Walmart Withdraws from ALEC, Wallows in Bribery Scandal

Mike Duke photoIn an unsurprising, capitulatory move last week, Walmart joined several other major companies and withdrew its membership from the American Legislative Exchange Council, which advances the principles of free markets and limited government at the state level through legislative idea exchanges.

The move preceded Friday’s annual shareholder meeting, in which executives emphasized their commitment to principles of integrity. That came into question especially since April, when the New York Times revealed that company officials authorized millions of dollars in bribes in order to expedite building permits and other favors in Mexico.

A number of investors and pension funds attempted to remove some Walmart directors from the board, including CEO Mike Duke (in picture), former CEO Lee Scott, and S. Robson “Rob” Walton, son of company founder Sam Walton. Because the family holds nearly 50 percent of stock in the company, proposals they don’t support will always fail … Read More ➡

Chevy to Build Impalas, Malibus at Underutilized Volt Plant

Volt asembly lineCBC News reports that an Ontario General Motors’ plant where Chevy Impalas and Equinoxes were built will be closed down, costing Canadians around 2,000 jobs. GM reportedly plans to partially move production of the Impala to its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan. You may remember the Hamtramck site from the Chevy Volt commercial which trumpeted the building of Volts there. It now seems that low demand for the Volt has led to the plant having enough time to build other, conventionally-powered vehicles. While the Volt may have been the car GM “had to build,” it appears that consumers would “prefer” them to build cars like the Impala.

It is also reported that GM will build 2013 Chevy Malibus at the Chevy Volt plant. The additional tasks will give workers that produce the low-selling Volt something to do, other than stay home on paid leave as they have had to do … Read More ➡

Obama’s Green Jobs Don’t Materialize

NLPC Associate Fellow Paul Chesser was interviewed on Fox Business Network’s Willis Report on Thursday. Here’s a transcript:

Gerri Willis:  Joining me now, Paul Chesser, Associate Fellow at the National Legal and Policy Center. Hey Paul, welcome back to the show, always great to have you here.

Paul Chesser:  Great to be here.

Gerri Willis: Let me tell you, this is crazy, is it not? I want to just show folks with some of these companies that got loans from the Department of Energy – the jobs that were promised but never delivered. You look at A123 we just talked about this 2,200 jobs that were promised, never delivered. Dow Kokum 230, Ener1 1,450. The list goes on and on and in every case we’ve given the companies money, taxpayer money. Is this any surprise? Should I not be shocked?

Paul Chesser:  Well it is hundreds … Read More ➡

Chevy Volt May Sales Dismal – Ad Spending Ineffective

General Motors reported that Chevy Volt sales for May came in at a paltry 1,680. To put this in perspective, GM sold 29,579 Chevy Malibus during the month. The funny thing is, I do not recall seeing as many TV ads for the Malibu as I have for the Volt. While GM’s ad strategy (which has seen the company discontinuing advertising on Facebook and the Super Bowl) has received much attention, auto journalists and analysts do not seem to want to question the reason why GM is spending such a disproportionate amount of money advertising a vehicle that is losing money for the company and its shareholders.

GM did not think that spending $10 million annually on Facebook was leading to enough additional sales to justify the expense. Based on the amount of ads I see on the Volt, I would guess that the company is spending at least that … Read More ➡

Was GM’s Nepotistic Ad Spending More Effective than Facebook?

The Detroit Free Press reported on Friday that General Motors failed to initially disclose possible conflicts when it awarded a $600,000 contract to Mother New York, an ad agency with ties to GM’s Chief Financial Officer, Dan Ammann. Ammann’s wife, Pernilla Ammann, is a partner and Chief Operating Officer at the ad agency. In typical Government Motors’ fashion, Ammann dubiously denies having had knowledge of the deal. Before looking at what the money purchased, let’s look at the likelihood that Ammann really knew nothing.

Honestly, is it likely that a CFO at a major corporation would not know that his wife’s firm just received a $600,000 contract from his firm? How might the conversation between the two have gone at the time the windfall was received by Mrs. Ammann’s firm? Maybe something like this:

Mrs. Ammann: “Hi Honey, how was work today?”

