Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Unanticipated Pain of Intended Consequences

If you want to encourage a certain behavior, you reward it. If you want to discourage an annoying or dangerous behavior, you punish it. I know this because I've had a number of behaviors discouraged in my life.

When I was a lad sitting in the front pew of the Mennonite church I was expected to sit there quietly. (Traditional Mennonite churches are rarely described as boisterous.) There was one particular Sunday, however, when Dad wanted me to stop rolling a penny up and down the pew. I was at first whispered at. This was followed by a threat. In retrospect, I would have saved myself a lot of shame and horror had I learned my lesson one penny-roll earlier.

I was taken by the hand and paraded from the front pew (where my Father, the chorister, sat during the service) for the 25 or so child steps it took to reach the door. Each agonizing step brought with it compounded fear. The shame of being paraded in front of the congregation was, at least during that fateful "dead kid walking" march, a fleeting secondary concern when compared to the agony my backside was soon to experience at the hand of a man who professed to be pacifist.

Birds took to flight when the warm and still Sunday morning quiet was briefly interrupted with the agonized wailing of a very repentant and tear streaked seven (or so) year old boy.

Behaviors that are discouraged become, over the course of time, fewer in frequency. This is not to say that every member of the masses responds to punishment, but simply that a majority of those within the masses will modify their behavior in favor of either reward or the avoidance of further punishment. As the numbers of those who are impacted by the reward or punishment increases, the impact of the behavior modification becomes more obvious.

Along those lines I submit to you two articles that highlight this phenomenon. First from Michigan where the state's recently enacted smoking ban in bars has greatly reduced an integral revenue stream earmarked for public education.

“We can definitely attribute that to the smoking ban,” said Andi Brancato, director of public relations for the Michigan state lottery. “Once that went into effect, the sales dropped.”

The losses in the county are reflected statewide, where Keno sales fell by about $22 million, down to $371 million.

The loss of revenue from Keno and other lottery games hurts school funding.

Contributions to the state’s school aid fund declined by 3.2 percent last year. The lottery disbursed $701 million to the school aid fund in 2010, down $23 million from 2009. Revenue from the lottery totals about 6 percent of the state’s school aid fund.

Then we go to Illinois where a smoking ban in casinos has cost the state an estimated $600 million since the law was enacted in 2008.
``I'm a non-smoker. I'm also an asthmatic. But I can count,'' state Rep. André M. Thapedi, D-Chicago, told the House Executive Committee as he presented the bill.
In case you were not aware, both Illinois and Michigan are struggling financially. They are both effective in one thing, however--punishing smokers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thank God For the Brave Law Enforcers of Deleware

Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and John Jay (who I've heard had a picture perfect jump shot) are spinning in their graves.

Property rights? Bah.

h/t Bruce at Q&A

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Snyder Gets One Right, The Ignorant Lament

I'm afraid I didn't get enough sleep last night because I find myself today irritated by stupidity levels that would normally just make me bend over in laughter.

Michigan has been mired in an depression for nearly ten years. It reached that point not overnight, but only after suffering through decades of destructive laws, policies, and regulations created by progressive bureaucrats ignorant of economics. These policies effectively squandered whatever competitive advantages Michigan once enjoyed back in the day when it could boast perhaps the most skilled labor force in the world backing up some of the world's finest inventors and innovators.

If you wanted something designed and produced, and you wanted to design and produce it efficiently and profitably, you just called Detroit.

While the golden days of Detroit and Michigan might well be over, a steadfast and inexplicable trust in draconian economics has not waned. Perhaps the vast wealth of Michigan's recent past made too many of its residents covet. Maybe it implanted in them a feeling of entitlement. It could be that many of the people here are just plain dumb.

Sadly and for whatever reason, Michigan is still too populated by those who obviously ignored economics in high school and believe that businesses and employers and wealth generators are the enemy.

As an example, I assert that Rick Snyder has done a good thing in signing a bill that makes single item pricing unnecessary in Michigan.

Why is it unnecessary? Because arbitrarily raising costs in bringing products to market negatively affects productivity, profitability, wealth generation, and ultimately, consumer access to lower prices.

