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Transportation Businesses The Almighty Buck

Should Taxpayers Back Cars Only the Rich Can Afford? 752

Posted by Soulskill
from the five-million-dollars-per-car dept.
theodp writes "The NY Times questions the $400M in low-interest federal loans requested by Tesla Motors as part of the $25B loan package for the auto industry passed by Congress last year. 'The program is intended to encourage automakers to improve fuel efficiency, but should it be used for a purpose like this, as the 2008 Bailout of Very, Very High-Net-Worth Individuals Who Invested in Tesla Motors Act?' Tesla says it is assembling about 15 cars a week and has delivered about 80 of its $109,000 base-price Roadsters to date, many of which have gone to the Valley's billionaires and centimillionaires who are Tesla investors as well as early customers. We discussed the company's financial difficulties last month."
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Should Taxpayers Back Cars Only the Rich Can Afford?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:33PM (#25934169)

    Let the market decide, not a group of politicians paid off by lobbyists from the money they're lobbying to get.

    • by Bught_42 (1012499) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:51PM (#25934935)
      If I understand it correctly the $25 billion fund is for advanced technologies not a bailout. It would be hard to argue that Tesla isn't using some rather advanced technologies. And when a technology is new it's expensive, however with enough research and mass production prices drop and the technology becomes a viable alternative.

      I find this interesting after there was a story on Digg yesterday about Tesla complaining that the car companies wanted this $25 billion to bail them out rather than use it for what it was intended for. I think it's pretty shifty since this fund was set up last year and in no way was meant to be a bailout.

      Here's the link to that story:

      http://gas2.org/2008/11/28/tesla-says-money-shouldnt-be-diverted-to-bailout-car-makers/ [gas2.org]
    • by mweather (1089505) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:52PM (#25934951)

      Let the market decide, not a group of politicians paid off by lobbyists from the money they're lobbying to get.

      Tesla agrees. They've been very public about their opposition to the bailout. But if there is going to be one, Tesla should get money too.

    • by Bombula (670389) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @03:04PM (#25935085)

      The 25 billion dollar Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVM) fund is not for bailouts, it's for low-interest federal loans to companies investing in ... wait for it ... Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing.

      Tesla doesn't need a bailout, and isn't asking for one.

      Please folks, get your facts straight before blathering about 'letting the market decide'. And besides, letting the market decide didn't turn out so well in the finance and banking sector, now, did it?

  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wmbetts (1306001) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:37PM (#25934199)
    We shouldn't be bailing any of them out.
    • Re:No (Score:5, Funny)

      by philspear (1142299) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @04:41PM (#25936101)

      Counterpoint: Yes, we should be bailing them out.

      This has been "completely unjustified point-counterpoint" theater. Tune in next week when we look at whether or not global warming is real. A preview

      Point: Yes, it is.
      Counterpoint: No, it's not.

    • How about this:

      Take the money they are requesting and instead use it to fund the foundation of a brand-new, American-based, car manufacturing company. This new company will not only be able to hire all (or at least most of) the workers that the current ones lay off, but it will also re-introduce some competition in the industry (which, incidentally, is the lifeblood of capitalism).

      That should both ease the economic crisis and help reduce the negative economic impact of the current auto cartel, while not re

  • Not Really (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MrCawfee (13910) <mrcawfee@yahSLACKWAREoo.com minus distro> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:37PM (#25934205) Homepage

    Tesla's request was so they could design and build a much cheaper electric family sedan; i personally believe that it is a good investment even if the car costs 50k.

    It seems unlikely that tesla will mass produce a car, but it does seem likely that they will be gobbled up by a larger company that will.

    It would be money well spent

    • Re:Not Really (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:50PM (#25934325) Journal

      i personally believe that it is a good investment even if the car costs 50k.

      Then by all means, invest your money if you think it's worth doing. Using tax money for this is immoral, not to mention unconstitutional.

      -jcr

      • Re:Not Really (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:02PM (#25934451)

        Frankly, it is his money, and my money, and everyone else's money. Welcome to a democracy. Going to war on my dime to the tune of $1 trillion+? That's immoral. Lying why we went and having tens of thousands of people die because of it? That's immoral. Lending half a billion dollars to a company that's jumpstarting the electrification of transportation? Well that's just good sense right there. So take your libertarian viewpoint to a country that cares.

