Has America Lost Its Lead in Clean Energy Innovation?

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January 10, 2009

If you attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week you would have found a bunch of hi tech gizmos, inventions on the cutting edge of technology. Inventions and innovations such as ultra-thin (less than a millimeter) bendable LED screens using Organic LED lights (OLEDs)that are brighter and more brilliant in color than existing screens. Sony, a Japanese company) came up with that one.

Just a few days before, Silicon Valley venture capitalist, John Doerr, was telling the US Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee how far behind America was in the green tech revolution. He pointed out that the firm in which he was a partner, the highly reputable and successful (helping launch both Google and Amazon) Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, that two of his firm’s largest investments were with foreign companies, because American companies did not have the most advanced technology. He knows what he is talking about, his firm as invested $600 million in 45 green tech start-ups, and will invest in 40 more in the next two years. Of the top 30 companies in solar, wind, and advanced batteries, only six were US firms.
We are losing the green tech race to countries like Germany, where solar power provides most of their grid electricity, Japan, whose car manufacturers have been producing fuel efficient cars while the US auto makers churned out SUVs and large trucks, and Denmark that receives a large portion of their electricity from wind power. An indication of how far our green tech sector is behind is a billboard in South Africa by Daimler that advertises their new super efficient ForFour Smart Car with the words, “German Engineering, Swiss Innovation, American Nothing” proclaiming their disdain for American innovation. Why has our reputation fallen so far?

For one thing, our government spends less than $1 billion a year on renewable energy research. That is downright paltry. Private money venture capitalists invested $1.8 billion into clean energy ventures just in California. The opinion of many of those who follow the energy industry is that the government has to reverse the position of the previous administration by making a huge statement in support of clean and green technologies. Without this statement–along with the physical support for investment in emerging technologies and companies, tax incentives for investors in green tech, long term plans instead of short term handouts, and a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system–our dependence on cheap, polluting fuels (petroleum and coal) will not be phased out to be replaced by clean and sustainable energy sources.

And as much as we know the drawbacks of corn-based ethanol, the ethanol industry needs to continue to survive and prosper so they can make the needed investments in the next phase of ethanol production, such as non-food cellulosic feedstocks like switchgrass and misancanthus, which can produce much more potential energy per acre than corn.
So what can we do? We can stop supporting subsidies to oil companies and support investment in green tech, we can support an increased gas tax to fund green tech, we can support placing a carbon tax on energy polluters (like coal-fired power plants), give incentives or pass laws, as many states have done, to force the utility companies to buy higher and higher percentages of their energy from the green tech sector–solar and wind–and fund a national power grid to get solar energy from the southwestern deserts and wind power from the plains to the rest of the country.

Investors and venture capitalists need to know that the government is solidly behind green tech, that it will not, at the whim of congressional deniers, cut off funds and head in the other direction just because gasoline falls in price. They need to know their investments are valid for the long term, and will not disappear in a puff of smoke because of a hostile congressional committee. Then the $$$ will flow and jobs will be created, and we might get back our reputation for innovation, forward thinking–and maybe even doing the right thing for a change.

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21 comments

  1. John Shelton

    A more descriptive title to this article would be, “Did America (U.S.) ever have a lead in clean energy innovation?” I believe that an objective answer to that question unfortunately would be, “NO”.

    We usually scream, “More Money, More Money” to everything that involves a change of lifestyle to fix. While I am convinced that development and deployment of green and efficient energy will require a large investment of money, money isn’t what is holding us back. We have to have a HUGE investment of mindset and “want-to”. If we wanted to develop better energy sources, we could add a reasonable fee to current energy sources at the retail level and place a windfall profit tax on energy producers at all levels and use that money EXCLUSIVELY for rewards for accomplishments toward that goal. We have proved that industry cannot be trusted to use development moneys for development. Money collected for research development must be awarded only after some entity has produced some advancement toward the goal of green energy, energy independence, renewable energy or some worthwhile goal in that category.

