Saturday, January 29, 2011

Special quotation for the day: Karl Benz

On this day 125 years ago, 29 January 1886, Benz filed his patent for the Benz Patent Motorwagen, the world's first recognized automobile.

Vorliegende Construction bezweckt den Betrieb hauptsächlich leichter Fuhrwerke und kleiner Schiffe, wie solcher zur Beförderung von 1 bis 4 Personen verwendet werden.

First paragraph of Karl Benz's patent application, 29 January 1886; see a PDF of the entire seven page document as granted 2 November 1886 here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A revolving door between car making and automotive journalism

This may be one the shrewder things Bob Lutz did during tenure at Government Motors, but it should raise eyebrows in the same way that the nexus between politics and political journalism does.

John McElroy writes a fascinating story at, though i find his willingnes to spike his own story troubling.

Suez closure fears send oil prices rising

Helicopter Ben's fiat money-printing machine has nothing on 30-years of seething discontent (or more, if you include the disastrous Nassar and Sadat regimes) when it comes to driving oil prices higher. Agustino Fontvecchia writes at the Forbes blog:

The situation could have ripple effects worldwide if the Suez Canal becomes jeopardized or even shut down.  According to Canaccord Genuity, “this may be impactful as approximately 1.8 million bb/d of oil was transported through the Suez Canal in 2009. A closure of the canal would result in an extra 6,000 miles of travel for any oil being transported out of the region, an additional cost which could drive up oil prices.”  International oil prices are already racing towards the $100 a barrel mark.  Brent crude oil contracts for March, “the global benchmark,” hit their highest level since late 2008 at $99.63 per barrel on January 28.  West Texas Intermediate March futures were up 4.2% to $89.21.

The Arab State versus the Arab Street

[Photo of Egyptian armored cars in Cairo, 28 January 2011: AP via the Daily Telegraph]

Atlanta cops accused of molestations at traffic stops

Notorious police unit members accused of misconduct during a traffic spot, reports WSB-TV:

Channel 2 Action News reporter Eric Philips began piecing together the story after two men came forward and complained about possible officer misconduct during a June traffic stop on Fulton Street.
One of the men said members of the Red Dog unit pulled over his vehicle and forced him to pull down his pants on the side of the road in broad daylight, as officers conducted a search for drugs. No drugs were ever found, passenger Brian Kidd said.
Kidd told Philips that his roommate, Shawn Venegas, was also subjected to a body cavity search that left him feeling uncomfortable.
"One of the officers actually stuck his hand down into Shawn Venegas' pants," said attorney Mark Bullman.
Kidd said it was too much for him to bear.
“They went to his bottom part. That’s as low as you can go. I don’t think anybody should be subjected to that kind of search,” Kidd said. “I had to look away because I couldn’t watch my friend be done like that.”
Venegas said he was so traumatized by the incident that he moved to another state.
"I feel molested, and I feel like I was raped," Venegas told Philips over the phone.
Two of the three officers involved in the stop were also named in the infamous Atlanta Eagle bar raid that the city recently settled. Co-counsel on the traffic stop case, Dan Grossman, was the lead attorney in the Atlanta Eagle case.
“I’ve heard many stories from citizens who were stripped in public by Red Dog,” Grossman said.

Quotation for the day: Mohamed ElBaradei

I wish we did not have to go out on the streets to press the regime to act.

Mohamed ElBaradei, on protests against the Mubarek regime, quoted by Reuters, "Protests against Egyptian president spread," 27 January 2011.

[Photo: AFP/Getty]

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mega-metropolis and mega-transportation infrastructure

Central planning on a gargantuan scale smells like mega-malinvestment in the making. The Telegraph says

City planners in south China have laid out an ambitious plan to merge together the nine cities that lie around the Pearl River Delta.
The "Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One" scheme will create a 16,000 sq mile urban area that is 26 times larger geographically than Greater London, or twice the size of Wales.
The new mega-city will cover a large part of China's manufacturing heartland, stretching from Guangzhou to Shenzhen and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Together, they account for nearly a tenth of the Chinese economy.
Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (£190 billion). An express rail line will also connect the hub with nearby Hong Kong.

Super Bowl week taxi boycott in Dallas

Cab drivers in Dallas are so angry over city government-sponsored discrimination that they are organizing a boycott just as the Super Bowl Circus descends, according to the Wall Street Journal:

The drivers, outraged by a city initiative that sends natural-gas-powered cabs to the front of the queue at Dallas's Love Field airport, are organizing a boycott that would make it more difficult for visitors to get around North Texas for the big game a week from Sunday. The Association of Taxicab Operators USA, with 700 members in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is threatening to park their cars starting Thursday if the policy isn't dropped.

Drivers say they sit for hours at the back of the line. They say the promotion of cabs powered by compressed natural gas isn't just about clean air, but an effort to boost Texas's natural-gas industry. Otherwise, they ask, why didn't it include hybrid vehicles?...

The natural-gas program was created to help Dallas meet federal air-quality standards it had violated for years and displace foreign oil at the same time, all without the city spending a dime, [Mayor Tom] Leppert said in a recent interview. "It is almost a renewable source of energy," he said of the nation's abundant supply of natural gas, some of it trapped right under the Dallas metropolitan area.

Mr. Leppert admits that the 87 natural-gas cabs registered so far—out of the 1,840 taxis permitted by the city and the 1.9 million vehicles registered in Dallas County—won't make much of a difference at first. But he hopes to start a trend.

Or maybe he is part of a trend. San Francisco drivers howled when the city's airport sent CNG taxis to the head of the line four times a day in 2003. Officials scaled back the privileges to twice day—angering the natural-gas cabbies. Now, with many of the city's taxis powered by hybrid gasoline-electric systems, the airport said, San Francisco plans to phase out the program. In New York, cab companies defeated Mayor Michael Bloomberg's 2008 plan to replace the city's ubiquitous Crown Victorias with hybrid vehicles.

Quotation for the day: Bruce Feirstein

A Real Man today is someone who can triumph over the challenges of modern society.
Real Men, for example, do not cower and shake in the face of double-digit inflation.
Real Men do not worry about the diminishing ozone layer.
Real Men are not intimidated by microwave radiation; they're not afraid to fly DC-10s, drive Corvairs, or invest in the city of St. Louis municipal bonds.

