Boeing Battery Quick Fix May Be Elusive

The crisis that has enveloped Boeing over the grounded Dreamliner, at a cost of billions of dollars in losses in addition to what has already been “invested” in it  — voluntarily by its owner/investors and coercively from taxpayers – exemplifies perhaps more than any other redistributionist corporatism scheme why government intervention is more headache than help.

Pass the industrial-strength Excedrin.

Of immediate concern to the Chicago-based jet-manufacturer is the lithium-ion battery that powers so many of the 787’s critical functions. Two instances of “thermal runaway” on Dreamliners’ owned by Japan-based airlines caused that country, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, to suspend their use pending investigations. Other flaws since July such as cracked engines, damaged cockpit windows, and fuel leaks have compounded concerns.

But the scare factor surrounding the battery is the biggest deal.

“This is an unprecedented event,” said Deborah Hersman, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety … Read More ➡

Union and Taxpayer-Owned GM Accused of Mistreating South American Workers

There are a couple of little-noticed news stories on General Motors that belie the success narrative that portrays GM as a robust and growing corporation that is rewarding its workers around the globe. Both stories revolve around GM’s South American operations, one involving injured Colombian GM workers who allegedly lost their jobs after being hurt at work and who are now on hunger strikes; the other centers on a strike by Brazilian GM workers who are protesting job cuts there.

The allegation of abusive treatment to Colombian workers is the more disturbing of the two affairs and warrants more coverage from the media than has been given. According to reports, workers at a plant in Bogotá, Colombia work under abysmal conditions and it is typical of GM to fire workers that are injured there who can no longer perform their jobs. Some of those desperate ex-workers took the extreme step … Read More ➡

VIDEO: Green Technology Hobbling Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner?

NLPC Associate Fellow Paul Chesser was a guest last night on the Willis Report on Fox Business Network. Here’s a transcript:

Gerri Willis: The recent string of battery fires on Boeing 787 Dreamliners could be traced to one thing says my next guest. You can simply point the finger at the government’s obsession with pushing green energy. Paul Chesser, associate fellow at the National Legal and Policies Center joins me now. Paul, welcome back to the show. You know, it occurred to me that we are reporting on this Boeing story all wrong. All the reporting just talks about the fires. It never goes back to this idea that companies like Boeing are being pushed very hard by governments all over the world to make these green products. Whether they are ready for the market or not.

Paul Chesser: Right. … Read More ➡

Boeing’s Green Dreamliner Costs the Company, Customers and Taxpayers

Boeing 787 DreamlinerSeemingly endless government subsidies and the impetus to “go green” have made a mockery yet again of those who direct their business toward pleasing politicians and activist groups rather than delivering quality products built upon a proven history of performance.

Such is the case with Boeing’s troubled – and now grounded – Dreamliner.

The much-delayed 787 is supposed to be “a super-efficient airplane.” Designed (so Boeing says) in response to airlines’ demands for an energy-saving transport, the Dreamliner provides “unmatched fuel efficiency, resulting in exceptional environmental performance.” Boeing claims it uses 20 percent less fuel than similarly sized planes, in part by making it lighter by using composite materials for 50 percent of the primary structure, including the fuselage and wing. According to Popular Science, the Dreamliner is 80-percent composite “by volume.”

But the main problem Boeing has with the Dreamliner – which has led airlines … Read More ➡

CBO Says Electric Vehicle Subsidies to Cost $7.5 Billion With Little Benefit

Akerson and VoltI recently came across a report written by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which estimated the cost to taxpayers for “federal policies to promote (aka subsidize) the manufacture and purchase of electric vehicles (EVs).” The piece also predicts the short-term benefits of the subsidies and includes the effects of rising federal requirements for fuel economy (known as CAFE) standards. The outlook is that federal subsidies will cost taxpayers $7.5 billion over the next few years for little or no benefit (even when including the impact of CAFE) to total gas consumption or emissions.