    On another note, how does Daimler feel the urge to be bitter toward U.S.? Aren’t they the ones who designed the current Chrysler gas hog passenger cars? They produced a substandard car that failed to live up to even the U.S. standards of automobile production then tucked tail and ran. The Smart car is just a continuation of their poor quality, This car, by all reports, is noisy, rough riding, has a very balky transmission, almost no room inside and doesn’t even offer fuel mileage equal to a number of their Japanese competitors that do offer these benefits for very little more money. U.S. cars are well ahead of Daimler in the production of safe , economical, comfortable cars. Sorry for the rant, but that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it

  2. Lowell Wickersham

    Why do we need to compete with the Europeans and other Green nations? We are not facing “Global Warming” and we have millions of cubic feet of natural gas and even more oil if only we could use the resources available within our territorys. The Chinese are drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in an area where we should be drilling but our green heads want us to conserve and raise taxes on fuel of all type esp. if they are not green.
    FYI, the Hapanese as well as American companies make SUVs that people want esp if they have a family to transport.
    We could also greatly expand our use of Nuclear energy as the Frence and Japanese do. California closed a Nuc plant at one point and are now using wind power. The original plate produced over 100X the power now generated by wind.

    Here is the NW we have experienced a 10year plus cooling trend (Washington Mont Vernon studies) Not only that but studies (not ECO so-called scientists) indicate the a little global warming would be benificial to agriculture and help the world to porduce more foods.

    CO2 s not a poluntant, just ask your plants and trees that thrive on this gas.

    Last but not least….as fuel costs go the cost of all goods and service increase.
    Why be stupid just to be green.

    Don’t be stupid just to be green.

  3. Cliff Thew

    Hear Ye, Hear Ye
    can you get this article to anyone in Washington who gives a rip about doing the right thing? I believe you have hit the nail, but does Obama know where to put the resources for a long term investment? I certainly hope so because if he does another “feel good” type of bailout we are going to loose the little credit we have left to indebt the nation and end up the new Roman Empire.

  4. Dan Rambow

    The truth of this article can be found in one type of automotive fuel. Many RV’ers have been big with diesel for years and years, lots of power and reliability. But our own regulations and bias have kept that fuel out of the mainstream automotive market. In Europe, 50% of the cars are diesel powered, only VW is daring to bring one of its lesser priced cars to the American market, and it’s clean diesel technology surpasses all of the California emmissions standards. (Mercedes does have higher prices diesel cars too, but lets talk average owners here) The little Smart Car imported to America is not near as effiecent as the one sold in Europe, because marketing dictated changes to make it more acceptable to the American public. The problem is that marketing managers are dictating what the American consumer can buy. Remember, when the VW Beetle showed up in large numbers in the early 60’s, all the car pundits said it was noisy, handled poorly, and was underpowered, but still they sold in record numbers. It is time to get off this notion that whatever American companies build is so much better than anything else, it just ain’t so! We can build better, we do have our niches, but our Government and Big Company policies are holding us back from doing the best we can. Sometimes, big unsuccessful companies need to fail, to allow smaller, more inovative ones to rise up. At one time, AT&T was Ma Bell, the phone system was good, but not ground breaking. The government broke it up into the Baby Bells. What did we get, better phone systems, lower long distance rates, cell phone technology, and now the cycle is repeating as company after company is rolled in into big phone enities again. So my view is that American Government and Industry needs a wake-up call to get back to being the most innovative in the world. We are not there right now.
    Just my rant here.

  5. John Shelton

    Dan Rambow, you appear to be defending the Smart car against my rant. In doing so, you point out that it is made significantly less efficient to make it acceptable to the U.S. market. You don’t offer any explanation as to what is modified and who is to be satisfied by these modifications. I challenge your implication that this car is unfairly penalized for the U.S. market. Does it not have to meet the same standards (market imposed standards as well as government imposed standards) as the Japanese competitors that make it look (and feel) like riding in a soap box and using as much fuel as a Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla (and others) while offering no comfort, convenience, or safety advantage?

    I stand by my characterization of the Smart car as a poorly designed inefficient car and not a contribution to a greener U.S.

  6. Fred

    Hi Bob,
    I need to emphasize that my FAVORITE bio-fuel, Algae, can be genetically manipulated by the lab technicians to be any grade of gasoline or really good diesel. Peterbilt now has a Green hybrid line of trucks. Check ‘em out!

    I just love this kind of forum.