Bruce Feirstein, Real Men Don't Eat Quiche: A Guide to All That is Truly Masculine (New York: Pocket Books, 1982) 13-4.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NY state lawmaker: criminalize "distracted" pedestrian street crossing

In yet another demonstration of the absurdity which passes from seriousness in American political life, New York state Sen. Karl Kruger (following an Arkansan solon) proposes fining pedestrians who cross the street while distracted by mp3 player or cel phone. WCBS-TV reports:

“We have people who are literally dying in the street,” Kruger said.
Dying, Kruger said, not because they are distracted drivers but because they are distracted walkers...
Some said they object to the move as an intrusion by government into the everyday lives of people — the nanny state syndrome.
“When people are doing things that are detrimental to their own well being, then government should step in,” Kruger said.
The fine for violating the law would be $100, which supporters hope will be enough to stem what they think is a disturbing trend — a slight increase in fatalities.
Senator Kruger must be making US DOT capo Raymond TheHood very proud.

Simon Black: "A Government Agent on Every Corner..."

From Sovereign Man's Simon Black:

[E]very time there is an attack on civilian targets, governments come out in force against the threat. When someone tries to explode his shoe, everyone has to take his/her shoes off. When someone tries to explode his underwear, everyone has to go through a body scanner.

The Russian bombing yesterday proved that these reactive tactics are completely ineffective, akin to training to fight the last war.

Soft targets are everywhere, and if government agencies make it too difficult to blow up a plane, attackers will blow up the airport. If they can’t blow up an airport, they’ll blow up a bus station… sports stadium… grocery store… you name it.

Each reactive policy measure only serves to solidify the attackers’ convictions, erode the freedoms of the innocents, and divide the nation into to distinct sides– those who would rather have their freedom and take a chance on safety, and those who are willing to relinquish their freedom in exchange for the illusion of security.

Quotation for the day: F. A. Hayek

The distinction...between formal law or justice and substantive rules is very important and at the same time most difficult to draw precisely in practice.  Yet the general principle involved is simple enough.  The difference between the two kinds of rules is the same as that between laying down a Rule of the Road, as in the Highway Code, and ordering people where to go; or, better still, between providing signposts and commanding people which road to take.
F. A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (1944), chapter 6; Fiftieth Anniversary Edition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994) 82.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

NYPD violates property rights (surprise) and arrests man for "stealing" is own car

The New York Daily News reports today:

A Bronx man arrested in front of his kids for "stealing" his own car is suing the NYPD for $1 million.  Jamieson Prince, 43, says cops swarmed his 2007 GMC Yukon and cuffed him as he prepared to drive his daughters to school on Nov. 11 - even though he had papers proving ownership.
"I told them it was a mixup and proved to them I owned the car, but they wouldn't listen," Prince, a Norwood resident, told the Daily News.
Read the rest of the story here.

(Via Drudge Report)

Quotation for the day: Eric Sevareid

A national conference on traffic safety is going in this capital city in teh traditional American belief that if only enough people sit at enough round-shaped tables and talk enough, any problem can be solved.  The problem is there all right: the sad fact is that in these fifty-four years of driving cars more Americans have been killed by other Americans than by the armed enemies in all of America's wards.  Last year alone 38,000 were killed on the roads, which is more than our combat deaths in three years of the Korean war.  And the President has pointed to the ironic fact that while we spend billions and set up elaborate world-wide organizations to prevent war, we just pick at the fringes of this far worse manslaughter of street and highway.
Eric Sevareid, "Report from the Independent Pessimists," CBS radio broadcast 18 February 1954; printed in Eric Sevareid, Small Sounds in the Night (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1956) 181-2.

Monday, January 24, 2011

UK road bureaucrats ban disabled man's tracked mobility vehicle

The Daily Mail reports on more "public servants" showing no common sense or compassion for a member of the public whom they allegedly serve:

Read the entire story here.
A disabled man's incredible tank-style wheelchair that lets him go on off-road adventures has been sidelined by officials because it is too big to use in public.
Jim Starr, 36, was hoping to use the hulking chair, which has caterpillar treads instead of wheels, to enjoy days out at the beach and the countryside with his children.
The Tank Chair is designed to move easily across multi-terrain and Jim, 36, has already driven it through snow, across sand and into the surf of his local beach...
It has a top speed of 8mph and runs on a 24 volt motor powered by a battery that is simply charged from a socket.
Jim hoped the chair would allow him more freedom to go outdoors with his wife Emma, son Leo, eight, and daughter Skye, four.

But although initial checks with the DVLA and police suggested he would be able to use the machine legally, it has emerged it is only permitted on private land.
Jim said: 'The whole idea of the chair was that I could go down to the beach with the kids.
'It is a fantastic machine and can take me anywhere I want to go. It has no limits.
'It is ridiculous that I should have found a chair that could help me do all that, then told I could use it, only for the authorities to turn around and say that if I used it on the roads I would be doing something illegal."

Quotation for the day: Gary M. Galles

[I]f American policies that cause the dirtiest, as well as least safe, trucks to now cross our border were eliminated, there is little reason to expect the results to be substantially different for pollution from Mexican trucks. If American roads were opened to Mexican trucks, the best and newest trucks would be used for the longer direct hauls and the oldest, dirtiest trucks would disappear from the border, reducing pollution in those often highly polluted regions. If inspection stations were managed efficiently, there would also be less time wasted idling in line at border checkpoints, which would reduce pollution further.
Gary M. Galles, "The Mexican Truck Miasma," Mises Daily, May 6, 2004; read the entire article here.

Pickens wraps himself in US flag as he asks for special legislation to line his pocket

According to MSNBC, T. Boone Pickens is

now pushing Congress to pass legislation that would offer incentives to convert 18-wheelers and fleet vehicles to run on compressed natural gas, or CNG, rather than diesel. He said if just 8 million of those trucks switch to the domestic-produced fuel, it could cut in half the amount of foreign oil imported by the United States.
“I’m all American,” Pickens said on Friday. “Any energy in America beats importing.”

Pickens is an All-American...corporatist.

(via Robert Wenzel)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cellular services try to stay one step ahead of TheHood

The NY Times has this story today:
Cellular carriers, having spent years trying to blanket the nation with phone service, are now working on ways to stop people from getting calls and texts when they are behind the wheel.
The technology is aimed at curbing dangerous distractions by temporarily interrupting service, short-circuiting the temptation for people to respond to the chime of their phones...
The services being tested and deployed are voluntary and can be overridden if a driver needs to use the phone for an emergency. They face real challenges in that the technology, for now, cannot distinguish whether a phone belongs to a driver or a passenger — or, for that matter, a bus rider.
Although significant strides need to made to improve technology to voluntarily minimze smart phone distractions to drivers, don't think that any achievements will satisfy the safety nazis, starting with US DOT secretary Ray LaHood.

