The government has refused to financially help out General Motors in its attempted merger with Chrysler. This is a bit surprising (although not all that much) since it's a common belief that the Bush administration is partly in the pockets of fossil fuel-based domestic automakers (the rest being in the pocket of oil companies). On the other hand, it is consistent with the Republican's free market policy. What is rather more surprising is that the administration is supporting a $25 billion loan program for fuel-efficient vehicles.
Given how badly US automakers have forecast trends in the automobile market, it's no surprise that they're doing badly, and the current economic downturn only makes their situation much worse. Perhaps things would have been different if they didn't focus so much on large vehicles and put in more resources into hybrid or electric cars, instead of discontinuing development of vehicles such as the EV1. Then again, their problems might lie somewhere else so that they may still have ended up poorly.
I wonder if there will still be cars from GM or Ford in a couple of decades ...
There's bad news for clean energy industries. The House and the Senate have approved conflicting versions of an energy bill that is intended to spur development of alternate energy sources. The energy bill includes badly needed tax credits for solar energy and energy efficiency measures. If Congress can't sort things in time, it will be a blow to the clean energy industries which need to be developed sufficiently before it's too late. If we delay things until the need for clean energy becomes crystal clear, then it might already be too late and we might not have sufficient resources to develop new energy sources.
Considering the huge subsidies that the fossil fuel industry receives, it's odd to see opposition to the subsidy of alternative energy justified by claiming that the free market should take care of it. Especially since it's the alternative energy sources that needs a boost to prepare for the decline in oil production and mitigate climate change.
The first reaction I had when hearing about the $700 billion bailout plan was that it's a distasteful but probably necessary response to the current financial crisis. However, the more I think and hear about it, the more I begin to think it could end up being a disaster.
Continue reading Worst of two economic worlds
During the past decades, traffic congestion and parking space shortages have been steadily growing worse in Korea. While there are various efforts to reduce the problems from the growing number of cars, such as better road systems and traffic control, the country has one odd method that has been employed for awhile. Many institutions enforce a rule of only allowing people to commute with cars whose license plate number ends in certain numbers for each day.
Continue reading Band-aid car traffic reduction