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Pete DeLorenzo posted a interesgting rant this week www.autoextremist.com


Obama and McCain must step-up to history.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

Detroit. No, I never thought last week’s column would instantly put an end to the wild flailing about by the presidential candidates (and their ever-attentive staffers) in their quest to solve The Energy Thing, which seems to go hand-in-hand with dealing with The Detroit Thing, and then there’s The Economy Thing, which seems to be melding into Every Thing at this point in the campaign, given the perilous state of this nation’s economy and the tumultuous effect high gas prices are having on every facet of American life.

But I didn’t think John McCain would weigh-in this week with his version of solving our energy problems – and of course Detroit’s predicament – with a predictable mishmash of conjecture and confusion amounting to not so much.

McCain (or should I say the staffers assigned to addressing the problem) came up with the following for our contemplation this week in a speech given at Fresno State University: A proposed $300 million prize for whoever can develop a better automobile battery, and $5,000 tax credits for consumers who buy new zero-emission vehicles - a so-called Clean Car Challenge to encourage U.S. automakers to develop zero-emission vehicles - which will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 2012 before we see a sizable number of these vehicles on our roads, at the earliest, but who’s counting? This would be added to his support for overturning the federal ban on offshore oil drilling and the consideration of more nuclear power facilities (with the affected states' approval, of course).

"In the quest for alternatives to oil, our government has thrown around enough money subsidizing special interests and excusing failure. From now on, we will encourage heroic efforts in engineering, and we will reward the greatest success," McCain said in his speech.

McCain also insisted that this new battery should deliver power at 30 percent of current costs and have "the size, capacity, cost and power to leapfrog the commercially available plug-in hybrids or electric cars."

Whoa, that’s quite a feat. But McCain didn’t stop there, because he also suggested that foreign automakers such as Honda and Toyota would be eligible for the prize, since the Japanese companies have large manufacturing plants in the United States .

Let’s stop right there and back up a moment.

I would think that if there was a class called America’s Energy Policy 101 somewhere in Washington, D.C., that part of the basic fundamentals of that policy would be to protect this nation’s energy security first and foremost with concerted actions independent from other nations. Yes, we all understand it’s a global world out there and that idealistic alliances and partnerships are part and parcel of the new world order, but McCain has it wrong here.

First of all, $300 million is chump change in the world of advanced technology and serious research and development. It’s the technical equivalent of a cup of coffee when you’re dealing with battery development and battery-powered vehicles, and it just won’t cut it. It’s this “finger snap” attitude again that drives me crazy, that these problems are oh so easily solvable if Detroit would just get off its ass and, if it won’t do it, why our government leaders will just turn to Toyota to solve our problems.

What part of this even remotely constitutes sound judgment?

No, at this point in our nation’s history, what this country really needs is the technical equivalent of a 60s “moon shot” to help deal with our future energy and transportation needs.

When President John F. Kennedy delivered his speech about going to the moon, in person, before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961, his words were at once chilling and exhilarating. This was a challenge that was not only hard to imagine, it was all but insurmountable, but we were going for it, he said – and we would succeed – but it would come through the kind of sacrifice and determination that this nation hadn’t mustered since World War II.

Here are some excerpts from that speech…

“Now it is time to take longer strides--time for a great new American enterprise--time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.

I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.

I believe we should go to the moon. But I think every citizen of this country as well as the Members of the Congress should consider the matter carefully in making their judgment, to which we have given attention over many weeks and months, because it is a heavy burden, and there is no sense in agreeing or desiring that the United States take an affirmative position in outer space, unless we are prepared to do the work and bear the burdens to make it successful. If we are not, we should decide today and this year.

This decision demands a major national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, materiel and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts. It means we cannot afford undue work stoppages, inflated costs of material or talent, wasteful interagency rivalries, or a high turnover of key personnel.

New objectives and new money cannot solve these problems. They could in fact, aggravate them further--unless every scientist, every engineer, every serviceman, every technician, contractor, and civil servant gives his personal pledge that this nation will move forward, with the full speed of freedom, in the exciting adventure of space.”

The decision to go to the moon was a momentous one. As NASA describes it: “Only the construction of the Panama Canal in modern peacetime and the Manhattan Project in war were comparable in scope. NASA's overall human spaceflight efforts were guided by Kennedy's speech; Projects Mercury (at least in its latter stages), Gemini and Apollo were designed to execute Kennedy's goal. His goal was achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module's ladder and onto the Moon's surface.”

