Friday, December 31, 2010

The Worst (Most Politically Correct) US Car Ads of the Year 2010: Winner: Audi A3 TDI (Superbowl Ad)

The winner of the Stop Road Socialism Worst (Most Politically Correct) U.S. Car Ads of the Year 2010 award is this spot, which premiered during the Super Bowl broadcast:

Some say it makes fun of environmental extremism.  In a way, it does...very well.  But the point of the ad is that the diesel Audi driver is given a pass by the Green Police.  And Audi wants to sell more TDIs.  We can laugh now about environmental Gestapo roadblocks, but it seems creepily plausible in the not too distant future.

Clarkson for PM!

British motorists are revealed to have been the most prolific petitioners of Parliament in recent years, according to the Telegraph:

Under the old Downing Street petitioning system, established under Tony Blair, anyone who signed a petition that reached more than 500 signatures would be sent a government response by email.
The most popular – with 1.8m signatures – was a call for the scrapping of "the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy."
A one-word petition calling for the prime minister to resign received more than 70,000 signatures, with only a slightly smaller number calling for him to be replaced by Jeremy Clarkson.


The Worst (Most Politically Correct) US Car Ads of the Year 2010: Runner-up #1: Dodge Challenger "Freedom"

Stop Road Socialism continues with the Worst (Most Politically Correct) U.S. Car Ads of the Year 2010 awards.  This is runner-up number one: a World-Cup-rivalry-referencing spot from this summer which would normally be a bit of fun amongst us "special relationship" across-the-pond types.

"Here are a couple of things America got right: cars and freedom"?  Let's use the past tense for both.  Like Runner-up #3, this ad serves the State better than its ostensible subject, the Challenger, product of a bailed-out, failed corporation.

No-refusal weekend

State and local jurisdictions across the USA (United State of America) are following the US DOT's call for no-refusal DUI stops during the New Year's holiday weekend:

in Tampa...

in Kane county, Illinois...

in Kansas...

San Antonio and Bexar county, Texas...

and other jurisdictions in Louisiana, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and others.

While drunk driving and the deaths, injuries, tragedies, and property damage which it causes are extremely deplorable, so too is the abridgement of constitutional protections which any offender deserves.  MADD, the NHTSA, and local law enforcement officials are putting expediency above the rule of law this weekend.

The Worst (Most Politically Correct) US Car Ads of the Year 2010: Runner-up #2: Nissan LEAF "Polar Bear"

Stop Road Socialism continues with the Worst (Most Politically Correct) U.S. Car Ads of the Year 2010 awards.  This is runner-up number two: a pander-bear job for the smug, virtuous, self-satisfied believers in State "climate-change" kool-aid:

Really, the polar bear should disembowel and then claw to death the LEAF owner for charging his car with juice from a coal-fired power plant.

TheHood improves the quality of life for D.C. bedroom communities

While the rest of America slids into the Greater Depression, it's been well established that the economy surrounding the imperial capital is going great guns.  But the Obama administration wants to better serve the worker bees of within Leviathan, so TheHood has just announced more dough for New Rome's less than stellar transit system:
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today provided a $150 million grant to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to replace Washington Metro’s “1000-Series” rail cars.  These cars were cited by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as a contributing factor to the severity of passenger injuries and the number of fatalities in the June 2009 Red Line crash near Fort Totten Station.  Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia will also provide $150 million in matching local funds to help pay for the improvements.
“This money will let WMATA make important safety improvements to Washington’s Metrorail system,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “But to establish a standard level of safety across all transit systems, we urge Congress to pass the rail transit safety legislation proposed by the Obama Administration last year.”
In addition to $79.3 million to purchase as many as 300 new 7000-Series rail cars and $44.4 million for track rehabilitation, the remainder of the $300 million will be used to address other much-needed infrastructure projects within the system, such as Metrorail station improvements, the rehabilitation of track maintenance equipment, the replacement of track switching equipment, and elevator and escalator repairs. The grant also allocates $10.3 million for the transit agency to address safety recommendations made by the NTSB.
Note the US DOT news release's phraseology: "LaHood today provided" not "taxpayers provided and LaHood awarded."  Our betters are increasingly dropping any republican pretenses.

The Worst (Most Politically Correct) US Car Ads of the Year 2010: Runner-up #3: Chevy Volt "Anthem"

Stop Road Socialism kicks off its 2010 awards with a series featuring the Worst (Most Politically Correct) U.S. Car Ads of the Year 2010.  This is runner-up number three: a television spot from Chevrolet which is more agitprop than car commercial.

"Home of ...spontaneous acts of freedom"?  Government bailouts, government-forced screwing of bondholders, and green tech subsidies hardly qualify as acts of freedom.  We're now not so much "wanderers, wayfarers, even nomads" -- we're slaves to Leviathan.  But State-lovin' George Clooney's voiceover does help us to make-believe about our lost freedoms.

NYC snow job VIII: Krugman may be right for once

In his "Bloomberg's Katrina," the Nobel laureate suggests that mayor's third-party presidential prospects may be melting as fast as a snowflake on a subway grate:
Michael Bloomberg has long been an object of affection from Very Serious People: he’s supposedly non-ideological, competent, able to transcend partisan divisions with a single bound. There’s a recurrent fantasy about a Bloomberg third-party candidacy that will Save America.
But he just faced a major test of crisis management — and it’s been a Brownie-you’re-doing-a-heck-of-a-job moment.

Happy New Year! UK will experience "bleak mid-winter for motorists"

The UKPA reminds Brits about tomorrow's rises:
On January 1, a planned Government fuel duty rise will put 0.76p on the price of a litre of petrol and diesel.
Next Tuesday, January 4, the increase in VAT to 20% will mean pump prices go up again.
The AA estimates that the two increases will add around 3.5p to the cost of a litre of petrol and diesel. Its figures show that at present, a litre of petrol costs an average of 123.98p a litre, with diesel at 128.20p a litre.
This time last year petrol was at 107.74p a litre and diesel at 109.46p. The AA has estimated that motorists - even before the two latest increases - are spending almost £10 million more a day on petrol than this time a year ago.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "It is a bleak mid-winter for motorists with already record petrol prices set to rise significantly with the fuel duty and VAT increases. And that won't be the end of it with more increases in fuel duty already scheduled for April.
"Given that each penny increase in fuel duty raises about an extra £500 million for the Exchequer, it is easy to see why the Chancellor is tempted to hike rates. But if the nation's 34 million motorists are pushed too far they will drive less and the Treasury could actually see their tax take fall. At the election there was much talk about a fuel duty stabiliser. Drivers will rightly be wondering what happened to that idea."
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said the January 1 fuel duty rise would leave the freight industry "with a £95 million hangover".
Simon Chapman, the FTA's chief economist, added: "Diesel is not an optional extra for industry. It is essential to keep shops stocked and businesses supplied with materials."
The Sun quotes an AA spokesman liking Glaister's metaphor, "It's been a bleak midwinter but it could be an even bleaker New Year," and says the trucking and taxi industries may be devastated by the Tory-LibDem coalition government:
Chancellor George Osborne was accused by the Freight Trade Association of treating the haulage industry like a "bottomless well".
FTA chief economist Simon Chapman said: "Many haulage firms are right on the edge."
Like most of the others in the West, average British citizens will experience a real and noticeable decline in their standard of living in 2011, what with Central Bank inflation, commodity price increases, and higher taxes imposed by desperate public sectors.