    Shelton and Rambow, if you are talking about the Smart4Two built by Mercedes-Benz, it has been sold in Europe since 1998. They have a diesel version. It started sales this past year in America. We don’t get the diesel.

    Forbes magazine gives it this:
    Pros; good mileage, 33 city, 40 hwy.
    Con; must use premium gas or mileage drops too low to compete with Honda or Toyota mileage.
    Pro; good handling in urban areas, easy to park.
    Con; shifting gears is clumsy and noisy.
    Con; 1 liter, 70 HP engine struggles in hilly areas, mileage goes down.
    Pro; good results in European crash tests.
    Con; in windy highway conditions, tends to wander.
    Con; two passenger only, most American car buyers are family of four.
    Con; engine under rear storage precludes enough space for anything but small luggage.
    Con; must order ahead of time, two month waiting list now.
    Pro; a lot less money than Mini-Cooper, its nearest competitor.
    Con; two year warranty only, repairs after warranty higher than other cars due to limited parts.

    Just for fun; The inventor of Swatch watches initially conceived the Smart Fortwo in 1989 as a fashionable small car with interchangeable body panels. A joint venture with Mercedes-Benz was forged in 1994, and the Smart Fortwo debuted at the 1997 Frankfurt Auto Show. The car’s striking exterior was based on a Mercedes concept car that was crafted at the company’s design studio in California. Mercedes took full ownership of the Smart operation in 1998.

  7. Patrick Daniels

    Where to start??
    Bob – you are so off base, it’s obvious you are a schill for the left swinging environmentalists. This is an op-ed piece at best. I do not accept your base premise that alternative energy, funded on the backs of the US taxpayer — ie taxes, fees and subsidues are the answer is the best way to go. You poo-poo coal, but it is abundant in the US and technology has improved to show it is much cleaner than in the past. Not perfect, but the technolgies you are espousing are expensive and fall woefully short of being efficient. How much of the US are you willing to convert into algae ponds and wind farms and crops for energy? Are you going to ask China, Russia and India to stop contributing to your greenhouse gas equation, or only us/US?

    “Investors and venture capitalists need to know that the government is solidly behind green tech…” Why? If it is the energy of the future then they will make massive $$$ on their investment. Remember, the big-O was elected and all the world will be in love with Ole Glory and all the planets will align in syzyygy on 1/20/09…so we have nothing to fear but fear itself, oh and excrutiating taxes and debt yet to come.

    First off….. who will pay for all this? The id-juts in D.C. are already spending worse than a flotilla of drunken sailors (no offense to the Navy)…. Another point, You use a marketing quote from Daimler as proof to support your premise, that is WEAK, Bob. Why should we care about a German Marketing firm tag line? Remember we kicked their arses back to Berlin, and can do it again,if guys like you would stand down and let someone w/ cajones take the lead. Trying to get the immigrant angle in the mix here.

    Also, Bob, try indenting to make the reading of your drivvle a bit easier….. When you want to ‘ force the utility companies to buy higher and higher percentages of their energy from the green tech sector..” Who pays for that – the consumer. Corporations and business are there to make $$, that is their function, so they pass the costs on to you and me…..at this point these technologies are not viable, else they’d be in wide use. It’s not the government’s role to pay for everything. Do you really not ‘Get It”? I wonder.

    Cap and trade — BOGUS….. merely a three card monty scheme. If I go 20 mph over the speed limit and 4 other people drive at 5 mph under, then I’m free to speed? It makes no sense. It’s a scam by ALGORE to bilk $$ out of corporations — while he flies in G5’s and lives in a 4K sq. ft. mansion…….. Get real.

    Daimler aka MBZs has historically been poorly built…great engineering, but poor quality (Union issues – Hanz, Franz, and Spaten – not a good mix). Also, when the Germs or Japanese put someone, anyone into space (On their own and not as a paying customer), on the moon, anywhere other than the Autobahn, then they can smack-talk…..I’ve sold Audis, great cars, until they break, and they WILL break…..MBZ used to have a ‘factory’ in the US to correct all the problems from the imported cars before they hit the US market!

