GM and Chrysler

April 4, 2009

There are too many intricacies to the auto bailout, and it is moving way too quickly, to adventure an opinion.

But I will say I am ecstatic they have decided to act separately on the two companies and put Chrysler in the tighter spot.

GM was staging a remarkable turnaround when the crisis hit, and their new models are best-in-class.  Plus the Volt has a good chance of succeeding.

Chrysler on the other hand couldn’t find their way.  They don’t have a single well-designed model except for the 300M.

For all the marvels of the web anonymity doesn’t get its full due.  Sure anonymity can hide molesters and terrorists, but it can also nurture an important conversation that wouldn’t happen otherwise.

Witness the ongoing thread on cannabis use at The Daily Dish:  People sharing their marihuanna use experiences as if they were talking to their close friend in confidence.

For example:

I’m 41 years old and a contract manager with a government agency. Treasurer for the PTA.  Father of two active boys. The funny thing is, I am only in the closet professionally and where the parenting thing makes it an issue.  Most of my friends, who are also professionals, are in the same position as me.  We work hard, handle our business, and see no logical reason why this particular drug should be not just illegal, but as heavily stigmatized as it currently is.

or

I’m 41 years old and a contract manager with a government agency. Treasurer for the PTA.  Father of two active boys. The funny thing is, I am only in the closet professionally and where the parenting thing makes it an issue.  Most of my friends, who are also professionals, are in the same position as me.  We work hard, handle our business, and see no logical reason why this particular drug should be not just illegal, but as heavily stigmatized as it currently is.

or

I’m 68.4 years old, and I’m in the MaryJane closet too.  If I got busted, I’d lose a lot. Michigan has medical marijuana now, and I have some minor medical things that might qualify: migraines, for instance.  But I don’t just need it, I LIKE it, and it seems harmless enough.  It even revs up my libido.

or

I’ve smoked probably a dozen times in my life. I don’t do it anymore because for whatever reason, it leaves me in the stupids for about 36 hours, and I usually can’t spare that.

But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize just how ridiculously widespread pot use is. The closet of people who either currently or have in the past used marijuana on a semi-regular basis includes probably 75% of the people I know, including highly successful doctors, lawyers, public health researchers, IT professionals, small business owners, architects, local and state politicians, farmers, mechanics, chefs, teachers, researchers, community leaders, my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course the musicians and artists in the crowd too. Yes, I have seen abuse of marijuana sidetrack lives and ambitions, and have true negative impacts on people, but those instances as a percentage of the use I’ve observed are tiny, and far, far lower than the negative impacts of cigarettes or alcohol.

I recognize that we can’t just legalize it and be done. Legalize it with caps on THC levels, blood THC levels for drivers, levels for intoxication at the workplace, tax it at 200%, ban advertisements on TV and billboards, advertisements that target kids, and set a legal smoking age. But all of that is eminently do-able.

See here, here or here (among others)

Simon Johnson makes an excellent point:

Remember this.  If you run an expansionary fiscal policy (building bridges), I have an incentive to free ride (selling you BMWs) and not engage in a similar fiscal stimulus.  But if you run an expansionary monetary policy, your exchange rate will tend to depreciate, putting pressure on my exporters and I’ll be pushed – by BMW-type producers – towards providing a parallel monetary stimulus.

Europe will come around.  But 1 trillion to Eastern Europe and Latin America from the IMF will help a lot for now.

Today’s Strasbourg town hall was a milestone.

In 60 minutes Obama took blame for our arrogance in the Bush years, told Europe to lose its anti-Americanism, that America is changing but Europe needs to change too, reminded us all that France is our oldest friend, and how we brought Europe and Japan to their feet after WWII with the Marshall Plan.

Of course, the media has no patience for important thing like a re-invigoration of our alliances.  I switched over to CNN where David Gergen and AC were discussing how Obama had been rebuffed because he couldn’t get major troop commitments for Afganistan.

Does anyone really expect that after 8 years of Bush the Europeans will just say ‘yes America, anything you want’ like that?  I mean the man is good, but he can’t walk on water!

Sure we could throw our weight around and TELL our allies what to do.  And how would that be change?  In fact it would be a continuation of the last eight years.

Instead, Obama is leading.

UPDATE 4/5: Jack Welch calls it “masterful”.  At least I’m glad the pundits let sane people do the talking sometimes.