Califoreclosenation: "Daddy's gonna pay for your crashed car"* -- twice

California is often described as a trend-setter for the nation.  But in one area it's following New York City's lead (as first noted here three weeks ago): "crash taxes."

The LA Times has a big piece on the exploding popularity among California cities of this additional theft-by-government for what is ostensibly a "public good" already funded by taxpayers.
"To me, it's an outrage. We're already paying these people — the police department, the fire department, the emergency vehicle drivers — handsome salaries and benefits," said Lew Uhler, president of the National Tax Limitation Committee. "Either we stop this kind of nonsense or we should quit paying taxes for these kind of services."

Some lawmakers and insurers are hoping to ban municipal crash taxes.  But given the catastrophic state of public finances in the Golden State and political strength of local governments and their unions in Sacramento, it would appear to be a quixotic effort.

UPDATE:  Robert Wenzel's take:
The emergency response sector seems to be another sector that should be left to the private sector seeing as individuals are paying for the responses anyway.
[* U2, Zooropa (1993)]

Ex-Obama car czar settles over public pension fraud

Former NYT journo, former Obama administration car czar, and major-league bad man Steve Rattner is slapped on the wrist, thanks to NY AG-becoming-guv Cuomo.  The Detroit Free Press has the full story.

NYC snow job VII: Union tactics during blizzard may led to blizzard of US money printing

Union thuggery taken to new heights:
Selfish Sanitation Department bosses from the snow-slammed outer boroughs ordered their drivers to snarl the blizzard cleanup to protest budget cuts -- a disastrous move that turned streets into a minefield for emergency-services vehicles, The Post has learned.
Miles of roads stretching from as north as Whitestone, Queens, to the south shore of Staten Island still remained treacherously unplowed last night because of the shameless job action, several sources and a city lawmaker said, which was over a raft of demotions, attrition and budget cuts.
"They sent a message to the rest of the city that these particular labor issues are more important," said City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Queens), who was visited yesterday by a group of guilt-ridden sanitation workers who confessed the shameless plot...
New York's Strongest used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process -- and pad overtime checks -- which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes, the sources said.
Read more of the New York Post's exposé here.
Robert Wenzel believes this local New York labor relations dispute may accelerate the US off the cliff even faster:
[T]his is a sign of a much bigger problem than clearing snow from the streets of NYC.

It is a very ominous sign for the country. Don't think this won't cause Ben Bernanke to sit up and take notice.

City budgets are in such disarray that the "IMF treatment" is one step away from being implemeted in cities and states across America, like it has in Greece, Ireland and many Third World countries. And U.S. government workers won't like it anymore here, than the Greeks or Irish overseas.

If anything is going to cause Bernanke to continue to print money, it's the fear that state and local governments won't be able to pay their bills. Such finance problems lead to cutbacks, intensifying protests and eventual riots. Bernanke pretty much knows this. He warned as much in Fed speak back in October. He is likely to continue printing, and destroy the value of the dollar so that cities and states have plenty of cheap dollars with which to pay off their huge debt burdens.

Quotation for the day: Joseph Stalin

We have a tremendous need for road-building machinery, equipment for bread factories and laundries.  The manufacturer of these machines is a simple and quite manageable job for our plants.  No one ever gives it serious attention (thinking it “trivial”), and therefore we are forced to spend hard currency.  Ukhanov takes this matter seriously, but the Supreme Economic Council gives him no opportunity to do anything—its like a dog in the manger, not doing anything itself but not letting others do anything either.  We must put an end to this muddle.  We must address this issue at the Central Committee and make it incumbent upon Ukhanov (Moscow Soviet) to become involved immediately in the manufacture of equipment for large-scale mechanized bakeries and laundries (and road-building equipment as well)…
Joseph Stalin to Viacheslav Molotov, 1 September 1930, in Lars T. Lih, et al. edd., Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995) 209.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

German car-sharing pilot projects

AutoWeek reports:
Two European luxury brands are tiptoeing into car sharing, a radical move for carmakers whose business for the past 100 years has been selling to individuals.
German archrivals Daimler AG and BMW AG have launched sharing programs. The automakers say the move was prompted by changing attitudes about car ownership, especially among young buyers, and increased urban congestion.
Daimler 's Car2go program is running in Austin, Texas, and Ulm, Germany. BMW has launched a one-year car sharing pilot in Munich.
Is car sharing born of freely arrived at, changing social needs?  Or is it born of statist anti-car policies which make automobile ownership increasingly difficult for ideological reasons?

Is car sharing just another innovation on the theme of car rental?  Or is it the foot in the door for future "car socialism"?

Καλά Ευτυχισμένο το Νέο Έτος! Socialist austerity means Greek mass transit strikes to continue

From Xinhua News Agency's English service:
The socialist government's top priorities after the holidays include the mass transport restructure plan, a bill to boost development, the opening up of closed professions and markets, as well as the restructure of state-controlled companies...
Meanwhile, Greece's public transport union said it will continue the string of protests against painful austerity measures and reforms into the new year.
"We will continue to the end. It is up to the government to define which will be the end," union chief Nikos Kouloubaritsis told Xinhua.
The subway in Athens and trains across Greece will not be running on New Year's Eve, the union announced on Wednesday.
Ironically, Papandreou may prove to be the best champion of laissez-faire in Greece in decades.

Car dealers prepare for post-QE2 world

Automotive News reports:
As gasoline prices rise, some analysts predict a drop in SUV sales and trade-in values at dealerships...

