’s… chevy stayed afloat and paid all the loans back within a couple years.

    With this legislation, AMTRAK will be self-sufficient in 3 – 5 – 8 – 10 TBD years!

  159. And that was Chrysler, not Chevy.

  160. I respond with something like, “If true, the problem is solved and the government just needs to get out of the way”.

    There is such a thing as market barriers to entry. Nobody will buy an electric car, even if it is the bestest shiniest fastest est-est car evar!!1!!!1eleventy-one!, unless there is a support infrastructure, the money and sunken costs for which are not sufficiently incentivized by market mechanisms.

  161. How did all of those gas stations get put up without a Department of Energy anyway?

    How did Henry Ford become one of the richest men in the world making the horse and buggy obsolete before government started investing shitloads of money in paving roads?

    It’s almost as there is some invisible hand driving the process.

  162. How did all of those gas stations get put up without a Department of Energy anyway?

    How did Henry Ford become one of the richest men in the world making the horse and buggy obsolete before government started investing shitloads of money in paving roads?

    It’s almost as there is some invisible hand driving the process.

    You can’t see the differences in situation? They are myriad. First, the roads existed *because* of the horse and buggy. State governments *did* invest gob-fulls of money to build roads. The automobile was a vast functional improvement over the prior technology, and its benefits were primarily realized *by the user* rather than as an externality (such as a less-polluting car).

    That last point is most important, because what the free market is worst at doing is appropriately pricing externalities, specifically incentivizing positive ones.

  163. There is such a thing as market barriers to entry.

    On electric cars specifically, one of the major barriers happens to be regulatory in origin. The 25mph speed limit on most available e-car models currently has to do with the burden of passing safety regulations designed for heavier, gas-powered 4-wheel vehicles. (Involves destroying x-number of production models, a costly affair for start up).

    The government could actively play a role in helping small companies get over this barrier by either loosening the safety regs for e-cars, or by providing funds to cover the costs of demonstrating safety.

  164. JsubD,

    Re: government getting out of the way.

    Government can also create markets for products like e-cars through its role as consumer. If the government transportation fleet were replaced by more efficient options, there would be a significantly greater chance that the technology and infra-structure for that fleet would make it commercially.

    Same goes for adopting energy efficient building design/technology. The government can go a long way towards shaping the market demand as it is such a large player in the market.

  165. If we go to the beginning of this conversation we find J sub D (that’s me) posting

    You often post about these allegedly economically and environmetally superior technologies that for some strange reason nobody can make a profit on. I respond with something like, “If true, the problem is solved and the government just needs to get out of the way”. [italics added]

    And as I maintained yesterday

    Build an electric six passenger car that can go 200 miles with passenger comfort (heat in Minnesota winters, AC in Arizona summers) and the internal combustion engine will be obsolete for passenger cars in two decades.

    Recharging time and infrastructure would not be an issue.

  166. And, it seems to me, that wise government policy as consumer, would be to require government agencies to meet efficiency targets, rather than mandating a particular efficiency technology.

  167. On electric cars specifically, one of the major barriers happens to be regulatory in origin. The 25mph speed limit on most available e-car models currently has to do with the burden of passing safety regulations designed for heavier, gas-powered 4-wheel vehicles. (Involves destroying x-number of production models, a costly affair for start up).

    The government could actively play a role in helping small companies get over this barrier by either loosening the safety regs for e-cars, or by providing funds to cover the costs of demonstrating safety.

    Wow! Government regulation often serves to hinder competition, favoring large established corporations at the expense of the newcomer, the innovator? Where have I heard that before?

  168. J Sub D,

    I think you are savvy enough to recognize that there is a difference between something that is “a better way to do things” and “the thing that succeeds in the market.”

  169. J sub D,

    Wow! Government regulation often serves to hinder competition, favoring large established corporations at the expense of the newcomer, the innovator? Where have I heard that before?

    Depending on who you were paying attention to, it may have been from a number of sources, including a large chunk of the environmentalist movement.

