Saturday, May 17, 2014

peak prosperity signs with Crow

Crow and I were looking through some of his old pictures yesterday evening when we came across this tinted daguerreotype from 1891. At one time Los Angeles had the longest streetcar routes in the world. Then came the freeways and more cars than you can shake a stick at. If you don't believe me you can always watch 'Roger Rabbit' again or check wikipedia.

Times have changed again but not quite for the better yet. This morning I found an article filled with amazing pictures of the millions of cars that are being manufactured and then hidden away from view in huge lots. It would appear that while China has ghost cities where nobody lives we in the west have ghost cars that nobody can drive. This is a monumental waste and a serious misallocation of energy. What it boils down to is that as true demand collapses relative to supply, financial instruments demand continual growth.

A Crow joke:

"Its quite a pickle we have gotten ourselves into."

"What do you mean by 'we' Lone Ranger?"


Should Fish More said...

It appears Crow was meeting the streetcar to take his date, descending in the fine hat, to lunch. He looks quite smug.

And yes, consumers R us, as the saying goes.

marja-leena said...

Oh, I saw that article this morning, an thought 'wow, how very stupid these corporate leaders are'. Crows are a lot smarter than humans.

susan said...

He does, doesn't he?

or, consumers R no longer us.
I wonder when they'll recall
Henry Ford's maxim?

susan said...

I'm delighted you'd already seen it, Marja-Leena. They only see in the short term.

Tom said...

It truly is an amazing waste, especially as private enterprise is supposed to be about efficiency, and the cutting out of waste. And I wonder how much non-renewable energy is being used in this overproduction (and it must be said, how much government expenditure is being saved!).

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
Great shot of the tramcar that served the city well, with Crow in all of his sartorial splendour.

The Melbourne trams also continue to serve us well today. They date back to 1884 and there is 250 km of track, with 487 trams, the largest urban network in the world.
But in Australia we are preparing to cease all car manufacturing, to no longer pay massive subsidies, to keep afloat the car industry.

But I am afraid you had better ask Crow to fly over China to check out any inventories, as Russia, Spain and the UK combined only produce a few million vehicles from a global production of 88 million. China now produces 22 million pa, double that of the USA.

Best wishes

susan said...

When the rules of supply and demand were still in effect that was true, Tom. Now we've reached the point where capitalism is all about financialization it's no longer the case. Personally speaking, I have no idea how it's maintained.

susan said...

Hi again, Lindsay,
I'm happy you enjoyed seeing the picture of Crow with the old Red Car.

That's excellent news about Melbourne staying with its tram car system. I think there's still one in operation in Toronto that's not as long as it once was. They're a great way to do city travel.

The manufacturing of cars has been almost completely automated for the past many years. To continue government support for the industry as it now exists seems very wasteful - Australia is wise to take a pass.

I know most of the vehicles made do come from China so there's the extra waste of them being shipped to other countries where they can sit in deserted parking lots. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Best wishes

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Crow can afford to joke because Crow can fly.

This is what we get in an economic system that can only thrive if there is perpetual "growth" as defined my making more and more. It's silly, but it won't change until change is forced on us harshly when the inevitable catches up with us. It's approaching fast.

Sean Jeating said...

Crow will know. There might exist metempsychosis. There will certainly be no reinCARnation.

Claude said...

I had the same '"caught-in-a-trap" thought, on a very rare visit to a mall, 3 weeks ago. I needed a pair of shoes, and I had the choice of 20 shoe stores. I said to my son,"Why so many stores, and so many shoes? Nobody can use all that. It's a total waste!" He answered, "You're right but it's private enterprise, Mom. It's the system we live on."

When I saw your post, I saw instantly that there could be as many fields of unused, unnecessary shoes as there are of cars. And what else?

It's ridiculously nightmarish. Specially when we know (AND WE DO KNOW) that there is an urgent need of fields and fields of food to share with the starving world. Are we ever going to wake up?

susan said...

Yes, he can - and he does.

It's almost impossible to count how many ways Marx was right:

The representation of private interests ... abolishes all natural and spiritual distinctions by enthroning in their stead the immoral, irrational and soulless abstraction of a particular material object and a particular consciousness which is slavishly subordinated to this object.

susan said...

Crow is quite sure you're right but he hasn't provided details. I love the word metempsychosis - thanks for the introduction.

Hah! no reinCARnation. Probably not, since most kids prefer life on their smartphones.

Ol'Buzzard said...

That wasn't necessarily a parking lot for cars, that may have been a picture of the freeway during the Georgia two inch blizzard. Maybe Crow will verify.
the Ol'Buzzard

susan said...

I agree with you, Claude, having experienced the same feeling myself an uncountable number of times. What makes it all so much worse is that we know the quality of manufactured goods has degraded to the point whatever we do eventually choose (or are forced) to purchase won't last long. There are literally millions of tons of clothing produced that won't keep anyone warm and dry on a cold day.

Do we even want to imagine the warehouses filled with unsold appliances, furniture, tools and the rest? It boggles the mind. Goodness knows, I get irritated enough seeing the palettes filled with plastic bottles of water and soda at the supermarket, never mind the choice of every kind of cereal but the plain, edible favorite I've preferred for years.

Yes, it's nightmarish and disgusting. I hope the powers that be will wake up but I won't bet on it happening.

susan said...

heh! I remember the Blizzard of 78 in RI. They eventually bulldozed the snow and hundreds of abandoned cars away from the highways.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Crazy! The businesses making these cars could at least get some of their money back if they sold them instead of buying up land to park them on and then let them rot. It makes not one lick of sense to me.

susan said...

I have a feeling that it's for the same reason that house prices didn't fall after the 08 bubble popped, Lib. The banks were bailed out for the full value of the outstanding mortgages as they were. I'm certain that something similar must be happening with the overproduction of cars.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan, I think there is a glut of cars in the US and possibly elsewhere but the photos may be very old ones according to this Bloomberg response
Best wishes

susan said...

Thanks, Lindsay. You'll see I took note :)