“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, March 30, 2009

We should have saved the Nash Rambler


  1. New GM, Old GM and Bankruptcy Filings

    Absolutely we should have saved Nash Rambler. We wouldn't be in this pickle today if we had done so.

  2. I am sure Washington will do as well running car manufacturers as they do most everything else.

  3. We should never have quit making the 1930 Cadillace V-16 either, no matter what the gas mileage.

  4. The Paradigm Shift: Monetary Nebula

  5. "Yes, the new Rambler has the stability of a sea worthy sailor"

    Beat that.

    And 47% more brake area than before!

    And let's not forget, Nash was into Mini before mini was cool

    Nash Metropolitan

  6. Metro mileage--

    Motor Trend praised the car’s economy: their test Metropolitan returned:

    39.4 mpg-US (5.97 L/100 km; 47.3 mpg-imp) at 45 miles per hour (72 km/h)

    Beats todays fleet.

    Yes, it was a mistake to let Nash go under. The Metro alone was have broken the oil grip on America.

  7. Why is it that the Democrats aren't irritating me as much, all of a sudden, as the Republicans?

  8. because the Democrats are at least true to their dogma.

  9. Bobal: Absolutely we should have saved Nash Rambler. We wouldn't be in this pickle today if we had done so.

    The pickle being your green Olds?

  10. because the Democrats are at least true to their dogma.

    Yeah, and, also, that they're making more sense?

    The Republicans are coming off as the whiny, asshole that drove the bus into the ditch, and is, now, criticizing the efforts of the guy trying to get it out.

  11. To me there are two distinct conservatives/republicans. There are the moral conservatives and the fiscal conservatives (let's leave foreign policy aside but I'd say the dichotomy continues there as well). I have a lot of sympathy for the fiscal conservatives but very little for the moral conservatives. The republican party brand has been dominated of late by the moral conservatives.

  12. Ash, everyone points to Ronald Reagan as the model fiscal conservative, but how did he get us out of the 1980-1982 recession? By deficit spending. He broke the trillion dollar ceiling on budgets, and took our national debt from $994 billion dollars to $2.867 trillion dollars.

  13. xena: reagan took our debt from $994 billion dollars to $2.867 trillion dollars.

    and The messiah does that every other week...

  14. It's time for russia and china to form their own currency...

    I can see it now...

    but will the new china - russian love affair continue after China strips all of Russia's raw materials and sells it back to russia as inferior made in china crap that breaks after one usage?

    they deserve each other...

  15. WiO, it's hard to compare absolute values across generations. The whole Apollo program cost $24 billion dollars. Today that will buy the ketchup for free school lunches.

  16. Whatever can be said about who’s up and who’s down at any particular point in time in Asian great power politics, one immutable fact is that three major powers – Russia, China and Japan – are geographic neighbors. Living in proximity in a region with a long history of warfare and protracted struggles over resources, the three countries have powerful incentives to negotiate energy, trade and arms limitation agreements and establish conditions conducive to a peaceful and prosperous co-existence.


    The Chinese comment stated the obvious to emphasize the bilateral content of Medvedev's visit. In fact, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Li Hui told the media at a briefing that Medvedev's visit would have four "goals": one, to establish a "working relationship and personal friendship" at the leadership level; two, to oversee the fulfillment of bilateral cooperation in practical terms; three, to increase political trust and extend mutual support on "issues concerning sovereignty, security and territorial integrity"; and, four, to deepen "pragmatic cooperation".


    Moscow would have reason to worry that frictions have appeared in two areas of its ties with China, which are critical to sustaining the momentum and verve of the strategic partnership. First is the energy relationship. The implementation of the multi-billion contracts signed in 2006 for Russian energy supplies to China has run into difficulty.

    Asia Pacific

  17. "Never, never, I repeat never fucking surrender."


    Just getting started - I aim to misbehave."

    Best show ever. And free online for anyone who wants to watch (I'm telling you, watch.). There's a movie too that's free online. Not only hilarious and entertaining, but all about individualism and independence.

  18. Steam cars dropped-off in popularity following the adoption of the electric starter, which eliminated the need for risky hand cranking to start gasoline-powered cars. The introduction of assembly-line mass production by Henry Ford, which hugely reduced the cost of owning a conventional automobile, was also a strong factor in the steam car's demise as the Model T was both cheap and reliable.

    We may be missing a big opportunity here. Perhaps we should go back to Steamers

    Damn the electric starter.


    First Hour: Financial advisor Mish Shedlock talks about the economy.