        • Re:Not Really (Score:5, Interesting)

          by jcr (53032) <jcr@NoSPaM.mac.com> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:04PM (#25934485) Journal

          Going to war on my dime to the tune of $1 trillion+? That's immoral.

          Yes, that's immoral too.

          Lending half a billion dollars to a company that's jumpstarting the electrification of transportation? Well that's just good sense right there.

          You were doing so well, and then you went off into the weeds.

          If electric cars (or ethanol, or any other possible replacement for gasoline-powered vehicles) makes sense, it won't take tax money to get it into widespread use.

          -jcr

          • Re:Not Really (Score:5, Interesting)

            by TooMuchToDo (882796) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:08PM (#25934527)

            If electric cars (or ethanol, or any other possible replacement for gasoline-powered vehicles) makes sense, it won't take tax money to get it into widespread use.

            Bullshit. The market is manipulated by interests to make investing in renewable energy and electric vehicles infeasible. Price of oil goes up, investment in renewables and electric vehicles shoots up. Price of oil drops, investment dries up. An unregulated market is rarely the answer, as shown by the deregulation in the financial sector.

            You may disagree with me, but I'm fairly confident as an American that the new US policymakers in play are going to make the correct decision to push electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by maxume (22995)

              Calling the financial sector unregulated is like calling purple a squirrel.

              I think government regulation is, in many cases, going to be better than the alternative, but that particular example is just horrible.

            • Re:Not Really (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @04:00PM (#25935699) Homepage Journal

              The "unregulated market" in the financial industry was hardly unregulated. Just ask Martha Stewart who spent time in prison for her "unregulated" actions.

              The problem that created the current mess came from regulators who didn't step in and use the authority that they had to stop some of the practices that caused huge problems, and a congress that pushed these regulators into give "easy credit" to new home buyers.... particular in congressional districts and constituent groups that favor certain... er... political viewpoints.

              It is particularly telling that the congressmen who are demanding regulatory reform are the ones that largely caused the current mess in the first place through specific laws and other political pressure on the regulators to make the risky loans they are complaining about in the first place.

              I think throwing tax dollars into the economy in this way is a waste of tax dollars down into a giant economic black hole that will gobble everything up with it, but if they are going to throw money around in this manner they should at least be consistent and not favor one company or group of individuals over somebody else. It isn't like Tesla is asking for the same size of a loan that GM wants.

              • Re:Not Really (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Roblimo (357) Works for SourceForge on Sunday November 30, 2008 @07:22PM (#25937509) Homepage Journal

                I live in Manatee County, Floriduh, one of the places Real Estate Madness hit hardest and that has, hence, been hit hardest by its end.

                I do not recall seeing a whole lot of poor and/or minority taxpayers pulling mortgage frauds in order to buy little houses for themselves in not-great neighborhoods like East Bradenton.

                I do, however, recall seeing lots and lots and lots of speculators and slumlords, the vast majority of them good white Republicans, bidding up the prices on little working-class houses to the point where none of the people who actually do the Real Work (trash collection, policing, teaching, retail sales, etc.) could possibly buy them. And oh weren't those white Republicans just so proud of the Free Market System and big on boasting about how much money they were making and on laughing at the suckers who actually worked at jobs like teaching or writing for newspapers or cleaning the streets or doing carpentry instead of being Investors, as if Investors were the highest possible form of life and should be bowed down to by all others.

                'Course then a local mortgage company called Brasota went broke because it was essentially a ponzi scheme -- and shockingly, it was not run by poor and/or minority working liberals but primarily by (I know this is hard to believe) Rich White Republicans, hardly any of whom lived in the neighborhoods where they loaned mucho bucks to "investors" who didn't live in them, either.

                And some local banks have failed, and a lot of local businesses, and now all the Rich White Republicans who ran their ponzi schemes and created their silly tulip-bulb bubble, except with houses, are running around blaming Democrats and liberals who thought that, just maybe, it might be a good idea to stop Rich White Republicans from discriminating against poor and/or minority workers when it came to making home loans.

                The CRA (Community Reinvestment Act) that is being blamed by the Rich White Republicans for the collapse of their house of cards was all about ending discrimination in mortgages. Those Free Market Rich White Republicans had long had a bad habit of happily approving loans for white people in white neighborhoods while denying loans to black people in black neighborhoods even if the black people happened to have more stable jobs and wanted to borrow less than their white equivalents.