Crude oil reached $91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday, causing nationwide pump prices to increase 7 cents a gallon to an average of $3.05. That is up nearly 45 cents from a year ago. Diesel prices also have risen, reaching $3.29 a gallon, more than 56 cents a gallon higher than last year.

Alec Gutierrez, lead analyst for vehicle evaluation at Kelley Blue Book, said sales of SUVs have only fallen about 1 percent since the last major gasoline price spike in spring of 2008.

He said he doesn't expect SUV sales to drop dramatically unless prices reach $3.50 to $4 per gallon, but even then, the rush to offload larger vehicles shouldn't be as pronounced as in spring of 2008.

“If you see a 20-to-30 cent price increase per gallon over the course of a couple weeks then of course people are going to panic,” he said, “but if it increases steadily over time that gives the market a chance to react rationally.”

Krugman on rising oil prices: It's not about us, and no Mad Max collapse of civilization!

Krugman continues to dismiss inflation, Fed money printing, and the root cause of rising commodity prices:
Oil is back above $90 a barrel. Copper and cotton have hit record highs. Wheat and corn prices are way up. Over all, world commodity prices have risen by a quarter in the past six months.
So what’s the meaning of this surge?
Is it speculation run amok? Is it the result of excessive money creation, a harbinger of runaway inflation just around the corner? No and no...
So what are the implications of the recent rise in commodity prices? It is, as I said, a sign that we’re living in a finite world, one in which resource constraints are becoming increasingly binding. This won’t bring an end to economic growth, let alone a descent into Mad Max-style collapse. It will require that we gradually change the way we live, adapting our economy and our lifestyles to the reality of more expensive resources.
But that’s for the future. Right now, rising commodity prices are basically the result of global recovery. They have no bearing, one way or another, on U.S. monetary policy. For this is a global story; at a fundamental level, it’s not about us.
In a post-Greater Depression world, we'll find Krugman or Bernanke as the bitch on the back of Wez's bike:

Quotation for the day: Hans-Hermann Hoppe

The direct or indirect control of traffic and communication is of similar strategic importance for a state. Indeed, all states have gone to great pains to control rivers, coasts and seaways, streets and railroads, and especially, mail, radio, television, and telecommunication systems. Every prospective dissident is decisively restrained in his means of moving around and coordinating the actions of individuals if these things are in the hand or under the supervision of the state. The fact, well known from military history, that traffic and communication systems are the very first command posts to be occupied by any state attacking another vividly underlines their central strategic significance in imposing state rule on a society.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe, A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989; reprinted: Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2010) 183-4; digital edition here.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Just kidding: The ultimate alternative-fuel vehicle

Forget this -- the Bio-Bug, launched last summer, which runs on methane converted from human waste...

...when you can have this:

(Via Jalopnik and The Telegraph.)

[Photos: Caters News and SWNS]

Inflation: EPJ reader in auto parts biz reports

Robert Wenzel's continues to offer the best examples of current Fed-bred inflation.  Today a loyal reader of his in the car products business writes:
Indiana is considered a very low cost of living state, but prices here are dramatically going up. I am a business owner of a very small distributor of motor oil and other car related products. So I will give you the skinny of what is going on with my prices on the wholesale/retail level...

Just this year, here is how my pricing has gone up due to raw materials/shipping....

From Jan - July, my price on 4-1 gal jugs was $77.40 and case of quarts was $59.25. August to now, price is $79.40 and $60.75 for previous mentioned. ...

Here are some more examples of prices going up. Sausage dogs at a gas station in the area have gone up from $1.39 to $1.59. Beer prices on 18 packs of Miller Lite (what I buy) used to be $9.99 on sale, now $11.99 on sale.
Business people and realists are noticing now.  Boobus Americanus will start noticing before too much longer.  CNBC, WSJ, and the rest of the corrupt financial media will report on it seriously when it reaches warp speed and it's too late for the political class to figure it out.

Alfred E. Kahn, hero of airline deregulation, RIP

17 October 1917 – 27 December 2010

He was a self-described liberal Democrat who believed in the best interests of the consumer and transformed what had been a socialistic system in air travel.  He steadfastly believed that complete deregulation was a lot better than a little bit.

Would that we had his like to advocate for deregulation of surface transportation!

Nissan Leaf: Foolish Socrates and a PIIG both satisfied

"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question."
-  John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (1863)

Portugese PM José Sócrates became (in the words of the "first world leader to take deliver of [a] Nissan Leaf."  Nissan's news release is here.  The PIIG leader said

"We are extremely pleased to be introducing the electric vehicle in Portugal. After 3 years of collaborative work between the Government, public entities, the corporate consortium which developed the MOBI.E solution and Nissan, we have achieved the first smart, built-in charging network on a national scope, therefore we are the first country to welcome electric vehicles. By combining in a pioneer manner our commitment to renewable energies, the implementation of the smart charging network and the introduction of electric vehicles, Portugal will be in the lead of the transition to a more sustainable future."
What sustainable future, Mister Primeiro-ministro?  Fitch downgraded your country just before Christmas.  As Reuters reported:
Fitch downgraded Portugal's long-term and local currency ratings by one notch to A-plus, with a negative outlook, adding to a drumbeat of negative news on sovereign debt in Europe.

Portugal has moved into the eye of the storm in Europe's debt crisis on concerns about its public finances, with investors worried it will be next to take a bailout after Ireland and Greece.

"Failure to meet its 2011 budget headline and structural deficit targets would erode confidence in the medium-term sustainability of public finances that underpins Portugal's current sovereign ratings," Fitch said.

NYC snow job VI: City apparatchiks get their streets plowed first

From the Daily News today:
Better to live next-door to Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty than right around the corner.
The Staten Island street outside Doherty's home was plowed clean on Tuesday - but the dead-end streets on either side of his block remained a snow-choked winter blunderland.
There was similarly smooth sailing across the upper East Side, home to Mayor Bloomberg and Cathie Black, the mayor's choice for schools chancellor.
No surprise there, snow-weary New Yorkers say.
Cabbie Edward Fernandez, the front of his taxi torn off by a Greenwich Village snowbank, wasn't exactly shocked by the disparity in the wake of the 20-inch blizzard.
"If you go uptown, the upper East Side, Madison Ave., it's okay," Fernandez said. "When you come down here, forget about it. It's a madhouse. The snow destroyed my car."