    Mat, isn't that one of your guys?

  20. Three major meetings will take place in Europe over the next nine days: a meeting of the G-20, a NATO summit and a meeting of the European Union with U.S. President Barack Obama. The week will define the relationship between the United States and Europe and reveal some intra-European relationships.


    Begin with the G-20 summit of 20 of the world’s largest economies, which, along with the Americans and Europeans, include the Russians, Chinese and Japanese. The issue is, of course, the handling of the international financial crisis.


    Obama will need something in return from the Europeans, and the two-day NATO summit will be the place to get it. The Obama administration laid out the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan last Friday in preparation for this trip.

    Germany and Beyond

  21. Mat, isn't that one of your guys?

    It's a tight ship we keep, Bob. I believe that's our radar operator. :)

  22. Mish says GM will make it and come out stronger. Says they should do bankruptcy.

    Says taxpayers are really getting screwed by Geithner.

    Tax incentive to buy new cars coming. Ruf, you may have bought too soon.

    Big car sale coming.

    Unemployment going up another 4-5 million over next six months.

    Chrysler not going to make it.

    Things going to get worse before better, but we're getting close to the bottom.

    Shouldn't have bailed out the banks.

    Fallout still coming over GM bonds.

    That's it from Mish.

    And from bob too. nite


    Join Mat's Revolution in Hell!
    - Workers say Obama treated autos worse than Wall St -

    Autoworkers say Obama's 'tough love' more tough than love, they get worse treatment than banks

    DETROIT (AP) -- Many assembly line autoworkers reacted with skepticism and anger Monday to the Obama administration's tough tactics, which stoked long-simmering feelings that the people who put the country on wheels get treated differently than the wizards of Wall Street.

    "It's the age-old Wall Street vs. Main Street smackdown again," said Brian Fredline, president of UAW Local 602 at a plant near Lansing. "You have all kinds of funding available to banks that are apparently too big to fail, but they're also too big to be responsible."

    "But when it comes to auto manufacturing and middle-class jobs and people that don't matter on Wall Street, there are certainly different standards that we have to meet -- higher standards -- than the financials. That is a double standard that exists and it's unfair," Fredline said.

    Many workers -- not generally known for their affection toward executives -- even sympathized with Rick Wagoner, who was forced to step down as chief executive of General Motors Corp. He was by turns called a "sacrificial lamb," "scapegoat" and "fall guy."

    "We knew someone was going to have to take the proverbial `bullet,' and it would have made it a lot easier to accept that had the CEOs of the banks also been required to give up their jobs," said Jim Graham, president of a union local in Lordstown, Ohio, where GM produces the Cobalt and Pontiac G5 fuel-efficient cars.

  24. - One Roadblock Too Many for G.M. -
    March 31, 2009
    Op-Ed Contributor
    PRESIDENT OBAMA’S stunning decision to demand that Rick Wagoner resign as chairman and chief executive of General Motors was based on the wrong set of premises and raises the prospect that the administration will intervene too deeply in the automaker, seriously jeopardizing a transformation effort that has come a long way in the right direction.

    Mr. Obama cited a “failure of leadership” as a reason for forcing out Mr. Wagoner. While not every decision Mr. Wagoner has made was wise, over all he had been putting G.M. through a wrenching restructuring that tried to undo decades of management acquiescence to the United Auto Workers.

    Mr. Obama indicated he did not believe G.M. had moved fast enough in facing up to global competition. But the company is coming close to achieving the cost structure of Toyota’s assembly plant in Georgetown, Ky. — largely because Mr. Wagoner and his team stripped thousands of dollars out of the cost of every vehicle. Fully one-half of the company’s unionized work force has been laid off or taken buyout packages, and the U.A.W. has agreed to a two-tier wage system in which new workers make only $15 an hour. Just a few years ago that would have been unimaginable.

    Mr. Wagoner also encouraged G.M.’s adoption of Toyota’s lean manufacturing techniques and quality control. So much so that Buick tied with Jaguar for first place in the latest J. D. Power ranking of dependability, coming in ahead of Toyota and its Lexus brand.

    By bringing in the auto industry veteran Robert Lutz as vice chairman for global product development, Mr. Wagoner was also responsible for a redesigned lineup of vehicles. The Cadillac CTS and Chevrolet Malibu both won car-of-the-year awards last year and the newly revived Camaro — which is hitting the roads just as Mr. Wagoner is being ousted — represents the high-water mark of revitalized American car design.