    The Japanese make great little cars…. but look at all the problems they have when they try and make BIG vehicles… mucho problemos w/ suspension and bouncy/tweaky frames on their Sequoias and Tundras ….They are having many many, many , “technical bullitens” aka RECALLS because of their shortcoming in trying to be top dog. Isn’t it ironoc that Consumer Reports finally started ‘reporting’ on the problems of Toyota before giving an automatic ‘recommended/best buy’ to a Toyo? How can you believe anything they have to say? I can’t. They are hippo-createns …period.

    I am in the car biz…. when gas hit $4+/gal people went to smaler ‘fuel efficient’ cars, not becuaue that is what they wanted, it was what they could afford. With fuel prices down, our inventory of fuel efficient cars is sitting while SUVs and trucks are the hottest thing going —-since Sept’ of 2008……. Get it?? People can’t fit their families, pull their trailers/boats/jet skis/snowmobiles w/ a very Earth UN-friendly Prius. The BIG 3 sold those ‘gas guzzlers’ because poeple were BUYING them…….DUH? It’s our culture and you can’t compare that to EU or Asia…… do you eat monkey brains, dog, horse or crickets? They do in Asia and the EU. Point made.

    The biggest obstacle to US invention and ingenuity is the US Government and EPA regulation. Its already been shown that Al Gorge (needs to go on a diet) is full of greenhouse gasses and the lefty environ-mentl-ists have steered us astray. GM and Ford are big overseas and make effiecient cars, as well as many import brands – however , the US EPA makes it unprofitable to bring those vehicles here, therefore they won’t. If you believe otherwise, please send me a check for $10,000 and I will give you the answers to all your questions, well most of them.

    The whole ethanol debacle is costing us millions if not billions of wasted $$ and is wholly ineffiecient….wind is not viable in any large scale – how may birds are you willing to sacrifice?? Algae, it’s doable, but how many acres of ponds?? How about turning Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, parts of Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico into algae ponds w/ wind turbines…… then we may have, what , 2-5% of our engery needs met???……..Geat real boys and girls….. in Californ-I-AY, they’ve banned Nulcear power, banned oil drilling, have 4, yes only FOUR, ethanol pump stations – all gov’t N-titties, siphoned off most of the gas taxes for other puposes, oh and have tried to regulate the car companies out of existence….. and you want to blame the Big 3 – not that I don’ think they’ve brought some of this on themselves….but the gov’t is not here to help….. They have proven time and again they ARE the problem…….Oh Ronald, where are you when we need you more than ever?

    Should we even get on the topic of the Dems wanting to raise the gas tax because there is too much conservation, hence less fuel being used, hence less tax revenue, and they don’t have the $$ to line their pockets and that of their pet projects? It all comes down to the almighty $ and as we know, the gov’t prints money, but it doesn’t make it – it takes it.

    Enough ranting…. I can go on and on…….. Bob – your ‘fluff’ piece is just that , a piece of……..anti-American Pie w/ I scream.

    PD

  8. John Shelton

    While on the subject of green fuels – I recently heard of successful experiments converting kudzu into alcohol for motor fuel. I don’t know about how efficient (gallons per acre, etc. or conversion costs) that it may be, but it is an extremely fast growing plant. It grows up to a foot a day under some conditions. It is quite a nasty plant in some areas of the southeast due to its rapid growth in the wild. Does anyone have additional information concerning the promise of this plant as a renewable (quickly renewable) motor fuel raw material?

  9. Ken Wadsworth

    “. . .Germany, where solar power provides most of their grid electricity. . . ” Bob, there is NOWHERE in this world there is a country where solar provides any significant fraction of its grid electricity. It would take literally thousands of square miles of panel in a nearly 100% shade free zone with today’s technology. In July last year, researchers at the German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems issued a press release indicating that they had compiled two reports that show how municipal electricity grids “can accept large amounts of photovoltaic electricity.” Being able to accept is a FAR cry from actually receiving it.

  10. Jim Crockett

    And here I thought this was an RV website – who’d have thought that we would be treated to radical eco-green politics. This stuff just ignores all reason and is plain junk science.
    Please – Can we just stop this absurd political hackery and get back to RVing. If you want a forum for this drivel, please go elsewhere.