Quotation for the day: Michel de Montaigne

Quant à la pompe et magnificence, par où je suis entré en ce propos, ny Graece, ny Romme, ny Aegypte ne peut, soit en utilité, ou difficulté, ou noblesse, comparer aucun de ses ouvrages au chemin qui se voit au Peru, dressé par les Roys du pays, depuis la ville de Quito jusques à celle de Cusco (il y a trois cens lieues), droict, uny, large de vingt-cinq pas, pavé, revestu de costé et d'autre de belles et hautes murailles, et le long d'icelles, par le dedans, deux ruisseaux perennes, bordez de beaux arbres qu'ils nomment molly. Où ils ont trouvé des montaignes et rochers, ils les ont taillez et applanis, et comblé les fondrieres de pierre et chaux. Au chef de chasque journée, il y a de beaux palais fournis de vivres, de vestements et d'armes, tant pour les voyageurs que pour les armées qui ont à y passer.

As to the pomp and magnificence, which were the cause of my entering on this discourse, neither Greece, nor Rome, nor Egypt has any work to compare, either for utility, or difficulty, or grandeur, with that road, to be seen in Peru, which was constructed by the kings of the country and led from the city of Quito as far as Cuzco -- a distance of nine hundred miles.  It was twenty-five yeards wide, straight, level, and paved; and it was enclosed on either side by fine, high walls, parellel with which, on the inside, ran two perennial streams, bordered by fine trees of the kind that they call molles.  Where they met with mountains and rocks, they cut and levelled them, and they filled in the valleys with stone and chalk.  At daily stages on the road were fine palaces stocked with provisions, garments, and weapons, both for travellers and for any armies that have to pass that way.

Michel de Montaigne, Les Essais (1595) Livre III, Chapitre 6, text from the Montaigne Project digital edition of the edition of P. Villey et Saulnier (Verdun L.); english translation from Michel de Montaigne, Essays translated by J. M. Cohen ( Penguin Books, 1958) 284.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quotation for the day: Geoffrey Allan Plauché

[T]he divide between anarchists and minarchists is actually greater th[an] the divide between minarchists and (other) statists. Minarchists give away the game at the outset when they accept that a government monopoly in X or Y service (say law and security provision) is necessary. This is especially true of small government types who can’t imagine how the free market can provide, for example, roads or postal service.
Geoffrey Allan Plauché, "Road socialism leads to broadband socialism,", October 1, 2010.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quotation for the day: Robert Moses

Anyone in public works is bound to be a target for charges of arbitrary administration and power broking leveled by critics who never had responsibility for building anything.  I raise my stein to the builder who can remove ghettos without moving people as I hail the chef who can make omelets without breaking eggs.
Robert Moses in 1974, responding to Robert Caro's biography of him, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (New York: Knopf, 1974).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sea change: Shippers cope with increased Chinese demand for European imports

A fascinating article appeared in the Financial Times yesterday: shipping companies are hard pressed to meet Chinese consumer demand for European automobiles as European demand for Asian imports cools:

Kai Kraass, chief operating officer for Wallenius Wilhelmsen, the largest European-based fleet operator, said that the Chinese surge had for the first time created more demand to shift items from Europe to Asia than the other way round.
“This is a big change for us,” he said.
All the operators said growing China demand was a result of the strong desire among newly wealthy Chinese for cars built in Europe, often in preference to the same companies’ cars built in Chinese factories.
“There are hundreds of millions of people being lifted out of poverty,” Mr Steimler said. “What they want is European-built cars. The market is huge.”
Carl-Johan Hagman, chief executive of Oslo-based Höegh Autoliners, said that European seaborne car exports to China had grown to an expected 500,000 this year, from 20,000 in 2005.
“What has happened with China is absolutely phenomenal,” he said.

Phil Mocek trial begins this week

Phillip Mocek is scheduled to face a jury trial on January 20.  The Seattle man was arrested in Albuquerque on November 15, 2009, for refusing to show identification to TSA blueshirts.  He was charged with disorderly conduct, refusing to obey an officer, criminal trespassing, and concealing his identity.

Edward Hasbrouck of the Identity Project, which is supporting Mocek, described the importance of this case to KOB-TV (Albuquerque):
What’s really at root in this case is whether travel is a right that we have under the Constitution - an ability to move about the country without having to show papers - which has been one of the defining characteristics of American freedom.
To read more about Mocek's case, see the Identity Project's

Obama fiddles while New Rome burns, or make that: POTUS to pump ethanol while taxpayers go hungry

The Washington Examiner's David Freddoso today ("U.S. ethanol pandering comes as food inflation poses massive risk"):
Economic forecasts suggest huge problems from global food inflation...
What is our government doing?  Exacerbating  the problem by allowing more ethanol into America's fuel supply. It would be nice to see the Obama administration revisit this decision, but the president has been such a big big booster of ethanol for so long that it's hard even to imagine.

Drinking CAR's Kool-Aid

The Detroit News editorialized ("Back from the crash") last week on the revival of the Detroit auto makers:
By nearly every measure of success, Michigan's auto industry is now competitive.
Auto sales are on the upswing; corporate earnings are positive; productivity levels are on par with Japanese competitors; and quality is vastly improved, among other key benchmarks. Of course getting to this point hasn't been easy. Two of Detroit's automakers went bankrupt; thousands of jobs were lost; investors lost money; and many of the brands people loved have been eliminated.
"Hasn't been easy"?  How about: Hasn't really happened.  The "New" GM and Chrysler aren't really competitive if they rely on government-coerced screwing of bondholders on a huge scale; politically driven concessions in favor of organized labor dinosaurs; central planning from Washington; and massive infusions of involuntary taxpayer (sorry for the tautology) support.

The hometown cheerleaders find a lot to celebrate from findings by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) -- not yet available on its website -- predicting 23,000 new jobs  to be created in Michigan this year in the auto industry.

Even though car sales have been increasing temporarily, it is hard to imagine that when high inflation wallops the American consumers and the price of commodities later this year, that the Big Three will create anything close to that number of jobs.

But Michiganders and unemployed auto workers especially are desperate for any good news -- even if it is manufactured by the Detroit auto news media who for years lapped up and regurgitated whatever hokum the corporatist flaks fed them.
We never want to face a major economic crisis again without the ability to compete through the worst possible circumstances. This means our industry must continue to build on its accomplishments of the last few years without pause, and be ready for any eventuality. Michigan's auto industry is ready for the auto recovery as it never has been before.
Well, our editorialists should tighten up the seat belt, because the recovery is illusory and a new major crisis is looming from which the bankrupt United States government cannot save the state's auto industry.

La-la-land puts last diesel bus to sleep

Alternative-fuel buses are economically less efficient, but they make the politicos feel soooo good, reports the LA Times:
After almost two decades of effort to reduce vehicle emissions, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority retired its last diesel bus Wednesday and became the only major transit agency in the nation with a fleet that is totally equipped with alternative-fuel technologies.
In an urban area where diesel buses began operating in 1940, the MTA now has 2,221 buses powered by compressed natural gas, as well as one electric bus and six gasoline-electric hybrids.
Transit officials estimate that the elimination of diesel engines has reduced the release of cancer-causing particulates from the bus fleet by 80% and greenhouse gases by about 300,000 pounds a day in one of the smoggiest areas of the country.
MTA officials say that compressed natural gas buses cost more to buy and maintain than those powered by diesel but that the increased expenses are offset somewhat over the long run by lower fuel costs.