    Other people have noted this as well, of course.

  170. They said that the CIA and other intelligence agencies were reluctant to share information, and that the Bush administration’s focus on detention and interrogation made preparation of viable prosecutions a far lower priority.

    Good thing that USA PATRIOT Act broke down that “wall of seperation” between the different agencies.

    I’m going to be sick…

  171. J Sub D,

    It may be worth noting that the primary difference of opinion we have on these technologies is not about whether the should government “stay out of the way,” or not.

    It seems to me that wise government policy would both “stay out of the way” (by not choosing methods) while also encouraging new solutions (by setting goals/taking steps to price externalities). You seem to think that staying out of the way is the most efficient. I think the encouragement piece helps too.

  172. Government can also create markets for products like e-cars through its role as consumer. If the government transportation fleet were replaced by more efficient options, there would be a significantly greater chance that the technology and infra-structure for that fleet would make it commercially.

    As soon as the government can save money by adopting a technology, I’m all for it. If the USPS (they have a fairly large fleet of gas powered vehicles that are only used in the daytime and are parked at central locations) determines that going electric will forestall a postage increase, I’m on the baqndwagon. Payoff in the medium term (~< 10 years), not in the far future is to be expected.

    Same goes for adopting energy efficient building design/technology. The government can go a long way towards shaping the market demand as it is such a large player in the market.

    If adding insulation to the roofs of government buildings, installing double paned windows, et al, will save on heating and cooling costs, one wonders why has this not already been done.

    But we know the answer to that one. No incentive for government managers to be wise stewards of taxpayer money. All of that work for no personal benefit doesn’t spur many to action.

  173. J sub D,

    If adding insulation to the roofs of government buildings, installing double paned windows, et al, will save on heating and cooling costs, one wonders why has this not already been done.

    Interestingly, it is being done by many governments in many parts of the world, including right here in the USA.

  174. loosening the safety regs for e-cars,

    Neu Mejican wants to slaughter teh children!

    TERRORIST!

  175. http://www.ofee.gov/sb/sb.htm

    http://ofee.gov/ctc/ctcspr08.pdf

    “As of March of 2008, 82 Federal
    buildings have been certified under
    USGBC’s LEED Green Building Rating
    System?, an increase of 32 since this
    time last year. Fifteen agencies are
    represented in three countries and 30
    states across the U.S.,”

  176. USPS electric vehicles.

    http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/localnews/fl/fl_2008_1025.htm

    They are also involved in developing hydrogen fuel cell delivery vehicles.

  177. And, it seems to me, that wise government policy as consumer, would be to require government agencies to meet efficiency targets, rather than mandating a particular efficiency technology.

    I am right there with you on the ends vs means point.

    The structure of those efficiency targets is tricky.
    Unfortunately, wise government comsumption is largely a figment of your (and many others’) imagination.

  178. They are also involved in developing hydrogen fuel cell delivery vehicles.

    terrific

    Are they also working on a new, improved, Mars Lander?

  179. P Brooks,

    Actually, it is GM (iirc) that is doing the development, but the USPS is serving as a testing ground for the prototype vehicles.

    In other words, a partnership between the private sector and the government to develop a potential technology that may meet the government’s needs as a consumer of transportation services.

    Unfortunately, wise government comsumption is largely a figment of your (and many others’) imagination.

    I am advocating for wiser government policy, not claiming that current policy is wise/efficient.

    There are, however, moves in that direction in policy already. They won’t continue without political support.

  180. Why do electric car freaks want to poison my children with electromagnetic radiation? I’m getting together with other concerned mothers and concerned attorneys fighting for the public interest.

  181. partnership between the private sector and the government to develop a potential technology that may meet the government’s needs as a consumer of transportation services.

    I can only hope the primary criteria are based on cost efficiency, and actual performance based on the requirements of daily use.

    But I suspect that is not true.

  182. A cynic (like me) might be tempted to think of this “partnership” between the Post Office and GM as another way of shoveling government cash into the furnace.

