Miles to go before I ... pay?

According to today's edition of O-No!, the Powers that Be are increasingly looking at the so-called VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) tax as a way to offset declining gas tax revenues.

Talk of a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax has long been discussed as a necessity in a decade or so, because cars are becoming more fuel efficient, and states and the federal government are losing gas-tax revenue.

But there is now a sense of urgency about the new VMT tax. When gas hit $4 a gallon this summer, Americans sharply curtailed their driving. And when the economy cratered this fall, the driving rollback continued, even when gas prices plummeted.

Electoral College Meets Today

The time has finally come today, ladies and gentlemen.

Today at noon, at the historic Capitol in Raleigh, North Carolina's 15 Democratic electors will meet to formally cast our state's votes for president and vice president. I encourage everyone to come, either in person or virtually. If you can't make it to the Capitol, there will be televised proceedings at the Museum of Natural Science. For those who aren't near the area at noon, you can view the proceedings on the Secretary of State's website. I believe there is also a reception at 2pm at the Party HQ.

Empty Parking Lots, Empty Toy Bins

This is the time of year when many people find themselves picking paper angels off of trees and striking out to buy for a child who will otherwise go without holiday presents. It is a time when we pack shoe boxes with toys, drop new toys in collection bins, send money to local charities and deliver non-perishable food to the food bank. This is supposed to be a big time of year for non-profits.

Sadly, the toy collection bins I saw while out this morning were empty. They were empty when we entered the store and empty when we left. I've heard and read reports of local food banks with empty shelves. Last week when our family made a delivery to the local Christmas Bureau we saw a sign posted outside saying they were not taking anymore applications. There simply aren't enough donations to help everyone in need.

Mismanaging risk

After 30 years in business, I know a thing or two about risk. For example, I know that there are two fundamentally different kinds of risk: rewarded risk and unrewarded risk. The former is smart business strategy, the latter is more or less stupid.

"Trimming" a Budget at ElectriCities, the only place in America adding staff and giving big raises

I find it hard to believe that ElectriCities can say with a straight face that they are assessing all positions for critical needs and trimming their budget when they add staff - lobbyists, communications, temporary secretaries - and still give merit raises and have parties. Unbelievable.

The $73/Hour Big Lie

We've all heard it spewed from Republican mouths, how Detroit car makers pay $73/hour to their workers. That's why we can't compete with Honda and Toyota. This NYT piece shows how that argument is putting your head in the sand, ignoring the reality.

So here’s a little experiment. Imagine that a Congressional bailout effectively pays for $10 an hour of the retiree benefits. That’s roughly the gap between the Big Three’s retiree costs and those of the Japanese-owned plants in this country. Imagine, also, that the U.A.W. agrees to reduce pay and benefits for current workers to $45 an hour — the same as at Honda and Toyota.

Do you know how much that would reduce the cost of producing a Big Three vehicle? Only about $800.

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