Monday, December 22, 2008

A Chrysler Tale

Without a doubt, the architects of Chrysler's comeback in the 1990's were shaking their heads in disbelief at DCX's fruitcake management of the marque after the so-called 'merger' in 1997.

A bit of history: Chrysler, bought American Motors Corporation in 1987, and, a few years later in the mid-nineties, had integrated AMC's cost-effective "platform team" manufacturing model. The company had a terrific engineering department, and was very lean. While the company was not the "lowest-cost producer", it had made huge strides in that direction. In short, it was a lean, profitable operation. Chrysler had socked away something like $14 billion in cash by 1997.

Indeed, Chrysler was the most profitable automaker in the world in the mid-'90s.

Then Daimler rolled in, and everything changed.

The pile of cash disappeared into Daimler's gaping maw.

Before Daimler, Chrysler was very cautious about its updates of successful products. The company planned carefully to update styling, technology, and features -- while doing its damndest to ensure changes would not turn off repeat buyers.

Daimler, on the other hand, was haphazard and sloppy. Who was demanding the Pacifica, or the Crossfire? And the Neon? Product planning at Chrysler had originally scheduled a complete redesign for 2000 -- DCX canceled it. Predictably, sales kept falling as the line aged; and eventually the car was discontinued without any replacement model in the pipeline.

2000 represented the beginnings of product planning / long-term management choices from Stuttgart. Mistakes made two years earlier now began showing up. Chrysler posted its first loss since the 1998 merger; and losses would continue to 2004. Wolfgang Bernhard and Dieter Zetsche were sent over to manage Chrysler Group. One of their first decisions was to cut costs on materials used in interiors, to profitable levels. Then they expanded the SUV line at a time the niche was becoming saturated. As I recall it was around that time that trouble-prone DCX transmissions and suspension components started showing up in Chrysler products. Selling defective parts was helpful to Mercedes, not so helpful to Chrysler.

In 2004, the long-in-the-tooth Neon was finally canceled (its 2004 [final-year] sales were 118,476. Taking its place on the production line is the Dodge Caliber / Jeep Compass sport wagon. Essentially DCX sent a fuel-thrifty model into the dustbin and replaced it with a passionless psuedo-hatchback thing that gets worse mileage at the very time the market was turning again towards thrifty.

Also in 2004, Plymouth disappears from the automotive pantheon -- perhaps deservedly. But... Maybe a better move would have been for the return of the brand to its marketing purpose half a century ago: to sell cheap cars to thrifty people.

By 2006, Chrysler marketing was inexplicably positioned to pursue the traditional Dodge buyer. Jeep's image is becoming more confused with the Compass and other new models. The Avenger, Aspen, Sebring, and Commander are all introduced at a time when Chrysler has **neither** a subcompact nor any real C-segment vehicle (the Caliber ).

In short, DCX set up Chrysler for pure disaster. DCX harvested the profits Chrysler brought in during 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, and 2005; as well as the billions in Chrysler's bank account in 1998.

It may be that Daimler really did intend for the Chrysler purchase to be its entrance to the American mass (ie non-premium) market; but they failed to cater to that market. There were no investments in new & competitive compact sedans or subcompacts. They continually cut costs at Chrysler in penny-wise but pound-foolish ways to boost the bottom line, turned it into "all trucks, all the time", and used it as a way to recoup their investments in different technology (such as the transmissions and suspensions in the LX platforms).

Daimler certainly isn't a victim. The marriage was an abusive one that left Chrysler bruised and lighter by several billion dollars. Daimler management got lucky with their purchase of Chrysler. Cash from their American piggy bank covered DCX's never-ending losses on the Smart and Maybach lines. They took away lessons in how the American managers before 1998 got cars from a computer screen to a production line in an industry-leading eighteen months.