NYC snow job V: Street clearing entrepreneurs "wait all year for this"

The NYT grudgingly reports:
Some are just out of prison, others have Ivy League degrees. Many are day laborers who speak no English. A few are women. All are entrepreneurs, in an all-cash, tax-free enterprise that exploits desperation and deadlines.
This is our time,” said Eddie Claborn, 44 and unemployed. “We wait all year for this.”
Mr. Claborn and his shovel were a popular duo on the Upper West Side on Tuesday morning. Between 8:30 and 9 a.m., he had dug out five cars, pocketing $10 or $20 for each one. He was busy freeing a Hyundai imprisoned by a wall of snow when he was summoned by a well-dressed man who could not extricate his truck — despite its four-wheel drive — from the icy grip of a curbside snowdrift.
“Be right with you,” yelled Mr. Claborn, who lives in the nearby Frederick Douglass public housing project. “Just trying to earn an honest buck,” he said later.
Read the entire story here.  It warms the heart and reminds us that even in obsessively regulated New York City human enterprise can spring up instantly when allowed.

After the last several days' fiasco in plowing the streets, New Yorkers should be just a little more open to privatizing street clearing...but, of course, the political class and public employee unions would crush it.

Another (government-maintained) bridge in Minneapolis ready to collapse

The collapse of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis on July 1, 2007, was a signal event.  It conveniently served statists in their call for more "investment" in the US's infrastructure -- American taxpayers being coerced into investing in Leviathan government.  But it also exposed the sorry state of governments' maintenance of the nation's bridges.

Today brings news that another -- albeit lesser -- bridge in Minneapolis over the Mississippi is in such a bad state of repair that it is closed for at least the next year to car and truck traffic.

Mainstream Media "oozing with oil disinformation"

Giordano Bruno (a.k.a. Brandon Smith) writes an important article on the "Oil Juggernaut Unleashed":
Extreme oil prices pummel more than just our wallets; they also strike our cultural psyche. Those people who found a way to ignore the signs of economic collapse until now will discover that they cannot avoid the icy reality of the gas pump. When those digital dials spin past the $5 mark before pouring out even one gallon of unleaded, I suspect people will be generally pissed. This is why the establishment media is oozing with oil disinformation and demand rhetoric now. It is an attempt to “vaccinate” the masses against inflation in the future; to redirect their anger towards a false cause and effect scenario. It has long been my concern that the speculation induced gas spike of 2008 was, in fact, a deliberately engineered event; a staged price vault meant to condition Americans to passively tolerate the very real dollar disintegration and hyperinflation which would eventually occur later down the road. When crude prices race towards $150 a barrel once again, does anyone really doubt that the MSM will bring up “speculators” as the villain? And, more importantly, does anyone doubt that the rest of the world will blame the actual trigger; the fading Greenback?
(Via ZeroHedge)

Quotation for the day: Rudi Volti

Italy led the way with construction of the first autostrada, a limited-access, divided road that linked Milan with Varese and Lake Como, a distance of about 30 miles (50 km).  Completed in 1925, the autostada was designed for speeds of 36 mph (60 kph), a rapid clip in those days.  Primarily intended to serve as a showpiece for the "New Roman Empire" of Benito Mussolini, the autostrada was of limited importance at a time when very few Italians owned cars.
Rudi Volti, Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2004; reprinted: Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) 47.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

NYC snow job IIIa: "It's just a car"

Addendum to today's earlier post ("NYC snow job III"): The Ford Explorer being indifferently damaged by New York city workers in the now-famous YouTube video was not a privately owned car after all (though it might have been).  It is in fact owned by the City of New York itself.  The Daily News reports:
"It could had been completely avoided," said the wife of Eugene McArdle, 53, whose city-owned SUV was crushed. "It was a poor decision."
McArdle is the emergency liaison for the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development and needs the vehicle for his job, a spokeswoman said.
The SUV is a 1995 Expedition with 95,000 miles on it that the agency inherited from the city Department of Environmental Protection.
"We're happy no one was hurt," the spokeswoman said. "It's just a car."
But the towed front-end loader nailed McArdle's personal car, the Toyota parked in front of the Explorer, in the process!

What did Hizzoner have to say about this incident at a news conference today?
[A]nyone who suffered property damage should file a claim with the city.

Truckers: Obama/LaHood rules will hurt the economy further

The American Truckers Association response to the Obama/TheHood proposal to revise hours-of-service:
The Obama Administration's proposal is "overly complex, chock full of unnecessary restrictions on professional truck drivers and, at its core, would substantially reduce trucking's productivity," commented Bill Graves, President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations...
"When viewed against trucking's sterling safety record," said Graves, "it's plain that the Obama Administration's willingness to break something that's not broken likely has everything to do with politics and little or nothing to do with highway safety or driver health."...
The changes proposed today "will be enormously expensive for trucking and the economy," said ATA's Graves. FMCSA estimated, just two years ago, costs of over $2.2 billion if the daily drive time was reduced by 1 hour and the restart provision was significantly changed. In fact, FMCSA had concluded that "eliminating the 11th hour is unlikely to be cost effective under any reasonable set of circumstances." "This proposal includes even more restrictions than what FMCSA previously considered," said Graves.
It's doubtful that the President or TheHood appreciate the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic:

The only time he feels right is when he's rollin'
He's got roadmaps in his hand
Lord, drivin' just as hard as he can
Trying to dodge them scales and the man
Well I'm talkin' about
Truck drivin' man

More Hofmeister on $5 gas

In addition to this morning's post on John Hofmeister's prediction about $5 per gallon gasoline in the US by 2012, here is ZeroHedge's guest post with video.
If we stay on our current course, within a decade, within ten years, we’re into energy shortages in this country big time. Black outs, brown outs, gas lines, rationing - that’s my projection based upon the current inability to  make decisions.
Mac Slavo agrees with your editor that Bernanke will make $5 gas a reality more than demand or supply factors.

Enviros out for Assange

At, Bill Anderson suggests the plausible:
[A] lot of people in power want to pay back Assange for his role in releasing the so-called Climategate emails. These emails detailed how “climate scientists” manipulated data, bullied those who disagreed with their “hockey stick” Algorean world temperature chart, and suppressed good science that contradicted their own work.
Even though the NY Times and other major news outlets ignored these emails (or claimed that they were nothing but irrelevant “noise” and not worth any public discussion), nonetheless the emails still were a blow to the outright authoritarian attempts by governments to further control people. A lot of people in power have been unhappy with Wikileaks for letting the truth spill out regarding “climate change,” and have looked for a way to go after those who have exposed the lies.

