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Old 12-02-2008, 12:47 PM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Nationalize GM

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At the moment, D.C. and Detroit are brooding on a Morton's Fork: Watch the American automakers auger in and take hundreds of thousands of jobs with them, or bail out these failed and incorrigible companies whose management so richly deserves whatever hell (flying coach?) awaits them.

Tops on the critics' list of grievances is Detroit's failure to anticipate the inevitable. Why didn't these companies sufficiently invest in next-generation technology -- fuel-efficient small cars, high-mileage hybrids, plug-ins and all-electric vehicles -- that could help wean the U.S. off foreign oil and take the automobile out of the climate-change equation? As the auto executives again bring their begging bowl to Congress, a consensus is forming: No bailout unless Detroit builds greener cars.

From my perch, as someone who drives all of the Big Three's North American product offerings, I think a lot of the anger is reflexive and misplaced. Detroit makes some amazing cars, and anyone who thinks otherwise should hold a Corvette ZR1 to his head and pull the trigger. The Ford F-150 pickup I drove last week flat-out humbles rivals from Toyota or Nissan. Considering that the domestic carmakers are shouldering titanic "legacy" costs -- it's estimated that $2,000 in healthcare, pension and employee post-retirement benefits are baked into the price of every UAW-built vehicle -- just being competitive in any segment is a signal achievement.

Nonetheless, the question remains: What to do about the domestic automakers? My modest proposal: Nationalize GM.

To be clear, I mean that the federal government should buy GM; forget rathole loans or nonvoting equity shares. The company's stockholder value has been essentially wiped out. The company's enterprise value -- the lock, stock and forklift price -- is about $32 billion; its total debt is $45 billion. Let's make GM an offer.


If you feel the gall of free-market ideology rising, consider that the measures being bruited about as preconditions for a bailout -- firing GM's top management; forcing a bankruptcy-like renegotiation of contracts with the UAW, suppliers and dealers (it has too many); and creating a czar of product development to force the building of green cars -- are nationalization in all but name. I say embrace it. GM-USA.

Here are the benefits of nationalization:

GM's fundamental problem is that it's too big -- and expecting it to fix itself in exchange for a $10-billion to $15-billion loan (its share of the vaunted $25-billion bailout) or magically right-size in Chapter 11 is foolhardy. It would take too long, cost too much and bankruptcy, should it come, would send customers running for the hills. Time is of the essence. Congress, writing a GM law and using federal power to abrogate contracts, could achieve at least some of these goals at a stroke.

GM is full of talent and potential. The company spent $8.1 billion on research and development last year, second only to Toyota. Of all the carmakers, GM is closest to commercializing a full-size, four-door, plug-in electric vehicle, the Volt, due in the fourth quarter of 2010. The Volt should travel about 40 miles in all-electric mode before requiring the services of its onboard, gas-powered generator. Many owners could go weeks before they used any gasoline. This is precisely the sort of car that environmental and energy security advocates have been clamoring for.

GM's business is growing in other parts of the world; it's only the North American operations that are killing the company. This is a corporation that had $181 billion in revenue and sold 9.4 million vehicles in 2007. To put it another way: GM, though distressed, looks like a good investment. Also, the federal government can sell the company -- at a profit -- once it's righted and sailing forward again.

GM is competing with companies that are quasi-national now. If you consider the advantages the government of Japan has bestowed on Toyota, Nissan and Honda -- in terms of healthcare and retirement benefits for its employees -- the unevenness of the field is clear. The same goes for most European companies, and the rising rivals in China will enjoy similar state-subsidized advantages.

The government can afford long-term planning. Many of GM's strategic missteps -- such as betting large on trucks and SUVs and not investing early in hybrid technology -- were the result of willful shortsightedness at the board level, responding to a financial market in which shareholders look for the quick return. Putting Uncle Sam in charge would fundamentally enlarge the return-on-investment horizon.

