Tag Archives: Automobiles

The Price Of Oil Is Increasing 150% A Year ! Is The $200 Barrel Of Oil Too Far Away ?

It was just over three months ago that we noted that the price of crude oil had passed $100 a barrel for the first time ever. Now, in less than four months, it has increased another 40%, and is closing in on $140 / barrel. Almost every day sees a new record high for the price of crude, and Friday was no exception. That equates to an annual increase in the price of oil somewhere around 150%. Based on the past few months, we think oil might hit $200 a barrel before the end of the year. If you think the U.S. economy is in trouble now, imagine what that will do to it.

Gasoline is at or above $4.00 a gallon in much of the U.S., with predictions of $5.00 to $6.00 a gallon by the end of the summer. It seems that those economic stimulus checks that Uncle Sam and his nephew George W. were kind enough to send y’all are little more than a gift to the oil companies and market speculators. Being able to afford to fill their gas tanks is the number one concern for most Americans now.  You would think that sky high gasoline prices would make a big enough dent in demand that there will be no gasoline shortages.  The truth is that the underlying cause of high prices is a tight supply and global demand for oil.  Because of this, we believe the next gasoline crisis is not too far down the road.

Look what fuel prices have done to the market for larger vehicles. Truck and SUV sales have dried up to the point that the market resembles the real estate market. Car dealers and real estate salespeople have joined the exclusive club once reserved for the Maytag repairman.

If you think increasing food prices and inflation in general are bad now (don’t believe the fairy tale statistics that Washington tries to feed you), just watch what happens over the next few months. Inflation, the cost of energy, and the economy (yes, Virginia, we ARE in a deep economic recession) are such problems that they have succeeded in replacing Iraq on the front page of your newspaper for the past few months.

These concerns have prompted the economic gurus at RoutingByRumor to come up with our top ten list of concerns that Americans are faced with…

  • Skyrocketing gasoline prices (try filling your tank)
  • Skyrocketing food prices (try keeping food on the table)
  • Energy prices (try heating/cooling your home)
  • Inflation (try to keep up)
  • Skyrocketing healthcare costs (try getting sick)
  • The real estate slump (try selling your home)
  • The foreclosure crisis (try holding onto your home)
  • The deteriorating job market (try finding a decent paying job, or any job at all)
  • Stagnant or decreasing wages, benefits and income (especially investment income)
  • The lack of leadership in Washington (try to find a real President)

Gee whiz… terrorism, illegal immigration and global warming didn’t even make the top ten. That’s how bad things are.

– Routing By Rumor

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Made In USA ? Yeah, Right !

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We are in trouble. Deep trouble. Trouble with a capital T, right here in River City.

The United States has become almost totally dependent on other countries for everything. Clothing. Shoes. Computers and other electronics. Automobiles. Toys. Illegal immigrant workers. To a growing extent, even food. (I guess we should he happy that at least a large portion of the Japanese cars we buy are assembled in U.S. facilities, albeit by non-union workers.)

God help us if we ever go to war with China. They might have the largest army on the planet, but they wouldn’t have to fire a single shot. All China has to do is turn off the flow of goods they are flooding the United States with. We would starve to death. If you think the melamine flavored pet food or the lead-tainted toys from China are a problem, you ain’t seen nothing yet. It seems that even most of the products that still carry the “Made In USA” label contain at least some ingredients or components from China or other countries. I don’t mean to sound anti-China. I would be just as concerned if everything in America was coming from Russia, Argentina or Australia. I don’t think we would even be able to continue manufacturing the few things we still make in the USA if the supply of foreign components was cut off. We have very little manufacturing capacity left in the United States. Without our ability to manufacture things during World War II, America would have lost the war.

It looks like most automobile parts sold here are now coming from China. Silly me. I was worried that if they cut off the supply of auto parts, we would all be using bicycles to get around. Not to worry, since I think the bicycles are all made in China now also. Since the same holds true for our shoes, I guess we’ll be running around barefoot.  Read our related article about the questionable claims of “Made in USA” and how companies like the New Balance Shoe Company take advantage of the rules regarding what constitutes “Made In USA”.  We empathize with this fellow blogger after reading their post about the frustrating experience they had trying to buy a pair of New Balance shoes that were “Made In USA”.

Even without a war, could our military buy all the material it needs if a strict “buy American” rule was enforced? (And could someone please tell me why, when material is for military use, is it spelled materiel …or materiele, and pronounced “mah-tear-ree-elle”? Don’t they have a spell checker?) …but I digress.