NYC snow job IV: Sic(k) transit gloria

Jalopnik reader Jillian Babcock took "beautiful (and sort of creepy) photos" of MTA buses abandoned on East 88th Street in Manhattan.  See more of her photographs at

[Photo: Jillian Babcock via]

TheHood puts a horse's head in Florida guv-elect's bed

As he did in Wisconsin to shame Governor-elect Scott Walker, TheHood sends a message to high-speed-rail reluctant Governor-elect Rick Scott.  A columnist at Cleantechnica cheers on the US DOT capo:
Basically, in response to Scott's hesitations, U.S. secretary of transportation Ray LaHood wrote a guest article in the Orlando Sentinel last week.

LaHood makes it clear as day why a large and connected high-speed network is important for the U.S. Throughout the piece, he compares a national high-speed rail network to the interstate highway system. You would think everyone could come to the easy realization that the interstate required considerable initial investment but was worth that investment in the long term and that a potential national high-speed rail network is in the same position today. Of course, leaving Kasich, Walker (and, perhaps, Scott) aside, many state leaders get this.

"Since the president proposed his vision for high-speed rail last year, enthusiasm around the country has been overwhelming," LaHood writes. "To date, states have submitted applications for $64 billion - more than six times the amount of money available."
The only "easy realization," of course, is that spendthrift groupthink dominates in government and among the State-sycophants like Cleantechnica.

LRT: Light-fingered Rail Theft

The Edmonton Journal is running a heart-warming, holidaytime, blast-from-the-past story about the famous transit worker who was caught stealing 20 percent of the city's LRT farebox revenue, totaling CAD$2.4 million over a 13 year period.

NYC snow job III: How private property (Ford Explorer) is treated on a public good (street)

New York's hero public servants at work yesterday.

(Via Drudge and

Re-election TIGER b(u)y the tail in the Bay Area

The US DOT has just announced final agreements for two ARRA ("stimulus") projects in California:  $46 million for the Doyle Drive project in SanFran and almost $34 million for rail upgrades in San Bernadino.  Both are Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, which the Federal Highway Administrator assures us will create hundreds of jobs, improve safety, and enhance the quality of life.  Local pols enthuse.

But wait: the Doyle Drive project is embroiled in court over public employees' criticism of Caltrans's plan to hire a foreign contractor to build and maintain the new road.  California's public sector is so dysfunctional that even largess from Washington for San Francisco gets entangled in competing agendas.

NYC snow job II: Bloomberg tells city residents to chill

"Our city is doing exactly what you'd want it to do."  Thus Mayor Bloomberg to criticism over unplowed streets, stranded trains, abandoned buses, and idled taxis in the aftermath of the Sunday-Monday blizzard.  A Brooklyn Democrat instead calls the city's plowing efforts "a colossal failure."  The New York Post describes "the crippled transit system, completely overwhelmed emergency responders and unpassable roadways."

Public hearings into the city's response are promised.  What lessons might be learned or solutions found?  Probably not what Robert Wenzel suggested yesterday:
It's time to return the subways to the private sector.  I am not talking about "privatizing" in the sense that the city oversees and hires private contractors.  I am talking about the city getting out of the subway business and auctioning off the lines, so that they are bought and brought into the 21st century.

This will soon be worth more than a Bugatti Veyron SS

Talk about a store of value!  With sales of the Tata Nano needing a boost, the Indian auto maker has commissioned a promotional one-off example of its ultra-cheap but smoking hot subcompact to be made of solid gold.  International Business Times has the story.

La terreur: SUVs and old diesels to the guillotine!

La protection sociale n'est due qu'aux citoyens paisibles.

"Society's protection is owed only to peaceable citizens."
- Maximilien Robespierre
Rapport sur les principes de morale politique qui doivent guide la Convention, 18 pluviôse an II — 5 février 1794, in Charles Vellay, ed., Discours et rapports de Robespierre (Paris: Librairie Charpentier et Fasquelle, 1908) 333.
If you are a Parisian citizen who owns an SUV or older diesel-powered car, you may not be peaceable in the eyes of the new Robespierres in the Hôtel de Ville, according to the Associated Press:

Paris is planning to test restrictions on gas-guzzling vehicles, likely including sport utility vehicles, as part of attempts to curb pollution.
Denis Baupin, an environmental official in the mayor's office, said Wednesday that sport utility vehicles and old diesel cars are likely to be targeted in upcoming test restrictions.
To any Parisian who drives an SUV, Baupin's advice is: "Sell it and buy a vehicle that's compatible with city life.
"I'm sorry, but having a sport utility vehicle in a city makes no sense," Baupin told RTL radio.

The French State violating your property rights in the city, you say?  C'est la vie.  Or is it, C'est la guerre?

$5 gas by 2012: By demand or hyperinflation?

The former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, says Americans could be paying $5 for a gallon of gasoline by 2012.
In an interview with Platt's Energy Week television, Hofmeister predicted gasoline prices will spike as the global demand for oil increases.
"I'm predicting actually the worst outcome over the next two years which takes us to 2012 with higher gasoline prices," he said.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Oil Price Information Service says Americans will see gasoline prices hit the $5 a gallon mark in the next decade, but not by 2012.
"That wolf is out there and it's going to be at the door...I agree with him that we'll see those numbers at some point this decade but not yet." Kloza said.
"The demand is still sluggish enough in some of the mature economies."
But demand and production are only two factors which will determine gasoline (and diesel) prices in the post-QE2 world of 2011.  Contra Messrs. Hofmeister and Kloza, hyperinflation will be pumping everyone's gas by 2012.

Quotation for the day: Hilaire Belloc

The plan of such an avenue by which to lead great armies and along which to drive commands argues a mixture of unity and of power as intimate as the lime and the sand of which these conquerors welded their imperishable cement.  And it does more than this.  It suggests swiftness and certitude of aim and a sort of eager determination which we are slow to connect with Government, but which certainly underlay the triumph of this people.
Hilaire Belloc, "The Roman Road," in Hills and the Sea (London: Methuen & Co., 1906) 221.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lance Mitchell, an American patriot

Lance Mitchell of Lakeway, Texas, is an enemy of the municipal State and true freedom fighter.  His website is  His purpose:

1.  Raise drivers' safety and situation awareness.
2.  Fight against undeserved or outrageously expensive speeding tickets.
3.  Provide support.

