Thursday, April 16, 2009

The American Dream in 2009

For a limited time, for new buyers, GM has offered to take over payments for nine months in the event that they lose their job. It feels like another slap in the face of the American taxpayer, dangling candy in front of greedy consumers who snap at the bait, oblivious to ulterior motives as GM once again insinuates itself into a nine month free ride at worst but solvency at best. The intent is to make the consumer feel important, as though there’s nothing more valuable than you, the consumer and they’re investing in you. The problem is the guarantee would be taxpayer money about which they’re being so cavalier in their marketing strategy. It’s a way they can be broad based in hooking as many as possible to gain leverage at crunch time if it doesn’t work as planned, “taking” from the taxpayer, hooking a buyer for the company’s viability, nine months minimum. It’s offensive to a rational sense of accountability. But GM may not have time to use a more measured approach to stay afloat. It’s sometimes described as a retirement plan that sells cars. Where’s my compassion?
The unauthorized book, “On a Clear Day You Can See GM”, regularly comes to mind with the current GM crisis. The book was initially authorized by DeLorean, but when DeLorean realized the position in which it would put him, speaking as he did about problems within the company, he revoked his support of the project. His collaborator released the book on his own, against the wishes of DeLorean and we readers captured a glimpse into a closely guarded organization.
In a way, I suppose we could look at GM as part of our aging infrastructure, much like the railroads of the late 19th century. GM, Ford and Chrysler survived as they claimed the 20th century, one of the most prosperous in the history of mankind. Several good cars faded away tugging at heartstrings as they went. The British had their powerful Navy in previous centuries. Several American car manufacturers didn’t survive because they lacked a combination of elements that defined our identity as a nation and made us swell with pride at our combined American ingenuity as we were the envy of the rest of the world. Even the most suave in exotic lands wanted a piece of that, “Je ne sais quoi? How you say?” Chasing the dream as we all wish for better times.
Perhaps that is what we are lamenting as we have given the main car manufacturers a comfort zone with our loyalties and our love of the creative and often humorous advertising entertainment that would also suffer from such a void.
The USA made people all over the world glad to be alive. Disneyland was so popular it grew roots in France and Japan. The pursuit of happiness became a final destination rather than an end to those with means as the middle class grew and became international in scope. Goodwill and sharing rippled on many shores throughout the world in the form of marketing of ingenious products, from skateboards to jet skis. Certainly Ipods are sexy and have done their share to once again remind us how lucky we are to live in a country where people come to make dreams reality.
But GM has been an economic engine more broad-based and entrenched in our psyches. We’ve grown up attuned to having a certain car at certain points of our lives. We are living the American dream!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some Thoughts On Tea Parties On April 15th

Victor, a Russian immigrant with a PhD in philosophy, recognized in Obama the playbook used during his youth in Russia during the rise of Stalin. He was a random caller on the Rush Limbaugh show on April 14th. He thanked Rush for being a shining light for his listeners while we’re ‘pulling out our hair’ as the supposed disaster of the President’s deception unfolds, since we don’t have the advantage of retrospect yet. I don’t have a stake in my words here beyond the unpleasant possibility that we may lose our way of life, as we’re all either benefiting from free enterprise, or hired by others that figured it out better than we did. The decision makers usually have the advantage of a financial cushion in the event things don’t work out as they thought. I don’t wish to be the object of a tyranny that supplants a possibility of a comfortable retirement, which won’t exist if the middle class disappears, as it may with incentives removed from what some see as “the rich”. The middle class grew out of WWII, which was the impetus that dragged the USA out of the depression, finally. It was not, as is thought, the product of Teddy Rosevelt’s New Deal.
Victor told Rush he was ‘spot on’ in his understanding and presentation to his listening audience. A most telling element mentioned by Victor on the air and the reason I felt the need to write, was the relaying of a specific memory from his youth in Russia. When atrocities were discovered by Victor’s parents, his parents used to say, “Stalin can’t know this is happening. We need to make sure Stalin knows what is going on,” when now he knows, from history and the advantage of retrospect, that Stalin was the source of the atrocities. Victor is sickened to see the current events unfolding after successfully making a new life for himself in America. Just as his parents did, liberals are in the dark about their boy, Obama; their mesmerizing speaker and hope for humanity that they found so lacking in the former President. I hope I’m off-base with this article.
I always found it mysterious that Bush’s Secretary of State, Condaleza Rice, an extremely accomplished woman, was considered by the left as irrelevant because of her party allegiance. The hate of the former Presidency has been replaced with a similar strong emotion of the opposite variety for the current President. Be careful what you wish for.
Retrospect is a handy tool that is unavailable now, because there is no track record for the speed that liberals are trying to catch up with where they could have been had Bush not interfered with the direction of policy implementation Clinton had initiated. There’s always a period of inertia that must be overcome as critical mass is reached for change to occur. The economic crisis, according to Rahm Immanuel, a terrible thing to waste, has added a layer of obfuscation** on top of regular platitudes that hide what to some (Constitutionalists) is subterfuge (KFI)*, while to others (Liberals) is progress (KPFK)*. That one little thing that has layers of obfuscation** thrown on it is…. The removal of incentives, barriers to free enterprise and the subsequent destabilization of the dollar are at risk. Our currency is not referenced to a definite amount of gold, thus is by fiat only as is the rest of the world, except, maybe Dubai. Since the government is in control of printing money, because of the massive bailouts, this puts the government in the center of relief from debt for generations to come. The money being spread around is sold as relief when actually it is immeasurable debt leading to subservience to government, by those unwilling or incapable of growth in a free market, a concept too complex for a bumper sticker, thereby sold in obfuscation rather than debated openly with full disclosure. This obfuscation is part of the reason behind the Tea Parties of April 15th. Some things can be affected by the swing of the pendulum from left to right and back every eight years, some things can’t. Are we willing to let someone unskilled experiment with our future? I think not.

*Radio stations are L.A. based
** A big word meant to act as a deterrent of further investigation. One look at that word, “obfuscation”, and even those who don’t see jumping letters from dyslexia will easily ignore or just get fuzzy about the details following. It’s intentional to get readers to dig out their dictionary and familiarize themselves with the concept, because it is a common political strategy.

Tea Party Genesis

Rick Santelli of CNBC started the idea of a Tea Party, as a derivative of "The Boston Tea Party" of old. Here on April 15th in the steamy year of 2009, we have action from just a bunch of regular citizens tired of being steam rollered!