There are a lot of people demanding the heads of the auto execs of the Big Three. What no one acknowledges is that the execs who killed Chrysler are named Juergen Schrempp, Dieter Zetsche und Wolfgang Bernhard. They escaped with their skins; I guess just because they live in Stuttgart, instead of Auburn Hills.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

FREELIBERTYPAC.COM RELEASE: Obscene Assault on Erotica

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NEWS FROM FREELIBERTYPAC.COM
THE "LIBERTARIAN WING" OF THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
World Wide Web: http://www.FreeLibertyPAC.com
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For release: November 4, 2008
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For additional information:
Marc Montoni, Founder, FreeLibertyPAC.com
Phone: (804) 288-2766
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Real Libertarians Urge End to the War on Porn

WASHINGTON, DC -- Hard-core Libertarians say the feds should stop fondling hard-core porn.

According to Marc Montoni, founder of the group "FreeLibertyPAC.com", a libertarian public policy group, the federal government has raped the private sector of trillions of dollars of treasure over the past several decades; and while he says most of it has been wasted paying federal bureaucrats to "surf the internet on the clock", some was used to assemble a vast, expensive arsenal of sophisticated anti-crime tools.

"But then the bureaucrats fritter it away prosecuting people for having sex," Montoni said. "It's true -- just one recent example is adult film maker Paul F. Little, a.k.a 'Max Hardcore'".

Last October, Little was sentenced to prison for 46 months on federal charges for 'distributing obscene videos through the mail and the Internet'. Little was dragged all the way from Los Angeles, where he lives and works, to trial in a conservative part of Florida, because some of his internet servers were located there. Little was also fined $7,500, the minimum fine allowable by law, while his company, Max World Entertainment, was fined $75,000, plus an additional $5,000 in "special assessments". In all, Little was charged with 10 counts of violating 18 United States Code § 1461, 1462 and 1465. His company received an additional 10 counts. US District Judge Susan G. Bucklew placed Max Hardcore's company on five years probation and has ordered Little to serve three years probation after his release from prison."

"Governments are always the slowest, dullest elements of society to undergo change," Montoni said. "Thousands of years ago, Socrates was sentenced to death for 'corrupting the youth' of Athens. Jesus was brutally killed for teaching a religion of peace and acceptance. Copernicus and Galileo were arrested for proving that Earth was not the center of the universe. How many millions of people have been jailed, beaten, tortured, and killed for doing or saying 'politically incorrect' things?"

"Real Libertarians have a novel suggestion," Montoni said. "It's 2008. It's a New Millenium. Maybe it's time for governments to drop the ancient and antiquated practice of constantly warring on their own civilians. As our own Declaration of Independence says, governments are instituted among men to secure the rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness -- it's not supposed to be about nosing around in someone's bedroom."

"Maybe instead of sending a man to a government-owned rape factory for filming people who were enjoying voluntary sex, governments could concentrate all resources on controlling violent crime. Government cops at every level -- federal, state, and local -- are generally extraordinarily well-paid and enjoy lavish public-pension and other benefits -- but at the same time, they are increasingly unable to make any progress in finding the perpetrators of violent crime," Montoni said.

The failure is spectacular. 86% of all murders were cleared in 1968, but that number has declined just about every year. In 2007, only 61% of all murders were solved. Ironically, this has happened even in the face of a plummeting murder rate (it peaked at 9.8 per 100,000 in 1991; vs. 6.3 per 100,000 in 2004).

"We Libertarians believe that governments are essentially brutish, inefficient and inept; and therefore the list of functions we hand it should be kept short and simple, so even bureaucrats can understand what they're supposed to be doing. Removing violent criminals from the streets is a legitimate part of that list," Montoni said.

FreeLibertyPAC.com calls for abolishing all federal laws regulating, restricting, or harassing the producers, performers, distributors, or consumers of erotic material -- the stuff ideologues denounce as 'porn'. The group says Real Libertarians favor full, unlimited freedom of communication.