His story is told by the Austin American Statesman:
"People often ask if I was angry about getting a speeding ticket in my past," Mitchell, now 47, said. "But I've had one ticket in the last 25 years. I'm an excellent driver."...
"My father was a truck driver, and he always flashed his lights to warn people of a radar trap, and I always did that myself," he said. "So it was just curiosity."
Eventually, he wondered if he couldn't also display a sign warning drivers of an upcoming radar trap as an interactive way to promote his site.
"I discovered while it was illegal to warn people of an enforcement action, that didn't apply to the traffic code," Mitchell said. "So I thought, 'Great! Now I can hold a sign!'"...
Mitchell commissioned a plastic, diamond-shaped orange sign emblazoned with "" In early 2008, he began staging speeding motorist interventions.
Mitchell figured he was performing the same public service as a real police speed trap, but at a significantly lower cost to the driver.
Read the entire story here.


[Photo: Austin American Stateman]

Government intervention: SAAB and Fouriertransform

Bloomberg reports:
Saab Automobile, the carmaker owned by Spyker Cars NV, has agreed with the Swedish government to set up a venture to develop transmissions for the auto industry.
Saab and Fouriertransform AB, the Swedish government’s venture-capital firm, will staff the company with about 50 engineers from Saab’s powertrain division, the companies said today in a joint statement on the Fouriertransform website.
The venture, which will be formed at the start of 2011, will develop transmission systems, such as gearboxes, for Saab and other carmakers, the companies said.
Fouriertransform is described on its website as
a state-owned venture capital company with a task to, on a commercial basis, strengthen the international competitiveness of the Swedish automotive cluster. The company has a total investment framework of SEK 3 billion and, in addition to providing capital, its well-qualified employees and network of experts contribute their own expertise.

Why do some Canadians have rail envy?

From CTV in Winnipeg today:
It's been 40 years since Japan unveiled its first high-speed rail systems, but Canada is languishing with a rail system from the 1950s that one rail activist calls a national "embarrassment."
"Who can defend what we have? The public has to say ‘Enough is enough' and tell our government that we need . . . modern passenger rail like the rest of the world has," Paul Langan of the group High-Speed Rail Canada told
Which nation should be embarrassed?

Japan: Resource poor, high-density land use, the Lost (Two) Decade(s).

Canada: Resource rich, massive landmass with small population, good fundamentals for economic growth despite drag of welfare programs.

Of course, Canada has an deplorable nanny-state, just like other Western countries.  But its people still enjoy a relative high level of freedom.  And it boasts the lowest public sector debt among the G8.

Canadian taxpayers should count themselves fortunate that they don't "enjoy" the credit-addicted societies which can travel about the countryside at 250 km/hr in phallic-shaped trains built by companies like Siemens ("the global leader in high speed rail")...because public debt size does matter.

Taxi City Toxicity

The provocative title of an earlier post, "Taxi Fascism in Santa Monica," now looks less provocative with this news from the Associated Press:
A judge has temporarily blocked Santa Monica's new taxi franchising system after Armenian American cabbies complained they were excluded.
The Taxi Drivers Association of Santa Monica, which represents five Armenian American-owned or operated cab companies and 300 drivers, filed a discrimination suit against the city on Tuesday.
In June, Santa Monica officials review franchise applications and chose five of 13 cab companies, none of them Armenian American owned or operated. The franchise system begins next week.
Santa Monicans might be singing with System of a Down: "Looking at life through the eyes of a tire hub.../The toxicity of our city, of our city."

(NOTE: Here at, we use the term "fascism" as defined by John T. Flynn and others: State-sponsored and bureaucracy-regulated syndicalism.  Our use of the term does not necessarily carry the extra freight of racism.  Though in the above case, that shoe arguable also fits.)

"Painful but necessary": Willow Run closes

GM's Willow Run plant closed last week, as a belated step in Government Motors' bankruptcy proceedings.  The storied facility was first built by the Ford Motor Company to manufacturer B-24 bombers, then used by Kaiser-Fraser, and operated by General Motors since the 1950s.  It was named a state historic site in 1980 during a previous GM crisis.

A more fitting epitaph than the historic site sign above might be from Murrary Rothbard's classic 1969 essay, "Economic Depressions: Their Cause and Cure" (fittingly first published in Michigan):

The "depression" is then seen as the necessary and healthy phase by which the market economy sloughs off and liquidates the unsound, uneconomic investments of the boom, and reestablishes those proportions between consumption and investment that are truly desired by the consumers. The depression is the painful but necessary process by which the free market sloughs off the excesses and errors of the boom and reestablishes the market economy in its function of efficient service to the mass of consumers.

Surpressed UK government study: Health service urged to help with drivers license euthanasia

A UK government study -- which has not been made public -- reveals that old drivers are a major threat to road safety and urges health care professional (i.e. government factotums) to intervene, reports PressTV (the Iranian English-language service):
Based on the claims of road safety campaigners, the Department of Transport have not revealed the findings of the research according to which thousands of drivers in the UK are physically unfit to drive posing a danger on the lives of the people on the roads.

“Doctors, nurses, and other health professionals are failing to stop people driving when they are a danger to themselves and other road users, and the problem is growing because of the ageing population,” the researchers claim based on the study.

Health workers are supposed to advise their patients on their health conditions which should prevent them from driving. These government employees should also report to the Drive and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to notify them of any medically unfit driver endangering the road safety.

The research project, commissioned by the transport department from a team at Warwick University, reveals that three-fourth of the unfit drivers are not prevented from driving, posing a great danger on the lives of other motorists on the road.

"With our ageing population and increase in diabetes, this problem can be expected to worsen," Amy Aeron-Thomas, the executive director to Roadpeace, a charity campaigning in behalf of road crash victims, said.

"We call on the government to remember that impairment is not restricted to drink or drugs."

It was less than two years ago that another study by the Institute of Advanced Motorists found older driver in the UK to be safe drivers, who "self-regulate themselves as they realize their abilities are weakening."  IAM issued a similar study at the beginning of this year, with teh Times transport correspondent saying that its data "explodes the myth that older drivers are the real road menace."

The latest research findings are undoubtedly a potentially major embarrassment for the government.  Do they share information (whether accurate or arguable) on a subject of popular interest (road safety) and controversy (restricted licences for the elderly) which may alienate a high-turnout voting bloc?

NYC snow job I: Private vs. public snow removal on NYC streets and sidewalks

After yesterday's blizzard, who is more effective at clearing the snow in Midtown Manhattan?

Robert Wenzel and friend have the answer:
Rolfe Winkler thumbs:
Strangest sighting on trudge into work: cars using sidewalk as the road at 46th and 6th. sidewalks better plowed than streets.
Which, of course, brings back memories of last year's public sector versus private sector snow shoveling performance in Washington D.C.