The case against driver's licenses

Eric Peters asks:  "Why do we bother with driver’s licenses at all?"
They’re certainly not a measure of even minimal competence as a driver. You take a written (now digital) test that Forrest Gump could pass, along with (maybe) a cursory “road” test that takes place in the parking lot of the DMV. A 12-year-old could pass these tests. More to the point, adults far less competent than the average 12-year-old routinely pass these tests. They have a driver’s license, alright, but calling them “drivers” is generous. The sail fawn-addled, SmoooVee doing 80 in a snowstorm, Buick in the left lane refusing to move right, double-yellow-crossing, half-blind inattentive Taco-eating marginality of the average Driver Americanus is known the world over.
So, we do we bother with them at all? Because in the U.S., a driver’s license is really an ID card. A sort of internal passport we’re all compelled to carry – and produce, upon demand. It has very little to do with driving – and much to do with herding us like the cattle we’ve become.
Read the rest of his article here.


Quotation for the day: Milton and Rose Friedman

The railroads are losing money and are in the process of being taken over by the government. The automobile industry, on the other hand, spurred by competition from home and abroad and free to innovate, has made tremendous strides, introducing one innovation after another, so that the cars of fifty years ago are museum pieces. The consumers have benefited--and so have the workers and stockholders in the automobile industry. Impressive--and tragic, because the automobile industry is now rapidly being converted into a governmentally regulated industry. We can see the developments that hobbled railroads occurring before our very eyes to automobiles.

Milton and Rose Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980) 193.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quotation for the day: The United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

In all its benign statist glory, the United Nations declare the right of freedom of movement:
1. Liberty of movement is an indispensable condition for the free development of a person.
4. Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State enjoys, within that territory, the right to move freely and to choose his or her place of residence. In principle, citizens of a State are always lawfully within the territory of that State...
5. The right to move freely relates to the whole territory of a State, including all parts of federal States. According to article 12, paragraph 1, persons are entitled to move from one place to another and to establish themselves in a place of their choice. The enjoyment of this right must not be made dependent on any particular purpose or reason for the person wanting to move or to stay in a place...
United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 12 (18 October 1999); viewable online here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Maybe Boobus Americanus will start paying attention?

Reuters today ("Rising gasoline prices sour U.S. consumer mood") reports that the citizens of Weimar Amerika are growing restless, and may not be in a mood to be consoled by their latest iGadgets, "reality" TV shows, and politicians' and CNBC talking-heads' soothing words:
Rising gasoline prices beat down U.S. consumer sentiment in early January, overshadowing an improved job outlook and passage of temporary federal tax breaks, a survey released on Friday showed.
A year-end surge in gasoline prices ratcheted up consumer inflation expectations to their highest in more than two years, according to the latest data from Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan.
The surveys' preliminary January reading on the overall consumer sentiment slipped to 72.7, below 74.5 in December. It fell short of a 75.4 reading predicted by economists polled recently by Reuters.

Fuggitaboutit: New Jersey legislation requiring bicycle license plates is pulled

A Garden State solon withdrew a ridiculous legislative proposal, according to the Star-Ledger:
Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker on Thursday slammed the brakes on a much-maligned proposal to require bicycles be registered with the Motor Vehicle Commission at up to $10 a pop, and to force them to sport license plates.
Tucker (D-Essex) quickly withdrew the bill, which would have fined those without plates up to $100, and switched gears to focus on elderly pedestrian safety. She had introduced the bill after receiving complaints from senior citizens who had been hit by kids riding bikes.
"My intention was never to impose a burden or additional costs. My goal was to at least begin a discussion of how best to protect elderly pedestrians," said Tucker. "No idea is perfect, but protecting elderly pedestrians deserves attention. I would encourage everyone to give thought to how best we can protect elderly pedestrians and suggest solution."
No idea is perfect?  Some ideas are moronically imperfect.

Witchita cops: It's either an OEM seat belt or a ticket

A Kansas man is protesting his state's move to make failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense, so he wears his own seat belt.  KWCH-TV reports:
Paul Weigand buckles up long before getting behind the wheel.  "It's the law, you have to wear a seat belt and I don't want to forget to put it on, so I just wear it all the time," Weigand said.

That's right, he regularly wears a special made seat belt that doesn't do much more than sit on his waist.  "I just don't like wearing a seat belt and I don't think I should have to." 
Police disagree.  He was pulled over recently and although he says the cops thought his seat belt was amusing, they still wrote him a ticket.  "No where in the ordinance does it say it has to be attached to the vehicle. So I'm testing the law," he said.
Mr. Weigand is pushing the plain meaning of the Kansas seat belt statute close right to the edge:
[E]ach front seat occupant of a passenger car manufactured with safety belts in compliance with federal motor vehicle safety standard no. 208, who is 18 years of age or older, shall have a safety belt properly fastened about such person's body at all times when the passenger car is in motion.

But his case raises an interesting question: What if a driver used a reputable aftermarket seat belt which a police officer didn't recognize or like?

Clark: "Petrol prices may kill the economy and the Coalition"

The Daily Express columnist Ross Clark writes of petrol and UK national politics:
Nick Clegg earlier this week made a pitch for the hearts of “alarm clock Britain”: those who “come rain or shine are busy making Britain tick”. He was right to identify working people as being in need of support, having been taken for granted during the Labour years.
But what is the point in supporting people when they are emerging bleary-eyed from under their duvets if you are then going to kick them in the teeth when they go outside and get into the car?

Fuel prices yesterday were nudging their record highs of July 2008. Unleaded petrol was averaging £1.28 a litre and diesel £1.32 a litre. And what is the Government doing to help those who rely on their cars to get to work every day? It plans to raise duty by a penny over inflation in April this year and every year until 2014.

Quotation for the day: Henry Hazlitt

How many traffic laws do we need? That is a difficult question to answer numerically. A general traffic code need consist only of a few simple rules, but they could all, it would seem, easily be embodied in a single statute.  In any case, if the government confined itself to enacting a code oflaws simply intended to prevent mutual aggression and to
maintain peace and order, it is hard to see how such a code would run into any great number of laws.
Henry Hazlitt, "The Torrent of Laws," The Freeman: A Monthly Journal of Ideas on Liberty (Foundation for Economic Education), vol. 29, no. 1 (January 1979) 4.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oil: $100 BBL

Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Rising crude, wholesale prices are felt at the pump"

BBC News: "Brent oil price at 27-month high"

The Independent (UK): "Oil price closes in on $100 a barrel as global demand continues to rise"

The Telegraph (UK): "Hedge funds bet on $100-a-barrel oil"

And so many much more headlines around the world.  Welcome to the new post-QE2 normal.

