Rise and Fall of General Motors

How the perfect storm of commercial forces created the world’s largest corporation, enslaved us to gasoline, and ultimately brought the car maker to its knees

By Marc J. Rauch
Exec. Vice President/Co-Publisher

In the early years of the automobile industry there was uncertainty as to which fuel, and what type of engine would power the new vehicles. The internal combustion engine (ICE) was the solution. There were two types available: spark ignited and compressed hot air ignited. Compressed hot air ignited ICE uses diesel fuel. Spark ignited internal combustion engines are today most commonly associated with gasoline, but ethanol, methanol, natural gas and propane can also work.

At this point the two most available fuels for spark ignited ICE were liquid; either alcohol (ethanol or methanol) or gasoline. Alcohol enjoyed wide support from automobile pioneers, such as Henry Ford and General Motors’ top scientists, because it could be produced almost anywhere by almost anyone (alcohol distillation technology has been in the public domain for hundreds of years). Alcohol fuels also produced superior performance compared to gasoline. Alcohol-powered engines allowed for higher piston compression, which deliver more speed and power. Gasoline caused a knock in high compression engines that would literally “knock” the engine to destruction. Only low compression, lower speed engines could safely use gasoline. Early on, as speeds were measured against human walking or horse riding, this was acceptable. But as roads were leveled and paved and consumers wanted bigger faster vehicles this was a huge limitation. One of the solutions to gasoline knock was to blend ethanol into every gallon of gasoline. The alcohol quieted the knock, thereby allowing the gasoline-ethanol blend to be used in better performing engines.

Before and during Prohibition, Henry Ford expressed his belief that alcohol (ethanol) was the fuel of the future. His Model T, the product that is said to have given birth to moving assembly line production, was designed and built to use ethanol or gasoline by giving the driver adjustable carburetor and spark advance controls that optimized the performance of the fuel used.

Even after Prohibition commenced, General Motors’s top scientists, Charles F. Kettering, Thomas A. Midgley and T.A. Boyd, continued their belief that ethanol was the fuel of the future. Considering that it was illegal to even produce the small amounts to conduct tests, alcohol was still being experimented with as the best alternative solution to gasoline’s knock problem.

However, in 1921, GM’s scientists discovered that by adding tetraethyl lead to gasoline that the knock was subdued and the new lead-gasoline fuel could be used in advanced higher compression engines. This was the early days of the Roaring Twenties and in order to really roar, the public needed a fuel to set them free.

The leaded gasoline didn’t just give GM the ability to build vehicles with higher performing engines it gave them a unique process that they could patent (emphasis added). GM combined their process with similar processes being tested by DuPont Chemicals and Standard Oil, which gave GM three cents on every gallon of leaded gasoline sold anywhere in the world. They quickly determined that their share of profits in the sale of leaded gasoline would be worth many billions of dollars over the next couple of decades.

The gasoline profits allowed General Motors to become a bloated, inflexible entity, incapable of – and disinterested in – meeting the challenges of new design, technologies, demographic shifts, societal attitudes about the environment, and the up-start band of oil-dictators called OPEC. As the years passed, and as new faces came onboard, the knowledge of this gasoline-profit advantage was lost. They thought they were invincible…they thought they were successful solely because they built a better car.

Perhaps, if the 70’s gasoline crisis didn’t happen, and if the environmental movement failed to take hold, or if the gasoline companies could have continued to lie about the negative effects of leaded-gasoline – and get away with it – then General Motors might have been able to exist without their share of profits from the patents. But the combination of these factors created the perfect storm that set the stage for GM’s tumble.

Chained to Oil

We in America and in all industrial nations of the world, no longer “drink” from an unpolluted spring; we haven’t for more than half a century. We are addicted to using fuel that robs each and every one of us of our hard earned money. What’s more, over-hyped worrisome economic or political news about oil, and the greedy cycle of oil commodity speculation keeps all segments of the financial markets teetering on the brink of disaster. The richest and most wonderful country in the world has become just another debtor-nation. 50% or more of our national debt is owed to other countries to pay for the oil that we helped discover, subsidize, and then protect through two world wars and several regional conflicts. And we are forced to fund terrorist regimes who would like to see us dead.

When General Motors lost their way ninety years ago the United States lost its economic and energy independence.

http://www.theautochannel.com is an excellent source for alternative fuel information. Full text of this article at http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2012/04/06/031731-rise-fall-general-motors-and-subjugation-industrialized-world.html

Ghosts of Herbert Hoover

American suburbs turning into ghost towns: How homeowners are ditching out of town areas to live in big cities

U.S. suburbs which saw huge population growth a decade ago are dwindling to record lows as cash-conscious Americans shun the country in favour of city living.