TheHood steals Geithner's and Bernanke's credit for "safest roads ever"

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation spares us a new announcement about newly proposed rules regulating this or that -- as has been its wont lately.  Instead we are offered a review of its benign contributions to the public weal, especially on road safety.

In justification for his current campaign against the "epidemic of distracted driving," TheHood and his staff are quick to claim credit for American roads in 2009 being "the safest they have ever been, with the lowest traffic fatality and injury rates ever recorded."

I think the secretary should be more modest.  Credit for that encouraging development lies elsewhere.  While improved car technology is helping save more lives, the Great Recession has proven to be the best means of lessening American travelers' road miles, with the corresponding reduction in injuries and fatalities.

Here is a useful representation (courtesy of Prof. Mark J. Perry's blog) of the decline in vehicle miles during the economic decline, according to FHA data:

While vehicle miles driven are on the rebound in recent months, we may reasonably expect the Great Inflation of 3Q and 4Q 2011and the Greater Depression to follow will send the chart down again -- and traffic accident number plummeting further.

So the Fed and the Obama administration's economic team should take their bows for last year being "the best ever recorded" in one respect.

Where's your climate change now?

Investor's Business Daily editorializes on the "Abiding Faith of Warm-ongers":

The sight of confused and angry travelers stuck in airports across Europe because of an arctic freeze that has settled across the continent isn't funny. Sadly, they've been told for more than a decade now that such a thing was an impossibility — that global warming was inevitable, and couldn't be reversed.
This is a big problem for those who see human-caused global warming as an irreversible result of the Industrial Revolution's reliance on carbon-based fuels. Based on global warming theory — and according to official weather forecasts made earlier in the year — this winter should be warm and dry. It's anything but. Ice and snow cover vast parts of both Europe and North America, in one of the coldest Decembers in history.
A cautionary tale? You bet. Prognosticators who wrote the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, global warming report in 2007 predicted an inevitable, century-long rise in global temperatures of two degrees or more. Only higher temperatures were foreseen. Moderate or even lower temperatures, as we're experiencing now, weren't even listed as a possibility.
What's not changing like the weather?  Statist policies to curb "climate change" and industrial policies to create "green" jobs.  From Europe to North America to parts of Asia, the fix is in -- no matter current experience, no matter contrary data, and apparently no matter the fiscal consequences.  Bankrupt nation-states are plunging headlong into staggering malinvestments in electric car charging infrastrucuture, exorbitant rail projects, and alternative-fuel subsidies, all in fanatical obedience to a false god.

Oil above $91/barrel in Asia

Oil producers are the convenient inflation-villains, not central banks (Associated Press):
Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said at a meeting in Cairo over the weekend that the full group would likely not meet until June to discuss production quota policy. OPEC, which accounts for about 40 percent of global crude output, left quotas unchanged at a meeting earlier this month.
Some analysts are concerned that higher oil prices, which have jumped almost 30 percent since September, could fuel inflation and undermine global economic growth. China raised its benchmark lending rate Saturday for a second time in two months in a bid to ease growing inflation pressures.
"High oil prices were one of the contributors to the last global crisis," JBC Energy said in a report. "The largest effect of an oil price shock on the economy occurs around three to four quarters after the price spike."

Quotation for the day: R. W. Richardson

The secretary of the National Good Roads' Association condescended to the farmers and other "densely indifferent" opponents of State coercion:
The plan of national and state aid is the solution of the road problem; it equalizes the burden of cost and provides the means in an equitable and just method, together with intelligent supervision which insures proper application of the funds and good permanent roadways as results.
Every sound and practical argument favors this principle, and every advocate for a system of improved roads in the United States, may confidently go to the people clad in the panoply of a just cause and a patriotism devoted to the most useful, necessary and practical of all internal improvements and the most directly and substantially beneficial to all people and to all interests whether social, industrial, commercial or agricultural.
I doubt if any other question, in the short time, it has been before the people, has received such universally favorable sentiment, but there still remains a great deal of dense indifference upon the subject.  It is strange, too, that the agricultural classes so immediately and directly concerned, should be so slow in appreciating the justice of and demand the application of this principle in the solution of the difficult problem of the permanent improvement of the common roads of the country.
R. W. Richardson, "Must Unite for Education," Good Roads Magazine, vol. 5 (May 1904) 221; digitized copy here (courtesy of Google Books).

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reichsführer Napolitano on CNN: "We're also looking at addressing other areas"

Madame Secretary on CNN's "State of the Union":
A year after a foiled plot to bomb a US-bound passenger plane, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told CNN's "State of the Union" program that other places and modes of transportation must now be scrutinized.
"We look at so-called soft targets -- the hotels, shopping malls, for example -- all of which we have reached out to in the past year and have done a fair amount of training for their own employees," Napolitano said..
"The overall message is everything is objectively better than it was a year ago, particularly in the aviation environment. But we're also looking at addressing other areas," Napolitano said..
"And so we have enhanced measures going on at surface transportation, not because we have a specific or credible threat there, but because we know, looking at Madrid and London, that's been another source of targets for terrorists."

"Vantage point is everything when it comes to surveillance"

Recently I have noted various technologies proposed which will make it easier for the State to watch us on the road: herehere, here, and here.  In America, if the TSA's mission creep is not arrested -- see here,  here, here and here --, the nation's highways and streets may soon resemble automotive GULags, aided and abetted by these police state marvels.

Thanks to David Kramer's post at, here is yet another example: ICx Technologies SkyWatch "Manned Mobile Surveillance System".  (The manufacturer even assures us that it "is rugged enough to handle even the most primitive off-road conditions" too.  So don't try anything seditious in your Ford Raptor, Toyota Land Cruiser, or Range Rover!)

[Photo: ICx Technologies]

Beijing officials struggle with exploding car ownership

The dynamism of the Chinese people is a wonder to behold.  And, of course, the country's astonishing economic growth has been fueling exponential growth in personal car ownership for years.

In the post-Olympics period, China's largest metropolis is struggling more than ever with its traffic problems.  In some respects, congestion and the responses to it are the perfect metaphot for the larger dichotomies in modern China.

