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Americans - Read This

Discussion in 'Serious' started by VipersGratitude, 13 Nov 2008.

  1. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    We Need Real Change: Ask Obama's Transition Team to Appoint a Treasury Secretary That Did Not Have a Hand in Deregulating Wall Street

    Right now, the rumors are that Larry Summers is one of the leading nominees to become the Treasury Secretary for the Obama administration. During normal times, the Treasury Secretary is an enormously important position, responsible for representing the position of an administration on both the global and domestic economy and making key policy decisions. At this particular moment, the Treasury Secretary is even more significant, responsible for a $700 billion bailout fund and for restoring balance to the American economy during turbulent times.

    President-election Obama spoke eloquently and often about the perils of deregulation and trade agreements that do not include worker and environmental protection. These were in fact key distinguishing points between Senator Obama and Senator McCain, and with the financial crisis in mid-September, perhaps quite significant in the election as well. Obama has spoken clearly and effectively on these points, that it is critical that the next Treasury Secretary not continue the legacy of both the Clinton and Bush administration, a legacy of deregulation of financial markets and corporate trade agreements. The deregulation of our financial institutions has led to the current crisis, and threatens the stabiity of the global economy.

    We are asking that Obama match his words with personnel decisions. In 1999, Summers was a proponent within the Clinton administration of the Gramm bill to deregulate the banking industry, and as such, bears responsibility for the current environment. It is not enough to fix the policy apparatus behind the crisis. President-elect Obama must not reward those who got the entire thesis about what makes the economy work wrong. There were advocates in 1999 who foresaw the crisis these policy choices would enable, both Senators like Byron Dorgan and advocacy groups.

    An online petition to veto the appointment of Larry Summers can be found here:

    http://action.openleft.com/page/petition/treasury

    sign it!
     
  2. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    Sorry dude, I'm a staunch believer in free market economics. I WANT the market deregulated....even more so then it was. What's happening now is just a disgrace to to our country and shows that we are unwilling to take responsibility for our own actions. If you don't know how to read a mortgage contract, and don't know enough math to work out interest rates, they you have failed yourself and your nation. If you lived beyond your means with easy credit, then you failed yourself and your nation.

    Regulating the banking sector will not change the fact that most Americans are to stupid to be allowed access to capital, credit, or money in general. In fact, setting up regulations for the banks will only slow the recovery and we'll end up with stagnant banking market.

    Ask me to sign something that will benefit my nation, not sink it further into the pit of shirking personal responsibility off onto a socialist government. The 700 billion bail out was economic embarrassment to anyone that understood the ideals of our nation. Further regulation is just salt in the wounds.
     
  3. eddie_dane

    eddie_dane Used to mod pc's now I mod houses

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    Amen. And even if you did fall on the side of regulation, who's gonna do it? Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Franklin Raines, Janet Reno? We can't afford any more of that in dollars or economic freedom.
     
  4. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    Coming from the other side of the pond, I must concur. Free markets are based on natural selection: you screw up, you go under. Interestingly, when it's not just Joe Q. Public that loses his job and his home but the city banker, all of a sudden socialism has its merits. Screw that; there's no such thing as 'Capitalism Light'.
     
  5. Xtrafresh

    Xtrafresh It never hurts to help

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    Very true, but also exactly why regulation is needed. I live in "socialist" Holland, so you need not take anything i say seriously though. :rolleyes:

    Dont get me wrong, i can understand the merits of free trade. Having been in Cuba i witnessed socialism completely drain people of their initiative and motivation. The system rewards apathy, to put it in some extreme words.

    The problem is that pure free markets dont fare much better: they reward immorality. A manager that outsources production can expect some excellent results and a very nice bonus indeed, then switch to another company and do the same. The system rewards the manager for doing this, while thousands of people are laid off, and even more children are forced to do the labour on another continent. Extreme example, but very realistic. The system is só bad, it even prefers the guy in the above example above a guy that insists on not using child labour and hiring adults instead.

    The whole point is that while i can understand a choice of pure capitalism over pure socialism, neither is a good system. Luckily, there's more to economics then simply setting a slider from left to right (left being capitalism, right being socialism).

    It is Obamas (and the new Treasury Seceraty's) job to start looking for a way to motivate and reward people for the merit they bring to society, measured in something other then money alone. A system that rewards individuals to do the right thing for the collective, rather then for himself.

    I truely agree to the above petition in the point that choosing a TS from the ranks of the old system is a liability. Good luck with finding the needed autographs :thumb:
     
  6. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    See, you say that you've failed your nation if you sign up to a credit agreement you can't afford, but you're forgetting lots of variables. For example, standard of education which goes hand in hand with income. It's a vicious cycle. It's why the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.