  11. Thanks to you all for the comments. Obviously, I don’t agree with some of the opinions, but they are all out there (I didn’t delete any comments) to add to the debate/conversation. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to reply to you all individually, though I appreciate the time you have taken to weigh in and present your points. Thanks again, and keep the discussion going. Bob

  12. Fred

    Patrick Daniels,

    Don’t pay any attention to Bob Difley, he’s just a senile old man and ain’t got nothing better to do with himself than diddle around with blogs. His brain is cooked from being in the desert too long.

    I read your lengthy comments and want to commend you on your expert and wide variety of knowledge. I had a bit of a struggle, though, deciphering your comments due to the large number of spelling and grammar errors. However, I managed to glean through some of your statements that I would like to comment on.

    I note that you said you were in the car business. I had a friend in the car biz…and he told me that it can be a very stressful profession and that it took a special kind of person to be able to look a potential customer in the face and convince them that “my” car is better than “their” car. You seem to have the traits of a professional magician, since they are also experts at deception.

    My friend, like you, said he was also a die-hard Republican. (I think he meant “die-hard” as in dying with a with a h.rd-on for everyone he’s shafted all his life). I am so glad now that you and your ilk are now the minority.

    Oh well, my friend never sold me a car – he was a crook and died in prison a few years ago.

    I might make more comments later, assuming you get back to this blog and read this.

  13. Kriilin Namek

    Mr. Difley, I know your intentions are good, but please realize if these technologies were anywhere ready for prime time, America would be the first to implement them, and I say this as a non-American. BTW, Germany’s alternative energy makes no more than 7% of its mix:

    http://www.eoearth.org/article/Energy_profile_of_Germany

    Coal is still king, and they’re looking to increase their production of nuclear.

    You can’t fight physics and chemistry,with current tech, its the energy density locked between carbon-carbon, carbon-hydrogen, and hydrogen-hydrogen molecular bonds (coal oil, gas hydrogen) and between protons and neutrons (nuclear) that has produced civilization.

    I come to this site because I don’t know much about RVing. As a scientist, I do know a few things about energy. Please stick to things like hybrid RV’s wind power for my RV, etc. Sir, you are over your head, and merely embarrassing yourself.

  14. Fred

    Mr. Krillin Namek, your points make sense for our current petroleum and nuclear based socio-economic mentality. But, just a little over two generations ago, neither form of energy was the dominant major energy used. I don’t include coal here because it indeed has been the major heating fuel for a couple of centuries or so.

    Had it not been for WWI and WWII, etc, I believe those energies might now be the alternate backup fuels and renewable’s would be the primary source. The enormous debt created by just WWII wasn’t even paid off until the Carter presidency, 30 some years later.

    As taught in any chemistry class since the table of elements was devised, those molecular properties have been known since even long before Einstein. It is the misuse of those petroleum and nuclear features that have held our industrial nations hostage.

    If science had not been diverted to create war products, we all might now be enjoying the benefits of technologies yet to be efficiently productive.

    Even now advances in alternative fuels could be created or discovered exponentially were it not for lack of appropriate government assistance, and above all, a major change in business ideologies and public attitudes.

    The current efficiencies and costly production technologies, for example, of the photo-voltaic products available, off the shelf, for the general public are little different now than they were in the 1970s. I would love to plaster my roof with high efficiency (say, 90%) PV film, but the payback is currently 15 to 25 years.

    We can, and will, do much better very soon – if we change our early 20th century attitudes.

  15. Re: Ken Wadsworth, who quoted me as writing “. . .Germany, where solar power provides most of their grid electricity. . . ” and followed with his comment “Bob, there is NOWHERE in this world there is a country where solar provides any significant fraction of its grid electricity.”
    You are correct. A more accurate statement from me should have been, “Germany, where alternative energy sources provide a larger portion of energy than in most countries, gives incentives to individuals to install home solar systems. Wind also provides more of their total energy than any other country.” And yes, as a percentage, about 7% of their total power usage comes from all alternative energy sources, of which wind is the highest.

