Free money, always a big seller, the government has finally hit on a stimulus program that is popular with the average American. That is the Cash for Clunkers program. In one week it has gone through the original $1 Billion allocated for it and Congress is planning on voting for an additional $2 Billion. This is interesting in that it provides a stimulus for the auto industry, helping car dealers get rid of excess inventory and clear the lots for new manufacturing of cars. It helps people who own gas guzzling older cars to trade them in for cars that get better gas mileage. It would be nice if the standards were stricter, in terms of the environmental standards. but then it would only help the foreign auto industry as the domestic manufacturers have not reached a very high standard in terms of fuel efficiency yet.
This from the New York Times
“House Votes for $2 Billion Fund to Extend ‘Clunker’ Plan
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: July 31, 2009
WASHINGTON — As problems go in the nation’s capital these days, the White House could live with this one.
Officials at the Transportation Department figured Thursday morning that they had applications in hand for about a tenth of the $1 billion that Congress set aside for the “cash for clunkers” program, meant to give rebates to people who turn in old vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient ones.
By late Thursday afternoon, they ran to the White House with news that they might have committed the whole $1 billion, or even more. This stimulus program had, in fact, stimulated very heavy demand, which required a quick decision about what to do next.
Over the course of 24 hours, the White House changed its mind three times. At first, it said it would shut off the incentives by day’s end. Then it let them continue through Friday, and then through Sunday.
On Friday, the House voted to add $2 billion, soothing the fears of car dealers, who would have been responsible for paying any money they promised to customers as a rebate. But the Senate might not follow suit. Some senators said Friday that the speed at which the money flew out the door was a sign that the government’s deal was too good, and perhaps should be modified.
But still, a question remains: What was behind the apparent last-minute run on the clunker fund?
The answer appears to be a bad mix of paperwork and balky computers.
Around the country, dealers had put off the laborious task of applying for the rebates of $3,500 or $4,500, which requires entering the 17-character identification numbers of each vehicle to be scrapped, scanning images of proof of insurance and filling out other paperwork.
The computer system was overloaded, according to the dealers.
The National Automobile Dealers Association told Transportation Department officials on Thursday that its members had submitted about 22,000 applications, but were sitting on tens of thousands more, said Bailey Wood, a spokesman.
“Dealers are interested in one thing, moving metal off their lots, not sitting at the computer and doing data entry,” he said.
A Transportation Department official said the agency had already run two instruction classes over the Internet on filling out applications, and was planning a third. A computer contractor, Oracle, has enhanced the capacity of the government Web site.
Cash for clunkers is an unusual government program, because dealers sell the cars, then wait for repayment from Washington. Government officials do not want to commit to more than Congress has appropriated because, under the Anti-Deficiency Act, they can be fired, fined and even jailed for doing that.
Dealers say failure to be reimbursed would be a nightmare for them.
Despite the malfunctions, the House voted 316 to 109 to shift $2 billion from the Energy Department’s loan fund into the clunker program. Democrats were joined by all the Republicans in the Michigan Congressional delegation, and half of those in Ohio.
The Senate will take up the matter next week. A spirited debate is likely, as some senators have said they will use the opportunity to push for tougher fuel-efficiency requirements. If the Senate does not go along with the House’s version, the House might have to return to work on a compromise.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, noted that the government had raised the minimum fuel economy for sport utility vehicles and pickups, so that simply junking an older one and buying the 2009 model year could qualify as trading in a clunker.
Mrs. Feinstein and Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine, a Republican, said in a statement, “We will insist that any extension of the program requires that the minimum fuel economy improvement for newly purchased vehicles be at least two miles per gallon higher than it is under the enacted clunkers program.”
Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York also said that the Senate should be open to making the mileage rule stricter. Many environmentalists said the government was getting too little improvement from taxpayer dollars.
President Obama, though, seemed to favor a straightforward extension. “We’re already seeing a dramatic increase in showroom traffic,” he said after the House vote, adding that the program helps to reduce air pollution while helping car buyers.
Robert Gibbs, the chief White House spokesman, offered assurances that the administration was looking for ways to continue the popular new program.
“If you were planning on going to buy a car this weekend using this program, the program continues to run,” he said. “If you meet the requirements of the program, the certificates will be honored.”
But Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of New York, an early advocate of cash for clunkers, said, whatever happened, more would have to be done in September. “We estimated a billion a year,” he said. “It’s about a billion a month.”
It seems that President Obama is in the car business. With the Federal government owning a big chunk of Chrysler and GM, the government has an incentive to get people to buy new cars.
With so much criticism lately of the Obama administration with the Health Care Plan stalled and the Stimulus package not showing any change in the employment situation. this is good news for the administration. Shades of the old political slogan “a chicken in every pot” and now “a new car in every garage”. Happy days are here again.
On another matter we have a second Anarchist Book Fair and Conference in Los Angeles tomorrow August 1st. at the Southern California People’s Library. 6120 South Vermont Ave. Los Angeles, CA. This will be going on all day Saturday and if it is anything like last year, there will be a thousand people or more attending.
As a former Anarchist myself I had been overly critical of the event due to my own critique of Anarchism as being irrelevant to most peoples lives in America and the situation being one that is based more on the failure of Marxist States rather than any successful example of Anarchist societies. All the examples of Anarchism that I know of on the state level, are of noble efforts that failed within a couple of years. Marxist states at least have had a track record of existing for decades and in Cuba, Vietnam, Laos, North Korea and China still are run by Marxist led regimes.
