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Tony Grist

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Lots Of Childish Questions [Dec. 13th, 2008|10:21 am]
Tony Grist
Strange days, indeed, when General Motors and Chrysler and that other one are all on the verge of going under! Here in Britain, Vauxhall Motors- which is owned by G.M.- is also- obviously- on the At Risk list. (We have a little Vauxhall Meriva- very nice it is too). Government is, of course rallying round. But how can Government rally round, when it too is broke? I guess they're borrowing. But who from?  Who still has money to lend? Is it the Chinese Government? And who in their right mind would put themselves in hock to the Chinese Government? Only we already have done, haven't we? Which is why we can't do much more than cough politely at their human rights abuses.  

And how are we ever going pay the money back? This debt is going to be on the books for generations.  How dare we do this to our grandchildren?

I don't understand it. And I'm not sure the government economists do either. It's all mad, mad, mad to the nth degree.

And here's another question. If the big motor manufacturers do go bust, will we then run short of cars? I mean, demand may be dropping, but it's not ever going to flatten out altogether- we'll still all need to get about. Or will we? Maybe a dearth of cars will force us all to work from home (which would be highly sensible on all sorts of grounds). Or maybe we'll take up bicycling or buy ourselves pony carts.  Maybe this is the beginnings of the end of the car economy- as created by Mr Ford  et al a hundred years ago. Or maybe the Chinese will step in again- and the Indians- and all our cars will be imported from the East. Who knows?

My nephew Tom was suggesting that a return to the agrarian economy of the Middle Ages might not be such a bad idea. I replied- in a rather lordly fashion-  that this was an idea out of time-  which- regardless of its merits- just wasn't going to be taken up.  But I've been thinking about it since- and if the oil dries up and the cars stop being made and the world economy collapses like a souffle we may find ourselves back on our small-holdings in a generation or two whether we like it or not.

It's one of those moments in world history. The pack is being shuffled, the wheel's in spin, the dice are rattling around in the dice cup.

[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2008-12-13 12:19 pm (UTC)
My husband and I are already talking about allotments and growing veggies, etc. I'm ready, but then I'm old enough (and had self-sufficient parents) to remember when this kind of life was more the norm anyway.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-13 02:32 pm (UTC)
It's not really an option for us- the yard just isn't big enough.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2008-12-14 08:02 pm (UTC)
Well, those companies are in trouble, in my assessment for these reasons:

They used to be very fat and bloated and employing large numbers of people. They now have large numbers of pensioners and as part of the pension package they have to pay for the ongoing medical care of their former employees, because the US has no NHS. So... every GM car, I believe, has to add about $1500 to its price to cover health costs.

They have not adapted to make the smaller cars that are now de rigeur due to the price of gasoline, the new fashion in the US for belief in Global Warming, and the desire to be independent of oil from dodgy Arab states. Those Americans who have already considered these imperatives have been buying Japanese cars, and the US dinosaur companies have failed to evolve.

There's always Audi and VW, and BMW and Honda and Toyota and Nissan. and I have a friend who works at the Mini factory in Cowley and he says exports to the US are still going surprisingly well.

So we are not yet Beyond the Thunderdome.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-14 09:03 pm (UTC)
It seems all too easy for a big company to believe it has the market sewn up, grow complacent, then suddenly fall victim to changing circumstances.

Woolworths, for example.

It's good to know there's still a healthy demand for minis.

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From: (Anonymous)
2008-12-15 08:48 pm (UTC)
New cars? Who needs 'em :). I've just bought a 9 year old Saab, very luxurious with the leather heated seat option, air con, 8 speakers etc. It cost me only £1,600 to get a £30,000 car which is perhaps only mid way through it's life expectancy. How is that for being green? I've recycled it.

If the economy does tear itself to pieces there's always the largescale war option of course :S
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-12-16 05:14 pm (UTC)
We've had a number of secondhand cars. They tend to show their age. Put it this way, membership of the AA or RAC is not an optional extra. :)
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