Here we go again….

 

The car crushing ideas are back. I knew these were coming and first learned of the proposals not too long after the election. Now they are getting more serious about it. From an LRC blog post I read about the latest ideas to crush older cars.

Crushing of old cars is something that makes a go around when ever there’s an excuse that can be used for it. When I used to read Hemmings Motor News there was a dedicated column on fighting government legislation that was aimed at automotive hobbyists. I think I first learned of these crusher laws in the 1980s. Thanks to dedicated people fighting these bills and laws their impact has been limited but still damaging to the supply of parts and cars.

Like all government interventions there are all sorts of groups that line up to benefit from these laws. From the car manufacturers to Hollywood getting pollution credits they could sell for all the old iron they destroy in films and television. Hence part of the reason Hollywood has so many 30+ year old cars destroyed in their products.

This is the one area that had me liking Colin Powell many years ago because he understands car hobbies. He once said that he lived on base because he knew he’d have trouble with neighbors because of his disassembled cars elsewhere.This communicated an understanding of the problems faced by those of us who like these machines and work on them for fun. But government doesn’t understand fun, only it’s agendas and those of the interests allied with it. It just needs an excuse to act.

The argument that it is better for the environment to replace the older cars is one that is absurd to anyone with the least bit of understanding of what goes into a car. The costs of building a car are neglected by the technically ignorant people that make up the majority of political representatives. The energy and resources that go into building a vehicle need to be made up by the better efficiency of the new one. This takes time. So much time that the ‘new’ car will likely be old and used up by the time it breaks even with keeping the old one around. It is much more environmentally sound to restore the existing car or at the very least keep using it until it is uneconomical to. Once sent to salvage yard the car is stripped for parts maximizing it’s value. Government wants those parts destroyed to force other old cars off the road.

The other excuse is the economy, that the government has to encourage spending by getting people to buy new cars. How is it going to do this? By forcing the destruction of older cars which many businesses need to exist. The repair shops, the parts retailers, the part manufacturers, the restoration shops, body shops, and so on. All the untold numbers of small businesses who benefit from people keeping their old cars on the road and the auto restoration hobby.

It is the “seen” and the “unseen” once again. What we see are new car sales and a more fuel effecient fleet. What we don’t see is the diverted energy to build new cars where no new cars were needed instead of something the market needed. Maybe people really needed appliances or bridges or who knows what, but instead the interference in the market diverted resources to building vehicles that weren’t needed. We don’t see the energy that could have operated the old cars for decades that was used up just building a new one. We don’t see the people who are out of work or had to close their businesses because there were fewer old cars to be repaired and restored.

Meanwhile a recession continues as people wait to see what the government will do. Those who have the money for a new car think the government might make them a better deal so they wait. The manufacturers and other businesses involved can’t plan because of all the uncertainities of the political process. Will their product even be legal when it gets to market? What cars will be subsidized, which won’t? Who knows? Hard to say. Limbo. It all hovers in limbo until government is done trying to ‘act’. 

 

 

The money of science fiction.

In science fiction it is often interesting to see how money is
treated. Most movies and television series barely touch on it. Usually
money is refered to as ‘credits’ or some other form of computer
accounting. Rarely is there any sort of currency paper or otherwise.It is almost always some sort of central bank system where money is completely abstract and controlled by some beveloent government, at least in those stories of a better future.

Despite such systems much
of the trade shown is by barter. This makes a great deal of sense given
the exploration nature of most stories. Much of the rest is about
worlds that aren’t exactly utopias, more like the opposite and people
were forced back into barter to get by.

Thanks to hulu.com I
have been watching the orignal Battlestar Galactica, many of these
episodes I haven’t seen since I was kid when they originally aired
about 30 years ago.  I have just watched Season
1 : Ep. 10, “The Magnificent Warriors” and from this episode it is
established that the currency of the 12 colonies and beyond is gold.
Starbuck carries with him a small pouch of oddly shaped gold colored
coins as is seen in most of series but not really defined as to what they are. In this episode Starbuck goes to buy some seeds and the seller looks at his coins describing a few them with different names indicating they are from many different worlds and says ‘you have a bit of everything here’. He then places all the coins on a scale to find out how much gold he has.
Apparently all the various planets minted their own coins but all of gold.

The original BSG isn’t that great on factual information. They keep getting basic aspects of astronomy wrong let alone the actual distances between stars and other bodies yet for money it appears well thought out unlike the better written stories.  Gold is shown to be portable and universal. It  also survives the great destruction caused by the war with the Cylons retaining value despite the Colonial government no longer existing in any form where it could back a currency.

Gold of course makes perfect sense. The money of central bankers wouldn’t be accepted on other worlds, but gold or at least some other commodity money would be.

Now I wonder who was behind the original BSG’s monetary system? :)

 

Blago and the senate seat.

 

Blago is going to face an impeachment trial for essentially a conspiracy to sell an appointment to a US senate seat.  As disgusting as it is, I think the people of Illinois, which I am one, and those of the nation will be worse off with the seat NOT being sold.

The more I learn, the more I believe that the most unsettling thing to happen to the delicate balance of the US Constitution was the amendment to go to the direct election of senators. This caused the senate to have the same concern as most house members, re-election and the power of the federal government. The founders weren’t stupid. They knew senators appointed by state governments would often be corrupt but that corruption would make them beholden to the state governments, not the federal government. 

So Blago would have sold a senate seat if he wasn’t stopped… what would that mean? It would mean that at the very worst Blago would have ‘his’ guy in DC. This would mean vote against any legislation that took away from the states. Blago’s guy in DC wouldn’t put up with cocerisive federal programs or any of the other nonsense that has become SOP since senators were elected directly. As bad as it sounds I think we would have been better off with someone ‘owned’ politically by the forces of the state government than someone who would vote for expansion of the federal government hoping voters forget by election time. The state level politicians wouldn’t forget.