Quick Roundup 439

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Rand Gets the Last Laugh

Via HBL is an interesting, mostly positive, book review of Atlas Shrugged which focuses on the story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company, drawing parallels between its theme of false hope and the election of Barack Obama, as well as between that company's downfall and that of General Motors.

And so the workers voted overwhelmingly to follow the new plan, which would mean that no worker would fall through the cracks -- everyone would take care of everyone else. "We thought it was good," the tramp says wearily. "No, that's not true, either. We thought that we were supposed to think it was good."

And so begins this experiment in "modified" capitalism. As the worker explains it, "The plan was that everybody in the factory would work according to his ability, but would be paid according to his need." Of course, in the long run, "modified capitalism" turns out to be socialism or worse, and as Rand points out with brutal logic, it leads inevitably to a system that encourages laziness and lying and punishes success. [bold added]
Reviewer Frank Miele does accuse Rand of unspecified "excesses" once or twice, and, similarly to an issue Diana Hsieh raises regarding a recent Amity Shlaes column on the same novel, his appreciation of the novel is mainly at the political level. Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see wider acceptance of Rand as a serious commentator among a growing number of intellectuals after the savaging her work often got in the past.

And Speaking of Bankruptcy

A Rasmussen poll indicates that fewer than half of all current owners of GM cars would buy from the same company again.
That figure includes just 30% who are Very Likely to do so. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 43% of current GM owners are not likely to buy another GM car, while 16% are not sure.
My wife and I will be able to make do with the occasional Zip Car, now that we're in Boston, but as far as cars go, I am a Honda man.

That said, I was about to say something cute like, "If you put a gun to my head and made me buy an American car (That was only a figure of speech, Barry.), I expect that it would be a Ford."

Of course, as Frank Miele pointed out:
Pity poor Ford Motor Co. which was the only one of the Big Three automakers in the United States that was healthy enough to pass up government bailout money last November. Now, instead of owing money to the government, they actually have to compete AGAINST the government (the new owner of GM) selling cars.
And remember, the government has the improper power of regulating that industry, setting the terms by which Ford will "compete" with it and, not to put too fine a point on things, holding a gun to our heads and making us buy from GM. So, actually, Barry is poised to hold a gun to my head and make me buy GM, only his pal Cass Sunstein might call that "nudging."

I haven't driven a Ford lately, but perhaps, instead of "Fix Or Repair Daily," we could come up with a new pseudo acronym.

I propose, "Free OR Die."

Clean Air Standards vs. Biodiesel

When I first encountered this story about how hippie regulations have made it impossible to run 100% hippie fuel in diesel engines, I laughed out loud:
Until two years ago, all diesel engines were [compatible with pure biodiesel (aka B100)]. Then standards set by both the Environment Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board, phased in for 2007, required all passenger vehicles to meet the same, stricter emissions. That meant diesel manufacturers had to reduce emissions of NOX and particulate matter to meet those of gas-powered cars. These standards were created with good intentions -- to look out for our health by improving the air that we breath. (After all, particulate matter is a known carcinogen.) But the way most manufacturers did this created a setback for those of us trying to use biofuels. [link dropped]
As a bonus, get a load of how slavishly loyal to the government the author is. The government, which improperly bullies everyone around nowadays, is doing so "to look out for our health." But the manufacturers who have to design engines around its arbitrary regulations are villains because this means that if you buy from some of them, you might have to (gasp!) adulterate your fuel by 2% with fuel stolen straight from Mother Earth's veins.

Somehow, I would not be surprised if, pressed on the matter, this man would exhibit other symptoms of "Vitamin F deficiency" and demand that diesel particulate filters be outlawed.

Stop to Smell the Flowers

It's been a while since I've done so, but this morning's visit to Thrutch was richly rewarded with no less than three picture sets of the latest of his stunning orchids! I especially like the last of the three.

-- CAV

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