I still seek out products that say MADE IN USA, but they are becoming scarcer and scarcer. Even things you assume are made or grown here often are not. I’m all for a law that would require product labels to identify the country of origin of every component in a product, and on every ingredient in food items sold in America.

I should have known trouble was brewing back in the early 1990’s. I bought a Dell computer that came in a carton that proudly proclaimed “MADE IN U.S.A”. I think it even had an American flag printed on the box. Michael Dell, shame on you. I’ve always admired people like Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and the other icons of the American computer industry, but I feel that Dell Computer lied to me. I love to take things apart, put them back together again, and void the warranty in the process. The first thing I did with that Dell computer was to open it up and take it apart. I couldn’t find anything inside that was made in the USA. It was assembled from parts made in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and elsewhere. I couldn’t find a single component made in the USA. I think that carton should have said “ASSEMBLED in USA”, not “MADE in USA”. Of course, Dell is no different than any other computer company. Nobody makes computers in America. They once did, though; IBM, Univac, Burroughs, Control Data, Digital Equipment, and on and on. Most of them are gone, and those that survive are different companies now. No more American “big iron”.

Go visit the Home Depot, and check out the plumbing aisle. Nearly everything is labeled “Made In China”. We won’t even be able to flush our toilets if they cut off the flow of merchandise.

Wake up, America. It may be cheap, but you’re not getting a bargain.

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General Motors, R.I.P.

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Except for my first hand-me-down car when I got my driver’s license 30+ years ago, I’ve bought only new cars, and only General Motors vehicles. They were all Pontiacs, and were all assembled in the United States.

GM is dying, and that’s just fine by me. I don’t want any heroic measures taken to save them. So please, Doctor, sign the DNR order.

General Motors has been in declining health and suicidal for years. It has been predeceased by several of it’s children, and their surviving siblings are in frail health.

I have had my share of problems with GM vehicles, but I believe they are generally very reliable. I think that GM has made some poor design choices that affect reliability and which lead to unnecessary recalls. These design problems are probably driven by attempts at cost-cutting. I have always insisted on buying a vehicle that was, at the very least, assembled by Americans, in a USA assembly plant. (The UAW can contact me to find out where to send my check.)

So why have I written off General Motors? I feel that GM and it’s dealerships have no respect for their customers. They’ve been driving along, all fat and happy for years, and never noticed that the highway ends up ahead. I have never had a good sales experience with any GM dealership, and their warranty service has always been a nightmare. Dealer’s service departments don’t like to do warranty repairs because they are paid less than they earn from non-warranty work. My experience has always been that GM dealer’s service departments perform slip-shod work. Many times, either before you leave your car for a repair(s), or after you pick up your car, it is an exercise in futility to try and convince them that an obvious problem exists/still exists. In my opinion, Pontiac’s customer care toll-free number was always a sad joke. Worthless. They take your complaint, refer it back to the dealership, but can’t get a problem resolved for you. It’s a game, and you’re the looser. I honestly believe GM operates in the hope that they will simply wear you down, and you’ll give up. Bring back your vehicle as many times as you like, call GM as many times as you like, write all the letters you want to write. Get nowhere. It’s almost like they want to make you regret buying a GM product.

Case in point: My current GM vehicle has had problems with it’s automatic transmission since around 25,000 miles. GM dealerships removed and rebuilt the transmission twice, and serviced the transmission on the car a third time, while it was under warranty. It has never operated correctly since the first time they attempted repairs, and has been out-of-warranty for a few years now. I drive it the way it is, because I refuse to give GM another cent of my money, and because I have zero confidence in the quality of their service departments. When the vehicle is no longer drivable, I’ll make the decision to either junk it or have a non-GM shop work on it.

Now, General Motors is hurting.

Good.

I doubt I will ever purchase another GM vehicle. My next car will probably have a Japanese nameplate. It’s not so much that I love Japanese cars as it is that I refuse to buy another American nameplate. I think this is is a decision most Americans have already made. Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me again and again, and you’ve lost me as a customer forever.

There are plenty of disgusted GM customers out there. Here’s one example.

Here’s another. And another. And another. And another.

It seems a lot of people are fed up with General Motors.

I’ll drive my Japanese car to GM’s funeral. I doubt many tears will be shed by the mourners.

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