Of course, the commenters at M-Live are aghast!

septday has this gem:

Another good deal for big business, prices will not be lowered nor will this put more people to work... Another winning round for Gov. Snyder...
wookie screams:
Murray said there would be a "small" adjustment in hours. Yeah right, more like we plan to follow Walmart's lead and cut everyone to part-time status. That way they don't have to pay overtime or provide any benefit programs. Way to bamboozle the ignorant Snyder!
phetom pitches in:
Yet another bonus for business with Gov Snyder. What next? where will it end? If I do not know the price of an item, you can bet there will be a big stash of goods left at the cash register. wait- a job! some one will need to clean it up. The Mi way of doing business. It just keeps getting better.
Broken String inserts this wisdom:
Does he seriously think stores are going to lower prices? The only thing this is going to do is increase the bottom line for these businesses. This will not create one job.
I'd guess the comments are five to one in favor of blathering ignorance.

What generic dumbasses on economics do not understand is that jobs are a byproduct of profitable businesses. The businesses that they loathe pay billions upon billions of dollars annually in payroll and benefits. They do this only because their expected profits justify such expenditures. Otherwise what would be the point of opening a business in the first place?

These arguments against ending the sticker law are as astute as those that might champion the outlawing of chainsaws because it puts wood choppers out of work. Making companies arbitrarily employ dead weight workers for the sake of swelling payrolls hinders job providers.

But just in case, I have some other great ideas that I'm certain septday and company would agree to.

  • Markets should be forced to staff each checkout lane with a bagger. How many jobs would that create?
  • Self-checkout lanes should be illegal. We need more cashiers!
  • Debit and credit cards should not be accepted at the market because longer lines will surely equate to more cashier jobs.
  • Grocery carts should be required to go through a twice yearly maintenance overhaul. This would get rid of loathsome wobbly wheels as well as create a whole new profession of wobbly wheel repairers!
Each of these uninspiring ideas of my own have every bit as much merit as does continuing the stupid sticker law in Michigan. They all would mandate additional jobs into the marketplace over the protests of businessmen who might not know as much about running a market as a screaming wookie does, but why should we care what the people on the hook for all the liabilities think?

Of course, the creation of these make busy jobs will necessitate the elimination of some other positions in order to compensate for higher overheads and will create poorer customer service and longer lines.

I caution you though, while standing there in line behind your perfectly operating cart laden with dozens of immaculately priced items for purchase, pay no attention to the higher prices.

What is your legacy, Matty Moroun?

I'm sorry, but these people make me angry. You know the type, those that spend the greater part of their lives casting judgment on the motivations and value of others while their own lives are lived behind walls of glass.

In a feature article in today's Detroit News, Matty Mouron's son is lectured by state legislator Rashida Tlaib:

But the Morouns could have done more, said state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, a politician often at odds with the family.

"I once talked to Matthew about his father's image: I told him they had to start thinking about his legacy," Tlaib said. "You see billionaires who have wings named after them. What is he leaving behind?"

While Tlaib lauded the donation to the southwest Detroit center, she doesn't buy into the sincerity of the gesture.

"I think this is clearly calculated. They only give for a massive return on their investment," Tlaib said. "Out of the $18 million needed for the project, they only donated $205,000, but they gave $1 million to University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe (Woods).

"Not until there's competition to the Ambassador Bridge do they find the largesse to donate."

Hmmm. I wonder if Tlaib ever considered that Matty Moroun has created thousands of jobs for Detroit, Michigan, and this country. I wonder too if she ever considered the huge tax burdens and liabilities that come with the territory of being an entrepreneur. There is the city taxman, the township taxman, the state taxman, the feds, the MTA, the regulators, the inspectors, the fees, and even the occasional lecturing legislator who could always find a better way for a self made billionaire to spend his money.

Tlaib and Moroun have similar backgrounds. They were each born to immigrants of the Middle East. One child of one family has used the benefits of a free society to create thousands of jobs, pay billions in payroll, pay millions in taxes, and donate millions of dollars to causes within his community while one child of the other family went to law school so that she could point out how rich and greedy the child of the first family is.

I count the legacy of Matty Moroun as it stands as vastly more important than having his name pasted across the wall of a hospital wing. I do not discount the value of such donations, but why must we vilify a man whose payrolls have helped thousands of people pay for their own health care across the entire country?

Legacy? This is an age of political vanity where a state legislator cannot be expected to make a $1000 donation to a local cause without an accompanying press release documenting the generosity.

This is also an age where coagulated governments try their best to stifle private business in its quest to create wealth and, as a byproduct, the payroll and benefits to employees who are part of the enterprise. (A good example is Moroun's own battle over who should own and operate a new bridge spanning the Detroit River.)