  183. “As of March of 2008, 82 Federal
    buildings have been certified under
    USGBC’s LEED Green Building Rating
    System?, an increase of 32 since this
    time last year. Fifteen agencies are
    represented in three countries and 30
    states across the U.S.,”

    Now that is government in action! Saving the environment at little cost, nay a savings to the taxpayer. I once worked in Bldg 1032 of a single installation of a single branch of a single federal department. We apparently won’t get finished in time for Satan’s Winterfest.

    If you really want the government to save energy rather than centrally select technologies to support, read this gem.

  184. No more pollution, not more car exhast. From now on, we will travel in tubes!

    Get the scientisits working on the tube technology, immediately.

    Tube Technology

  185. What are the residency requirements in Mass achusetts? Teddy dies/resigns and the gov has to appoint a replacement. Oh, there’s a Kennedy available?

  186. KDLD/KDLE, which had been the best station on the air in LA, is now yet another Mexican polka station.

    I was seriously hoping that Indie 103.1 would have flipped to a Rock en Espa?ol format; I guess, however, that such a format (at least, in Entravision’s eyes) would have been too similar to Super Estrella.

  187. Re: Neu’s link about the post office and electric vehicles.

    The T-3 vehicle has a range of 40 miles, a maximum speed of 12 mph and a load capacity of 450 lbs – and costs less than 4 cents a mile to operate. The T-3 trailer is used to store mail for delivery. The trailer features lockable and secure mail storage compartments and a solar panel to power the trailer’s anti-theft alarm system.

    It’s a golf cart with a friggin’ trailer. The strip in Vegas has done far more to encourage electric vehicle developement than this technological pico-advance. Might it be cheaper than a minivan for Key West mail delivery? Undoubtably. Is it much of an improvement over a golf cart towing a Radio Flyer wagon? I’m not so sure.

    Think of the weather, the minimal requirements and the topography of Key West and than give me an opinion of how this is helping develop electric transportation for the masses.

  188. I’m not sure why there hasn’t been more discussion of ammonia as a fuel. It’s pretty toxic, but then so is petroleum gasoline. The difference is that ammonia burns about as clean as any fuel you can imagine – it’s carbon free.

  189. I’m not sure why there hasn’t been more discussion of ammonia as a fuel. It’s pretty toxic, but then so is petroleum gasoline. The difference is that ammonia burns about as clean as any fuel you can imagine – it’s carbon free.

    They forgot to mention it boils at a very low temperature, it dissolves in water (thus being a nightmare for storage), oh, and it’s *insanely corrosive*.

    Also, the combustion reaction must be catalyzed because the energy released by combustion is lower than necessary to achieve ignition temperature. The common catalysts, like a platinum or iridium sponge, are, shall we say, not cheap.

  190. I hasten to add that a spill into an aquifer would be much much worse for the aquatic wildlife than an equivalent oil spill.

  191. LMNOP,

    Yeah, but… but… it’s carbon-free, and it comes from the earf…

  192. In spite of it’s hazards, ammonia is a common refrigerant in large applications.

  193. The catalyst is about the only thing that needs to be added to vehicles to make them able to use ammonia.

    Methanol is incredibly hygroscopic, and very dangerous to aquatic life too, but that hasn’t stopped it from being widely used as a fuel.

    Taktix, shouldn’t you be working on your fourth grade homework?

  194. I looked at Wiki, and apparently it was tried as a fuel in Belgium during WWII.

    Apparently, the real practical barrier is that we don’t make enough of it, and even if we did the process of making, storing and combusting it is more inefficient than most other options.

  195. Taktix, shouldn’t you be working on your fourth grade homework?

    I would, but it’s hard to read all the big words with my protective helmet on my head…

  196. Elemenope – every single alternative fuel / energy source has some significant downsides. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t still be alternatives.

