Rescuing GM

Thomas Friedman has a great article up about the foolishness of the likely bail-out of GM:

They were interviewing Bob Nardelli, the C.E.O. of Chrysler, and he was explaining why the auto industry, at that time, needed $25 billion in loan guarantees. It wasn’t a bailout, he said. It was a way to enable the car companies to retool for innovation. I could not help but shout back at the TV screen: “We have to subsidize Detroit so that it will innovate? What business were you people in other than innovation?” If we give you another $25 billion, will you also do accounting?

One of the puzzling things is that most of GM’s non-US operations are profitable, and most of those are prospering with the sort of cars that consumers in the US now want. Development costs are minimal – all the cars have great safety features, ‘clean’ emissions, etc. so there’s little tweaking to do – the cars are fuel efficient, and they’re even pretty well styled. The only stumbling block is cost, though production costs in Europe can’t be significantly higher than in the US (otherwise GM wouldn’t need the bailout. I guess hiring a container ship to start importing Vauxhall Astras is too innovative without a fat pot of government cash to pay for it.

OpenSolaris 2008.11

A while ago I posted on my adventures getting OpenSolaris networking to move from its natural state of notworking (see what I did there?) on a mac mini. Well today I installed the latest release candidate of 2008.11, the forthcoming update, and it went much more smoothly. You still have to install a driver (tip – usb keys work fine for file transfers), but once done restarting networking worked first time.

Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job

From The Onion:

WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation’s broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, “It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can’t catch a break.”

Do better

By rights I should be torn about who to support in today’s election. I’m a Jesse Ventura politically; socially liberal, fiscally conservative, uncomfortable-looking in a suit. I should want the Democrats to win to help people who need it and to stop laws trying to govern my morality. I should want the Republicans to win to keep budgets in check and, ironically, to stop laws trying to govern my morality. And yet I can’t conceive of supporting the Republicans, because they’ve demonstrated over many years far more interest in managing my bedroom than managing the government checkbook. I now know that both parties would take my money, but at least the Democrats will claim to try to help people with it; the Republicans will just give it to their friends.

So to win people like me over the Republicans needed to do two things. First, they had to show that they are what they’ve traditionally claimed to be. Second, they had to show that Democrats are what they’ve traditionally been stereotyped to be. I’m not sure how they could achieve the former – fool me once shame on you, fool me a couple of trillion times and I won’t be fooled again – but it’s what I want to see. I want to know what YOU are going to do, how YOU will fix problems (even if that’s by getting out of the way), how YOU will make me safer/richer/happier (again, even if that’s just the two words ‘limited government’). And then you can spend a little time attacking Obama as a Democrat, without being particularly negative, on issues like balanced budgets, abortion (yes, even for a liberal like me), experience (overrated, but still an issue), and standing up to the power structures in the country (what used to be a strength for McCain, and seems a weakness for Obama).

Instead what I’ve seen from the Republican side is:

    Obama thinks he’s Jesus
    Obama is a socialist (seriously, get a dictionary)
    Obama is a terrorist
    Obama knows scary people
    Obama is a political climber (imagine that from a politician)
    Obama lacks experience (I know I mentioned that above, but then you nominated Palin and killed the argument)
    Obama hates America
    Obama’s wife hates America
    Obama isn’t an American (seriously?)
    Obama hates plumbers
    Obama is a Muslim
    Obama is elitist (I love this coming from the political elites)
    Look at this Soviet/Maoist-style poster with Obama in it

And the list goes on. I understand the desire to belittle your opponent – the left certainly likes to make cheap and sometimes cruel jokes about Republicans – but I want more. If the media doesn’t want to play (I think most of the apparent bias of US media is because they’re useless, not because they’re partisan, but there’s certainly something there) then go to the people direct, or repeat yourself until they have to report on it, or shout louder, or tweak your message. Don’t lower yourself or demean yourself or stand around whining. Do better, because democracy deserves better.