As legacies go I wouldn't worry too much about Moroun's. It spans the Detroit River, it canvasses the country on America's highways, and it lives in the wallets and savings accounts of thousands of employees.

The Tlaib legacy? It might very well amount to nothing more than the memory of a wagging finger in the face of a Michigan hero.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Just What Michigan Needs--A Less Attractive Business Landscape

Editorial: Pull the plug on power plan

How many jobs will this kill in a state from which struggling employers and the unemployed are already fleeing?

Forcing businesses and consumers to arbitrarily pay vastly more for what the free market could provide more efficiently, will cut at the heart of both business productivity and consumer viability. Productivity, if you have not been reading up on your economics, is one of the most important factors in generating wealth, and the absence of consumer viability is what drives residents into either the welfare or the U-Haul moving van lines.

This plan is tantamount to passing a $600 million tax on Michiganders over the next few years for which they will not even receive shoddy road work--it is money thrown down a rat hole, and to make matters worse, it is a rat hole located in Iowa.

If Michigan is ever to recover it must do so by becoming a fertile ground for business profits. There is no other way. We can play around with Pure Michigan and we can lecture forever on how our highly skilled labor force is unmatched, but if prospective and current Michigan businesses cannot clearly see a future of profits they will dispense with all the drama and build or move their livelihoods to exotic locales such as Texas where entrepreneurs are actually encouraged to operate profitably.

We have a state government that has spent the better part of the last decade making Michigan uncompetitive on purpose, and we have a federal government that is more than willing to make Michigan more uncompetitive though arbitrary geography.

Michigan must become more competitive and not simply by degrees for it must become attractive when compared to states that have outmaneuvered us over the past few decades.

Lowering our business expenses to the national average will not be enough to secure adequate business investment--we must be lower, and significantly lower. This plan pushes us horribly in the wrong direction and will make whatever recovery Michigan might experience that much more difficult.

A multifaceted progressive agenda helped push this state to the brink of collapse and now we are dependent upon progressives like Debbie Stabenow to save us from the initiatives their ideals have spawned.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Granholm's Name in the News

I certainly celebrated Jennifer Granholm's exit from the Michigan statehouse much more loudly than I heralded in the administration of Rick Snyder. I don't for a second doubt that the electoral revolving door provided us with a better leader in Snyder, but in terms of degrees, I also like burning the roof of my mouth more than I like driving a 16 penny brad through my foot.

Yet, the instrumental role that Granholm played in blazing the trail Michigan followed into the promised land of economic despair also paid serious dividends to Granholm's career, even if it made mine suck. In the past few days she has landed a gig with the Pew Centers as an expert in, wait for it, energy, and she has also landed a high paying gig as a director at Dow Chemical, a Michigan behemoth that agreed to pursue state blessed and inferior energy alternatives in order to be able to gorge itself on government provided taxpayer dollars.

Granholm was the most dangerous sort of bureaucrat--one that believed her epiphanies were so valuable and so insightful that they justified the supplanting of billions of individuals whose less valuable epiphanies would normally contribute to the free market.

Her brilliant lawyer's mind transcended that of the collective, oddly, from the standpoint that it was the collective that theoretically benefited most if it obediently followed her singular directives. She believed in the value of the collective as a charity objective, as long as it obeyed. Taking care of the people is a lot easier if those same people will shut up and stay in line.

But, now she is on the other side of the rift. She may have been a miserable failure in terms of economics for the citizens of Michigan, but many of the contacts that she made while helping choke off Michigan's competitiveness are matches made in a you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours heaven.

Why wouldn't Dow want her on the board? She is knee deep in the slurry of government contacts and the way that, wink, wink, things work.

This might well be the best money that Dow ever spent, even if it comes on the heels of the worst eight years in recent Michigan history.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What Have We Done For You Lately

Less than two years ago, the American taxpayers bailed out two of Michigan's largest employers. Years of poor management, a belligerent labor force, and aggressive foreign competitors who were willing to listen to the consumer drove once proud GM and Chrysler into a tailspin.

Mark Steyn at the time correctly called GM a company that provided health care and retirement benefits to hundreds of thousands of policy holders while also happening to make cars on the side. They were doomed.

But, guess who stepped up to the plate (though some of us quite reluctantly?)