                Listen, Rich White Republicans (and libertarians/Somalians and the rest of your crowd), if you want to see who created the current economic crisis, get a mirror and look in it. Don't keep trying to blame your problems on the blacks or the Jews or the liberals or whatever other group you're in the mood to victimize this week. It wasn't a "homosexual agenda" that created the obviously-insane (and unregulated) derivatives market, and it wasn't pro-choice agitators who ran the rating companies that assigned silly-high values to "bundled" mortgages.

                Y'all ran our country for a good while, and basically you screwed it up big-time.

                Quit whining. You had your chance. A lot of you got rich, and many of you will stay that way.

                But don't try to pass your failures off on others. Man up, and face the fact that most of you got most of your money from some sort of scam, and that you have no right to complain now that you've been caught out.

                And now, I need to get back to work. No government bailout for the likes of me, y'know.... GM, Ford, Citi, Chrysler and maybe Tesla -- and one can hope perhaps some other innovative car companies and a whole lot of "financial service" operations will get money. My tax money. Sucks, don't it? But otherwise, I suppose things might even be worse.

                Can't win for losing, can we? (sigh)

                     

                • Re:Not Really (Score:4, Insightful)

                  by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @08:57PM (#25938287) Homepage Journal

                  Quit whining. You had your chance. A lot of you got rich, and many of you will stay that way.

                  First of all, you have no stinking clue as to what political party that I tend to vote for nor have participated with in the past. It doesn't matter here and that is irrelevant anyway.

                  The "ponzi scheme" BTW had little to do with the actual housing market itself. Something like 95% of all mortgages or more have been solid investments and are loans that likely should have been made. It is that 5% of the loans that were made that likely shouldn't have been made in the first place.

                  Where it turns into a pyramid scheme is first where the assumption was that housing prices would keep going up and up without limit. A whole lot of people in the 1920's thought the same way about the stock market BTW.

                  Where it got ugly, and what has been a toilet flush to the national economy, has to do with all of the insurance, insurance derivatives, and some very exotic "marginal" buying that took place on top of these collateralized mortgage obligations [wikipedia.org]. It wasn't even the CMOs that failed, but how they were packaged.

                  Taking a page from the risky borrowing that took place in the 1920's, these "investors" borrowed "on margin"... but instead of in the stock market they pushed into real estate instead.

                  Any body with a damn clue that read the history of the 1920's should have seen this coming like an asteroid ready to hit the Earth. This was even reported on by several television news networks and in financial pages about how risky this whole thing was.... yet nobody stepped in.

                  BTW, in terms of those congressmen that turned a blind eye here.... it was both Democrats and Republicans that screwed up here and I blame both political parties equally for this massive screw-up. Neither John McCain nor Barack Obama were clean on this either, and I'll point out that Obama in particular had so much filthy "white republican money" going his way in the form of "campaign donations" that he certainly can't claim to be innocent of this mess.

                  Also, I'll note, I didn't expressly note what "constituency groups" were involved in this mess, as it was different for each area of the USA. As long as the money kept going to the political donation accounts of potential and current political leaders, those politicians stayed out of the mess. Some places I'm sure it was "rich white republicans", but I know for a fact that other "minority" groups were encouraged in a variety of ways to borrow on a house without any real reason to believe that they were ready to make payments.

                  It is these "poor folks", frankly, that are getting the short end of the stick on all of this. With trillions of dollars worth of money being pulled out of the world economy, these folks who signed up for these risky loans only to have the housing market yanked out from under them are having to pay the bill. Thanks to legislation passed by a Democratic Congress that has virtually eliminated bankruptcy as an option for middle-class folks, these people who borrowed this money are going to keep paying and paying through the nose for this debt even after they are evicted and their house is foreclosed, especially when they discover that their "mortgage insurance" is worthless.

                  As a homeowner myself, I have seen far too many of my neighbors get screwed over by the banking system and seriously taken advantage of.

                  Still, while the collapse of the housing market may have been the trigger here, that isn't why we are in the dire straights financially in the world today. It is all of the other garbage that was piled on top of mortgage industry expecting it to continue to grow when in fact it didn't.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by barfy (256323)

            One of the advantages of tax money, is that it can be used to develop technologies that will then get used by *many* others. It can jump start timelines that don't necessarily make sense to others. It can provide competition to private enterprise which has positive results in quality and price. This can be very important when a widespread commodity goes from plenty to scarce in a very short period of time.

