Friday, September 26, 2008
This is really an emotional play, to get people worked up about the issue. There is no such thing as "Persian Gulf" oil, in terms of public policy.
Oil is a commodity, which is traded on commodities markets worldwide. Traders buy and sell contracts, and customers who actually want oil arrange delivery via tanker and pipeline.
The "middle eastern oil" label implies that if we could just reduce our consumption by a few million barrels a day, we could bankrupt the Saudis (a worthy goal) while keeping our Canadian and Mexican friends in business. But really, what would happen, is that we would drive down the global price of oil. The Saudis wouldn't starve, but they would make less profit, as would the Canadians, Russians, and Nigerians.
An unintended side effect of reducing our use of oil would be to make it cheaper for the Chinese and Indians to burn more of it--so from a global warming point of view, reducing our oil consumption may not have that big of an impact if the developing world picks up the slack.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
- 266,000 Employees
- 9.37 million 2007 Vehicle Sales
- Operations in 35 countries
- 13 global brands, plus OnStar
- 6,776 U.S. dealers
- Revenue of about $172 Billion
- Electric headlamps
- Electric starter
- Energy absorbing steering column
- Unibody construction
- Independent front suspension
- Engines that run on unleaded gasoline
- First mass produced automatic transmission
- Production airbags
- Catalytic converter
- Frigidaire, first room air conditioner
- First mechanical blood pump (for open heart surgery)
- First metal highway barriers
- OnStar, first telematics service
Here's a toast to GM. Keep fighting, guys, Michigan and the whole industry needs you.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The writer attributed the increase to to main factors: lower supply due to displacement by corn, and a delayed harvest due to a wet spring and summer.
This illustrates the danger of quickly shifting to food based bio-fuels. The high demand for corn caused farmers to plant more corn and less soybeans (and other crops, like barley and wheat). This reduces the supply of those crops, and causes our animal feed and food prices to increase. Beer is getting more expensive!
Agriculture processors such as Archer-Daniels-Midland Co., and Cargill Inc. crush soybeans into soybean oil and soybean meal. Soy oil is used in cooking and has industrial applications such as biodiesel. Soymeal is fed to livestock.
Soybean stocks are at near-record lows this year. That is partly because farmers last season planted more corn instead of soybeans to cash in on high corn prices driven by a booming export market and a growing appetite for corn-based ethanol.
Instead of propping up corn based ethanol, making big agriculture even richer, and driving our food prices up, Congress should kill the ethanol tariff and allow importation of ethanol and sugar beet feedstock from Brazil. This will allow us to bridge our ethanol needs until the point when non-food sources of ethanol are viable.
Of course the ethanol mandates and price supports are not the only reason that food has gone up in price so dramatically, probably the largest factor is the price of oil, followed by a weakened dollar.
We have ways to reduce the price of oil, but Congress is not yet willing to use them. It's a shame, because downward pressure on oil would result in downward pressure on food prices also.
I started the Carnival of Cars for "independent" bloggers some time ago, and later Mark Tapscott took it over and has kept it going.
What's a blog "Carnival"? it's a compendium of posts from a few different blogs, sort of the "best of" and a quick way to check up on what different bloggers are doing. By "independent" bloggers, I mean the small guys who write their own thoughts, rather than repackaging press releases like the corporate owned blogs like Autoblog.
Not that there is anything wrong with Autoblog, but their ratio of original content to repackaged press releases is sometimes pretty small. I wonder what happened to Eric Bryant ("The Angry Engineer")? he was a good source of down-on-the-ground original writing.
The neat thing about small bloggers is that most of us don't make money from our blogs, and are doing it for fun, or as a way to vent.