According to the group's platform:

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We defend the rights of individuals to unrestricted freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right of individuals to dissent from government itself. We recognize that full freedom of expression is possible only as part of a system of full property rights. The freedom to use one's own voice; the freedom to hire a hall; the freedom to own a printing press, a broadcasting station, or a transmission cable; the freedom to wave or burn one's own flag; and similar property-based freedoms are precisely what constitute freedom of communication. At the same time, we recognize that freedom of communication does not extend to the use of other people's property to promote one's ideas without the voluntary consent of the owners.

We oppose any abridgment of the freedom of speech through government censorship, regulation or control of communications media, including, but not limited to, laws concerning obscenity, including "pornography", as we hold this to be an abridgment of liberty of expression despite claims that it instigates rape or assault, or demeans and slanders one population group or another.

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FreeLibertyPAC.com http://www.FreeLibertyPAC.com
PO Box 71106 voice: 804-288-2766
Richmond VA 23255-1106 fax: 804-288-2766
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FURTHER READING / SOURCES:

Clearance statistics:

http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/images/content_images/crimcleararr.gif
http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2007/offenses/clearances/index.html

Decline in clearance rates:

https://www.policeone.com/investigations/articles/44510-Homicide-clearance-rates-take-a-dive/

Further reading on Little:

http://www.maxhardcoretv.com/FreeMaxHardcore.htm
http://www.adultfilmdatabase.com/article/dangerous-precedent-max-hardcore-sentenced-for-obscenity-281.cfm

Monday, June 30, 2008

Turning the Police into Royalty Doesn't Help

I have every sympathy for Charlie Green's painful loss. However, his solution of pushing for a law change to make it a felony to "cause the death of a police officer during a traffic pursuit" was not the right remedy.

Police officers are increasingly accorded special status in society -- which flies directly in the face of equal protection under the law for all individuals, regardless of race, creed, philosophy, class, or who their employer is.

No government employee is worth more than any average citizen - we don't have nobility in this country. At least we didn't at one time.

Police chases are dangerous enterprises, and for that reason, they should only ever be initiated when the individual being chased is known to have committed a serious violent crime, is armed, and has shown intent to be an immediate danger to other individuals.

Checkpoints are of dubious constitutionality. Refusing to cooperate with one is not an offense worthy of a 100 mph chase. It wasn't worth the risk to Khalil Walker, the driver of the SUV that fled the Powhatan checkpoint; it wasn't worth the risk to other motorists and pedestrians; and it definitely wasn't worth the price Robbie Green paid.

Most incidents that eventually lead to dangerous police chases begin with nothing more than intensely scared individuals who already fear getting arrested for whatever reason they are being chased. As the chase continues, the person fleeing, who has undoubtedly watched "Cops" and watches the news, realizes he also has a good chance of being beaten, Tasered, or shot to death -- which fuels his desperation.

For real reform, and to protect life, a better law change would have been to prohibit all police chases except those where a clear and present danger of immediate violence exists. In addition, checkpoints should be outlawed as the violation of individual rights they are.

Ultimately, however, the job of policing must be ended as a government enterprise. The entire industry should be turned back over to the private sector. Besides the fact that people who work in the private sector never are accorded royalty status by the government, simple exposure to liability law would tend to ensure that chases would be minimized.

In contrast, with government seizing ever more power over the lives of individuals as is the case in America today, the incentive for government-supplied police forces is exactly the opposite: chase today, create a disaster waiting to happen, whine to the legislature about how dangerous your job is when the disaster does happen, then wax poetic to the legislature about how much money chases cost the department -- and win a bigger budget next year. This is a very perverse incentive.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Song of the LiberCop

Ah, the glorious song of the Libercop. The eyes water at the thought.

DEFINITION: LiberCop (n) -- A person (assuming the word "person" is appropriate) who watches in horror any time the Libertarian Party begins to show any sign of success, and slanderizes and defames anyone who is even suspected of remotely being involved in fomenting that success.

