Considered musings and random commentary.
Monday, January 14, 2008
More on electic electrics
If you haven't seen "Who Killed the Electric Car", you should. It's a bit too squishey-liberal in spots, and heavy on "the eeevil guvernment", but in other spots, it's not... it has enough techy stuff to keep me reasonably interested past the "let's protest 'til The Man gives in!", "Takin' it to th' people" rhetoric. Parts of it are quite practical and really sane. Sorry about the junky parts tho'.
There's an interesting interview (ok, *I* thought it was interesting) w/ Mssr and Msss Ovshinsky -- the Dad of the solar cell. It feeds the flames a bit -- "I discovered a way to run a car off of salt water, and GM bought the ocean!", but it has it's points.
I really was intrigued about the visit to the car shredder to show how ecologically soundly old iron is handled... right up until I realized they they were shredding several hundred pounds of lead-acid batteries or nickel-cadmium / nickel-metal-hydrid batteries, and turning it all into a nice chemically dust (ok, chunks). Unless you have nano-bots who don't mind chemical analysis and long-term shorting jobs, that is NOT the way to recycle a repossessed electric car. Rubber, nylon, vinyl, lead, copper, silicon, and iron particle sand. Oh, and the hearts and dreams of the previous leasees.
So why DID several major manufacturers lease out and then cancel the leases on these interesting cars whose owners (leasers?) were well willing to buy-out, flat-out, without regard for liability, maintenance, warranty, or guarantee? It's like having a house that you can practically grow from a magic seed, run off the sun, expand or contract at will, and maybe sail around the world in..., and you can make them for... a magic seed. Do you make 'em and charge a fair price for them, or do you consider all of the industry buy-ins you have from lumber companies, carpenters (union carpenters, no doubt), electric companies, etc. -- all of which you have investments in? Do you put some out of these wonderful magic houses out of the market, where millions of people will see them and want to grow their own magic houses, or do you hold out, because you know you've cornered the market on wood, concrete, wire, and paint? If you put the magic houses on the market, you can make a pretty good profit, and lots of people will want them. Or do you remove the magic houses from the market, you can make a TON of money selling the old-style houses.
At least until the wood and paint and metal etc are all used up, where-upon you can market the magic houses and still get that TON of money.
Greed... corporate greed.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against greed. Greed is what made America great. Or at least the profit motive and the free market. But when it comes to corporations, there is no free market (not at that macro of a level).
If Tom Smith comes up with a way to do a half-way passable magic house -- say a magic cottage -- you can always petition congress to pass safety laws stating that unless magic cottages comply with the 350 pound OSHA manual for Magic Cottages, they aren't safe and can't be built. At least until some major builder is ready. Remove the individual attempts at filling the market need by corporate and legal posturing. Hey, don't be surprised, it's been done before.
Remember "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" -- cute kids/adults cartoonish movie with a silly premise of car manufacturers buying up and dismantling the street car franchises. Ha ha! Funny! Except that there are records showing that it happened. Who'da thunk it? The only thing sadder was that I had the hots for Jessica Rabbit... who wasn't really bad, just drawn that way. Hubba hubba.