            Government in and of itself is not a solution, but neither is the free-market.

            Classically the free

      • Re:Not Really (Score:4, Informative)

        by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning AT netzero DOT net> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @03:33PM (#25935449) Homepage Journal

        Fine, then just don't screw over Telsa by throwing tax dollars at the other auto companies either.

        It is all or nothing. Why should the government get to select some companies for its largess just because they are being managed far worse than a small California start-up?

  • Yes. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trillan (597339) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:38PM (#25934211) Homepage Journal

    Who else is going to improve the technology? If it was one of the companies already in the industry, it'd be done by now. Don't give the entrenched guys anything. Give it to new companies.

    Just because the rich get it first doesn't mean we won't get it, too. Look down at the device under your hands as you flame me for proof.

    • by MaizeMan (1076255) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:51PM (#25934339) Homepage
      I agree completely.

      The best way to develop the technology and bring the cost down to something affordable is to have it in production. And right now Telsa is producing 15 MORE zero emission cars a week than all of the Detroit automakers combined.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by demachina (71715)

        They aren't really zero emission. They are just moving the emissions down the line, which is good in that it gives you more flexibility in how you generate the electricity, but could be extremely bad if you pick the wrong method.

        If its coming from hydroelectric, solar, wind or nuclear you might say they are zero emission, though nukes are emitting some fairly nasty radioactive waste out the back end and some pretty nasty waste at the front end to produce the fuel if its coming from enriched uranium.

        If the

  • by humphrm (18130) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:40PM (#25934229) Homepage

    Tesla may not sell cars that everyone can afford today, but just by making cars, they are assumedly building on their ability to lower prices in the future.

    As long as the money goes toward R&D, it's an investment in our future which I would support even if the other Big 3 were't going bankrupt.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by edalytical (671270)

      Will this R&D make these cars affordable to people in China or India? No. Will R&D make zero emission power plants affordable to China and India? No. Will the cars if, made better and mass produced, have any impact on global emissions? No.

      So what exactly is the point of giving money to a company that markets and sells guiltlessness to rich people in rich countries?

  • Mischaracterized (Score:5, Insightful)

    by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:42PM (#25934257) Journal
    To say that a low interest loan to Tesla is a bailout for billionaires is to seriously ignore what Tesla is doing. While everyone else is either developing low-speed electric cars (e.g. cars that can't run on the highway and don't have to pass all of the safety regulations) or estimating that their electric hybrid will run AT MOST 40 miles off the battery, Tesla has developed the first practical all electric car that can run 200 plus miles on a charge using (mostly) existing technology. You know, something that the big three for the last 20 years has said couldn't be done.

    In addition, Tesla is continuing to work to engineer a pure electric car for the masses. This is where most of the money would be applied. It's not to bail out the roadsters already being built/already on order.

    Plus, the established auto makers research is primarily still into improving ICEs, which is inherently, horribly inefficient. We've had over a hundred years of research and development into improving the ICE and it's still AT BEST only 25% efficient. We don't need any more ICE development, thank you very much. Considering that the Tesla roadster gets 4 times the fuel efficiency as the best ICE, the money would be applied exactly as it is intended (something that would probably not be the case for GM and company).

    Lastly, if we're talking about bailouts, why should taxpayers bail out the Big Three? Their officers are responsible for pitifully shortsighted business decisions for the last 30 years, culminating in the current state of the US auto industry. If we reward businesses for bad business decisions, what's the incentive to do better? Let them be bought out by Toyota, et al. Good riddance, I say.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maxume (22995)

      No one gives a damn about efficiency. Sure, given equal performance and convenience, most people will choose the more efficient option, but the performance and convenience damn well better be equal.

      The point of bailing out the big 3 is to slow down the rate at which they dissolve, giving the 3 million people that are nearly directly dependent on them for employment more time to find other jobs, retrain or die. The thought is that the ongoing inefficiency is less costly than the other way round.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by khallow (566160)

        The point of bailing out the big 3 is to slow down the rate at which they dissolve, giving the 3 million people that are nearly directly dependent on them for employment more time to find other jobs, retrain or die. The thought is that the ongoing inefficiency is less costly than the other way round.