The taxpayers borrowed billions of dollars from the Chinese to bail out Chrysler, GM, and the UAW. While many private investors had their investments illegally wiped out in favor of propping up underfunded union pension plans, the UAW walked out of the ensuing mushroom cloud carrying a new and significant ownership stake in the salvaged companies--now viable in the marketplace with its more manageable salary and benefits packages. (An infusion of borrowed billions into corporate coffers didn't hurt either.)

But, after a couple of years, the UAW natives are once again restless. Recent profits at GM and Ford (who received no bailout) and only modest losses at Chrysler seem to have wiped out the memories of the union brass who are now clambering for a return of salaries and benefits to levels that helped sink the Big Three to begin with.

After a decade of contracts filled with concessions to save the Detroit Three -- such as plant closures, diversion of performance bonuses to cover health care costs, loss of some holidays and suspension of cost-of-living increases -- frustrated workers are eager to regain what they've lost.

They see the automakers earning billions and executives cashing in on the profits. Last year, Ford earned $6.6 billion and General Motors earned $4.7 billion. Chrysler still lost $652 million but made an operating profit and is projected to be in the black this year.

"In 2009, when we adopted some modifications, there were a number of things that were suspended. ... Hopefully those will be back on the table and restored," said Jeff Manning, president of UAW Local 31, which represents GM workers at the Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas.
A word of caution to the UAW.

The taxpayers are largely aware that the biggest losers in the auto bailouts were the taxpayers themselves.

The rank and file were able to keep their jobs. They retained most of their benefits. They are now working for vastly more stable companies. Their union owns a stake in now profitable companies.

None of that seems to matter much. Sadly, the message has been lost.

And, it drives me crazy.

Hey, (bangs head against wall) aren't you paying attention? We are the ones that bailed you out. Sure, you anted up quite a bit too but, it was your job being saved, dumbass, not mine!

Go ahead and hint at a strike. Make a fist and carry a sign. Work up a couple of new catchy slogans too for all I care.

But, don't think for one minute that I won't be able to figure out who you are protesting against.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

When did this become journalism?

So asks Mitch Album in his latest article at the Freep.

Album is the most successful and enviable of journalists. He is also the most rare of journalists. He is a sports writer. He is a feature sports writer. As such, none of what he writes has to conform to what could be classicly defined as journalism. He long ago dispensed with the 5 Ws (and an occasional H.)

He does not conform to the upside down pyramid. He can use the metaphor and the simile. He can cast doubt upon witnesses, can paraphrase, can broad brush context, and can mislead his readers into believing that he was an actual live witness to events when he was merely a television viewer.

None of these truths diminish in any way his ability as a gifted writer. Yet, not all writers are journalists, just as not all journalists are news journalists.

Mitch Album is appalled at the antics taken by James O'Keefe in his sting of NPR that unquestionably exposed chief NPR fundraiser Ron Shiller as a leftist partisan hack. (Is it too early in this post to mention that NPR receives nearly ten percent of its overall funding from the American taxpayers?) Consequently, NPR chief executive Vivian Shiller also resigned.

Album is outraged!

The sleazeball behind this latest "gotcha" incident is James O'Keefe, who is all of 26 years old, calls himself an investigative journalist without formal training and thinks nothing of lying and fraud as long as it perpetuates his strong conservative viewpoint.
Real journalists who are outraged can use the term "sleazeball" indiscrimately.

Journalism in its contemporary form, is not objective. When I went to journalism school there was at least a wink-wink assertion that journalists must remain neutral. Let me tell you, that was a long time ago, and even then the college classrooms were filled with those seeking journalism degrees wanting to "make a difference." They came into journalism at the height of Walter Cronkite's influence over the television airwaves and Woodward and Bernstein (at the time not so old themselves) were still basking in the glow of an investigation that brought a Presidency to its knees.

O'Keefe might not be the poster child for classical journalism, but he is as effective as a journalist in both style and talent as many others who make headlines today while making no such pretense of objectivity...Ezra Klien anyone?

I suppose we should, in the absence of sufficiently aged and trained journalists willing to undertake an investigation of publically supported NPR, expect that otherwise incorruptible organiztion to proudly air its dirty laundry on the clothesline right outside its corporate offices.

If they had something to hide, they would show it. Because, in a way, they already do.