For example, some bureacrats in Beijing city government still think in harshly Maoist terms.  The NYT recently reported:
According to a senior journalist at one official media outlet, that episode prompted President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao to weigh in, asking Beijing city and Communist Party leaders what was to be done. The journalist, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions, said Beijing leaders had suggested ways to halt population growth in Beijing and cap the number of new automobiles.
Mr. Hu was said to have rejected some of the more restrictive proposals as too draconian for a progressive national capital. The city opted instead to throw more traffic officers onto the streets.
City leaders are now considering a multi-faceted approach to dealing with traffic congestion, including more road building, more public transit, and higher parking charges.  Rumors abounded in recent weeks about another contemplated government action in the manner of the old regime, reported the Globe and Mail, with comical and unintended consequences:
[M]any car sales lots in Beijing were sitting empty as crowds snapped up vehicles amid rumours the government might try to restrict new sales.
“Sales are much better than we expected,” said Zhang Bo, sales manager at a Toyota dealership where customers have to wait two months for a Camry sedan or Highlander SUV. At a Volkswagen dealership, the wait time for the popular Golf family car was six months.
“The manufacturer is trying to increase their capacity, but the earliest they can get more cars out is January,” said a marketing executive at the dealership who gave only his surname Shen.
For now, the city isn't proposing any sales restrictions, though it said it may ban cars on alternate days “when necessary,” based an odd-even system using the last number of the license plate. Currently, the city bans private cars from the roads one day a week, based on the last number of the license plate.
Odd-even car bans were imposed during the 2008 Beijing Olympics and reduced congestion considerably, though the rule also prompted well-to-do Beijingers to simply go out and buy another car.
Sure enough, the popular rumors proved true.  The BBC reports:
City authorities will allow only 240,000 vehicles to be registered for 2011 - one-third of this year's total...
Officials said the new rules would not solve the full extent of the city's problems, only slow the down the rate at which they are worsening.
"It will be difficult to dramatically improve the traffic situation in a short time," said Liu Xiaoming, deputy director of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.
"But it can slow down the pace of worsening traffic congestion."

Car registrations will be allocated by a license plate lottery system from Friday.
Even the Central Government's bureaucrats must bow before the city government's edict!:
Under the new rules, government departments will not be allowed to increase the size of their fleets for five years.

LRT mismanagement leads to call for criminal investigation

TheVirginia DOT inspector general just issued a special review of it.  The Federal Transit Administration is looking into it.  The FBI may even be investigating fraud.  And now Norfolk city officials want their own investigation too, after revelations that the city manager withheld vital information from the public.

What is it?  The Hampton Roads Transit light-rail transit project -- another New Urbanist experiment gone awry, with more than $100 million in cost overruns.

The local political class is trying to cover their collective asses, reports the Virginian-Pilot:
Elected leaders who sit on HRT's board, which the state report concludes was often kept in the dark about light-rail costs and the hiring of consultants, said they want justice.
"If there are laws that were broken, I hope and pray they'll be enforced to the fullest extent," said Rick West, a Chesapeake councilman. "You can't not be truthful with the taxpayers' money."
Barclay Winn, a Norfolk councilman, said: "I want to investigate all the improprieties at whatever level they occurred.... And whatever remedies are out there, I want us pursuing them to the fullest extent possible."
The problems with the LRT project were so bad that now other HRT services are under the microscope.  For example:
Oversight at Hampton Roads Transit was so slack that thousands of dollars went missing from bus fare collections at the Oceanfront almost weekly, for a total of $189,000 in just over two years, state investigators said.
The total is twice what was originally believed to be missing, and represents about 20 percent of the money collected from resort trolleys.

Taxi business grows with innovation

A taxi company in Toldeo, Ohio, is experiencing double-digit growth in business through advances in technology, reports WTVG-TV:
One local taxi cab company says business is booming and the owner attributes that to accessibility.
Business at Black and White is up nearly 30 percent over the last two years. And co-owner Scott Potter attributes the growth to advances in technology. Potter says, "First we bought an automated dispatch system, then we added computers in the vehicles which read credit cards, gift cards."
Today you can hail a cab over the internet, through texting, and even using a smart phone app. Soon all of the methods will be listed with the phone number on all of Black and White's cabs.
And there's other innovations, too:
The company has more than 300 contracts with various agencies to transport patients to and from medical appointments. That makes up the bulk of the company's business.
If municipalities were to get out of the licensing business altogether, accessibility, lower costs, and better service would blossom in the taxi industry.

FIAT dealers hit hard by fiat money

Despite Sergio Marchionne's reassurances at the Paris Auto Show less than three months ago, the Italian car market is in the tank.  Italian consumers are hard pressed.  Car sales continue to plunge.  One-third of the dealers of the country's biggest car brand are on the brink of bankruptcy.  Bloomberg reports:

YouTube - Fiat Dealers Brace for `Sad' Christmas as Sales Slump

Dealerships may have to innovate to survive.

Boxing Day Rebellion: London shoppers find other ways to move about

London's bargain-hunters were undaunted by ASLEF's ("the train drivers' union") so-called industrial action today, a strike of London's Underground.  Agence France-Presse reports this morning:
Shoppers flocked to the traditional Boxing Day sales in London on Sunday, undeterred in their search for a bargain by a strike on the Underground system that caused most services to be suspended.
Oxford Street, the main shopping artery in the capital, was heaving with shoppers by lunchtime, after some people had camped overnight outside Selfridges department store to ensure they were first in the queue.
Similar scenes played out across Britain as retailers slashed their prices by up to 75 percent, many of them hoping to make up for slow trading earlier in the month caused by snow and cold weather.
Bargain-hunters in London were forced to drive or get the bus to the shops as Underground drivers went on a 24-hour strike in a dispute over holiday pay.
Members of the Aslef trade union voted to walk out after transport chiefs refused their demand for triple pay and a day off for working on December 26 -- the day after Christmas being a national holiday in Britain.
The strike caused the part or full suspension of every Tube line, meaning that the train network will have effectively been closed for two days -- it was also shut on Saturday for Christmas.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said Aslef's demands were "monstrous" and accused the union of breaking a long-standing agreement on working hours that included conditions for national holidays.
ASLEF's members have to ask their leaders: What we struck and nobody noticed?

[Photo: 9 January 2006 tube strike: People's Daily Online]

Quotation for the day: Albert Jay Nock

Yesterday I passed over a short stretch of new road built by State power, applied through one of the grotesque alphabetical tentacles of our bureaucracy.  It cost $87,348.56.  Social power, represented by a contractor's figure in competitive bidding, would have built it for $38,668.20, a difference, roughly, of one hundred per cent!

Albert Jay Nock, Our Enemy, the State (New York: William Morrow & Company, 1935) 53, n. 13; digital edition here (courtesy of the Mises Institute).