        I can see this argument, but I doubt that's why government is bailing them out. I think it's a combination of wanting to look like they're doing something for constituents and brokering resources for special interests. Personally, I think it's better to just pull the plug. Sure it'll be a bit difficult for the three million people, but collectively they'll be doing more productive work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by homer_s (799572)
        The point of bailing out the big 3 is to slow down the rate at which they dissolve, giving the 3 million people that are nearly directly dependent on them for employment more time to find other jobs, retrain or die.

        And taking money from other productive enterprises to do so and causing unemployment in a 1000 other areas.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Comatose51 (687974)
      Just because the output of an organization is socially desirable, it doesn't mean it's economically sound. What if I started a company to build electric cars for everyone, not just at $100,000, but at a severe lost, should the government subsidize me? Most of the time loans should be made for economically sound reasons. Low interest loans to risky borrowers is dumb and is what got us into our current financial crisis. Yes, housing for everyone is socially desirable but it doesn't make good financial sen
  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:43PM (#25934265)

    Should taxpayers back car makers first of all. Propping up failing industries with cash is like trying to fight gravity by throwing things up in the air. Should productive people pay for the calamitous ruin produced by government backed union thugs? So politicians bought michigan votes and now it's time to pay, only the payers will be the people living in the US. Uh uh.

    Should we pay for the cars of the wealthy... ooooooh the wealthy. Yeah right, this is about the wealthy. Wait, no. Actually this is about the fucking Marxists who believe in unions, who believe in a socialized banking system.

    Taxpayer should not back anything, and that includes the most bankrupt and morally corrupt company of all, the US government. Who will bail out the US government? Ponder this.

  • by j0nb0y (107699) <jonboy300 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:44PM (#25934279) Homepage

    We shouldn't be bailing out any of the automakers, but since we are wasting the money anyway, I would greatly prefer the money to go to companies with *vision* rather than to companies that will waste the money making hybrid SUVs.

  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:45PM (#25934289)

    many of which have gone to the Valley's billionaires and centimillionaires

    Usually, a centimillionaire only has enough cash to buy a used car. Making this high-end car available to these people sounds like a huge benefit to me.

  • Well . . . (Score:4, Informative)

    by chinakow (83588) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:46PM (#25934291)
    Tesla is asking for a loan, which means it will be payed back, I have a few fedaral loans and no one gives me grief or calls it a hand-out. They just nod and say, "yeah, I have student loan payments too." second, Tesla makes electric cars using rather advanced battery systems to get a theorectical 200 miles per charge and something more like 100 miles per charge if you believe Jason Calacanis. So if you can accept that "improve(ing) fuel efficency" is the same as using new technology to make an electric car that people want, then giving a loan to Tesla seems to fit the criteria for this $25B loan package. I hear Tesla is also working on cars for regular people, so why not? They are making a product that people want, and if they succeed in making a car affordable to the masses then they will succeed in increasing fuel efficiency.
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:49PM (#25934315) Journal

    Seriously, folks - this has less to do with protecting the Rolls Royces of this world, and more to do with encouraging alternate means of locomotion.

    Where would you rather give your money (if you're a US taxpayer, it is your money)... to a bunch of failing and backwards-looking automaking corps, or to a young and hungry company that is looking to change the very way we fuel up our cars?

    Forget the politics - the Big Three are in thrall to a wage and compensation plan that is simply unsustainable and way above market value, no matter how the mathematics are applied. Not blaming the unions per se (the corps agreed to it, after all) but seriously - add it up yourself.

    Coupled with the dragging and tooth-pulling required to get the likes of GM and Ford to go all-alternative (or to even jack up the fuel efficiency to something near what the competition has right now)? Why bother? They'll simply make a lot of noises about having changed their ways, and 10 years later they'll be right back in Congress again, begging for more money.

    This may sound trollish, but screw that - let the innovators of this world get a leg-up, if we're going to be throwing around money in the first place. Let the collapse of the Big Three be an object lesson to those who think they're somehow entitled to continued existence just because they happen to be a big corporation.

    /P

  • by maeka (518272) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @01:51PM (#25934337) Journal

    Should taxpayers back space stations only the rich can afford to visit?

  • Absurd Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smack.addict (116174) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:04PM (#25934481)

    Any new technology is initially going to be affordable only by the wealthy. If we say we are not going to subsidize R&D for products for the wealthy, we are saying we are not going to subsidize R&D at all.

