I’m In Love With My Car

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

They are unfeeling metal monsters. They’ve taken over the world. They have us surrounded. They’re everywhere. They remorselessly kill and maim more people every year, at least in North America, than all the terrorists ever dreamed of in all the worst nightmares sold to us by politicians, and in all the wars going on around the world.

They are bankrupting our economy and destroying our planet. They show no respect for human life. There’s a good chance one or more of them will kill you or someone in your family soon, if they haven’t already done so.

They are dirty bombs that have polluted and poisoned the entire earth. Besides our homes, they consume the largest part of our disposable income, and produce the largest portion of the personal debt carried by most people.

Yet over the past century they have become our life. We can’t live with them. But we can’t live without them, it seems.

When the Apollo astronauts were making their trips to the moon in our first foray to another astronomical body, one of the first things they took with them was.. a car. A car. To the moon, for fucks sake.

They divide us from each other, and make us hate each other. But we love them. Even though they kill us.

They’re not just part of popular culture, there can probably be good arguments made that they are our culture. We all want to own one, and some of us own as many as we can, and we all want one that’s smarter than anyone else’s. Some of us buy car parts from online shops like Czok to improve the performance and style of our cars, just to be that much better. However, in reality, they own us, and we organize our lives around them.

But we sure love our cars. So much so that many of us even lose our virginity in them. Many of us have certainly lost our innocence in them.

And ever faster and faster, we’re going nowhere except to hell in them.

Now our car manufacturers are in trouble financially. Again. But that’s nothing new. They’ve been badly mismanaged for decades. Only this time their CEO’s are making pilgrimages to Congress demanding public money to save them from themselves while trying to terrorize the country into handing it to them without question.

What to do?

In a discussion with Geraldine Cahill of The Real News, Jim Stanford, Economist for the Canadian Autoworkers Union, and Justin Fox, writer of The Curious Capitalist column for Time Magazine, talk about what they see as the causes of the current crisis in the automotive industry, the importance of that industry to the North American economy, and debate the wisdom of allowing the companies in question to go bankrupt.

Real News: November 21, 2008 – 10 min 40 sec

What to do with Detroit?

Nicholas von Hoffman writing at The Nation the other day explained in no uncertain terms why we shouldn’t be too quick to give in to the demands of the automakers. They are only the beginning.

First it was the car companies, but now?

Now it is the auto parts suppliers who want government money. They employ 600,000 people, more than work for the automobile companies themselves.

If the standard for giving out money to companies is the threat of lost jobs, the auto parts suppliers’ claim is as good as that of General Motors. The argument against subsidizing money-losing companies to preserve employment is that it would be impossible to think up a more expensive way of helping people.

There ought to be another way–and there is. Unemployment compensation should be expanded to ensure those losing their jobs will not lose their houses or their health insurance. Helping people on that scale will not be cheap, but helping them by propping up corporate losers is infinitely more costly: sooner or later people will find other employment, but the automobile companies will never turn a profit.

They have been steadily losing money for a generation. Their predicament has nothing to do with today’s credit crunch or the stock market crash. It has to do with their being incorrigible foul-ups.

Their record for money-losing is beyond comprehension. David Yermack, professor of finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, has calculated how much capital the car companies have destroyed over the last few decades.

He writes, “General Motors and Ford…between them…destroyed $110 billion in capital between 1980 and 1990…. GM has invested $310 billion in its business between 1998 and 2007. The total depreciation of GM’s physical plant during this period was $128 billion, meaning that a net $182 billion of society’s capital has been pumped into GM over the past decade–a waste of about $1.5 billion per month of national savings. The story at Ford has not been as adverse but is still disheartening, as Ford has invested $155 billion and consumed $8 billion net of depreciation since 1998. As a society, we have very little to show for this $465 billion.

the rest is here…


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    • Edger on November 21, 2008 at 16:37

  1. …and I’m still in the states, I’m going to buy a volt, I really am.  

    Our only remaining illusion of autonomy, man…

  2. */:-D

  3. you didn’t include the part of the article where von Hoffman talks about how bankruptcy will allow the company to do away with anachronistic union contracts and get better management. FAIL! Just another media whore in the class war.

    But the numbers he quotes in terms of the cash these companies have burned through is staggering. I’d have a lot more to show for burning through $485 billion than the jokers that ran these companies.

  4. I hate automobiles.

    I hate ’em!

    They’re everywhere and they’re killing people left and right.

    They dominate our world.

  5. from the start of our love of cars they have abounded. Even my husband wrote one “Toyota Corolla” it’s fun. Going fast is fun. We are a car culture. Seems to me we are going to have to find another invention to love, how about feet? Not as fun as a car song but there is ‘These Boots are made for Walking’ and other peons to movement non automotive “You’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.”  


    • robodd on November 21, 2008 at 21:21
    • Edger on November 21, 2008 at 21:35

    RawStory: Obama team considering bankruptcy plan for automakers

    Chapter 11 may be looming for General Motors.

    President-Elect Barack Obama’s transition team is considering a “prepackaged” bankruptcy plan for automakers as a solution to the looming cash-flow crisis, Bloomberg News reports Friday.

    “Obama’s team has already contacted at least one bankruptcy- law firm to say that Daniel Tarullo, a professor at Georgetown University’s law school who heads Obama’s economic policy working group, would call to discuss the workings of a so-called prepack, according to this person,” the wire said.

    Bloomberg adds: “U.S. lawmakers yesterday postponed until December a vote on whether to give General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC a $25 billion bailout as an alternative. Automakers such as GM could use court protection to reduce debt and reject unfavorable contracts.

    Bankruptcy has been floated by those in the financial community as an alternative to bridge loans from the government, because the automakers could then temporarily halt payments to suppliers and creditors as they reorganize.

    “‘It creates the environment to deal with GM’s problems but limits government financial commitment,'” said bankruptcy lawyer Mark Bane of Ropes & Gray in New York.

    Obama spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said, “We have not put out anything specific for the auto industry except that something needs to be done immediately.”

    Full Bloomberg story here….  

  6. I may not own a car … but maybe I’ll own a car company?

  7. Elastcia-the car song.

  8. in the NYT, I’m pretty sure, about public transportation remaining higher even though gas prices have fallen.  One guy was quoted as saying that he preferred the bus b/c he could nap on it.  Me?  I like being able to read the paper or do the crossword puzzle–not possible [or at least not desirable] if you’re driving.  And certainly you better not take a nap at the wheel!

    So I am wondering: if better public transit were available to more people nationwide, would more people discover that they enjoy this bit of time to read, or text-message, or listen to ipods, or even–perish the thought!–watch movies on their portable DVD players, rather than having to worry about traffic, and do they have a full tank of gas, and air in their tires, and when is the next inspection, and how much will that cost them?

    Now, please understand, I am not a real American.  I resided in NYC for 20 years, and adopted all of those Commie Eurotrash ideas that Caribou Barbie abhors, lol.  But I prefer not to drive on a daily basis: the other drivers around here tend to crash into you whenever there’s a snowflake on the ground, and I’d rather read anyway.  So I’m not a typical American.  No cable: I’d rather blog.  My preferred music is classical or jazz.  And I’m literate.

    But I still think–if good public transit options were available everywhere–people might discover they like the extra time.  They might still want a car for shopping or for weekend outings; but maybe they’d prefer to commute by rail or by bus.

    • Edger on November 22, 2008 at 15:26

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