Archive for April 10th, 2009

Obama steers carmakers down wrong road

April 10, 2009

The Washington Post reported today that,

President Obama yesterday announced plans to buy 17,600 American-made, fuel-efficient cars and hybrids for the government fleet, the White House’s latest gambit to steer aid to the nation’s beleaguered automakers.

A few thoughts:

  • In 2007, U.S. car makers sold more than 16 million cars.
  • In 2009, cars sales are project to be less than 9 million.
  • Obama’s purchase of 17,600 cars is obviously a drop in the bucket compared to the kind of sales increase that is needed.
  • Cars sales will pick up when the economy recovers, provided that carmakers are making cars that Americans want and that are profitable — that is, SUVs and light trucks.
  • But Obama wants the Big Three to make and sell econoboxes that Americans don’t want.
  • Not only are econoboxes small, dangerous and incapable of pulling/carrying large loads/groups of people, Obama plans to tax drivers by the mile they drive — thereby erasing any economic benefit from fuel efficiency.

Bottom line: Obama’s plan is a stick in the eyes of carmakers, workers or consumers.

Russian Revolution: Move over Reds and Whites; Make room for the Greens?

April 10, 2009

Dmitry Besanovich credits his upset victory over the Vladimir Putin-backed candidate in the mayoral race in the Russian town of Mozhaisk to his green platform, according to a report in today’s Washington Post:

He attributed his victory to his promise to protect the natural ecology of this rural municipality, which he calls the “lungs of Moscow” because nearly half its territory is covered with forests. He campaigned on pledges to block construction along rivers and a major reservoir, clean up a polluting pig farm and promote agriculture and tourism instead of industry.

Here’s a description of Mohaisk from

A resident advertises his cow for sale in the local newspaper. The only cafe in the village, still decorated in Soviet style, offers a three-course meal for $1.50. Only one out of every 600 people here has a computer.

According to a resident, people in the city live “without too much enjoyment; however, with some cautious hopes.”

Mozhaisk, only 100 km west of Russia’s capital and the oldest city in the Moscow Oblast, has simply been left in the dust, with only its crumbling ancient churches signifying that here once existed a dynamic town.

Before Perestroika, most of Mozhaisk’s residents were employed in agriculture. However, a lack of funds in the last decade has turned the fields fallow. The only source of jobs is in the local printing house and concrete factory, and a juice factory in Borodino. As the factories employ mainly men, unemployment is especially high among women…

The dark side of the ‘village’ feel is the lack of modern infrastructure and services. There is only one hotel in the city, which leaves a lot to be desired, and only one cafe. Despite the seeming hardships, many Muscovites rent houses in Mozhaisk to spend their summer vacations.

If you are traveling by car, beware of bad roads. According to local journalist Alexei Safronov, the city’s new administration, headed by Vlasimir Nasonov, has said improving road conditions is one of his top priorities. Some new asphalt has already been laid…

It apparently has not dawned on the citizens of Mozhaisk that they need economic development. If they don’t want to be mired in rural poverty under their new mayor, they may have to rely on Putin making Besanovich an offer he can’t refuse.