The CBO is a non-partisan federal agency that is relied upon by Congress to provide unbiased economic data. Unfortunately, Congress does not seem to listen to what the statistics are telling them. In the case of green subsidies, it seems that no logical data on how little the country benefits from the politically-popular handouts and how many … Read More ➡

Bailed-Out GM US Market Share at 88 Year Low

GM logoGeneral Motors finished 2012 with a 17.9% market share in the US and is expected to repeat the performance in 2013 according to a Bloomberg report. The number is at the lowest point it has been since 1924. So what is behind the dismal numbers at GM that sees the company performing at 88 year lows?

Before speculating on why GM has lost so much market share to the competition, I must point out the technicality that the company has actually only been in existence for 3 1/2 years, so we are comparing market share to “Old GM.” “New GM” came into existence in June of 2009 after it filed for bankruptcy and reemerged as a company that was majority-owned by the government. Since then, GM proponents will point to historical performance comparisons to Old GM when convenient (as if the bankruptcy never occurred) even as they absolve themselves … Read More ➡

Some Chevy Dealers Pull Plug on Volt – 2012 Sales Well Below Goals

Volt and AkersonThe final tally is in for 2012 Chevy Volt sales. The good news (which is what most headlines will trumpet) is that sales for General Motors’ flagship green vehicle tripled from 2011’s paltry 7,671 to a slightly less paltry 23,461 in 2012. The bad news is that the number is almost half of GM’s sales goal of 45,000 in 2012 for the Volt. The further bad news is that the Volt has so little demand in most regions that some dealerships are refusing to pay for required tools to repair the vehicles and are choosing to cease selling the vehicles instead.

To put the sales figures in perspective, Toyota’s hybrid Prius family achieved sales of 236,659 in 2012; over ten times that of the Volt! You wouldn’t know that from the amount of hype the Volt has gotten compared to the Prius. Furthermore, taxpayers had to foot the bill for … Read More ➡

2012: The Year of Taxpayer ‘Green’ Waste

Obama InvescoThe past year was a dismal one for the passé idea that government would use taxpayer dollars responsibly, and that was nowhere more evident than with President Obama’s initiatives to promote “clean” energy technology companies and projects with so-called “stimulus” funds and other public money. NLPC reported extensively on some of the most egregious examples.

Solar Favors Don’t Stop Fizzle

Solyndra went bankrupt in 2011, and the reverberations over $535 million in lost taxpayer money were felt throughout 2012. Money still flowed out from the Department of Energy and its stimulus stash, but Congressional Republicans’ scrutiny of big projects – especially in the Loan Program Office –paralyzed some new projects.

The year began with BP, which not long ago downplayed fossil fuels in favor of a “Beyond Petroleum” motto, exiting the solar business despite having received a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. government … Read More ➡

GM Buyback of Treasury Shares – Why Now?

General Motors moved quickly to complete its buyback of 200 million shares from the US Treasury Department before year end. It is a welcome sign that the Obama Administration is finally beginning to exit taxpayers’ GM stake, a move that could have been made a year and a half ago when share price was closer to $30. While some felt it was never the place of Government to gamble taxpayer money on Wall Street by market timing the exit of Treasury’s GM stake, others argued that taxpayers would be better served by waiting until GM share price rose to at least over the $33 IPO price of two years ago.

Of course, the presidential election affected the politically-sensitive decision as well, as no one in the Obama Administration would suggest locking in losses for American taxpayers prior to Election Day. Now the question must be asked, what drove the decision … Read More ➡

Taxpayers Get Hosed in GM Buyback of Treasury Shares

Government MotorsLet’s all rejoice! The Treasury Department is finally beginning to unload the taxpayers’ stake in General Motors after a three and a half year stint of government involvement in the company. While the decision to get taxpayers out of the private sector is the correct one, the move is hardly a cure-all for what ails GM. And despite reports to the contrary, this does not bring closure to all groups that were involved in the unprecedented intrusion of government into the private sector that saw politically-powerful groups like the UAW receive favorable treatment over other classes.

Let’s start by reviewing the GM buyback deal that was just announced. Of the $50 billion or so of taxpayer money that went to GM, about $40 billion went towards the purchase of approximately 800 million shares of stock in “New” GM. That comes out to roughly $50 a share paid by taxpayers. GM … Read More ➡

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