Re-Volt-ing price?'s Michael Coates concedes that cost may be a big disincentive to consumers thinking about buying the Chevy Volt:
GM is logically pushing its $350 a month lease, which puts it on par with the LEAF and helps protect the company against the future shock of technology that will be available in three years. Otherwise, the Volt purchaser will need to chase down federal and state incentives to try to bring down the $41,000 price tag.
This window sticker puts the Volt in the same territory as the Acura TL, BMW 3-Series, Cadillac CTS, top-line Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, Lexus' ES 350, HS 250 hybrid and IS 350, Lincoln MKS, Saab 9-5 and Volvo S80. Will any of those vehicles be cross-shopped by Volt intenders? Probably not, but it does give an indication of the expectations of that price range. The Volt is a fine vehicle, but not a $40,000 near-luxury compact.

Quotation for the day: Daniel B. Klein

The notion of private highways, which would seem fantastic to our parents, was commonplace to our great-great-grandparents. Initiated in the 1790s in the growing Republic, these roads stimulated commerce, settlement, and population. During the nineteenth century more than 2,000 private companies financed, built, and operated toll roads. States turned to private initiative for much the same reason they are doing so today: fiscal constraints and insufficient administrative manpower.
Daniel B. Klein, "Private Highways in America, 1792-1916," Freeman, vol. 44, no. 2 (Foundation for Economic Education, February 1994); online edition here.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quotation for the day: Dwight D. Eisenhower

I am personally convinced that, in a number of fields, this Administration will have to come forward, at a reasonably early date, with a constructive program that will be designed to meet, in a well-rounded and imaginative way, the constantly increasing needs of a growing population.
Our cities still conform too rigidly to the patterns, customs, and practices of fifty years ago. Each year we add hundreds of thousands of new automobiles to our vehicular population, but our road systems do not keep pace with the need. In the average city today, many of our streets become almost useless to traffic because of the necessity of home owners for using them for parking.
While this entire subject of vehicular traffic is but a small segment of the great program that must attract our attention, there is nevertheless no reason why we should not proceed to its thorough study so as to have it ready for inclusion into a broad plan to be developed later.
To the greatest possible extent, all these projects should be locally controlled and owned. Ownership could be by municipality in many cases, and by states in others. Some of them could be privately owned. Still others could be under the control of an Authority something on the order of the New York Port Authority.
In appropriate cases, I think the Federal Government could well guarantee bonds, but we should not create a new demand for governmental funds as such. There might be some occasional departures from the rule--but only for reasons so unusual as to make their exceptional character obvious to government.
While we were still in New York, Mr. Buckner gave me a preliminary paper on this matter. I think I already handed that document to you.
I request that you be my representative in undertaking with interested departments of government the kind of study herein roughly indicated. I should like to have plans crystallized and developed so that significant parts of it could be initiated without completion of the entire plan, but with the certainty that the part started will fit logically and efficiently into the whole. By and large, the timing of construction should be such as to have some effect in levelling out peaks and valleys in our economic life.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, memorandum to Gabriel Hauge, 4 February 1953, The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, vol. XIV: The Presidency: The Middle Way, Part I: Charting a New Course, January 1953 to April 1953, document no. 20; online edition here.

NYC snow job XIV: Snow removal employment information

Robert Wenzel exclaims "No Wonder the City of New York Can't Get Snow Removed."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quotation for the day: Woodrow Wilson

Nothing has spread Socialistic feeling in this country more than the use of automobiles.  To the countryman they are a picture of arrogance of wealth with all its independence and carelessness.
Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, speaking to the North Carolina Society as quoted in the New York Times, 4 March 1906; digital copy here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quotation for the day: Wilhelm II

Ich glaube an das Pferd. Das Automobil ist eine vorübergehende Erscheinung.
I believe in the horse.  The automobile is a passing fad.
Kaiser Wilhelm II

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Zealous cops brutalize black man in diabetic shock weaving on the road

As local police departments become increasingly  militarized, American law enforcement officers are being accused more and more frequently of using violence without clear justification.  Reckless high speed chases are one manifestation of this "above the law" attitude copped by some cops.  Excessive using of tasers is another.

The Cincinnati Examiner reports on a tragic case:
John Harmon was coming off a late night at work when he left his downtown marketing firm for his Anderson Township home just after midnight in October 2009
The 52-year-old longtime diabetic's blood sugar levels had dipped to a dangerously low level causing him to weave into another lane.
A Hamilton County sheriff's deputy spotted him on Clough Pike and suspected drunken driving.
What happened over the next two minutes and 20 seconds should never happen to anyone, Harmon said.
Deputies broke the window of Harmon's SUV, shocked him seven times with a Taser, cut him out of his seatbelt and wrestled him to the ground, severely dislocating his elbow, and causing trauma to his shoulder and thumb.
The deputies' actions prompted a state highway patrol trooper to pull one deputy away from Harmon because he was so concerned about how Harmon was being treated. That trooper alerted his bosses to the deputies' actions.
Even after learning the incident was a medical emergency, deputies charged Harmon with resisting arrest and failing to comply with a police officer's order.
"I thought for sure I was going to die," Harmon said. "I remember praying to God, 'Help me through this.'"
Harmon, a tall and burly black man, owns a marketing company with his wife. He said he moved to the mostly white township for its good schools, and said he believes he wouldn't have gotten the same treatment if it was a white man.
"I do think that maybe (race) was a factor," Harmon said. "Just out of common decency some of the things that were done here don't make sense, even if I were drunk."

UK business group: Cameron "failed to deliver" on fuel taxes

The Federation of Small Business is the latest to protest Cameron's failure to keep petrol prices in check after the New Year's rise in fuel duties and VAT.  The BBC reports:

The Conservatives promised to look into a "fair fuel stabiliser" in their manifesto and Mr Cameron said last week that he was considering ways to help cash-strapped motorists.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) says the UK now has the second highest diesel price in Europe - something which it says is causing great difficulties for hauliers and other businesses dependent on road transport.
The organisation also points out that on the continent, the total price is split about 50/50 between the cost of the fuel itself and tax.
But in the UK, the average product price is 38% of the total, with the remaining 62% coming from tax.
John Walker, national chairman of the FSB, said they were "severely disappointed" with Mr Cameron.
"In opposition, the Conservative Party promised to put a fuel duty stabiliser in place - something the FSB has been calling for - but they have failed to deliver," he said.
The FSB's recent survey of its membership reveals that
More than 70 per cent of small businesses expect today's VAT rise to have a negative impact on their business, according to a member survey by Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). 