That’s big-time stuff, folks. But solving this country’s energy future is every bit as big as the Manhattan Project or the construction of the Panama Canal, because it involves the very future of this nation. And that’s why it distresses me to see these two men running for president (and their handlers) seemingly not grasping what’s before them at this very moment in history.

Let me go back to that second excerpt from President Kennedy’s speech again:

“I believe we possess all the resources and talents necessary. But the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to insure their fulfillment.”

Truer words were never spoken, and they apply doubly today. This country is brimming with the talent, vision and resources necessary to accelerate battery development, explore alternative propulsion, or whatever the technical need is that’s on the table for our future transportation needs. But the fact of the matter is that as a nation we have never made the commitment necessary to address our energy issues, or marshaled the resources necessary to even make a dent in the problems we’re now facing.

Our leaders in Washington have shirked their responsibility and squandered every opportunity to set long-range goals and create a sense of urgency with the American people when it comes to our energy future, and now we’re paying the price for it.

Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain both insist that they know what’s best for us going forward when it comes to energy security, but I’m not convinced of that. They talk around the issue, throw out knee-jerk platitudes and generally sink into campaign rhetoric at the drop of a hat. And none of that is doing this country one damn bit of good at this point.

Both of our presidential candidates should go back and read President Kennedy’s speech from that day in May 1961, and then maybe – just maybe – they will begin to grasp what’s needed at this juncture in history

McCain wanting to “encourage heroic efforts in engineering” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what’s needed right now. Perhaps a sizable portion of NASA’s endeavors should be immediately switched-over to the kind of research and development that would actually help this country in the near term - the next fifteen years – when it comes to our energy challenges; at least that would be one place to start.

This nation’s energy crisis demands a sense of urgency, a sense of national purpose, and the marshaling of our technical resources on the level of which we haven’s seen since the race to the moon began. It will take the brilliance of our finest talent and an unwavering commitment on a national basis to achieve our goals.

And it will take one of our two presidential candidates to step-up and actually demonstrate the kind of leadership needed to see this country through one of the most pivotal moments in its history.

Thanks for listening, see you next Wednesday.
 

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My respect for DeLorenzo just went WAY up. I've been saying for more than 10 years now that what this country really needs is an Apollo program sized effort aimed at alternative energy. Our national energy policy (or lack thereof) has been a total embarassment for a very long time. Don't ANYONE try turning this into a political dustup. Both sides of the aisle have been grossly delinquent in this area.

I'm not coming at this from a tree hugger angle either. I believe that in the long run a good energy policy would be great for the economy, our manufacturing base, national security, US technical leadership, and as a bonus the environment.
 
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I'm getting the impression that this guy has a talking *******.

That's all fine and good, but we are going to be an oil consuming world for many years to come. Oil exploration and extracting it needs to be a part of any "Apollo" program. The "pixie dust" of alternative energy is not going to solve all of our energy needs now.

I support continuing to research alternative energy, mainly through private vs. public means, but we also need to tap what resources we have now.
 

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He is right, and I have been saying that since the $300 million incentive idea came out. If we are spending that much tax dollars, then it better be a domestic company pocketing that money as well as having the technology here, not anywhere where it can work against domestic companies.
 

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That's all fine and good, but we are going to be an oil consuming world for many years to come. Oil exploration and extracting it needs to be a part of any "Apollo" program. The "pixie dust" of alternative energy is not going to solve all of our energy needs now.
DeLorenzo never said anything against oil.

And the problem with McCain's offshore drilling is that even if it gets approved tomorrow, we are at least a few years away from getting any petroleum from it. First they have to find the oil, then they need to build the rigs to extract it, then they need to build the infrastructure to ship it to a refinery. Then we get oil. Is it a good idea? Sure. Will it do a damn thing for the economy in the next three years? Nope.

And alternative energy isn't a question of "pixie dust". It's a question of cost. The price of fuel is high enough that more money is being spent on alternatives than ever before. If someone can make biodiesel or ethanol for an unsubsidized cost low enough to make selling it at $3 per gallon profitable, their own profits will drive them to expand like crazy.
 