I am one of those rare creatures who happens to be both conservative and willing to listen to NPR. I often listen to Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Car Talk, Prarie Home Companion, On the Media, Interfaith Voices, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (though I still do not have Carl Castle's voice on my home ansering machine.) I listen because I don't like radio music and because I spend a lot of time on the road. I am no genius, but if Mitch Album in unable to detect the aggrevated slant of NPR, neither is he.

I also happen to believe that the stable of programs presented on Fox News is slanted toward conservativism. However, when Fox wants to present the progressive side of an argument it hires flaming liberals such as Bob Beckel, Joe Trippi, or Juan Williams to present the liberal viewpoint. When NPR wants to present the conservative viewpoint it balances out the screeching of E.J. Dionne with David Brooks, one of only a handful of "conservatives" who found reason enough to vote for Barack Obama.

Finding a conservative who voted for Obama takes some diligent investigation. Good grief, if we had such talented researchers out there looking for bigfoot we'd have long ago displayed him at the National Zoo, or, perhaps, supported him in his perpetual career as the senior senator from Massachusetts.

The fact is, whether James O'Keefe is a journalist or not, he certainly is a film maker. He certainly is willing to stick his neck out, and he is every bit as viable in journalism and political circles as the rather rotund Michael Moore, a literal giant in the documentary industry now, in particular, since documentaries aren't expected to be about truth or objectively either.

Shame on you, James O'Keefe, for being, as the elder journalist Mitch Album asserts, a sleazeball. Shame on you for using the same tactics in confronting NPR that liberal news media operatives have used for years on just about everybody but NPR. Shame on you for not conforming yourself to the unyielding tenets of journalism like those guys over at editorial page of the Freep do.

To be accepted into the fraternity you must conform--not to classic journalism, and not to contemporary journalism. No, what you must conform to is the vision of serious journalists who have no constraints other than being protectors of the narrative.

Don't worry, when you are ready they will send you the membership card.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Don't Call Us Cowards

Eric Holder called us a nation of cowards for our refusal to have a conversation about race.

Now, apparently, we are islamophobes for having a conversation about the recruitment of homegrown Muslim youths into militant Islam.

Just don't call us cowards.

Tired of Being the Real Victim

Make no mistake about it, what is occurring in Wisconsin is a move in defense of the taxpayers. It can be characterized as any number of other things, but with public finances in the dumper (the state faces a $3.6 billion deficit over the next two years) moral stewards of the public trust must make changes.

Leftists have characterized the defensive response of Wisconsin Republicans as a war on the middle class. It has been called an attempt to bust the unions. It has been called a war on democracy and the end of democracy. Yet, none of these false charges even recognize that what is occurring is defensive in nature.

Only the most delusional among us see the current national financial trajectory, of which Wisconsin is emblematic, as sustainable. The economic system will is a mathematical certainty, that is, if significant changes are not made immediately.

What is being done in Wisconsin is neither draconian nor punitive. It is a reasonable response to right wrongs serially committed against taxpayers. In 1992, my employer raised my family health care plan to $120 per month. It essentially lifted me to a level where I was paying approximately 33% of my overall health insurance premium. (As an aside, I received only three sick days per year, had my 401K contributions matched 1 to 3, and had to work ten years to get that third week of vacation.) Life in the private sector sucked!

I am willing to accept that collective bargaining has legally gained public workers unions great pay and benefits. And yet, it is just as easy to see that it was a mistake to lavish unsustainable compensation on a huge sector of the labor force, and legal or not, it is unsustainable, and must be corrected.

If a private company made similar mistakes it would make mass lay offs, close up shop, or reorganize under bankruptcy protection. If a public entity makes those same mistakes, however, somehow the viability of the entity in question gets forgotten. No problem, say the benefit recipients, raise taxes!

The system in Wisconsin is one that allows a generic bus driver to knock down more than $150,000 per year, while the best teacher in Milwaukee gets canned because she has worked fewer years than some old farts who desperately hang on for a full pension. Screw the second graders, we got us a teacher with tenure! Funny, but in my world, the people we owe are the second graders, not the teachers--after all, didn't we make a promise to them too?

What is occurring in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan on the behalf of public worker unions is a blatant misdirection of intent. Public service unions, somewhere along the line, forgot that the foci of the jobs they represent were to provide a valuable service to the taxpayers for fair compensation, and not to get rich by victimizing them.

So, right now the Wisconsin statehouse is full of raving lunatic union members threatening violence against Republican legislators who want a bill passed that might cut benefit levels back to where mine had to go some twenty years past.

