“Brand New Car”

In case anyone is in doubt, but not over finances, right now is a GREAT time to buy a car.  I cannot overstate this fact.  With the economic woes causing our system to collapse all around us, there are many opportunities for which to take advantage.  Stock market is one, if you don’t mind the rollercoaster ride.  Another way is in using one’s buying power for the big ticket items (cars in particular, but yeah, I’m sure boats and such are going for huge discounts too).

I recently traded in my old 2003 Acura TL Type-S for a 2009 Pontiac G8 GT.  As I began on this strange move months ago, I got asked “trade in an Acura for a Pontiac?”.  Yes, without reservation.  I waited to make this exchange until the end of Sept, and I’m glad I did because I got great pricing.  (OK, the reasons why I readily dumped my Acura for a Pontiac are best covered some other time.  I’ll just say that no one asks why once they see my G8 GT and ride in it.)  Anyway, the point is, right now is a great time to get some really great deals on the cars.

This isn’t a message to tell people “Hey, go out and support the American economy.”  This is a message saying “Now is the time to strike; to get the really great bargains.”  The consumer advantage is not limited to GM.  All the car companies are in pain right now.  As I shopped around in recent months, many of the dealers put on a brave face, but there is an air of desperation.  I guess a better way to put is that they are willing to actually deal.  No more dealer mark-ups.  I’ve actually seen quite the opposite.  Some brands are selling 2008’s for WAY under even the invoice price (prolly close to what is actually paid by the dealer).

Of course, if you invest your money, you might score a 3.0% yield CD, which is running at about 1/2 the current inflation rate.  You can try to time the stock market, but much bigger money is likely timing you instead.  If you are going to lose money, you might as well enjoy the ride (literally).

Which Way EPA?

Green industries, although growing, are still having a hard time getting the acceptance from the U.S. Government in the form of funding, supporting regulations and support from the EPA (Environment Protection Agency), or as Grampa Simpson called them, Eepah!  EEEPAH!

EPA was established in 1970.  It responsibilities cover issues dealing with the protection of the environment and public health.  They set clean water standards.  They specify limits for toxic waste sites.  They are also tasked to regulate industrial pollution, and now even the pollution from everyone’s vehicle.  Law mandates that the EPA use proven science and technical and legal data to make decisions that are in the best interest of all citizens.  (Contrary to the depiction in The Simpsons Movie, EPA doesn’t have armored tanks nor huge impregnatable city covering domes.)

In my opinion, these regulations should consider new environmental technologies.  The EPA should take a role in fostering new technologies that create solutions for environmental protection efforts.  When the EPA is doing its job, this happens.  Such efforts have already helped spark development of U.S. green industries.

The problem?  EPA is supposed to be partisan neutral.  It hasn’t be treated as such under the current U.S. presidential administration.  Its purpose and over all ability to function have been hampered on two fronts as a result of agendas that belong back in the Industrial Age. One, its budget has been substantially reduced to force it to downscale its operations.  Two, according to a recent Design World article, the head of the EPA, appointed by the President, is an individual that seems to act without regard to science or even his own staffs recommendations, in favor of the President’s agenda.  This agenda unfortunately focuses on protecting old industries, ignores the facts that those old industries can still be supported while encouraging green industry, and that old industries can actually be made safer and more efficient by using green technologies.

Beyond that, it is important to recognize that the human population is growing too rapidly for the current industrial centric paradigm to support in the long run.  I’m not talking about Global Warming.  Our planet simply does not have the resources to support the projected populations if things remain on their current path.  Being the largest consumer of resources, the U.S. bares a large portion of responsibility for these issues.  This isn’t a guilt trip.  We simply need to act in our own self-preserving interests.

New technologies need to be supported, developed and implemented to deal with the changing and currently unknown challenges 21st Century will bring.  Though some will argue that it is not the government’s job to be at the forefront of technological development, the reality is that this is a job the government takes on.  Without government “encouragement”, industry acceptance tends to lag until problems is so big that it cannot be ignored. At times, this has been to the detriment of our country, as the current fiscal crisis attests.

The EPA plays a particular role in all this by working with (and sometimes against) industry to do what is best for America’s people.  It can be a leader that creates new opportunities for U.S. industry, new jobs, new technologies, etc.  Hopefully the EPA will be able to fulfill the role for which it was established.  If allowed it, I believe it will benefit our economy (perhaps even sooner rather than later), including the creation of engineering jobs in the new and growing green industry.

Source:  Michelle Shaland (2008) What’s the real role of the EPA?, Design World – August 2008