When the VAT rise to 20 per cent hits on January 4, an FSB ‘Voice of Small Business' panel survey shows that just under three-quarters (71%) of the 1,600 respondents expect the rise to be unbeneficial to their business. A further 52 per cent expect to increase prices, 45 per cent expect a fall in turnover, and 36 per cent expect a loss of customers as a result. 

The Chancellor has said that this rise is here to stay as it a change to the tax system to deal with the structural deficit. The FSB is urging the Chancellor to review the increase when the deficit has been significantly reduced and to return it to 17.5 per cent. 

Small firms will be hit hard by the rise in VAT as unlike big businesses, they can't absorb the increase. This will mean that small firms will have to pass the full cost on to customers, reduce stock levels or find cost savings elsewhere – potentially costing jobs and undermining the Governments private sector led recovery.

NYC snow job XIII: SNL send up of Bloomberg and sanitation department plow drivers

From last night's Saturday Night Live (NBC-TV) broadcast (see especially at 2:18):

Quotation for the day: Gregory Bresiger

Today most riders don't think of the subways as "a great public work," but rather as an overpriced antique. Descend into a New York City subway station and youll see how economy and progress have been outlawed in order to protect union jobs. Buy a token or a stored value card from a clerk. Youve basically used the same method of buying a fare that was used 60 years ago.

There are many cost saving proposals that could be explored if the system was run on a for-profit basis. But since the system is run on a political basis and since unions still retain great political power in New York City, any save-the-taxpayers-money, business-approach is not an option.

Privatization of public services is an option in other places. But not in New York City. Every politician of consequence is afraid to do it. Just raising the issue could lead to a strike by the municipal unions, which always implies the threat of violence.
Gregory Bresiger, "Sell the Subways," The Free Market, Vol. 16, no. 9 (August 1998), Ludwig von Mises Institute; read the full article here.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Salt of the earth: Corporatism on the road in Ohio

The Ohio DOT's inspector general issued a report accusing Morton Salt and Cargill collusion in road salt bidding and corrupting public employees.  The Cleveland Plain-Dealer and Minneapolis StarTribune report.

NYC snow job XII: Bloomberg's approval drops

The Marist Poll records New Yorkers thinking about the Mayor after the Christmas weekend snow plowing fiasco:
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took a lot of heat over how the city handled the December 26th blizzard, and his approval rating reflects the firestorm of controversy.  In fact, Bloomberg’s approval rating is at its lowest point — 37% — since taking office.  Included here are 11% who say he is doing an excellent job in office and 26% who report he is doing a good one.  34% rate his performance as fair while 26% believe he is doing a poor job.  Only 3% are unsure.

Key Findings:
  • When it comes to how Bloomberg handled the snow removal from the recent storm, 21% of adults in New York City approve while more than seven in ten — 71% — disapprove.  Just 7% are unsure.  Regardless of borough, residents are displeased with Bloomberg’s handling of the situation.  Residents in Brooklyn (78%) and in Queens and Staten Island (71%) are most dissatisfied.  69% in the Bronx and 63% in Manhattan are also unhappy with the mayor’s performance during and after the blizzard.
  • The New York City Department of Sanitation does not fare better.  21% of city residents approve of how the DSNY handled the snow removal while 72% disapprove.  Seven percent are unsure.  Again, disapproval spans borough boundaries.  More adults residing in Brooklyn (77%) and in Queens and Staten Island (72%) feel this way compared with those in the Bronx (69%) and Manhattan (68%).

Quotation for the day: Jack Kerouac

Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?
Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957) Part 2, chapter 3.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ghosn needs a spymaster

Amidst news reports of industrial espionage at Renault, Carlos Ghosn's budding friendship with  Russian PM Vladimir Putin may come in handy.

[Photo: Associated Press, August 2010]

Californincompetence: Drivers licenses greatly delayed

New security measures to prevent counterfeiting are delaying the manufacture of new drivers' licenses in California, a state where now the State cannot seem to do very much right.  KNBC-TV reports:
DMV spokesman Michael Marando acknowledged the problem, blaming the delays on manufacturing problems in creating the state's new, more secure licenses.
"If someone ordered their license today, the wait is about a month," Marando said.
Last October, the DMV began issuing the redesigned licenses, which are made by L1 Identity Solutions. The company received a five-year $62.8 million contract from the DMV and Marando said there have been some "production issues."
Licenses include enhancements such as a laser perforation outline of the California Brown Bear, laser-engraved signatures, new bar codes that verify information on the license, and special images that can be seen only with the use of ultraviolet light.
Marando said the new licenses have to be absolutely perfect and if there's "so much as an ink smudge" in the production process, the DMV will send it back to be fixed.
In a statement, the DMV said any inconvenienced customers could apply for a temporary license in person or by mail. Customers who renewed their licenses online or through the mail will have their driving records updated within one week of receipt.
So what if you're headed to an airport to catch a flight or you get pulled over for a traffic violation?
TSA spokesman Nico Melendez said that an expired license does not mean you can't fly, but it may lead to some minor delays.
The security agency, he said, has several ways to confirm the identity of a passenger in the event he or she has lost an ID or it has expired.
In the event drivers are pulled over, according to a DMV statement, local law enforcement does have access to driver license records and will honor updated expiration dates.

Public outrage over DC Metro random searches

The public in the District of Columbia -- drones of the Federal government and those honestly employed alike -- are expressing outrage at random searches of passengers' bag in the Washington Metro system.  The regime enabler Washington Post actually sets aside regurgitating State propaganda for a moment to report some legitimate news:

Members of the public spoke out against Metro's decision to start random bag inspections, with speaker after speaker condemning the initiative at a meeting held by the Metro Riders' Advisory Council on Monday evening.
In a string of one-minute statements in the public comment period of the Riders' Advisory Council (RAC) meeting, virtually every speaker called the searches unconstitutional, invasive and ineffective - arguing they could create a false sense of security and aid terrorists. Speakers urged Metro to halt the practice.
"I'd like to ask Metro to please stop wasting our time and money," Andy Hunt said, adding that Metro has hurt more people in accidents than any terrorist. "If he wants to hurt us, he's gonna hurt us."
Dozens of other speakers agreed, castigating the searches as "security theater" that is more likely to heighten fear than safety and rejecting Metro's position that the searches will deter attackers.
Becky Akers' post at on this is here.

Quotation for the day: Rudyard Kipling

LEGATE, I had the news last night - my cohort ordered home
By ships to Portus Itius and thence by road to Rome.
I've marched the companies aboard, the arms are stowed below:
Now let another take my sword. Command me not to go!

