I find this interesting: Chryler LLC has chosen A123 Systems Inc. of Watertown, MA. to supply lithium-ion batteries and other equipment for electric cars it hopes to have in showrooms beginning in late 2010. This news came just two months after GM was reported to have rejected A123 for LG Chem Ltd. to manufacture the batteries for their Volt. I have to say, Chrysler deserves some kudos for this decision. A123 is an American company – so this decision means American jobs are secured in the attempt to keep Chrysler alive. Chrysler made as many bad decisions in the past few decades as GM and Ford. It’s nice to finally see a good one.
A couple of news items I wanted to touch on today include the return of space shuttle Discovery to Earth and the Obama administration’s announcement today that GM and Chrysler’s restructuring plan fall short of their goals.
The Discovery mission to the International Space Station was mostly successful. Astronauts installed the final set of solar panels, which will allow for fully planned power generation. They also worked to repair the station’s water recycling sytem. Both the solar panels and the water recycling system must work as planned if the station’s crew is to grow from 3 to 6 persons. One negative from the mission was two external storage containers getting stuck during deployment. The storage will hold station spare parts for the 2010-2014 time period when NASA won’t have a shuttle or their next generation craft flying.
Part of me supports the Obama administration’s rejection of the GM and Chrysler restructuring plans. Both corporations are lacking innovation and a solid working model. As such, they don’t deserve to receive billions of additional dollars in taxpayer money. Another part of me recognizes that there are a lot of Americans that depend on GM and Chrysler for their jobs – directly and indirectly. If these auto manufacturers are headed for bankruptcy reorganization, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. Plenty of other corporations have emerged from bankruptcy changed for the better. At the end of the day, if GM and Chrysler can’t get it done, other companies are ready and waiting to expand in the void. Will it be painless? Of course not. Nobody can say that change is painless. Is it necessary? It’s looking increasingly like it will be.
At the same time, Wall St. firms have ripped off the government (read: taxpayers) for billions of dollars. They’re not being held to the same standards as are GM and Chrysler. I would support the Obama decision more wholeheartedly if those standards applied to every corporation looking for corporate welfare for their crappy decisions. If this decision marks a new chapter in the unfolding economic disaster we’re currently experiencing, all the better. Greedy Wall St. corporations deserve this same kind of treatment and more. If they don’t have valid, up-to-date operating plans, they deserve no more money than GM or Chrysler do. Enforcement of laws already on the books to control Wall St. corporations should begin immediately. The American people would be better served by fewer financial institutions that are held accountable.
In what’s unfortunately become routine, GM joined other corporations receiving taxpayer bailout money in continuing to make bad decisions. With the U.S. economy in the tank, their own industry on the edge of collapse and growing populist anger, do you think GM chose an American company to develop the batteries for their over-heralded Volt? Of course not – GM chose a foreign battery maker. Some portion of the money GM has received to save its ass is being sent to the Korean battery manufacturer LG Chem Ltd instead of batteries being developed by GM and A123 Systems. Simply amazing.
GM and Ford could easily meet the most stringent emissions standards in the U.S. if their fuel efficiency plans presented to Congress were implemented. If their 2012 fuel efficiency goals were met, which is quite frankly easily done, and California’s emissions standards were enforced nationwide, those standards would already be met. Watch the auto corporations come out with a request for even more money next year to meet those standards.
California has approved a climate plan that will address global warming in a more aggressive fashion. In 2006, a law was passed in California mandating 1990 emissions levels be met again by 2020. Air regulators approved 31 rules for homes and businesses to achieve that goal. In typical fashion, Republicans are thinking only as far as the next 3 months as they cry about increased costs. It’s very simple: we can pay a little bit now or a whole lot more later. Most Americans have figured out that the former is the better plan.
One big hurdle facing a renewable energy-based future is the sorry state of our current energy transmission system. Put simply, it is not up to the task of delivering the necessary power from remote locations to where energy consumers are. The Pacific Northwest provides a good example of this. Wind projects going up are set to provide 4,700 additinal megawatts of energy to the Seattle/Portland corridor. The required upgrades and new transmission lines are expected to cost $1.5 billion – not chump change. That’s where Obama’s plan to invigorate the economy by funding green projects comes in. Lots of winners result: Americans are paid well for solid jobs, the economy recovers, greenhouse gas emissions will slow down and the climate is forced a little less. Multiply the WA/OR plan by dozens or hundreds across the country and the winners multiply too.
John McCain and Sarah Palin are running around the country trying to convince voters that they’re just like them. One important issue facing this country is health care. So for those of us who aren’t Senators or Governors, we should be able to get the same health care as John and Sarah, correct? Eh, not so much, as johne deftly demonstrates. Barack Obama and Joe Biden, on the other hand, have proposed opening up the health care plan they and John enjoy to every American. John and Sarah’s plan: you’re on your own.
California’s legislature passed a bill that would steer public funds away from sprawling development, with projects that meet climate goals getting priority for the $20 billion a year spent on transportation. Setting rewards for behavior instead of punishment is a good way to write legislation. The bill won’t be signed until California Republicans stop holding up passing a budget.
Apparently, there are limits that even the corporate media can’t cross trying to help Republicans win this year. I have never seen a major network figurehead sit down with Obama or Biden and lob softballs at them to smash out of the park. Neither have I seen those figureheads hold a Democrat’s hand while answering questions. Both happened as Charles Gibson sat down with Sarah Palin in last night’s broadcast. But even Gibson couldn’t answer his own questions for Palin as she quite clearly floundered on the most simple questions. And I think the corporate media is recognizing there is only so much help they can provide McCain and Palin.
Gangs in D.C. are becoming a problem. Democrats have gotten less than nothing from forming gangs with Republicans. More fresh blood in the Senate, please.
The foreclosure news is still terrible: 304,000 households went into default last month and 91,000 families lost their homes. John McCain still has his seven mansions. So really, there’s nothing to worry about.