We need government-sized automotive help anyway. This country should be putting millions of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles on the road. As far as I can tell, without big subsidies, there is no way in the near term to build these vehicles and make a reasonable profit, due to the stubbornly high cost of advanced batteries. Besides, if GM were owned by the government, it wouldn't spend time and money litigating and lobbying against clean-air and safety rules

Why not pick up Ford and Chrysler too? If Chrysler goes south, it's too small to drag down the rest of the domestic auto industry. Ford, which has been pursuing its "Way Forward" cost-cutting plan for more than two years, will probably survive the moment without government assistance, though it's going to be close.

To be sure, the yard marks of democratic capitalism have moved under us in recent months. Last week, the feds announced that the government would take a $20-billion stake in Citigroup and guarantee hundreds of billions in risky assets, a move that would have seemed pure socialism had we not lived through the last few months. Have we not in effect nationalized the mortgage-loan industry?

I say, let's avoid the euphemisms and have the courage of our supercharged Keynesian convictions. By nationalizing GM, we can aim the company's astonishing resources at one of the biggest public-policy problems we have: oil. Restructured and refocused, GM could build green vehicles by the millions in a few years and still have the capacity to build gasoline- and diesel-powered pickups (which we'll still need) ... and maybe even some Corvettes on the side.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...,6474451.story
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:49 PM   #2
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When Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” was first published, its sustained and unyielding irony lead more than a few to believe that the Irish scribe was actually advocating for cannibalism and infanticide. With the benefit of nearly 300 years, we can now recognize Swift’s detailed plan to serve the children of Ireland’s poor to their landlords as biting satire.

Reading Dan Neil’s own “modest proposal,” one can’t help but go back and check for signs of self-aware irony (a far less scarce resource than it was in 1729). Sadly, there’s no much to go on, leading me to believe that Dan Neil actually wants the United States federal government to purchase General Motors. Or is there? After the usual litany of Big 3 woes, Neil “modestly proposes” as US takeover of GM. He then correctly anticipates the “gall of free-market ideology rising” in his readers, and he breaks down the case. And it’s off to irony no-mans land.

“Here are the benefits of nationalization,” as Neil sees them. First, GM is too big to fix with just $15b, and believe GM can “magically right-size in Chapter 11 is foolhardy.” In other words, it’s gonna cost a lot and it can’t be easily “right-sized.” Using these facts as arguments for nationalization gets my irony alarm ringing like it’s a Monday, but Neil keeps pushing. “Time is of the essence. Congress, writing a GM law and using federal power to abrogate contracts, could achieve at least some of these goals at a stroke.” Ah, so let’s open a huge can of federalism worms then, shall we. After all, the federal government can do whatever it wants, right?


After a brief recounting of GM’s alleged strong points (overseas ops, Volt, ‘vette), Neil then makes the bold claim that GM is competing with “quasi-nationalized” firms. Meaning? “If you consider the advantages the government of Japan has bestowed on Toyota, Nissan and Honda — in terms of healthcare and retirement benefits for its employees — the unevenness of the field is clear.



The same goes for most European companies, and the rising rivals in China will enjoy similar state-subsidized advantages.” And though Neil is approaching a solid argument here, he fails to consider what it would be like for (say) Ford to compete with “GM-USA” as Neil terms his proposal. Word to Neil: if this is satire, go the whole nine yards and back the American Leyland line. It’s what Swift would have done.