I've served in Britain forty years, from Vectis to the Wall,
I have none other home than this, nor any life at all.
Last night I did not understand, but, now the hour draws near
That calls me to my native land, I feel that land is here...

Let me work here for Britain's sake - at any task you will -
A marsh to drain, a road to make or native troops to drill.
Some Western camp (I know the Pict) or granite Border keep,
Mid seas of heather derelict, where our old messmates sleep.

Legate, I come to you in tears - My cohort ordered home!
I've served in Britain forty years. What should I do in Rome?
Here is my heart, my soul, my mind - the only life I know.
I cannot leave it all behind. Command me not to go!
Rudyard Kipling, "The Roman Centurion's Song" (1911); history of the poem here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Road socialist and former US senator Kit Bond joins DC transportation lobbying

He's prohibited from lobbying for two years by Senate rules, but just retired U.S. senator Christopher "Kit" Bond is turning heads by signing on with Saint Louis-and-DC law and lobbying firm Thompson Coburn.

Foreign Affairs reported:
"At Thompson Coburn, Bond will advise clients in the areas of international trade, biotechnology, agriculture, cyberlaw and transportation and also consult on client issues that will bring economic development and job opportunities to the State of Missouri," the firm said in a press release.
During his 24 years in the Senate, Bond served at one time as the ranking member of the appropriations subcommittee on transportation, and brought back plenty of transportation bacon and pork for Missouri in the process.

Bond's new firm is a major transportation lobbying firm in Washington.  According to the Huffington Post:
The firm primarily lobbies within the transportation sector, including contracts with Los Angeles County Metro Transportation Authority, and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, a San Francisco-based transit project.

Quotation for the day: James Brown

Super highways, coast to coast,
Easy to get anywhere.
On the transcontinental overload,
Just slide behind the wheel.
How does it feel?

When there's no destination that's too far,
And somewhere on the way,
You might find out who you are.
James Brown, "Living in America" (1985), written by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The idiot savant IEA: Oil prices entering danger zone

As it has done before, the International Energy Agency speaks truth -- but inaccurately:
“This is a wake-up call to the oil consuming countries and to the oil producers” – IEA’s Chief Economist, Fatih Birol.
The stability of the global economy is under threat due to oil prices entering a “dangerous zone,” according to the IEA’s Chief Economist, Fatih Birol.
Dr Birol’s warning follows new analysis from the IEA which found that oil import costs for member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have shot up by $200 billion to $790 billion at the end of 2010.
The IEA analysis finds that this increase, triggered by high oil prices, is equal to a loss of income of 0.5 per cent of the OECD countries combined gross domestic product.
“Oil prices are entering a dangerous zone for the global economy” warns Dr Birol. “The oil import bills are becoming a threat to the economic recovery. This is a wake-up call to the oil consuming countries and to the oil producers.”
Despite a dip yesterday, oil prices have been climbing steadily in recent weeks, pushing close to $100 a barrel. On Monday Brent Crude reached $95 a barrel, its highest price for over two years, while the WTI price hit $89, up from $79 this time last year.
The analysis from the IEA, an energy policy advisor for its 28 member countries and beyond, also found that the European Union’s oil import bill grew by $70 billion last year. This figure is equal to the combined budget deficits of Greece and Portugal.
So far, so good.  Appropriately dire, as befits the times.

But the IEA has an agenda.  It sees the solution to global economic instability in policies which discourage oil consumption, address "climate change," and promote sustainability.  It ignores the true cause of oil price inflation and greatest reason for the present economic disaster unfolding: central bank pump-priming.

UAW rattles its sabres

Just as US automakers are celebrating the (very relatively) good news about 2010 car sales, UAW president Bob King drops a turd in their punch bowl.  Bloomberg reports:
“All the sacrifices that our members made to turn these companies around were part of the process that’s really led to this amazing turnaround,” King said in a telephone interview yesterday. “We want our membership to share in a very meaningful way in the upside of these companies.”
Besides concesions, King wants UAW membership on company boards:
“The more meaningful voice workers have in all aspects of their employment, the more successful the employer will be,” King said. “I wish we had legislation like Germany that guarantees worker representation on the board. I think the United States would be stronger economically if workers were on all boards in all industries.”

Quotation for the day: Fidel Castro

Proving that even totalitarian dictators are sometimes right (even if for the wrong reasons):
Foodstuffs are transformed into fuels to make viable the irrationality of a civilization that, to sustain the wealth and privilege of a few, is brutally assaulting the environment and the ecologic conditions which made it possible for life to appear on Earth.

Transforming food into fuels is a monstrosity...

The proposal of agrifuels is unviable, and it is ethically and politically unacceptable.  But it is not enough just to reject it. It is necessary to implement a new energy revolution, but one that is at the service of the people and not at the service of the monopolies and imperialism.
Fidel Castro Ruz (summarizing Atilio Borón), "The Debate Heats Up" (English version), Reflexiones del Comandante en Jefe,  9 May 2007; text of full essay here.

[Photo: Reuters]

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Research suggests removing curbs will reduce speeding, improving driving

Newscastle University researchers in the UK have reached a startling conclusion, according to the Telegraph:
Lead researcher Dr Joan Harvey said: ''Contrary to what you might expect when driving, hazards can actually increase our attention to the road so this may well be the way forward for planners.
''In towns we may need to start considering some radical schemes such as removing kerbs so there are more hazards - like pedestrians - around your car. Our research suggests that this might actually improve people's driving.''
Of course, the safety nazis in government bureaux worldwide won't go for something like that.  But while we're in a radical frame of mind, how about private road authorities which would have the freedom to experiment with such ideas?

UPDATE (5 January): The Toronto Sun and incorrectly report the research being done by researchers at the University of Newscastle in Australia.  Dr. Harvey is at the university in northeastern England.

Hassett: Public transportation strikes may be coming to US soon

Kevin Hassett editorializes about Euro-style public employee union slowdowns and strikes becoming the norm in the US as the American public sector gets squeezed:
Europeans have grown accustomed to seeing government workers shut down their countries when provoked...

Americans better get used to this treatment...
Even if the accusations of a work slowdown are accurate, it’s unlikely anyone will lose their job in the New York City snow debacle. The same will be true around the country. Government workers can be ineffective and unproductive with impunity.
So, here’s one vision for 2011 in the U.S.: subways slower, lines at airports longer, trash and snow piling up in the streets, visas and other government documents processed less quickly. But no Europe-style riots in the streets -- unless fed- up taxpayers are the ones who start them.
Read his Bloomberg column here.

NYC snow job XI: Criminal wrongdoing

Murray Rothbard famously described government as a "a band of thieves writ large."  To those who believe this truism, it should come as no surprise that sanitation supervisors and plow operators are now under investigation for criminal wrong doing, rather than just sheer incompetence.  WCBS-TV reports:
Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hern said the city is aggressively trying to pursue evidence of deliberate wrongdoing. She is urging members of the public and city employees to contact the agency.