Mr. Ammann: “Just fine Dear, still trying

Read More ➡

‘Ludicrous’ EPA – NASCAR Partnership

NLPC Associate Fellow Mark Modica appeared Wednesday on Cavuto on Fox Business Network to discuss the new “partnership” between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). Here’s a transcript:

Liz MacDonald:  Well, next up, the EPA, you know what, it is all about clean air. But now critics are saying it is full of hot air. That is because it is partnering with NASCAR to push green initiatives. That includes encouraging the tracks to recycle more, conserve water, sustainability. You get the picture. Mark Modica from the National Legal and Policy Center says you know what, this proves the EPA is clueless. Sir, what did you make of this when you heard this news?

Mark Modica: I just think it is ludicrous, Liz. It shows you how out of touch the administration is. I mean, NASCAR, these guys, I think … Read More ➡

Chevy Volt Pep Rally Masquerades as Electric Vehicle Safety Symposium

Chevy Volt chargerThe Department of Transportation and NHTSA have announced that a “technical symposium” will be held on May 18th “to discuss safety considerations for electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.” In addition to NHTSA’s presentations, the Department of Energy, automotive manufacturers and battery makers will participate. Given the bias of the participants, the symposium sounds like it is going to be less informational and more infomercial.

The press release for the gathering states, “Electric vehicles show great promise as an innovative and fuel-efficient option for American drivers. Significant research and other activities related to the safety of these vehicles are ongoing by NHTSA, the Department of Energy (DOE), vehicle and battery manufacturers, standards organizations, and others.” I think that gives a hint as to where this is going. Add to this the fact that the Obama Administration agencies involved have all celebrated the rollout of the Chevy Volt and … Read More ➡

Taxpayers Subsidize Forbes ‘Green’ Billionaires’ Schemes

Vinod Khosla

This story has been updated below.

The three top U.S. tycoons on Forbes’s “Green” billionaires list have received billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for their clean technology companies, after they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for political campaigns and lobbying.

Two of the moguls, Elon Musk and Vinod Khosla (in photo), are technology pioneers based in California with net worths of $2 billion and $1.3 billion, respectively. The third, Christy Walton, is the widow of the late John Walton who was an heir to the Walmart fortune. Forbes says she is “the world’s richest woman” is worth $24.8 billion.

Significant percentages of Musk’s and Khosla’s value are derived from “eco-friendly” holdings. Musk’s main green investments are in Tesla Motors, an electric automaker, and SolarCity. Among Khosla’s clean-tech assets are KiOR and Gevo, both biofuels companies, and Calera Corporation, a company that uses captured carbon … Read More ➡

Obama’s Gamble on GM Worse than JPM’s Trading Flub

When JPM Chase reported that it had lost $2 billion recently on risky derivative trades, the predictable call came from the Obama Administration to increase regulation on banks. The hypocrisy of the politically motivated proclamations becomes evident when you compare the JPM trades to Treasury’s continued gamble on its taxpayer funded stake in General Motors, which has suffered an approximate $5 billion loss in value over the past year.

US taxpayers unwillingly own 500 million shares or 32% of General Motors’ stock, courtesy of Team Obama. The Administration has had the ability to sell the stake for over a year now. Treasury’s performance as market timer for America is lagging the overall markets. For the past year, GM shares have declined about 30% compared to a flat S&P 500 index. The performance is far worse than JPM’s and Obama should take his own advice and stop gambling with taxpayer money.… Read More ➡

Ally Financial – Another Auto Bailout Bankruptcy

The Obama Administration has become quite the expert on bankruptcy filings. The Detroit Free Press reports that the third auto bailout partaker, Ally Financial, has filed bankruptcy for its mortgage subsidiary, ResCap. The government still owns 74% of Ally, and now has an 0 for 3 record on restructuring bailed out auto-related companies outside of bankruptcy.

Three years ago the Obama Administration, particularly the Auto Task Force, had a mission to restructure General Motors, Chrysler and GM’s lending arm, GMAC. The stated goal was to restructure the auto industry players outside of bankruptcy. This stated goal turned out to be a deception as plans were in place to orchestrate a bankruptcy procedure that would first see Chrysler go through a manipulated pilot process that went smoothly enough for GM to follow the same template.

GMAC, now Ally Financial, was the mostly-overlooked player in the game. GMAC made the poor decision … Read More ➡

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