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Everyone talks about doing the space program but with alternative energy and propulsion. Problem is that we would come up with some cool stuff but our politicians will just give it away to other countries like they have everything else. So we would pay for it but not reap the benefits. Until we keep what we come up with and create jobs here, we will still be screwed.
 

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this is whats wrong with this country, where's the american pride and unwillingness to be 2nd to any country?
 

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The only way that I can agree with any type of MPG/Alternative Fuel "Space Race" is if it is looked upon this way


GM + Ford + Chrysler +US Gov= NASA

Toyota + Honda + everyone else = USSR

50 MPG Family sedan (in 3 years, not hybrid, not a 1500lb toy car, but a real sedan) = Mercury

70 MPG Family sedan (3 to 4 years later) = Gemini

100 MPG Family sedan (4 years later) = Apollo

Make it a home grown US effort, no sharing, no partnering , no outsourcing to China.
 

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The only way I can support mccain is if he restricts his prize for domestics only.
Telsa should get the money. As we speak, they have the car
 

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this is whats wrong with this country, where's the American pride and unwillingness to be 2nd to any country?
It's all been outsourced "we the people" have very little say so. The companies have all the control. Corporate industrial complex is in full effect and will only get worse.

What's really bad is our leadership today. They are totally on board with the companies. Company's are first and have more say so than "the people". America years ago used to have real leadership, just reading a few snippets of President Kennedy's speech is a testament to that. American's are afraid or too stupid to elect people of real leadership ability, instead we get the salesman, who says a whole of nothing, does a whole lot of nothing and the while let's the companies do as the people and the people get to pay for it (tax dollars).
 

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So here's how it would play out in McCain's proposed prize incentive.

All manufacturers are eligible.

American tax payers dish out $300 million for the prize, then untold millions more for the $5k zero emissions incentives.

Japan's government and taxpayers fund a new advanced battery program for Toyota, just like occurred previously.

Toyota wins the prize for the best advanced battery the world has know. Ship $300M to Japan and convert it to Yen please thank you.

Toyota imports new vehicle with advanced battery technology, Americans shell out $5k each, for Americans to buy the advanced battery import. The revenue of the vehicle again heads back to Japan and converted to Yen, thanks again American's.

Where's the benefit to the American taxpayer, American jobs, and American economy?

I think we need to give the farm away as well while we're at it. Man we surely work hard to give our livelihood away.
 

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Keyword is affordable.. Tesla is anything but affordable for the average american family.
I agree completely.
I'm very glad the Tesla exists. Any move towards electric cars is wonderful. If the Tesla roadster is successful, their next vehicle is supposed to be a 4 or 5 passenger electric family car with a lower price.

But the roadster is not only ridiculously expensive, it's also just a two-seater. You can buy a used econobox and a ton of gas before the Tesla is cost effective.

Toyota imports new vehicle with advanced battery technology, Americans shell out $5k each, for Americans to buy the advanced battery import. The revenue of the vehicle again heads back to Japan and converted to Yen, thanks again American's.

Where's the benefit to the American taxpayer, American jobs, and American economy?

I think we need to give the farm away as well while we're at it. Man we surely work hard to give our livelihood away.
The sad thing is, you're probably right.

On the other hand, there is one silver lining in all of this. The more our government keeps screwing up and destroying the value of the dollar versus other currency, the less profits other countries get exporting their goods here.

A few years ago, outsourcing a job to India might cost $1 per hour when $0.10 in India buys you a Big Mac value meal. Your fuel costs to ship whatever he built to the US might be $50 per ton. If the Indian and Chinese economies keep booming and the dollar keeps dropping, you might be paying that Indian worker $3 an hour and spend $200 per ton shipping the stuffs he makes to the US. All of a sudden, hiring US workers starts to look good.
 

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On the other hand, there is one silver lining in all of this. The more our government keeps screwing up and destroying the value of the dollar versus other currency, the less profits other countries get exporting their goods here.

A few years ago, outsourcing a job to India might cost $1 per hour when $0.10 in India buys you a Big Mac value meal. Your fuel costs to ship whatever he built to the US might be $50 per ton. If the Indian and Chinese economies keep booming and the dollar keeps dropping, you might be paying that Indian worker $3 an hour and spend $200 per ton shipping the stuffs he makes to the US. All of a sudden, hiring US workers starts to look good.
I have a cloud for your silver lining. US wages have been and will continue to drop. Your scenario wouldn't help that much.