    Mr. Wagoner also pushed the development of the lithium-ion battery that will power the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car when it appears in late 2010. Lithium-ion batteries represent a leapfrog over the nickel-metal-hydride batteries in the Toyota Prius. By investing $1 billion in lithium technology, Mr. Wagoner created the best opportunity for America to win a piece of a huge new “green” industry now dominated by non-American companies.

    Mr. Obama has not only failed to understand these contributions, he has also deprived G.M. of Mr. Wagoner’s presence on the board. Much of Mr. Wagoner’s knowledge and experience could simply be lost. With Mr. Lutz also about to retire, the two executives most responsible for G.M.’s transformation are gone.

    Mr. Obama decided that G.M.’s president, Frederick Henderson, should move up to take the chief executive’s job, which has been part of G.M.’s succession plan all along. But how does that represent fresh leadership? And is Mr. Henderson ready? He is known for being more aggressive in his business dealings than Mr. Wagoner was, and speaks the language of Wall Street. That may be useful in dealing with G.M.’s bondholders and the U.A.W. But Mr. Henderson does not yet command the loyalty inside the company that Mr. Wagoner did.

    The long-term plan had been for him to serve as Mr. Wagoner’s lieutenant for a year or two more so he could build relationships with other top executives. Instead, he’s been handed a company that is reeling over how the Obama administration helped turn Mr. Wagoner into a scapegoat through its leaks to the news media.

    Mr. Obama’s intervention does not stop there. His aides were quoted as saying they are going to remake the entire G.M. board. But deciding which director should go and which director should be added is far beyond the competence of any government. A new board may be the smart move in the case of a failed bank, where there are thousands of qualified and experienced financial executives to step in, but as one of the world’s largest manufacturers, G.M. faces vastly more complicated and specialized issues.

    Mr. Obama also failed to end the bankruptcy talk that has hung over G.M. and hurt its sales. In his statement on Monday he admitted that “I know that when people even hear the word ‘bankruptcy’ it can be a bit unsettling.” He’s right — and that’s exactly why he shouldn’t have said it was a possibility. Rather, the president should have forcefully stated that he would keep G.M. out of Chapter 11 because the nation’s bankruptcy system may not be able to handle such large-scale industrial restructurings. To wit: Delphi, G.M.’s largest parts supplier, went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005 and has yet to emerge.

    Add it all up and Mr. Henderson is taking over an organization in a state of shock. He will have to prove himself to all G.M.’s constituencies, but he could be distracted by a major shakeup of his board. Plus, the Damocles sword of bankruptcy will hang over his head. It is a supremely difficult situation, and may make it even more difficult for G.M. to sustain its transformation.

    It may have been politically expedient for Mr. Obama to give Mr. Wagoner the pink slip. But politics in Washington have real world consequences. Before he goes too far, Mr. Obama should recognize the huge distance that G.M. has traveled and strike the right balance in respecting the role of the private sector. Unlike the insurance giant A.I.G. or Wall Street’s failed banks, General Motors consists of real factories where real people make real things. As it looks to micromanage an entire industry, let’s hope the administration doesn’t lose sight of the human side of things.

    William J. Holstein is the author of “Why G.M. Matters: Inside the Race to Transform an American Icon.”

  25. Bob Lutz knows more about cars than Mat will ever know about Dentistry.

    ...thus, it must be best to have an ignorant, hate filled Marxist/Fascist dismantle it in the most destructive way possible.

  26. I've made a point of never reading or watching your recommendations Mat, so as not to pollute my mind with the bilge that fills yours.

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. For U.S. and Carmakers, a Path Strewn With Pitfalls

    "President Obama’s decision to reshape the automakers inverts the relationship that helped define the rise of manufacturing in the U.S.
    When he stood in the White House to unveil his approach, Mr. Obama took pains to assure the country — twice — that
    “the United States government has no interest in running G.M.
    No, just who to hire and fire from the CEO to the Board, what mix of vehicles to manufacture (like the hybrids sitting unsold on car dealer's floors) who to merge with and how fast to do it.

    (Anybody NOT like to be in Fiat's position with Chrysler, with a 30 day sword of Damocles hanging over it's head?)

  29. Bob Lutz knows more about cars than Mat will ever know about Dentistry.

    Bob Lutz is a putz. A jihadi stuck in the middle ages.

    Doug, if you're not moving forwards, you're living in the past. If you can't deal with change, you become extinct.

    And change is all around. From how we get energy, how we distribute energy, how we use energy for productivity, how we measure productivity, how we account for money, how we build transport, how we build cities, how we create public spaces, how we create information, how we distribute information, etc.