08 November 2008

Detroit, you must fail for your own good.

GM is close to running out of cash. Ford and Chrysler are failing too. It seems everyone needs a bailout these days.


You will not get my money. For the good of America, you must fail.

Let me elaborate. The domestic auto industry, for years, has failed to listen to the consumer. Instead, they tried to placate us with SUVs and with many unnecessary added features.

I am the consumer you have priced yourselves out of, and I am speaking to you. I do not want or need high-end features. I do not want or need Bluetooth. I do not want or need OnStar. I do not want or need DVD players. I do not want or need a stereo system with too much power. I do not want or need a hard drive in my car. What I want is a tape deck.

Did you hear me, Detroit? I want a fucking tape deck. That's all. I want something basic. Five on the floor, the barest essentials, good mileage and a tape deck, just like we had back in 1995. So do many consumers. You cannot survive by appealing to the 1%'ers, you need to appeal to the everyman, the person who's supporting your competition because they cannot afford you. I know damn well you can make what we want, but you need to let us know you are doing so as well. Drop the damned Cadillac and Lincoln commercials with the fancy CGI, lighting, music and such and give us the basics! The rich don't fucking need to be advertised to to find that bloated thing in the back of the lot with all the features that costs more than most third-world countries will ever have to spend.

We can also spread the wealth this way, since some people do want the features. They may even be willing to pay for them. Of course, people could buy a standalone upgrade, then pay someone to put it in for them! I'm sure it's a foreign concept to most people who expect to have everything and have it now, but it would be spreading the wealth, in a capitalist manner! Hell, if you want some more of that wealth, do the same.

So one thing that would help is to get rid of the built-in bullshit we don't need and go back to buying a basic car, then adding things after the fact. You know, a modular system?

You also need to trim the fat, Detroit. Those glitzy new-model rollouts? Wave bye-bye. You need to get rid of them. You also seriously need to take another look at your worker entitlements. They were fine for days gone by, but now you can no longer afford them. The consumer and the taxpayer will have your back after all, though, so don't listen and keep dying. You see yourselves as so important that we won't allow you to fail... for the good of America.

As a country, our businesses no longer fear failure! Either the government will bail you out or buy you out, or another company will come by and pay billions for something more worthless than what's swirling in the bowl. Either way, there's a big fat payday at the end, and the idiots who drive these institutions into the ground can just sit back and live a life of luxury while the public suffers.

So none of you have listened, you still won't listen and you'll drive yourselves into the ground. Then you'll be coming to us for a handout, and I will say no. I will not be taxed for a product I do not want.

Let me make it absolutely crystal clear so we don't have a misunderstanding here. I don't want to save you. I don't need to save you. I'm not beholden to you. I'll be doing just fine without you, so you can not have my money.

One of the Big Three must fail, to save the other two, because then Detroit will realize that we are more than willing to allow them to fail. And then the rest of the business culture in America will wake up when they realize the payday for failure is dead.

At least, that's my hope.

04 November 2008

Our collapse continues.

NOLA.com - I-10 East at the high rise could remain closed overnight

Imagine you're driving outbound on the High Rise during rush hour. Normally, that's stressing enough. The bridge is indeed very high, substandard, and steep, a relic of the design standards of the turn of the decade into the 60's. I've climbed easier mountain grades on US 50 in Colorado. As such, your car would hate you already.

However, tonight the bridge itself made the experience more difficult. You see, an expansion joint just popped up, shredding tires and oil pans alike for those unfortunate enough to be stuck in the middle lane.

According to an initial report from the NOPD, it sounded like the "finger-joints" of the bridge, which connect concrete segments of the roadway to allow expansion/contraction when the temperature changes, failed when some bolts broke off.

The High Rise isn't the only substandard bridge in southern Louisiana, both from an Interstate-standard standpoint and a structural one. We have many. The Calcasieu River bridge in Lake Charles is the most startling example - a bridge built in 1952 to originally accommodate US 90. It carries four narrow lanes and no shoulders. It, like the High Rise, is very steep. I'll admit, trying to drive over it frightens me.

The Pearl River bridge on the other end of the state is similarly narrow and substandard, with only two lanes in each direction climbing high across the Pearl. Again, there are no shoulders. It's another bridge that scares me to even attempt to drive across.

The Huey P. Long bridge in Jefferson Parish, carrying US 90, is at least seeing rehabilitation and upgrades now, but one bridge being fixed isn't enough. In a strong enough wind, you could actually feel the bridge sway. The Huey P. Long bridge in Baton Rouge, carrying US 190, is no better, although it doesn't tend to sway that I've noticed.

We all know about the trouble with the Twin Spans already, so let's pass on trashing them. Besides, they're actually being replaced, a rarity here. Pity it took a hurricane to get their asses in gear on that.

The Causeway, on the other hand, is fair game. 23.8 miles, two lanes each way. Although it has crossovers, you had best pray your vehicle can survive the trip without breaking or running out of gas. There's no shoulders along the entire stretch, so if you can't make a crossover, you're stuck in the middle of traffic. There's talk of adding a third span or widening the existing ones, but right now it's just talk.

The point is, there are a lot of these bridges around here in piss-poor shape, or just too outmoded for today's traffic and design standards. Something happened on the High-Rise today, but it won't be long before something else happens on another bridge around here. People will most certainly die... and only then will we start taking it seriously and doing something about it.