Wednesday, November 26, 2008

GM vs Citi

The waning days of the Bush Administration see the Federal government extending public monies to every corner of the financial "system." It's ironic, in the opinion of this Ironist, that General Motors can't get a federal penny but Citi group gets all the cash it wants. This is not to say that General Motors deserves public funds any more than Citi does, but managerial competence aside, GM makes things, Citibank doesn't.
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It has been obvious for some time that US manufacturers built large trucks and SUVs because they aren't covered by federal safety guidelines applied to passenger vehicles. Thus they were cheaper to manufacture and more profitable to sell. Never mind they did the environment no good, didn't improve the driving habits of their owners and promoted an unsustainable lifestyle. The manufacturers created demand with advertising and filled that demand.
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Now they want taxpayer funds to keep them going while they slowly turn the beast around and build fuel efficient cars. Commentators blame workers (as usual!) for management failings and charge the line workers with making $80 an hour. Indeed auto workers make $28 an hour and the other expenses are the retirees the workers support. Henry Ford said, a century ago that workers need to make enough to buy the product, a dictum that has escaped the notice of modern captains of industry.
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Citibank engaged in wild speculation with deposits and is now facing bankruptcy, however a Citi group failure they tell us would lead to systemic failure of the entire banking system so they must be "saved." Hallelujah! And our leaders, with a straight face, pledge our tax dollars to do the saving and no apologies do we get for this blatant reversal of the "free market" these same leader shave touted for as long as it was profitable for them.
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Personally I don't want to see society collapse. Those that do, tell us we shall be the better for it, less consumer driven more neighborly and more considerate. I doubt it. When the chips are down and money is tight and an entire way of life has to change all I see is massive stress. I don't see people in Iceland pulling together and recreating the disciplined good cheer of World War Two. Take away television for most people and all you are doing is detaching them from 24 hour gossip channels and resentment is bound to follow. I want things to stay the same, electricity, air conditioning, gasoline, pay days, a pension plan and dignified retirement.
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I am reluctant to let go of my middle class dreams but like the prospect of life after death I find myself ever less willing to lay bets on it. I watch the sunrise over a frost free landscape and I feel glad. I switch on the computer and I take pleasure as the screen reliably lights up and connects me with the outside world. I am angry that things have got so messed up, and at some level I guess we each of us have to take responsibility for a portion of the mess. But I'd like to think that the people at the top who fostered this global chaos take a much larger share of the blame and shoulder a much larger portion of the cost than the rest of us laboring masses.
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Fat chance.

Newton Street

I like the Meadows, it is probably my favorite neighborhood in Key West, because it has lots of character in the architecture it's outside Old Town so there is no architectural review and there are no tourist attractions or businesses in the few blocks that make up the Meadows. Funnily enough I took an almost identical picture to this one (including the Mini in the driveway) last Spring when I did a quick wander through the whole neighborhood. I guess I just like this eyebrow home!The Meadows got its name apparently from some developer who decided to expand the city out in this direction and started throwing up houses and gave them a cute suburban name. Some people like it enough their cars take on a gray insubstantial forms on the street from long bouts of inactivity. This is a bicycling neighborhood:The Meadows is where people gather on the street and chat like old fashioned neighbors are supposed to do:These streets have their own form of neighborhood watch:The homes come in shades and shapes that one has come to expect in Key West:I can't miss out on the opportunity to find another pink building, offset in this case by a bottle green door, no less. Very bold, very effective:And if pink houses don't do it for you, The Meadows is where you can find pink bushes. This spot looked very well organized, my idea of a New England village gardening contest. Where's Angela Lansbury?Someone took the time to trim the shrub and paint the picket fence and everything. In this next one they did a Class A over-size trim job on the tree that used to live here.Now it just looks like a class A Hawaiian lava flow:Young love in the Meadows, all you need is a pair of skateboards and a full heart:
A Key West garage:A lonely scooter on a side street, possibly Florida Street if I remember correctly. The Meadows is the area within Truman, Eisenhower, Palm and White: There is Art on the streets too. Captain Outrageous used to make artworks that were in general use, back when he was alive. Now that he's dead and no longer producing Art, his irreverent take on daily objects seems to be reserved for display, not use:Granted this isn't your typical art gallery, hanging as it does from a palm tree...It doesn't take much to find Art in Nature either:
But it's time for the sun to set on the beauty of The Meadows and Newton Street and because it's winter time that means it's getting close to six pm:Which means start of the working day for me. Time to find the Bonneville and buzz three blocks over to the Police Station for another exciting night of sitting up and not thinking about my bed.