I am not saying that these regimes are ideal, but compared to the Anarchist attempts in Russia and Spain, they have durability. Anarchists note the bloodthirstiness of some of these communist regimes, particularly in the Soviet Union and China. Ultra Left Communists and Anarchists both criticize the way in which the bureaucratic state and the Communist Parties merged and both stifled opposition and destroyed the independent workers movements in the name of the Communist State.
Members of these Communist regimes have justified their actions as being the result of being under pressure from Capitalist States who forced them to divert much of their resources into defence and military matters. Also because these were less well developed states they claim that they had to institute many of the capitalist type reforms and essentially bypass the capitalist stage of development to achieve Communism.
Most Communists now recognise that they failed. Either people were not ready, or they made mistakes that alienated the very classes they were supposed to represent. China seems to be attempting to create the material conditions for communism by allowing capitalism to bloom full blown in China. This has led to a dictatorship that is directing a capitalist economy with the eventual goal of reaching communism. Is this merely a rationalization for one party rule or is it a path to communism? I could not say. Whether you consider it to be a legitimate path depends upon whether you are a confirmed democrat or if you are a believer in vanguard rule.
No matter where you sit on the theoretical fence, it is important to me that there is this forum for discourse. I would like to see more conversation between marxists and anarchist and ultra leftists. Anarchists have a fear and loathing of vanguardism that is irrational and vanguardists have a disrespect for anarchists and ultra leftists that is unconscionable, especialy based on their own self acknowledged failures. Both groups can and should learn from one another and lean to work together, not just in loose coalitions in anti War demonstrations etc, but also in hammering out a new path to revolutionary change in America and the world.
Cory Aquino the leader of the Philippine overthrow of the Marcos dictatorship has died. This from the National Enquirer in the Philippines
Former Philippine President Corazon ‘Cory‘ Aquino died after losing the fight to colon cancer. The leader of the first People Power in Asia was 76.
Corazon Aquino suffered from a cardiac arrest before dying at 3:18 am Saturday Philippine local time. Aquino has been confined to the Makati Medical Hospital for over a month.
The former president will be forever remembered as an icon for democracy has she led and won a military-backed revolt against martial law dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Her son Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III read this statement at about 5 am. to the Filipino people:
“Our mother peacefully passed away at 3:18 a.m., August 1, 2009, of cardiorespiratory arrest.
“She would have wanted to thank each and every one of you for all the prayers and your continued love and support. It was her wish for all of us to pray for one another and for our country.”
From Nigeria another leader of a movement opposing the corrupt government has been executed by the regime.
This is from the AP.
“Islamist sect leader in Nigeria killed in custody
By NJADVARA MUSA, Associated Press Writer Njadvara Musa, Associated Press Writer – Thu Jul 30, 7:16 pm ET
MAIDUGURI, Nigeria – The leader of the Islamist sect blamed for days of violence in northern Nigeria has been shot and killed while in police custody, officials said Thursday.
The police commander of Borno state announced on state radio that Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the sect some call the Nigerian Taliban, has “died in police custody.
He gave no further explanation, but the state governor’s spokesman Usman Ciroma told The Associated Press: “I saw his body at police headquarters. I believe he was shot while he was trying to escape.”
Yusuf’s death could provoke more violence, though his followers in the Boko Haram sect may be in disarray after troops shelled his compound in the northern city of Maiduguri on Wednesday. Yusuf, 39, managed to escape with about 300 followers, some of them armed. His deputy, Bukar Shekau, was killed in the attack, according to Army commander Maj. Gen. Saleh Maina.
Troops killed about 100 militants by an AP reporter’s count, half of them inside the sect’s mosque. Soldiers then launched a manhunt, and Yusuf was reportedly found in a goat’s pen at the home of his in-laws.
Human Rights Watch called reports of Yusuf’s killing “extremely worrying.”
An AP reporter saw soldiers shoot their way into the mosque under fire and then raked those inside with gunshots.
The bodies of barefoot young men littered the streets of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, on Thursday morning as the army pursued the manhunt on the outskirts of the city. Police said most of the dead were fighters with Boko Haram. Army Col. Ben Anahotu said three police officers were killed.
Officials said at least 4,000 people have been forced from their homes by Wednesday afternoon, but it was not known how many have been killed, wounded and arrested.
President Umaru Yar’Adua said that security agents had been ordered to attack when the movement started gathering fighters from nearby states at its sprawling Maiduguri compound in preparation for “the holy war.”
The militants are also known as Al-Sunna wal Jamma, or “Followers of Mohammed’s Teachings,” and some Nigerian officials have referred to them as Taliban. Analyst Nnamdi K. Obasi of the International Crisis Group said a few have fought with that radical movement in Afghanistan.
League for Human Rights director Shamaki Gad Peter said that after the siege rights workers saw the bodies of up to 20 people who were unarmed and appeared to have been shot from behind, possibly trying to escape the mayhem, he said.”
On NPR today it was reported that civilian officials of the country were feeling embarrassed by the actions of their Military. Reporters were first told that they would be meeting the leader of the Muslim group and then they were told he was dead without any reasonable explanation. The reason being that they had decided to kill him instead.