The hardest part of analyzing Jonathan Swift’s satire is discovering exactly who and what he’s making fun of. Neil, on the other hand, is clearly motivated by green. Energy independence, that is. “Let’s avoid the euphemisms and have the courage of our supercharged Keynesian convictions,” writes Neil, once again stimulating the flow of “free maket ideology gall.” “By nationalizing GM, we can aim the company’s astonishing resources at one of the biggest public-policy problems we have: oil. Restructured and refocused, GM could build green vehicles by the millions in a few years and still have the capacity to build gasoline- and diesel-powered pickups (which we’ll still need) … and maybe even some Corvettes on the side.” Or, we could look into extracting alternative fuel from babies. Just sayin’
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/dan-neil-is-insane/
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:53 PM   #3
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I like how everyone blames the big three for not investing in alternative fueled cars and hybrid technologies. It’s like the companies that have hybrids are making a killing on sales now. Newsflash, nobody is buying cars, period, weather it is a tank or a ****ty prius. People just don't have money to spend on cars because we are in a world of **** and it’s only going to get worse before it turns around. The big three were like any other business they made what sold when times were good. Now that times are bad they, like everyone else, are suffering.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:12 PM   #4
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I like how everyone blames the big three for not investing in alternative fueled cars and hybrid technologies. It’s like the companies that have hybrids are making a killing on sales now. Newsflash, nobody is buying cars, period, weather it is a tank or a ****ty prius. People just don't have money to spend on cars because we are in a world of **** and it’s only going to get worse before it turns around. The big three were like any other business they made what sold when times were good. Now that times are bad they, like everyone else, are suffering.
And yet the companies that invested in small cars and fuel efficient vehicles are doing just fine whereas the companies that invested in trucks and allowed their cars to languish and become obsolete are failing......
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:28 PM   #5
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So GM is going to keep buick? REALLY? Buick? Does anyone even buy Buick's anymore? I see WAY more saturns on the road then ****ty Buicks.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:28 PM   #6
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I like how everyone blames the big three for not investing in alternative fueled cars and hybrid technologies. It’s like the companies that have hybrids are making a killing on sales now. Newsflash, nobody is buying cars, period, weather it is a tank or a ****ty prius. People just don't have money to spend on cars because we are in a world of **** and it’s only going to get worse before it turns around. The big three were like any other business they made what sold when times were good. Now that times are bad they, like everyone else, are suffering.
newsflash: Toyota will turn a profit this year. GM will go bankrupt.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:45 PM   #7
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newsflash: Toyota will turn a profit this year. GM will go bankrupt.
i dont think news can have the word "will" in it unless its in a quote from someone quote worthy...
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Old 12-02-2008, 05:04 PM   #8
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Just what we need the government running more "services". They can't manage what they currently have thier hands in. Come to Chicago and see how well the public housing works.

I can understand, do not agree but understand, some of the mortgage bail-out because of laws passed that required risky loans. But auto bail-out? Please, what kind of F*&%ing company invests so heavily in one product in a diverse market. Then is shocked when they get caught with thier pants down. Wagoneer has become a symbol of GM's incompetence, it is just sad.

Plus, where is all this money coming from? Bail-outs, tax-breaks, national health-care, heck who needs a job. Where do I sign-up for my bail-out?.........

Peace,

Greg
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Old 12-02-2008, 05:06 PM   #9
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i'll quote myself from the other thread:
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I don't know about you but the single thing I hate about the entire bailout discussion is that every idiot from congress beats to deth the notion of "car makers need to be retooled for more efficient vehicles" as if this is the only problem US automakers face nowadays.
Don't everyone see that this is only part of the problem?? The cars that are worth buying sure are guzzlers (G8, vette, CTS, etc.) Rest of the problem is that those that have OK mpg or really good mpg (aveo, cobalt etc.) are pure crap in terms of being a car, mpg aside. They're horribly ugly, unreliable or poorly built with outdated styling and technology.
You don't see BMW's whining about their dropped sales of X5, or VW or Lexus or Acura or others that aren't really mpg leaders
That's because they actually have decent cars that people want to buy even if the mpg is not the best.
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:02 PM   #10
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So GM is going to keep buick? REALLY? Buick? Does anyone even buy Buick's anymore? I see WAY more saturns on the road then ****ty Buicks.
That's because Buick's biggest market is on the other side of the Pacific.
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:08 PM   #11
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That's because Buick's biggest market is on the other side of the Pacific.
This is true.
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:32 PM   #12
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I wonder if you took out all the ridiculous union agreements that have been struck over the years, whether or not GM would be in much, much better shape. A friend of a friend has a job at the GM plant where they eliminated his job by making it automated. He didn't lose his job - he still gets paid. He goes to the plant, clocks in, sits down and watches TV for his entire shift. Does not contribute to GM whatsoever, yet is still on the payroll. If GM is beholden to these aggreements including excessive employee salaries when compared to their Japanese counterparts, where do you think GM can cut its costs in comparison? In the product, that's where.
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:11 PM   #13
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I'm shocked and amazed that someone writing from the LA Times is suggesting that we nationalize a company


First off, it is not the government's role to run businesses. Period.