    This begs the question with whom does the responsibility lie? With the millions living around the majority line just trying to get by, or the highly educated bankers who can recognise that they cant afford it? Or perhaps it maybe even lies with the banking policies which reward short-term success by creating credit (invisible abstract money) which in turn increases the share price and allows the shareholders to turn a quick profit?

    Don't forget that the window of economic opportunity for a banker is as long as his working life (and many retire early), so he's going to want to make as much money as possible in that time. Whereas the banking institutions which facilitate the flow of money throughout society should hopefully have a much longer lifespan - leading to a conflict of interest between long term stability and short term success. That desire for short term success is what led to the credit-creating, share-increasing sub-prime mortgage market.

    So if free-market policies aren't meritocratic, aren't socially responsible, and is inherently conflicted between altruism and the narrow terms of its own greed then remind me again why it doesn't need regulation to block schemes such as the sub-prime market?
     
  7. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    Because if that's what you commit to, then that's what you have to accept. The Western industrial world loves capitalism --they're proud of it, defend it and uphold it as the one true system for progress and prosperity. That is bullcrap, of course; as Xtrafresh points out it encourages selfishness and amorality and the disadvantaged suffer as a result. But as long as the main beneficiaries of this system made good money, who cared what happened to poor people?

    Then all of a sudden that short-term greed comes home to roost, and we see the flipside of capitalism: shares may go down as well as up, so to speak. And all of a sudden those same people who extolled capitalism as the System That Works (never mind the bodies) bleat that something must be done to prevent their temples from crashing down: all of a sudden, socialist ideas sound really rather good after all.

    Well, sorry, but no. You can't have your cake and eat it. If you commit to capitalism, you commit to it all the way, for richer and for poorer. You don't get to pick and choose the bits you want as long as it suits you: capitalism does not mean: "socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor".

    But that is what we're getting now. In the UK banks are refusing to pass on the reduction of the interest rates to customers, affrontedly reminding us that "they're not charities". Excuse me?!? Who the hell just bailed your asses out to the tune of £200 billion pounds of tax-payers' money? What the banks need to realise is that they are a charity case. They are card-carrying socialists now. Capitalism would have let them crash and burn. Natural selection: it has worked for 1 billion years. And in natural selection, it is the individual's personal responsibility to survive.

    If we can't live with that harsh reality, we shouldn't play the game. Socialism was invented for a reason: human beings don't like the jungle. They like to hang out together, because there is strength in numbers, and then it makes sense to look out for each other. Then the survival of the individual becomes the concern of the whole group, and vice versa.

    So your question: who's responsibility is it? comes down to: what system do you commit to? Capitalism? Fine, but you're on your own mate: survival of the fittest. Too harsh for you? A bit more care-bear than that? Then please select door number two: socialism. You'll never get rich, but at least there's affordable housing and health care when you need it. Let's make our choice, stick to it, and quit our whining.
     
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2008
  8. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    says the NHS employee :p
     
  9. yodasarmpit

    yodasarmpit No longer the other Brett.

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    The problem is that it also causes economic instability for the Nation, one person over stretching their budget only harms the individual, however millions being allowed to do so harms the Nation.

    I'm a believer in market forces, but their has to be some regulation and as we can see deregulation has failed in the banking sector recently.
     
  10. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    Most definitely. I'm towards the socialist end of the spectrum, and I'm prepared to pay the price for that. Bankers and city brokers obviously aren't prepared to pay the price for their position. Either we are humans co-operating in a tribe, or animals biting each others' throats out in the wild. You can play king of the jungle, but once you've got blood on your claws don't expect to come sitting at the camp fire when it gets a bit cold, dark and scary out there.
     
  11. VipersGratitude

    VipersGratitude Well-Known Member

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    I completely agree...I'm not promoting the bank bailout - all it does is keep shareholders happy. I'm just saying that Obama's new treasury secretary should subscribe to Keynesian economics and not lassiez-faire.

    But I would say that I think the ecological analogy of the economic system is flawed - I think its more akin to a self- contained biological system, because there's a name for unregualated growth in one area of a biological system, and I'm sure you know all too well what it is.
     
  12. Firehed

    Firehed Why not? I own a domain to match.

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    10000% agree.

    The problem is not the free market, but greedy people trying to milk idiots for all they're worth and just stretching it too far. This bailout has shown them that's OK, rather than them having to deal with the consequences of their own stupidity.