Quotation for the day: Jerry Flint

What Jack Smith did was turn General Motors management into a Boston political clubhouse because Jack was from Massachusetts.  He set up a management system in which the only people could get a job came from the Treasury Department.  But the people who knew the product, who knew cars, were completely cut off from rising high in the company.
Jerry Flint, quoted in William J. Holstein, Why GM Matters: Inside the Race to Transform an American Icon (New York: Walker & Company, 2009) 225.

Monday, January 3, 2011

NYC snow job X: Who was supervising the supervisors?

It's now been a week since the huge blizzard hit the US East Coast, yet more stories emerge about government incompetence in New York City's response.  Here's the latest: City sanitation supervisors drinking on the job as department plows struggled to clear city streets.  The New York Post reveals the story, and says of the supervisors, "Instead of plowing, they got plowed."

Bureaucrats drinking on the job while the government ignores the people in a crisis: Gotham's road socialism is looking more and more like Soviet-style socialism.

Quotation for the day: Richard Schweid

The Special Period engendered a gypsy cab market in Havana, a black market in taxis.  Dollars were illegal but would buy what was not otherwise available.  Tourists were the only source of dollars, and someone with access to a car could ferry tourists if he was not apprehended.  If that happened, he would be subject to fines, or jail, or confiscation of the vehicle.  For many, dollars were worth the risk.  Doctors and dentists and lawyers and university professors who had been fortunate enough to receive a Lada or a Volga in the 1970s or 1980s moonlighted as taxi drivers during the 1990s.

Richard Schweid, Che's Chevrolet, Fidel's Oldsmobile: On the Road in Cuba (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004) 205.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

German transport minister bans English loan words in bureaucratese

Road socialists in the BMVBS are not only regulating transportation in the Bundesrepublik but the purity of the German language used in the ministry itself, writes Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail:
A ridiculous politician called Peter Ramsauer has banned 150 examples of 'Denglish' at Germany's Ministry of Transport.
Ramsaeur insists the Deutsch equivalents are used instead, and has the support of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Take the German word for speed limit, Geschwindigkeits­begrenzung. By the time your missus has alerted you to that 30 sign and the camera hiding behind the hedge, you’re ­guaranteed three points on your Fuhrerschein.
As for being tipped off about a maximum speed limit, Hoechsgeschwindigkeitsbegrenzung, forget it. The envelope from the local constabulary will be on your doormat before she’s got the sentence out.

Most Politically Correct Car of the Year 2010 Award

The Stop Road Socialism Most Politically Correct Car of the Year 2010 is...

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

Short takes: 2 January 2011

China: New Beijing license plate limitations for 2011.  Almost 60,000 Beijing residents have applied online on the first two days of eligibility for entry into the late January lottery for newly restricted license plates in the capital. Xinhua News Agency reports on the application "frenzy" and cites dealers who now believe that they won't make money in the new year as city bureaucrats attempt to deal with massive traffic congestion problems.  Agence France-Presse reports that car showrooms are now suddenly quiet as Beijing consumers are unsure about their prospects of being able to legally register new cars.

France: Car vandalism.  Bertel Schmitt at wonders if the French news media is suppressing stories about the French State's inability to protect property during the traditional New Year's car torchings.

Greece:  Athens transit strikes.  Transit strikes continue to plague the nation's capital in the New Year, with bus strikes scheduled for January 3rd, 5th, and 10th.  (

"The knife to their throats": More reactions to UK fuel tax rises

More justified protests from truckers over the New Year's rise in fuel taxes in the UK, says the Daily Express:
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said: “Rising crude oil prices and the highest fuel tax in Europe means many businesses in the logistics sector are on borrowed time.
“Our members have no choice but to buy diesel to perform their services, so the knife is being held to their throats.
“It is a very competitive market and with cheaper foreign competition to contend with, it is UK businesses that bear the brunt of the increased costs.
“Unfortunately, this can lead to squeezed profit margins, job losses and ultimately, insolvencies.”
Fuel duty will rise each April from 2011 to 2014. Government forecasts show the tax take from duty will increase from £26.2 billion gained this year to £33.4 billion by 2015.
The rises could affect Britain’s ability to trade its way out of the recession, says the FTA
From hard-hit Scotland, the Herald reports on the New Year's hit:
Motoring organisations have called for the Government to cut duty on fuel to boost the economy as further hikes over the next few days put a further 4p on a litre.
According to the AA the average price of a litre of fuel in Britain will rise from £1.26 to £1.30 on January 4.
American householders are now typically paying a fraction of the price at just over 50p a litre, according to the latest figures. And EU figures show fuel prices in Britain have been the highest in Europe.
British motorists suffer as about 64% of the price of every litre of fuel goes to the Government in tax.
The latest British petrol price rises have been fuelled by a planned Government fuel duty rise which will put 0.76p on the price of a litre of petrol and diesel.
And next Tuesday the increase in VAT to 20% will mean pump prices go up again.
Though the Tory-LibDem government had declared an end to Labour's war on the motor car, it's insufficient austerity measures -- and reliance on selective tax increases -- has opened a new war on British taxpayers.

Quotation for the day: Jimi Hendrix

But darlin' can't you see my signals turn from green to red
And with you I can see a traffic jam straight up ahead

You're just like crosstown traffic
So hard to get through to you
Crosstown traffic
I don't need to run over you
Crosstown traffic
All you do is slow me down
And I got better things on the other side of town

Jimi Hendrix, "Crosstown Traffic," Electric Ladyland, Reprise Records 2RS 6307 (1968).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

NYC snow job IX: Garbage goes uncollected

The government monopoly on street plowing prevents the government monopoly on garbage collectionfrom doings its job in over a week, with limited collection starting only on January 3.

Road Socialist of the Year 2010

The Stop Road Socialism Road Socialist of the Year 2010 Award

Quotation for the day: Wolf Gruner

Thousands of Polish Jews...had to perform forced labor in Germany, constructing the "Fuhrer's roads" from the end of 1940 to mid-1942.  Many of them came from the Lodz ghetto.  The Reich Autobahn authorities created a special camp system for this forced deployment and drafted its own dicriminatory camp regulations.  For extension of the east-west highways, most of the ideological slogans were unceremoniously abandoned.  Labor shortages overrode the doctrine of not bringing Jews into the Reich at any time for any reason...[T]he Autobahn authorities also could avail themselves of inmates from camps maintained by private construction companies.
Wolf Gruner, Jewish Forced Labor under the Nazis: Economic Needs and Racial Aims, 1938-1944, translated by Kathleen M. Dell'Orto (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) 212.