Second, if the government did nationalize a business, why on Earth would anyone trust them to do a better job than they did with Social Security or Medicare.

Government is rarely ever the answer.
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:27 PM   #14
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Nationalize an automaker? Does this writer not have any experience with how inefficient public agencies are? Has he never been to the DMV or any other state/county office?

Just imagine if the DMV actually built the car's that they register... They'd employ 5,000,000 people, 4,900,000 of which would be supervisors, and they'd build 2 cars a day. You'd have to special order your car after showing 15 forms of identification, the salesman would heckle you for not having the correct paperwork, then once everything is finally straight, you would be directed to another line to complete the order, and you would finally recieve your car 6 months later.

Besides, what business does the government have building cars?
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Old 12-02-2008, 08:53 PM   #15
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the new GM Lada!!!! or maybe a Trabant?
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Old 12-03-2008, 01:59 AM   #16
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Besides, what business does the government have building cars?
None. But they do have an interest in ensuring cars do get built in America (and no i don't mean by Toyota).
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Old 12-03-2008, 06:12 AM   #17
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Pure and counterproductive fantasy.
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Old 12-03-2008, 08:57 AM   #18
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My friend at work has a crazy idea that the government should give everybody a car. There would be no more car sales. The government would manufacture one model and every X number of years you would turn it in and get a new one. The car would come in one color and only be able to reach speeds of 45 mph. If the car broke down, you would just drop it off and pick up a new one. He says it would lower crash fatalities and give the government greater control over emissions.
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Old 12-03-2008, 09:09 AM   #19
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remember. years ago our government gave the big three 1 billion to develop a fuel efficient/hybrid/electric vehicle.


they did


do did you see them on the road...not really. the ev1 was their token of appreciation for all the money we gave them.



i say ****'um. throw them in the "swimming pool" and make them swim.


we should also enact a law that requires american based companies to have a minimum of 50% of their workforce to be in america and employ americans.
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Old 12-03-2008, 09:29 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by shikataganai View Post
newsflash: Toyota will turn a profit this year. GM will go bankrupt.

Last I heard, Toyota and Honda were getting help from their government.
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Old 12-03-2008, 09:57 AM   #21
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My friend at work has a crazy idea that the government should give everybody a car. There would be no more car sales. The government would manufacture one model and every X number of years you would turn it in and get a new one. The car would come in one color and only be able to reach speeds of 45 mph. If the car broke down, you would just drop it off and pick up a new one. He says it would lower crash fatalities and give the government greater control over emissions.
Your friend at work is a socialist. Government should not control the people, people should control the government.
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Old 12-03-2008, 10:02 AM   #22
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Your friend at work is a socialist. Government should not control the people, people should control the government.
I think the government should give every man a wife. If she's retarted, fat or lousy in bed you can trade her in for a new one. Socialism is terrible and stunts financial growth.
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Old 12-03-2008, 10:19 AM   #23
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we should also enact a law that requires american based companies to have a minimum of 50% of their workforce to be in america and employ americans.
Lets make it 51%.. or better yet.. 60%.
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Old 12-03-2008, 10:23 AM   #24
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we should also enact a law that requires american based companies to have a minimum of 50% of their workforce to be in america and employ americans.
Ohhh, if we're gonna get lawyers involved, let's just make a law that says all Americans must be rich and succeed at everything they do. We can legislate out failure! I'm brilliant!