A LiberCop oozes up out of the slime (I'd say "woodwork" but that's too clean to describe their origin) to beat up on other LP members until all forward progress is "arrested" and the enemies of the Libercop are all "locked away" -- gone from the Party. LiberCops become almost completely silent and well-behaved when the LP is in remission and its best and brightest have fled for more appreciative groups.

The average LiberCop (and they are really, really average) spends most awake hours being righteously indignant about other Libertarians who look, think, or act differently than they.

LiberCops are bigoted, indifferent to the effect their words have on others, usually sexist and racist, and often do not bathe frequently enough to wash off their trailing, fetid stench of hypocrisy and treachery. They have all of the nastiest traits of mainline Insidians (see the flyer on Insidians -- you will read about one or two people you know!).

LiberCops, even though they are sexist, racist bigots, are attracted to the LP because the old parties are too massive for them to strangle. It's much harder to poison a convention crowd of 30,000 than it is to poison one of 500.

The reward for LiberCops is "making a difference" -- which to them means to force the LP into decline and stagantion.

The most terrifying thought to a LiberCop is that they might fail in slaying the LP. Their efforts to kill it and drive away the most productive activists are usually incredibly shrill as a result.

Fortunately they are just like all other "Insidians" in that they are nuts and can be safely ignored by normals.

The best way to rip the disguise off a LiberCop is to simply allow them to vomit their illogical, vile bilge unchallenged and let the disgusting nature of their allegations, claims, pronouncements, and proclamations reveal their true nature to those who are unaware of the LiberCop's essential nastiness. Only immersion therapy -- letting someone get a full taste of this rotten sort -- has proven to be a successful vaccine against the "LiberCop Virus".

Libercops are like bird droppings. As you go through life, every so often you will find yourself the target of some foul stuff. It isn't your fault, you just happened to be in the way. LiberCops, like birds, are primitive and they know nothing else but to aim their excretory regions and let fly. Too bad for anyone in their way.

The only thing to do is make note of who and where they are, brush them off, and give them no more of your time or attention than you would a dung beetle.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Go Green: Why Should Richmond Subsidize Pollution Anyway?

Many area residents have followed the story of the government workers in the city of Richmond who have been double-dipping for their official-business transportation. I don't know the details of all this -- perhaps their pay stubs don't show the transportation reimbursement as a separate component, in which case it doesn't occur to them they were getting it. I don't pay much attention to each line item on my pay stub, either.

I don't particularly care, either way, because whether or not they were double-dipping is just window dressing. The best way to prevent problems like this is simply to eliminate their jobs.

But if Richmond taxpayers simply can't live without government workers interfering in their everyday life, perhaps the next best solution is for government employees to be required to use the same transportation system for their commuting & official business as they force all taxpayers to subsidize: The Bus. Employees should be given free tokens to do so, and should have to pay an "impact fee" if they choose to drive anyway.

According to the Virginia Employment Commission, there are 10,840 employees who get a city of Richmond paycheck. Interestingly, Richmond's own budget website says there are only 8,493. Must be some secret agents in there somewhere.

Besides the fact that not a single one of these folks produces new wealth to ultimately enrich everyone, how many have cars they have to park downtown? Let's say half of all employees work downtown, or about 5,000. Including hizzoner. Few of them carpool -- spend ten minutes marveling at the aggressive driving during the commuting hour and while doing so, observe how few cars are carrying more than one person. So, let's say there are 4,500 spaces taken up by Richmond government workers' cars every day.

At the same time, many in government will happily regurgitate the garbage science of anthropomorphic climate change; hypocritically while they are collecting fat bonuses to subsidize their trifling meddling around town and unspecified activities at cheap hotels. Here's where the rubber should meet the road. If government is going to force-feed the poison of discouraging private resource use and emissions, it should be the first to "go green". It should set the good example, rather than be the poster child for "do as I say, not as I do". Government employees should all be required to use GRTC (or ride a bike, or walk) to go from their homes as well as to go to and from all official-business appointments.

