Thursday, September 21, 2006

Take California

So California is suing the auto industry. They're going after Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, and Nissan for "past and ongoing" contributions to global warming.

Allow me to rephrase that: California is going after broke companies for a phenomenon that hasn't been proven to exist. Along this line of logic, I've decided to sue my cube-mate for the possibility of aliens.

I think it's high time we cut our losses and force California to incorporate itself as a free-standing nation. Though they are the 8th largest economy in the world, they are a constant burden on our nation, our citizens, and the corporations that make our economy function.

California passed a law last year demanding that automakers cut emissions by 25%. From what I understand, it's a do-it-now kind of law. Automakers don't just have magic parts-bins with 25% emissions-cutters lying around, so improvements take time, research, and most importantly: money. Lots and lots of money.

Research isn't free; technology isn't free. But California wants immediate results, dammit. You can have it good, fast or cheap: pick any two. CA wants it good and fast, so that means the price of these new, efficient cars will be astronomical.

A ar that cost $15K last year could quickly become a $35K car next year. Typically, when the initial buy-in cost of a new technology is that prohibitive, the automaker will absorb some of that cost to help infiltrate the market and create a demand. Honda did this with the Insight. Each Insight cost Honda close to $70K to build, but they were sold for less than half that price. Honda knew that there was a market, but not a luxury-class market. They bit the bullet and absorbed a huge loss, spreading that loss across the rest of their product line.

But California says one model isn't enough, and again: they want it right now. With no means to absorb the costs of revamping entire product lines, the automakers tried to stall. There is no way people are going to pay the price for all this new crap just so one little piddly state can strong arm an industry.

So they're all getting sued.

First of all, why sue Honda? They're probably the greenest car company on the planet, and they've been working feverishly to make the best line of efficient cars for over 30 years, starting with the initial introduction of the Civic in 1972. I think the answer lies in the other green: Honda is tremendously successful as a company.

But why then sue Ford and GM? Is the point just to push them out of business? These two companies are so beleaguered that they even talked of merging earlier this year. GM has been in (and out of) talks with Nissan and other foreign investors, desperately trying to pump some capital into their dying veins. These companies are in deep trouble, and trying to pump them for "tens or hundreds of millions" will accomplish nothing more than placing tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans into the unemployment line.

The same can be said of the remaining 3: only the North American arms of these companies are in the CA scopes, so only American jobs stand to be affected.

Now to change the argument around just a bit: Why isn't California suing the shipping industry? Plenty of goods come in through California's shores, and sea-ships are horribly inefficient. What regulations keep their greenhouse gases down? There are more boats in the water than cars on shore, and hardly any restrictions on the output of their engines. California has one of the largest coastlines in this country, too. So why only car makers?

Not to mention power companies. Though heavily regulated, coal plants still put a lot more crap into the atmosphere than any car. Heck: probably more than any fleet of cars. But there's a secret here, and it's one that makes me think we need to expunge this canker from our great nation.

That secret is California's deplorable lack of resources, at least in relation to its power as an economic force. California constantly has water shortages, and "rolling blackouts" are a part of everyday life there. The other states of this nation sell California water and power every day, and we're thanked with car prices that are unnaturally elevated, cocky over-paid actors who don't pay taxes, and constant reports of illegal aliens mandating changes to our nation's education system.

Screw 'em. Force them out of the union and tax them for wine imports. Make them produce their own water and power, or sell it at a huge premium (or tax the companies that sell it to them with export tariffs). Take away their 49 electoral votes and make them fend for themselves. They can have their artificially inflated housing market, all the auto laws they want, and live peacefully on the West Coast, becoming a popular vacation destination.

That way, when they want to levy huge fines at companies doing business in California, those companies can simply exit the market and let the people decide what's really in their best interests.

The people of California can ride Segways to work, they can drink only the finest imported water, they can make solar sails to generate power, and we as a nation can point all illegal aliens to the left.

People live in fear of a world controlled by corporations: we ought to live in fear of local governments "acting in our best interests" and punishing us for having nice things.

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