    Can socialism work? Absolutely. Can the free market work? Absolutely. Is one better than the other? It's a matter of personal opinion. Does the effectiveness of either depend on the members of the society? Damn straight. Do I agree with our approach of catering to the lowest common denominator as a solution to our economic issues? Hell no.

    Honestly, when you're dealing with a population of 300m+ people, no system can work particularly well. There are just too many opinions, ways of thinking, ways of being, slackers, morons, power-hungry people, warmongers, and greedy people for anything to work well. Communism works fantastically in small groups but scales terribly (at least in terms of fairness; with an all-powerful dictator at the helm, it can certainly be done effectively). True free market capitalism and socialist capitalism scale out better, but at the end of the day you'll get too many people clashing at the opposite ends of the management scale - the 'leave me the hell alone and let me run my own life' types don't tend to get along especially well with a "don't worry, just give us most of your money and we'll take care of everything" governments, and vice-versa.

    Having said all of that, I think socialism (or something much closer to it) would, on the whole, be much more effective in America than our bizarre mix of part-socialism-part-free-market. But that's only because we've shaped ourselves into a nation of lazy illiterates. I also strongly believe that if anyone could screw it up, it's us - the only way we could make our healthcare system (for example) worse would be to have our even-more-inefficient-than-our-HMOs government intervene. If our government existed to keep things running smoothly then it would be one thing, but it clearly exists to turn a massive profit (where that goes is beyond me), and everyone else loses when they gain. If they simply had a giant pool of money that had a sole source of $x% of taxes and had checks payable only to hospitals and doctors clinics, it could probably work, but they'd probably try and exist as some sort of super-HMO, denying more benefits than you had ever thought possible.
     
    Last edited: 15 Nov 2008
  13. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    We also know how it ends. Natural selection, dude: it will do its thing.

    PC or Mac? In the end it comes down to what works for you. But each choice comes with its price, and the responsibility of having chosen it. Bail-outs are cheating. :nono:
     
  14. DXR_13KE

    DXR_13KE BananaModder

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    Try to imagine how would the world be if the bail-out was disapproved and those huge banks went under. Yeah... mister 'leave me the hell alone and let me run my own life' would loose everything he has and the makers of this s*** storm would be in some calm place with all that money they got from screwing up with other people's money.

    edit: the wrong doers would be fine, screw the innocent and the hard-working....
     
  15. exavier412

    exavier412 New Member

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    I can see both people's sides here, but the simple fact is that neither of these systems (socialism/capitalism) really work 100% People often forget that capitalism has been around for only a few hundred years. It is a relatively new way of economics, and we are just now starting to see some of the negative aspects. Although survival of the fittest makes sense for animals, its not so much applicable to econmics. One person can make tons of money by laying off his local workers and outsourcing his work to another country where labor laws and minimum wages are no where near the standards of the USA. But I think that as a nation, this should be unacceptable. We are united under the umbrella of the USA, and we shouldn't allow a company to lay of thousands (millions in the auto industry) just so they can increase their profit margins and make more money. Thousands of unemployed people hurts the economy, and country as a whole in far greater ways than can be seen in a statistic.

    Sorry for using outsourcing as an example, i know it is so overused, but it is one of the easiest to explain.

    At some point America needs to seek the greater good. Our healthcare system is a JOKE. Every other developed nation has some sort of nationalized healthcare, but America (we like to call ourselves the greatest nation in the world) does not. There's something to be said about Obama's mother having to argue with healthcare providers on her deathbed. This sort of thing happens all the time. Money should not be a deciding factor on getting adequate healthcare. I live in Los Angeles, and I've seen the medical bills of my friends and family. Advil should not be $7 a pill. There is something not right about that. Corporations should not be able to make that much money on someone's suffering.

    My mom has been working at a company for 24 years and is ready to retire, however she can't retire and be elligible to<b> pay</b> for the same healthcare that her company provides her until she works there for 25 years. My mother had a rare form of cancer, and every 3 months she goes in for a $5,000 (not a typo) shot that she needs. Someone is making tons of cash off her.

    My dad is a small business owner. He has about 10 employees. The economy is in a recession, and small businesses like his are having the most problems. He can't ask the government for a bailout, so he has to take a pay cut so he can try and "ride out" these economic hardships. My dad provides full healthcare/401k benefits to his employees; if he didn't, he'd be earning at least double his income. There is something to be said about that. Wal Mart recently sued one of their employees after she had gotten into a car accident and her insurance through wal-mart (rare in iteself) rang up a bill of something like $300,000. After all of the surgeries and treatment, wal-mart sued for that money to be returned to them. As of 2003, if Wal-Mart was a country, it's annual revenue (253 billion) would make it the 20th largest economy in the world.