  • by Ed Pegg (613755) * <ed@mathpuzzle.com> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:06PM (#25934509) Homepage
    A similar question could be asked about computers, in the 1950's. Electric cars are very likely something that will be needed in the future. The more that gets done on them now, the cheaper they will be in the future. These first few cars will be expensive, yes, but that goes for most prototype cars.
  • by kuhneng (241514) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:10PM (#25934547) Homepage

    A centimillion only buys one decitesla. I suspect the editors were referring to hectomillionaries, though with the recent gyrations in the market some of them may have dropped an exponent or two.

  • by plopez (54068) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:11PM (#25934565) Journal

    Why not repeal the subsidies to oil companies? Some direct, some indirect. That would level the playing field, stop skewing the market and then we would see where alts to oil stand in terms of economics. Then a decision on what to do about alt energy and transport will be easier to make.

    http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/3/6/122829/2907 [grist.org]

    http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/vehicle_impacts/cars_pickups_and_suvs/subsidizing-big-oil.html [ucsusa.org]

    http://cleantech.com/news/node/554 [cleantech.com]

    http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0401-12.htm [commondreams.org]

    http://www.progress.org/2003/energy22.htm [progress.org]

  • Liquidity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Britz (170620) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:18PM (#25934631) Homepage

    I thought the whole bailout (not the one for the car industry, but rather about credit) was about liquidity. As anyone in the business world can tell you, liquidity problems can sink the best companies. In other words: You can have the best business idea ever, but if no one wants to invest in it you won't be able to make money. Same can happen down the line. If you have all you money invested, for example in machines, because demand is so high, and then one of you customers pays his bills late you could go belly up very fast.

    Some banks even pull that on you in normal times. Maybe because they think they can make more money by selling your assets than by waiting for interest to come.

    Now because nobody trusts anybody anymore in the credit industry liquidity has dried up. Many good businesses could fail because they are unable to borrow money. If one of their customers pays late ...

    Tesla says they have orders for years to come. Maybe they have a very sound business, but still have problems getting money because of the banks.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd@bandrowsky.gmail@com> on Sunday November 30, 2008 @02:29PM (#25934729) Homepage Journal

    Yes, the USA should invest in manufacturing and in particular, manufacturing for better technologies, and at a national level. It benefits the workers, it benefits the rich, it benefits a country whose sense of well being is made by being self sufficient in both the goods it produces and energy that it uses.

    It's easy to demonize the rich, but history suggests caution. In 1993, as part of the Clinton economic recovery plan, Democrats raised taxes on luxury items. What they discovered is that they threw out of work quite a number of not-so-rich custom craftsmen, artists and workers that did things like make $2000 end tables, boats, and jewelry. Woops. The luxury tax was quickly repealed but the symbol of the small business owning craftsmen going belly up inspired middle America to elect Republicans in droves in 1994.

    The whole "bailout" for car manufacturers is about retaining the skill among the workforce to create manufactured products. Clearly, Tesla is forging ahead and trying to build all electric cars. While only the rich can afford them now, if they are successful, perhaps other people will too in the future. I know Elon Musk is a self promoting douche, but, he is building the damn car and I bet he's got a lot of good people working for him.

    I think the bank bailouts are far worse than any detroit bailout. Has anyone else ever bothered to total up the cost of the bailouts to banks versus the cost of the mortgages actually supposedly bad? You'll not be too surprised to find that we've already written out enough money to buy -all- of the subprime mortgages....but, why is anyone being foreclosed on?

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday November 30, 2008 @04:51PM (#25936177)

    Once upon a time, computers were the size of rooms and could only be afforded by governments and very large corporations.

    Yet, after half a century of investment by the British at places like Bletchley, the US on ENIAC and the Third Reich on IBM products... plus things like the government funded ARPANET, we now have computers for everyone, internet for everyone, medical and scientific research advancing as people are capable of helping fold proteins or search the stars in their own homes.

    Yes, right now, a Tesla roadster costs a lot of money. But, by investing in the technology, by establishing a market, by drawing interest, it won't do in ten or twenty years time.

    Pretty much every invention that's improved human life or reduced our burden on the planet has been expensive at first. But that's never yet been a good reason not to help advance things up front, knowing it'll trickle down many times over, over time.

The universe does not have laws -- it has habits, and habits can be broken.

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