New census estimates show homeowners are favouring big cities in record numbers, as population growth in more built-up areas surpassed that in suburban areas for the first time in two decades.

Experts believe high gasoline prices are one of the main reasons behind the shift in population growth trends.

The changing face of the American population has seen construction of new schools and shopping malls in suburban areas scaled back, while increasing numbers of large houses and mansions built in anticipation of middle-class families are sitting empty.

Suburban regions are also said to be suffering increased poverty due to the decline in population growth.

‘The heyday of exurbs may well be behind us,’ Yale University economist Robert J. Shiller said.

Shiller, co-creator of a Standard & Poor’s housing index, is perhaps best known for identifying the risks of a U.S. housing bubble before it actually burst in 2006-2007.

Examining the current market, Shiller believes America is now at a turning point, shifting away from faraway suburbs in the long term amid persistently high gasoline prices.

Demographic changes also play a role: They include young singles increasingly delaying marriage and childbirth and thus more apt to rent and a graying population that in its golden years may prefer closer-in, walkable urban centers.

‘Suburban housing prices may not recover in our lifetime,’ Shiller said, calling the development of suburbs since 1950 ‘unusual’ and enabled only by the rise of the automobile and the nation’s highway system. 

The signs of longer-term bust are evident in places such as Kendall County, Ill., an outlying suburb of 116,000 people located about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.

The nation’s No. 1 fastest-growing county from 2000 to 2010, Kendall was part of an exurban wave that more than doubled Kendall’s population and helped lift GOP presidential candidate George W. Bush to victory in 2004, offering Republicans the hope of a new era of conservative voters sprouting on the rural-urban edge.

About 10.6 million Americans reside in the nation’s exurbs, just 5 percent of the number in large metropolitan areas. That number represents annual growth of just 0.4 percent from 2010, smaller than the 0.8 percent growth rate for cities and their surrounding urban areas. It also represents the largest one-year growth drop for exurbs in at least 20 years.

By comparison, in 2006 exurban communities grew at an annual rate of 2.1 percent, compared with a population loss of 0.2 percent for inner cities.

In all, 99 of the 100 fastest-growing exurbs and outer suburbs saw slower or no growth in 2011 compared with the mid-decade housing peak – the exception being Spotsylvania County, Va., located on the outskirts of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, which has boomed even in the downturn.

Nearly three-fourths of the top 100 outer suburban areas also saw slower growth compared with 2010, hurt by $3-a-gallon gasoline last year that has since climbed $1 higher.

Other areas showing big slowdowns are Pinal County outside Phoenix; Barrow, Paulding and Pike counties near Atlanta; Union and York counties outside Charlotte, N.C.; and Sandoval County near Albuquerque, N.M.

U.S. Aircraft Carriers Departing Persian Gulf?

Naval maneuvers appear to confirm postponement of Iran attack

Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, April 6, 2012

The latest Stratfor Naval Update map suggests that reports speculating a potential Israeli attack on Iran has been delayed until next year are accurate. With the U.S. having positioned numerous aircraft carriers and other warships in the Persian Gulf, it now appears at least some of them are departing.

Only last month it appeared that the attack on Iran was imminent given the fact that no fewer than three U.S. aircraft carriers were either already stationed in or on their way to the Persian Gulf , in addition to four anti-mine ships and other warships.

However, the latest naval map suggests that the U.S. is removing its hardware from the region.

The USS Carl Vinson, which has been patrolling the Strait of Hormuz since January, has been re-assigned to the 7th fleet area of operations and is set to take part in a naval exercise with India.

The USS Lincoln, which was deployed to the Persian Gulf in December, is still listed as operating in the 5th fleet, but the map shows it is now moving away from the Strait of Hormuz.

The USS Makin Island (LHD-8) Wasp-class amphibious assault ship is also on a course taking it away from the region.

In addition, the USS Enterprise, which had been expected to join the Vinson and the Lincoln in waters just outside Iran has now been assigned to the 6th Fleet area of operations.

The apparent pullout is likely related to numerous indications over the last two weeks that the Israelis have decided to postpone an assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities until next year.

– On Wednesday, Israeli writer Richard Silverstein reported that he had been told by a confidential source close to a Likud Party member that “Bibi Netanyahu has decided to delay an Israeli attack on Iran until some weeks or possibly months before the next scheduled Israeli election” in 2013.

Full article with Naval deployment chart at   http://www.infowars.com/u-s-aircraft-carriers-departing-persian-gulf/