    Wow, this went off course. Healthcare shouldn't have come up here, but it did. Survival of the fittest does not apply in the economics of survival.

    And I agree, people should have not gotten involved in these mortgages that they couldn't pay. Americans have gotten used to living far beyond their means. The Savings Rate between 1983 and 2003 has fallen from 10.8% to 1.4%. That is just ridiculous. In 2004, thecredit card industry claimed the avg household consumer debt was $9,000. Yes, these people should never have tried to buy homes they couldn't afford. But it was the banking industry that gave them these homes. That should not have happened in the first place. And many people do not know that Obama fought in 1990 with ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to lower bankers' credit standards so that lower income citizens can get loans that they previously would not be elligible for.

    There are many contributors to this economic downturn, and it is possible we may not have the full explanation for a long time.

    PS, in case you were wondering, I voted for Obama, and consider myself a capitalist, and believe that I deserve what I earn, but I do not want to leave my neighbors in the dust.
     
    Last edited: 28 Nov 2008
  16. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    You need to stop and think about it differently. Outsourcing is the for the greater good. Just the greater good of the world, and not just the american union employees. By shifting the work, and the wages, to lower cost countries we are in fact raising the over all level of wages world wide. Slowly, yes, but see what has happened to India's per capita income ever since we started moving IT and telcom back office stuff there. Or china and mass production. The effect is a long term on, but one that is important to raise the living standards world wide.

    TBH, the fact is that unions have slowly strangled US manufacturing. The same car costs $2000 more to make in the US because of the union commitments. Why shouldn't we enrich the lives of others across the world, instead of giving to a guy that gets paid $70/hour (includes health care and retirement) to make the same thing? Even better, most of those low wage countries have (relatively) descent universal health care.

    I, for one, would rather see my money slowly increase the standard of living world wide, then see it go to some union puke's weekend cabin or another boat. It's a global economy; time for American labor to wake up, stop whining and get competitive - globally.
     
  17. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

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    Socialism is tribal; capitalism is survival of the fittest, law of the jungle.

    Basically, human beings are constantly weighing their immediate personal interests against the interests of their tribal group which is in their indirect, but still very real personal interest. It is basically a delay of gratification thing: suspending your immediate personal gratification for delayed indirect gratification through the benefits of belonging to a prospering tribe.

    People are crap at that. We don't like delayed gratification. We want it all, and we want it now. We wrap up selfishness in euphemistic notions of freedom and independence, and the ability to prosper and benefit from one's own hard work. We also don't like the fact that life is full of random misfortune, so we'd rather blame the victim of poverty: if you are poor, you probably just didn't work hard enough, or were stupid with your money (or you sinned against God). Similarly we glorify the rich and successful: we rather buy into the myth that they earned their wealth and privillige because then we can believe that we, too, by dint of hard work (or sending $10,-- to the TV preacher of our choice) can attain such lofty heights, rather than to accept that it is mostly class-based sliver-spoon privillige or that some people just get lucky (like others just get unlucky).

    What we are experiencing is the logical extrapolation of capitalism. We saw the same thing on a smaller scale on Black Wednesday in the UK in 1992. If you make human society a jungle, there can only be a few at the top of the food chain, and to keep them well-fed will require the deaths of a lot of small prey. Capitalism is a natural order, but nature is red in tooth and claw and puctuated by cataclysm. Frankly, I am surprised that people never saw it coming.

    The alternative is to think community, and to share with others. This means that you do not get to keep all the food and toys you gathered by your own hard work, but may have to share with those who are perhaps weaker, duller, or just lazier. On the other hand when you are rendered incapable through illness, old age or just misfortune, you can count on your community to look after you in turn. It is how the NHS works, for instance. We don't have shiney new hospitals with private en-suite bedrooms, but if you get cancer you get the best treatment money can buy and nobody presents you with the bill afterwards.

    Jumeira_Johnny raises an interesting perspective. People can decide to buy American and pay the $2000,-- mark-up on a car, or they can decide to let capitalism take its course and accept that there are people outside the US who will successfully outcompete the local market. Then again, we could think global community: by outsourcing work you spread the wealth in those countries by sharing the work opportunities. There's enough to go around for everybody --if you are prepared to work a bit harder for a little less in the short term.
     
