Monthly Archives: November 2008

"We are the pay toilet of the nation"

From the State Newspaper comes this nasty surprise…..

Huge landfills are on the rise in South Carolina. The nation’s
three largest garbage haulers — Waste Management Inc., Republic
Services and Allied Waste Industries — have moved in, often under other
names.

The Legislature never approved a policy allowing the state to become a garbage mecca.

But,
with the approval of the state Department of Health and Environmental
Control, South Carolina has become an East Coast destination dump.

The state buries far more garbage than it produces and is reserving space for even more.

…There is no limit on how high garbage can be stacked as long as a
landfill’s base is broad enough. Trash mountains in Lee and Spartanburg
counties now are among the tallest artificial structures there. People
give them names, such as “Mount Trashmore.”

In South Carolina, the trash tapestry involves DHEC, money, pollution and politics:

Nine
other states now use South Carolina as a garbage dump. Last year, those
states were New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, North
Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Virginia. North Carolina, the
leader, dumped 628,262 tons of trash here, followed by Massachusetts
(366,054), New York (417,196), and New Jersey (168,215). In those
states, dumping fees are high. It’s cheaper to ship garbage to South
Carolina.

And I thought we were suffering just from importing too many people from New Jersey and New York.

The whole story is simply disgusting. Our state agencies, and their boards, need to whipped until they get the message….you work for the people of South Carolina.

In Memoriam

In memoriam…


Last night as I strolled abroad

On the far side of my farm

I was approached by a comely maiden

Who left me distraught and weak.

I was captivated by her demeanour and shapeliness

By her sensitive and delicate mouth,

I hastened to approach her

But for Ireland I’d not tell her name. (Mary O’Hara, A Song for Ireland).

The Weekly You Tube Broadcast

It’s really a very, very crafty thing to do. I’m talking, of course, about Obama’s decision to transmit his weekly radio (or Tubecast, if you prefer) broadcast via You Tube. Who listens to the radio on Saturday afternoon? Nobody! Who uses You Tube like Facebook? The Kids!

What a great way to communicate with his strongest base. He’s unfiltered by the print, radio, and tv media, using a medium not understood by the majority of his supporters who are either too old or not connected to the web. Let’s not dwell on the fact that Obama is acting presidential before he is actually the President, by thinking that we need to hear from him before, you know, President Bush steps down. It’s probably okay, but it just feels, well, a little unseemly. And, ummm, will the loyal opposition also begin using You Tube soon, or do they just want to fade into oblivion?

$465 Billion Down the Hole

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Via Tigerhawk:

In 1993, the legendary economist Michael Jensen gave his presidential
address to the American Finance Association. Mr. Jensen’s presentation
included a ranking of which U.S. companies had made the most
money-losing investments during the decade of the 1980s. The top two
companies on his list were General Motors and Ford, which between them
had destroyed $110 billion in capital between 1980 and 1990, according
to Mr. Jensen’s calculations.

The quote above comes from a NYU B-School professor discussing the auto industry. But wait, it gets worse…

Over the past decade, the capital destruction by GM has been
breathtaking, on a greater scale than documented by Mr. Jensen for the
1980s. GM has invested $310 billion in its business between 1998 and
2007. The total depreciation of GM’s physical plant during this period
was $128 billion, meaning that a net $182 billion of society’s capital
has been pumped into GM over the past decade — a waste of about $1.5
billion per month of national savings. The story at Ford has not been
as adverse but is still disheartening, as Ford has invested $155
billion and consumed $8 billion net of depreciation since 1998.

As Roger Ehrenberg notes:

With over $100 billion of legacy pension and health care costs, a lack
of globally competitive, fuel efficient cars and bloated cost
structures, the U.S. auto industry as we know it has to die. Putting
politics aside, it is simply foolish to pander to the UAW and their
lobbyists by trying to save an industry that can’t be saved. Let’s take
this opportunity through the bankruptcy process to purge unnecessary
costs, sell valued assets to the private sector and re-purpose a
skilled labor force towards infrastructure projects that can benefit
the economy. Obama needs to make a stand that he is up for doing right,
not simply thanking those who donated huge dollars and expect repayment
– fast.

What I haven’t seen reported yet is a report detailing what steps the auto-makers intend to take in using our money to solve their problems. With GM supposedly burning through $1.5 Billion per month, and the other two burning cash at a lower, yet significant rate, exactly how much time does $25 or $50 Billion buy? Or, if not time, what structural changes does the money buy over the near term? More importantly, what if the money does not change the outcome of this process?

Time to man up, Barack, and make the smart decision. Yes you can.

…for the world to get better, things that don't work have to fail…

That’s part of the key sentence in Megan McArdle’s latest post on the Motor City Meltdown. It’s painful, but true, that for each one of us, in our special world, nothing lasts forever. No matter how we wish it might be so. It’s time to quit throwing our good money after bad decisions, and I think we all would agree that there hasn’t been a good decision made in Detroit, or worse, in Washington, regarding the automakers in decades.

As Ms. McArdle so aptly writes:

But whatever your feeling about government intervention in the economy,
or the correct level of income inequality, I think there’s one thing we
can all agree on:  for the world to get better, things that don’t work
have to fail.  We cannot keep alive every company, every car and every
job that someone once liked, because that way lies stagnation and
death.  Places where production decisions are made based on how much
labor they can consume, rather than how much value they can produce,
make everyone in society worse off in the long run.

It’s time for GM, Ford, and Chrysler to die so that they can be reborn. Maybe the next iteration will be more competitive and therefore more profitable. Think of it as Karma.

Here Comes Hyperion

What sounded like a good idea a month ago, sounds even better today.

Nuclearbatteroilsands_2

A few details:

It’s fuel lasts for about 5 years. Other reactors also have re-fueling. In this case, refueling is done by digging up the reactor if needed and then having the manufacturer perform the refueling. In between there are no people operating the reactor because it is self-regulating. The manufacturer separates about a football size amount of material when taking the used fuel out.

It’s parts

is basically a hot tub full of uranium hydride with some hydrogen and some heat exchange rods.

The right tub of materials regulates itself while generating electricit.

What’s not to like….