I'm not sure what is going on with the Volt. I understand it runs on both gas and electric.
James, you are correct about the Volt. It runs on both gas and electric, and the battery does not need to be charged for the engine to run. I stand corrected.
The Culture War was linked to the Volt? I didn't know that. Here's a question for you. You're upset about the Volt, and maybe there is something there. I'm upset about the chiselers on Wall Street which caused the crash in 2008. But when I suggested that we stiffen regulations, wizards here said, "Oh no! That would be socialism". Yeah, and violating the Seventh Commandment is just fine. If I didn't know better, I would have guessed that they all grew up in Chicago.
I actually thought that the government's involvement in the banking industry is the best example of socialism, but I wanted to keep to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word that was posted here and I couldn't quite fit banking services with the "product" part of it so I went with the second-best subject, which I clearly knew less about.
The current relationship between the government and the banks is socialism, whether or not anyone from the right on this site wants to admit it. There are several large banks that simply cannot stand on their own two feet, due to the large amount of worthless debt on their books. The government's latest response to this is to print money to purchase up to $40 billion a month of mortgage debt (a.k.., QE3).
(As you know, the Fed's printing of paper here (and the resulting inflation) is a transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the banks.)
The story behind this would make anyone sick, but we can go back to the Clinton Administration and the new relationship that the President (and by default, the Democrat Party) formed with the financial services industry to learn about our current situation. The Clinton Presidency marked the heyday of financial deregulation in modern times. It was then that, at the request of the big banks and with a bill presented to him by Senate Republicans (led by Phil Gramm), Bill Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall (which broke down the barriers between investment and commercial banking, which created "too big to fail," and led to the commitment of the US government (read: you and I) to step in and provide money to financial institutions that faced bankruptcy). He signed the Commodity Futures Modernization Act in December of 2000, which was probably the bill most destructive to the US economy, as it allowed credit default swaps to go unregulated.
For those who don't know, credit default swaps are basically insurance products, in that they are committed to making payment in the event of the default of an institution (or a home mortgage). With insurance products, however, an insurance company is very strictly regulated (at the state level) to ensure it has the capital to meet its obligations. In the event of a hurricane like Hurricane Sandy, an insurance company has to be able to demonstrate that it would not go out of business because of such an event; there are testing requirements that it must meet.
The problem with the Commodity Futures Modernization Act is that it took a product with the same type of commitment, and it allowed it to be marketed without the maker demonstrating that it could meet its commitment to pay. The result is that there are banks that have these on their books and there is absolutely no way they can meet their obligations to pay, so the government has stepped in to prop up the banks. (More here: www.ritholtz.com
Because of the close relationship the government has with the banks (read: socialism), the government is not reversing the steps it took during the Clinton Administration that allowed the current financial crisis to occur. The big banks enjoy it this way.
This isn't socialism? Give me a break.
Thanks for a detailed answer.
The statements you made (except perhaps for the last paragraph) are correct, insofar as I can check them. But here's the thing. When the Glass-Steagall Act was passed, that was considered "socialism". When the banks were bailed out in 2008, that was considered "socialism". There's been talk (for what it is worth) of bringing back a variant of Glass-Steagall. That is considered socialism. Interestingly, when the Bush administration decided to bail out the banks, nary a word was said here about Bush being a socialist. I wonder why?
If I hold up a bank, and a swat team shows up, I don't cry "Socialism!" At least, no if I still have two brain cells rubbing against one another. Likewise, controlling what the banks do with our money isn't socialism either. It's common sense.
Now, here's what I have to say. If you're too big to fail, then you're too big to exist. Break up the big banks. I used to deal with a local Chicago bank, which got eaten up by a big nationwide bank. Then they started charging me fees. I complained, and they flipped me off by say, "Well, that's just our policy!". They were genuinely shocked when I started cancelling some services with them, which makes me think they live in pretend-land.
You brought up this bank business. Perhaps a question to ask ourselves is what would have happened if Treasury hadn't bailed out the banks. It's interesting (if futile) to speculate on the results. It's also getting away from the topic.