  18. Xtrafresh

    Xtrafresh It never hurts to help

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    This discussion got me thinking about the bigger picture of global economics.
    I look around at myself and my posessions. I have a house with three bedrooms, full set of furniture, about 1000 books (yes really), 5 laptops and 4 computers (ok, only 1 working), for work i could lease a car (i returned that), i'm in a hotel 3 nights a week with another set of full furniture and equipment, and then there's the countless little odds and ends that you end up owning over time. Garage full of stuff, bikes, kitchen etc etc etc etc.
    It's a lot, but not really excessive if i look at the neighbours.

    What the point of all this? Well, i believe that if i look at all that, it becomes quite clear that in all i have taken more then i contributed to society. Somebody paid for that. We all have a massive debt, and it is hidden away in bank and government loans that are structured too complicated to show what they really are.
     
  19. exavier412

    exavier412 New Member

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    I agree with you on the UAW unions. It is a joke, and assembly line workers should not be getting paid as high as they are. The numbers in this link are utterly pathetic. GM avg wages = $73.73, while Toyota's is $48, while GM loses $2331 vs Toyota making $1448. To think that GM can pay their workers to make inferior products that they lose money on almost twice as much as Toyota is wrong, and while these unions were started with good intentions, they've clearly lost sight of that, and need to be shut down or heavily remodeled if GM/Ford/Chrysler is given a lifeline.

    Outsourcing has lifted the economies of the world, but as Americans, we should strive to give our citizens a better chance at succeeding instead of letting our economy fall because we are trying to make people in another country, on another continent live better. There is still terrible poverty in America, albeit nothing like Africa or other third world countries, but still something that shouldn't be forgotten.

    I guess I sound pretty selfish here. I'm all for the greater good of the world, but America is ****ing up because of many things, and I think first and foremost we need to get that fixed.
     
  20. Jumeira_Johnny

    Jumeira_Johnny 16032 - High plains drifter

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    There are a few of us here that own small enterprises. So when I say this, I mean it because it is what I practice in my life: Don't be ashamed of what you have accomplished. The flip side is, don't forget what it means to be where you are.

    Someone once asked me (an American on his way to Iraq, a KBR guy) why everyone hates us. And I gave him the classic answer: it's the price you pay for being white, rich and alive. To a large degree this is still true. But, the thing is, you can change this perception by the way you live your life. Actions will always speak louder then words. I am an unabashed capitalist, but I'm also not a dick. While Nexxo and I might disagree on the semantics of a conversation, I doubt that in action our ideals would differ all that much. I simply argue that a free market allows me the freedom and opportunity to have the wealth to live my beliefs. It does not automatically make me a robber baron. One of the benefits I see directly in my life, is that the organizations that I deeply respect, like MSF, exist to a large degree on the donation of successful companies and individuals lucky enough to have excess to donate. They do not function in the shitholes of the world because some misguided socialist zeal. They are the direct manifestation of capitalist wealth. We did not beat polio because of a centrally planned economy. We did it because there was a chance to excel on personal level, a chance to make a profound change in the lives of thousands. and a buck. Personalities striving for excellence, those looking for the reward be it money or acknowledgment, have contributed more to this world then any gray-suited-nameless-bureaucrat ever has. That is the magic of a free market, with all it's pitfalls.

    I know it's easy to sit back and study at the government's expense for 14-20 years, but the fact is once in the market, they lack the drive and social skills to make it. I will put any french or german phd student up against a leventine, south american or african street vendor anyday in a deal making process. and watch the blood fly. Why? because on a daily basis, on a micro-informal market scale, free market ideals run this world. And it benefits more kids, and puts more food on more tables then any socialist government ever has, save for maybe Cuba. And you know what, they value education and extended family more then anyone I know in the west, with a 35 hour work week and 6 weeks of vacation.

    So don't think for a minute that capitalism only benefits wallstreet mismanagement. It has changed some of the worlds most repressive governments and has beaten back the harshest oppression. And it still continues to be the shining beacon of hope for 2/3rds of the worlds population. I am not now, nor will I ever be ashamed of what I have accomplished, by using the skills and opportunities afforded to me by capitalism. But I will always pay above market wages, offer better then average benefits, and pass on knowledge and experience with out question. Because I can, and I know it's the right thing to do.

    GM does not make inferior products. Look at the number of worldwide recalls from GM products vs. Toyota's for 2007. In the last 3 years, now that the global design teams are bearing fruit, the product line has tightened up with fresh new models. If you had a clue about what is in the global GM pipeline for the next 2-3 years, you wouldn't be spreading FUD. Good things are coming, it just take a while for things to trickle to the market. And it's not a small company, it takes a while for things to change. Which it has, considerably. This is a bad time, globally for car sales. Being the biggest just means you are the lighting rod.
     
    Last edited: 28 Nov 2008

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