FWIW - Surprisingly McDonalds in India is not cheaper than the US. A few years ago a Chicken Maharaja Mac cost about the same as what a US Big Mac cost in USDs.
 

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I have a cloud for your silver lining. US wages have been and will continue to drop. Your scenario wouldn't help that much.
If enough jobs come back here, they might start to go back up. It's a slim hope, but it's just about all we have.

FWIW - Surprisingly McDonalds in India is not cheaper than the US. A few years ago a Chicken Maharaja Mac cost about the same as what a US Big Mac cost in USDs.
Interesting. One of my coworkers lived in India up until about five years ago, and he said at that time McDonalds value meals were well under a dollar. He seems like a pretty honest guy, I don't see why he would lie. But maybe things changed a lot since then, or he really is a liar.

Like many other Indians I know, he loves the US because it's so much less corrupt than local government in India. His standard of living would be far higher doing the same job at home, but he prefers to live here.
 
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And the problem with McCain's offshore drilling is that even if it gets approved tomorrow, we are at least a few years away from getting any petroleum from it.

Will it do a damn thing for the economy in the next three years? Nope.
The thing you miss is the price for a barrel of oil drop quickly as Congress removes the ban. It comes down to dollars and cents/sense. If the folks currently invested in oil suspect that the price may come down in the future due to increased supply then they will sell their long positions in oil.


And alternative energy isn't a question of "pixie dust". It's a question of cost. The price of fuel is high enough that more money is being spent on alternatives than ever before. If someone can make biodiesel or ethanol for an unsubsidized cost low enough to make selling it at $3 per gallon profitable, their own profits will drive them to expand like crazy.
True. If it's affordable.
 

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Interesting. One of my coworkers lived in India up until about five years ago, and he said at that time McDonalds value meals were well under a dollar. He seems like a pretty honest guy, I don't see why he would lie. But maybe things changed a lot since then, or he really is a liar.

Like many other Indians I know, he loves the US because it's so much less corrupt than local government in India. His standard of living would be far higher doing the same job at home, but he prefers to live here.
Just going by what I saw when I was there in '03. I know I wasn't getting the 'tourist' price because the prices were posted on the board.
 

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DeLorenzo never said anything against oil.

And the problem with McCain's offshore drilling is that even if it gets approved tomorrow, we are at least a few years away from getting any petroleum from it. First they have to find the oil, then they need to build the rigs to extract it, then they need to build the infrastructure to ship it to a refinery. Then we get oil. Is it a good idea? Sure. Will it do a damn thing for the economy in the next three years? Nope.
Personally, I don't understand how not reaping an instantaneous benefit is a "problem." That sort of thinking (concern with today over tomorrow) contributed to our current situation. I am strongly for a massive increase in spending on nuclear power plants but I guess it is a big "problem" because it takes more than a day to build a power plant.

Meanwhile, as has been stated elsewhere, the mere declaration of future activities (e.g., a public announcement that we are going full steam ahead with massive drilling) would cause a price drop and...WILL do a damn thing for the economy in the next three years!
 

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On the other hand, there is one silver lining in all of this. The more our government keeps screwing up and destroying the value of the dollar versus other currency, the less profits other countries get exporting their goods here.

A few years ago, outsourcing a job to India might cost $1 per hour when $0.10 in India buys you a Big Mac value meal. Your fuel costs to ship whatever he built to the US might be $50 per ton. If the Indian and Chinese economies keep booming and the dollar keeps dropping, you might be paying that Indian worker $3 an hour and spend $200 per ton shipping the stuffs he makes to the US. All of a sudden, hiring US workers starts to look good.
This is an excellent point. While few want the economy screwed up and the dollar falling, perversely in some senses it does help with jobs and production staying in this country. Combined with high fuel costs, importation becomes far less economical.

The amount of freight "warehoused" on the road in trucks at any given time is staggering and will become unsustainable in the future. This will challenge this globalist idea where location is not preferenced in any way and will favor localism for food and other production.

Suddenly it won't make a ton of sense to build pieces for an axle in Mexico, ship them to China for assembly, ship that assembly to Kansas to connect to another assembly, and then ship that larger assembly to Canada to be put in a car, which is then shipped to a showroom in Florida.

It also won't make a ton of sense for my lettuce or whatever to come from Peru or some place when every day I drive by a field near my house and see a whole bunch of...lettuce.
 
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