    I don’t see ammonia replacing gasoline, but considering that converting gasoline cars to ammonia is relatively fast, and can be done with current technology, I’m surprised it hasn’t been given a push. Also, we only currently make as much of it as the market will bear. If it were used as a fuel, production capacity, efficiency, and economies of scale would expand.

    Although considering it costs something like $1.20 a gallon, I’m sure it would have gotten wider play had gas prices remained at $4 a gallon.

  197. s/b “…as the market will bear for use as fertilizer and refrigerant…”

  198. but it’s hard to read all the big words with my protective helmet on my head…

    You know you’re supposed to wear the bicycle hemlmet and not the gimp hood, right?

  199. If you’re looking for transportation alternatives

    Hydrogen peroxide works.

  200. The best thing about Josey Wales was Chief Dan George. Not that it wasn’t a pretty good movie.

    The book was pretty good too, as was the sequel called The Vengeance Trail of Josey Wales

  201. You know you’re supposed to wear the bicycle helmet and not the gimp hood, right?

    There’s a diff? 🙂

    Dude, that’s a stupid looking hat!

  202. Ammonia is also a dandy coolant, except the vapor can blind you. Wonder if they still use it in milk plants.

  203. In thinking about the ammonia idea, I think the real limiting factor is that the only reasonable hydrogen feedstock for this large a scale industrial production is methane. The only alternative is electrolysis of water, which unless there is a huge breakthrough on the horizon, is just too energy inefficient.

  204. Think of the weather, the minimal requirements and the topography of Key West and than give me an opinion of how this is helping develop electric transportation for the masses.

    The mistake here is thinking that a solution for one purpose in one location will be the solution for a different purpose in a different place. The most efficient solution will always be very, very context dependent.

    The point being that government policies that mandate things being done efficiently will create a market for solutions.

    And, of course, as a consumer the market that government can be substantial.

    For instance:

    The green building movement is
    expanding rapidly in the United
    States, and much of its momentum
    can be attributed to the Federal
    government’s leadership by example.
    As the largest “landlord” in the world,
    the Federal government oversees
    about 500,000 buildings, covering
    more than 3 billion square feet…

    [From the link above]

    Which, of course, relates to…

    We apparently won’t get finished in time for Satan’s Winterfest.

    Of course, if the goal is to optimize efficiency, there will always be ways to improve, so getting “finished” isn’t exactly the point.

  205. I hear that Obama is going to reverse the EPA ban that allows states to set their own emmissions regulations.

    Just what the auto industry needs – massive new costs of complying with 50 different standards.

    This will undoubtedly draw new customers into the showrooms in droves – all eager to pay more and get less value for it in the name of worshipping Gaia.

    More change we can believe in.

  206. The mistake here is thinking that a solution for one purpose in one location will be the solution for a different purpose in a different place.

    This, unfortunately, is the fundamental assumption underlying every federal mandate.

    The private sector (an inelegant term) goes down a lot of blind alleys; no rational person would deny that. But the private sector will eventually recognize, and admit, failure and end it, whereas the government, in response to failure, will increase the budget.

  207. I hear that Obama is going to reverse the EPA ban that allows states to set their own emmissions regulations.

    Just what the auto industry needs – massive new costs of complying with 50 different standards.

    This will undoubtedly draw new customers into the showrooms in droves – all eager to pay more and get less value for it in the name of worshipping Gaia.

    Aw, lookee here. Gilbert Martin is *against States’ Rights* when they are inconvenient! How surprising.

  208. I hear that Obama is going to reverse the EPA ban that allows states to set their own emmissions regulations.

    Classic Obama. Just as Bill Clinton was the master of expectation management, Obama is the master of passive aggressive governance.

    He will simply allow California to set the emissions standards for the nation, thus getting the ruinous standards that he wants while keeping his hands clean.

    This falls into a pattern with him. I expect to see a lot more of it.

  209. LMNOP,

    My thoughts exactly.
    RC Dean’s comment has a similar flavor.

    Centralized power bad, unless its not, or something.

  210. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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