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Old 12-03-2008, 10:28 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Chris_Lee View Post
My friend at work has a crazy idea that the government should give everybody a car. There would be no more car sales. The government would manufacture one model and every X number of years you would turn it in and get a new one. The car would come in one color and only be able to reach speeds of 45 mph. If the car broke down, you would just drop it off and pick up a new one. He says it would lower crash fatalities and give the government greater control over emissions.
I posted this in another thread, but it's very relevant to your post:

http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2008/11/lemon.html

Quote:
It's in the way you dress. The way you boogie down. The way you sign your unemployment check. You're a man who likes to do things your own way. And on those special odd-numbered Saturdays when driving is permitted, you want it in your car. It's that special feeling of a zero-emissions wind at your back and a road ahead meandering with possibilities. The kind of feeling you get behind the wheel of the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition from Congressional Motors.

All new for 2012, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the mandatory American car so advanced it took $100 billion and an entire Congress to design it. We started with same reliable 7-way hybrid ethanol-biodeisel-electric-clean coal-wind-solar-pedal power plant behind the base model Pelosi, but packed it with extra oomph and the sassy styling pizazz that tells the world that 1974 Detroit is back again -- with a vengeance.

We've subsidized the features you want and taxed away the rest. With its advanced Al Gore-designed V-3 under the hood pumping out 22.5 thumping, carbon-neutral ponies of Detroit muscle, you'll never be late for the Disco or the Day Labor Shelter. Engage the pedal drive or strap on the optional jumbo mizzenmast, and the GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition easily exceeds 2016 CAFE mileage standards. At an estimated 268 MPG, that's a savings of nearly $1800 per week in fuel cost over the 2011 Pelosi.

Even with increased performance we didn't skimp on safety. With 11-point passenger racing harnesses, 15-way airbags, and mandatory hockey helmet, you'll have the security knowing that you could survive a 45 MPH collision even if the GTxi SS/Rt were capable of that kind of illegal speed.

But the changes don't stop there. Sporty mag-style hubcaps and an all-new aggressive wedge shape designed by CM's Chief Stylist Ted Kennedy slices through the wind like an omnibus spending bill. It even features an airtight undercarriage to keep you and a passenger afloat up to 15 minutes -- even in the choppy waters of a Cape Cod inlet. Available a rainbow of color choices to match any wardrobe, from Harvest Avocado to French Mustard.

Inside, a luxurious all-velour interior designed by Barney Frank features thoughtful appointments like in-dash condom dispenser and detachable vibrating shift knob. A special high capacity hatchback holds up to 300 aluminum cans, meaning fewer trips to the redemption center. And the standard 3 speaker Fairness ActoPhonic FM low-band sound system means you'll never miss a segment of NPR again.

Best of all, the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt is made right here in the U.S.A. by fully card-checked unionized workers and Detroit's famous visionary jet-set managers. Even if you don't own one, you can enjoy the patriotic satisfaction that you're supporting the high wages, good benefits, and generous political donations that are once again making the American car industry the envy of the world.


But why not buy one anyway? With an MSRP starting at only $629,999.99, it's affordable too. Don't forget to ask about dealer incentives, rebates, tax credits, and wealth redistribution plans for customers from dozens of qualifying special interest groups. Plus easy-pay financing programs from Fannie Mae.

So take the bus to your local CM dealer today and find out why the Pelosi GTxi SS/Rt Sport Edition is the only car endorsed by President Barack Obama. One test drive will convince you that you'd choose it over the import brands. Even if they were still legal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whoosh View Post
remember. years ago our government gave the big three 1 billion to develop a fuel efficient/hybrid/electric vehicle.


they did


do did you see them on the road...not really. the ev1 was their token of appreciation for all the money we gave them.



i say ****'um. throw them in the "swimming pool" and make them swim.


we should also enact a law that requires american based companies to have a minimum of 50% of their workforce to be in america and employ americans.
Exactly. Fuel efficient cars are not the answer. They're the fake answer pushed on us. People don't want these cars. The government says we do, tells us we should and pays companies to make them, but the demand is just not there. Rant all you will about oil and the future, but the market has spoken.
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That is GM for ya. Continued Black eye for GM racer98 Off-Topic 23 12-18-2005 07:28 AM
National "consumption tax" (read national sales tax) ChrisW Political Playground 50 03-04-2005 05:59 PM


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