I didn't riot. I didn't threaten anyone. I didn't refuse to go to work or begin a plot to oust the corporate executives. Neither did anyone else. Should I expect anything different from those who have been more than fairly compensated for as long as they've been knocking down a public paycheck?

I am one taxpayer that is tired of being the real and unrecognized victim. Speaking of which, isn't there one lousy teacher in the Wisconsin statehouse today that teaches economics?

Saturday, March 05, 2011

The Education Establishment has No Moral Compass

Despite more than 100 eye witnesses, a deranged sexual pervert in Illinois will not be charged with sexual assault after he modified his reciprocating saw and jammed the powered up instrument inside of a woman's vagina for nearly three minutes.

Why not?

Well, first, because the woman sorta liked it, and second because it was all part of an attendance optional demonstration in a class on human sexuality at Northwestern University. The demonstration took place at the Ryan Family Auditorium, though the Ryan Family has not yet commented on whether they would prefer that the venue have its name changed to the Ryan Family Adult Theater.

The demonstration was conceived of by psychology professor John Michael Bailey who thinks its peachy for college students, some of who enter college at the ripe old age of 17, to imagine the sensual heights achievable when one's garage is full of power tools.

Professor Bailey defended the unusual demonstration, saying in a statement: 'The students find the events to be quite valuable, typically, because engaging real people in conversation provides useful examples and extensions of concepts students learn about in traditional academic ways.'
But parents, please don't be concerned with the character of the sex toy wielder because he is, after all, a professional sex-ed teacher.

Speaking of sex education...let's put it on a global scale!

From the Other McCain:
“Oral sex, masturbation, and orgasms need to be taught in education,” Diane Schneider told the audience at a [United Nations conference] panel on combating homophobia and transphobia. Schneider, representing the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers union in the US, advocated for more “inclusive” sex education in US schools. . . . She claimed that the idea of sex education remains an oxymoron if it is abstinence-based, or if students are still able to opt-out.
Comprehensive sex education is “the only way to combat heterosexism and gender conformity,” Schneider proclaimed, “and we must make these issues a part of every middle and high-school student’s agenda.” . . .
A panel sponsored in part by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) advocated for “comprehensive sex education” not only as a tool to combat “gender oppression,” but also as the key to achieving all of the Millennium Development Goals.
To which McCain writes:
Think about it: Of all the problems affecting the world, America’s leading organization of teachers is urging the United Nations “to combat heterosexism and gender conformity” by teaching “oral sex, masturbation, and orgasms”? Because that’s exactly what’s needed by impoverished villagers in Bolivia, Botswana, Belize and Burkina Faso.
We've just got to get these people together! For the children.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I Drive My Car Year Round

It was interesting to read the criticism leveled by GM spokesman Greg Martin at Consumer Reports. The magazine's most recent issue cast doubts as to whether discriminating consumers would be as enamored with Chevrolet's new signature vehicle as the White House, environmentalists, and other auto industry honchos had hoped they would be.

The test drives were, shall we say, disappointing. The battery packs died 26 miles into test drives, the drivers froze their asses off, and the overall economics of the purchase made little sense to editors. Besides that, everything was good.

Martin was not pleased.

In response, GM spokesman Greg Martin reminded Reuters that the Volt has received positive technical reviews and questioned CR's decision to base its review on "the most cold and snowy conditions this winter in the Northeast."
The timing may not have been the greatest for the Volt test drives, but the sad fact remains that I drive my car year round as do most other people who live in northern states.

As a consumer I find the Volt information valuable.

The Volt sells for $41,000 before the taxpayers take a $7,500 hit. As such it costs $18,000 more than a baseline Prius (a vehicle getting 51 mpg.) and costs $13,000 more than the hybrid Ford Fusion (a vehicle getting 41 mpg.) Also noteworthy is that the Volt's hybrid competitors do not freeze the cheeks off of drivers who have to get to work during "cold and snowy conditions..."

I do think we can expect plug-in vehicles to improve through the years so its way too early to insist the Volt is a disaster. Still, when government busybodies infuse their money (with strings-attached ideas) into the big world of crony capitalism, what usually emerges is an illogical mutation on the consumer.

Excluded from this particular round of cronyism is Toyota and Ford who have produced a more consumer friendly (if not taxpayer friendly) product. I cannot wait to see what the White House, the EPA, the DOE, the UAW, and Government Motors cook up next time.