Think of how this will open up downtown to productive uses. Businesses require available parking at low cost to be able to produce wealth for the government to tax. Shoppers who used to avoid downtown will find thousands of welcoming parking spaces so they can do business with a thriving commercial area, rather than thousands of government workers' cars crowding them out.

Think also of other potential benefits. One would be that increased biking or walking will improve city workers' health. Better health means lower costs to the city for health insurance. Another would be the fact that thousands of government worker's cars taken off the roads will reduce the demand for fuel. Reduced demand means downward pressure on gas prices - a good thing for everyone.

Government employees generally accomplish little but the looting of the productive private sector. For that reason, their impact on society should be minimized or eliminated wherever possible. With one little change, the city of Richmond can re-open the commercial district, support its own bus service, and eliminate several million tons of emissions its workers inject into the atmosphere every day -- and lower the tax rate due to lower costs.

Later, we can move on to eliminating 29,449 state workers' and 5,942 federal workers' cars from the streets as well.

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Marc Montoni lives in Henrico County with his family and serves as a member of the Libertarian Party State Committee. He is a network consultant and writer who often contributes to the city of Richmond's tax revenue by patronizing city establishments.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Those "Pothead" Libertarians

One of the more constant refrains I hear from some libertarians is that Libertarians need to outgrow their "image of being potheads".

Now, I understand many of us come from the conservative side of the fence. I "did some time" as a Republican activist, myself (1978-1980). However...

I've been a Libertarian activist on the front lines for two decades, almost three, and have interacted with thousands of voters about the LP. While I prefer to wear suit and tie when committing political acts in the name of the LP, I also am decidedly not a conservative-leaning Libertarian.

Rather, I am a Libertarian-leaning Libertarian.

In watching the level of **activism** by various LP members, it is very often those who might be regarded as "potheads" who do huge amounts of the heavy lifting for our ideas. I'm not even sure their image in the minds of our conservative-leaning members is even fair -- they're not all actually potheads; they just have that image due to their demeanor, dress, etc.

In any case, the so-called potheads are by and large the ones who show up at the Virginia General Assembly -- and dare to speak. They're usually the ones who collect the bulk of our ballot-access petition signatures. They are almost always the ones who show up at protests, local events, and staff LP information booths.

And you know what? I have never heard one of our "pothead" activists say anything negative about our more conservative members. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same thing in reverse.

The Libertarian Party, and the libertarian philosophy, isn't just about conservative hot-buttons such as eminent domain reform, gun laws, and "lower" taxes.

It is about those things; but it is also about repealing drug prohibition. All of it. It's also about abolishing laws against prostitution, private gambling, and other consensual behavior.

As one who was thoroughly conservative for a time -- I voted Reagan in 1980 and even volunteered at the headquarters of the Republican Party of Virginia as well as for the Richmond For Reagan HQ -- I have to say that the "potheads" have earned not just our tolerance but our wholehearted, honest welcome and respect. If we disparage and insult them by issuing the constant refrain that "the LP must lose it's image of being a collection of dope-smoking hippies", the LP will be much poorer because of it.

Ron Paul, with his open advocacy of eliminating the Income Tax and ending drug prohibition, proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that neither the libertarian movement nor the Libertarian Party need shy away from advocating an end to the drug war. He proved that no part of libertarianism need be held back from the discussion. Even though he shied away from no subject, his message of freedom appealed to a complete cross-section of the population -- students and retirees, housewives and working women, business executives and wage slaves, blacks, whites, browns, yellows, and reds.

Libertarianism -- whether it's talking about repealing the Income Tax, ending Drug Prohibition, legalizing prostitution, or private roads -- will win new friends only when presented proudly, well, and in a clear, consistent manner. Act like you fear to tread on any one part of the libertarian philosophy, and your ideological opponents will seize on your weakness and scramble all over you like wolves on a carcass.