manfrommiddletown's blog

Did the Irish just end Globalization?

Bailout legislation protecting domestic deposits in Irish national banks was signed into law by President Mary McAleese at 3:30 PM (Irish time).

President Mary McAleese has this evening signed legislation giving effect to the Government's €420 billion bank guarantee scheme.

A single-line statement from Áras an Uachtaráin just after 3.30pm said Mrs McAleese had signed the Credit Institutions (Financial Support) Bill 2008 into law.

Unlike the US FDIC or the British Financial Services Compensation Scheme, Ireland has had, until today, a deposit insurance scheme to protect only something like the first €20,000 deposited by individuals into banks.

Why Does the EPA Hate America?

I'm having a rare moment of optimism. Keeping up with news of the coming transformation of the American auto industry has been like trying to drink from a fire hose. The bottom line is this Detroit's got it's mojo back. But the EPA is placing the revival of the American auto industry in jeopardy in order to benefit a foreign competitor, Toyota.

Here's the problem.

The EPA hates American industry.

I swear to God. We finally get a winner in the American auto industry, and the EPA decides to take them out like a rogue quarterback.

The Chevy Volt is a revolutionary vehicle that has the ability to drastically cut US oil consumption. And it's part of new fleets from GM and Chrysler that recognize the new reality. The era of cheap gas is over, and the price we pay for oil is in both blood and dollars.

Can America Get It's Groove Back?

I just got back from listening to Thomas Friedman do a lecture about his new book Hot, Flat, and Crowded. I left the lecture with a sense of disgust, but not for the obvious reasons. I'll give TomTom this, at least he's realized that that there limits to growth that at the very least must be overcome. This is a start.

What bothered me the most was they you had an articulate individual. Who I honestly believes wants to be constructive. Recognizing that there is a problem, but presenting an absolutely shitty solution. I left the lecture thinking about one of my childhood friends.

Gustav Eying Gulf Oil and the LOOP

Hurricane Gustav is currently eying oil producing rigs and the Lousiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) as it heads north across Cuba's Pinar del Rio province into the Gulf Mexico.

Over the past decade, oil from the Gulf Coast has become an increasing part of domestic production. (link to DOE production figures) Current figures show that oil rigs in the Gulf produced 1.35 mbd (million barrels daily) in April 2008.

Obama and TINA: A scandal we'll never hear about

There's a famous phrase coined by Margaret Thatcher to describe the inexorable march to a brave new world in which social democracy in Britain would be cast into the scrapheap of history.

TINA, there is no alternative:

There is no alternative (shortened as TINA) was a slogan of which Margaret Thatcher, the radical British Prime Minister was fond. In economics, politics, and political economy, it has come to mean that despite capitalism's problems, "there is no alternative" to the status quo of their economic system and neoliberalism. This is the central slogan of neoliberalism, arguing that free markets, free trade, and capitalist globalization are the only way in which modern societies can go, as any deviation from their doctrine is certain to lead to disaster.

Solidarity Whatever?: Labor and the Blogospere

One of the things that's always irritated me about the blogosphere is how the idea that people who work in a factory should be able to have the same living standard as white-collar occupations gets pissed on. I've always found that the worst hate is reserved for the UAW, which in general is lumped in with the management in Detroit whenever a discussion about the auto industry pops up. Like today on Daily Kos, from Kos himself.

For years, Democrats outside of Michigan tried to coax Detroit into making more fuel efficient vehicles. The automakers, the autoworker unions, Republicans, and Michigan Democrats all fought those efforts tooth and nail. Successfully.

"Money for nothing?": Higher Education Cost and Endowments

In the Middle Ages, one of the chief means by which a man could absolve himself of his indiscretions was the purchase of an indulgence from the Church. The promise of release from eternal damnation brought with it much abuse, and the presumption that money could be called upon to put one in God's good graces was the subject of condemnation by Luther and those who protested against the excesses of the Catholic Church.

Much as medieval indulgences were presumed to absolve the penitent, the practice of charity in modern society has assumed much the same function.

Get caught killing trade unionists in Colombia?

Fund scholarships for kids going to Columbia.

Cars, Suburbia, and Conspiscous Consumption

America is dangerously dependent on foreign oil.

In 2007, the United States imported around 13.44 mbd (million barrels daily) from other countries. This represents an almost 2% reduction over the preceding year. Nonetheless, oil represents a huge economic Achilles Heel for the US.

At the current $145.29/barrel
price for crude on the spot market, a year's worth of oil imports would cost the US $713 billion. Or 5.2% of 2007 US nominal GDP. Or almost three times our trade deficit with the People's Republic of China. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is bound to impact the US economy.

The Obama Nation: Class, Color, and the "Creative Class" in American Politics

I am a man. I am from "Middletown". "Middletown" is my home.

For four years now, I've always had people ask me where "Middletown" is. But the truth is that more than what "Middletown" is what Muncie, Indiana was. The quintessential American town.

Chevy on 8th Street. Borg Warner out on Kilgore. Westinghouse on the south side. And Ball Brothers, which gave the town's public university its name. The union made us strong, and the working class stood proud and strong.

The deprecation, denigration, and contempt for the working class that the Lynds found when they came to the city 40 years before was gradually disappearing. The children of the working class were able to attend the local state university, and go on to become the college-educated middle class.

Is Detroit Getting Ready to Retool to Make Small Cars?

Another interesting story from Der Spiegel.

German carmaker Opel, owned by American automobile giant General Motors, as well as the European division of Ford could both profit from the current crisis at their mothership companies across the big pond. GM and Ford have been hit hard by falling sales of gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs. With drivers having to pay an average of over $4 per gallon, sales of larger cars have slowed to a trickle, blindsiding US automakers, who have focused for years on the formerly lucrative truck and SUV market. Unable to quickly retool to develop their own fuel-efficient models, GM and Ford are both reviewing their units in Europe -- where compact and subcompact models are far more prevalent -- for possible models that could be produced for the American market.