  16. To Krillin Namek. Adding to what Fred replied above, I would add that no energy source ever got off the ground without the help of government in some way, be it subsidies, tax incentives, rebates to individuals, etc. The oil companies continue to receive government subsidies after a hundred years of dominating the fuel market. To change to alternative energy, the government must do the same for the alternative energy sector and to give incentives to individuals to use the new energy sources. Without these, investment and venture capital will not invest in the development of alternative energy unless their investments are secured for the long term, which again has to be governmental support. It will not work any other way. And you are dead wrong in stating that “if these technologies were anywhere ready for prime time, America would be the first to implement them.” They are ready for prime time, but need the efficiencies created by strong research investment and the economies of mass production. Again, which won’t happen without government support. You can look at Germany, France, Denmark, and other smaller countries and find that they are way ahead of the US in the use of these technologies. If the only end point you look at is cost and efficiency, oil and coal win, but at what other costs? Smog, earth, water, and air pollution, global warming, acid rain, not to mention being under the thumb of the hostile nations that hold all the oil. Sometimes, as a scientist, you might want to look beyond just the physical characteristics and into the practical and environmental consequences. And as for sticking to RV related energy, how can any energy source not be related to RVs as we head into the Electric Vehicle age, where we plug in to grid energy to recharge batteries–wherever that energy comes from.

  17. Ron Butler

    Bob,
    You sure know how to stirr up a hornets nest, but it needs stirring. Great rebuttals on several of the previous statements. You are absolutely correct that it was government funds, taxes collected from the citizens, that provided for the infrastructure of our country. Heck, we even gave land to the “capitalists” to build the railroads! Do people truly think that the railroad tycoons would have built them if they would have had to have paid the market value – even at that time – for the land? They even got mineral and timber rights! Let see, Japan and Europe have high speed trains now, while we are still wedded to our own individual modes of travel while stuck in traffic for hours. That is real advancement! Countries use high speed and efficent water transportation – hovercrafts and those outrigger thingys that I can’t pull out the name for – in the areas that they have large bodies of water to travel. They can build huge tunnels and bridges to move surface travel, but we can’t because its to “costly”!

    Our companies have lost the vision of research and development years ago when the bean counters and wall street types became more concerned with immediate profits. That is how and why Japan and post-war Germany outstripped us in the ’70’s and ’80’s as they developed long term business plans for their companies and development.

    Those countries also realized that we Americans are more turned on to guns and tanks than “butter” and so let us go on and spend billions on military stuff, rather than to keep investing in our own standard of living and infrastructure. That’s why our real only “export” is military arms and we are the biggest exporter of that to all areas of the world!!

    Why is it “liberal” to attempt to tackle energy problems and development more and better alternatives to resources that we have relied upon for the past 100+ years? Are you “conservatives” willing to “conserve” your way back to the past standards of living? At least you will have the latest tanks and bombs I guess!! I thought conservative meant to save, to conserve that which works the best for our life, not to just remain static and refuse to look at other improvements to develop! How “liberal” and “communist” of me to think that!

    People, it cost us money to develop our country to the point that it is and we had parents, grandparents and great grandparents that were willing to pay the price for their future children and their posterity! Have we truly become that selfish that we don’t care what we hand over to ours?!?

    Keep up the battle Bob!

  18. Fred

    Ron Butler,

    It is good to see some reference to the “growth age of the railroad empire” in our country. I don’t believe a lot of the current generation is aware of that era’s railroad economic windfalls. The railroad companies received “space” to place the rails and to transport goods using several different ways. It was not possible for the RRs to buy all of the land they needed.

    Some of the land was a right-of-way or easement agreed upon between private parties or municipalities and the RR. Some of the land was federal and given as a grant, but the RRs had to pay property taxes and transport fees across state lines just as they did on land they purchased. They also agreed to be regulated by both State and Federal commissions.

    Although the RRs received mineral and timber rights on Federal lands, that is not the case on easements nor on land they purchased from private individuals nor or land granted by municipalities. The mineral rights were permitted to provide some initial “cash” fluidity from mining profits to get the RRs started without having to borrow enormous sums of startup money.

    A significant amount of the land that they had the mineral rights to, actually had no value other than the base rock used for the rail beds. The same goes for timber rights; only the right type of trees in certain locales were available to cut down to then be milled into the ties and sleepers. Other nations that lack proper timber availability have used concrete for the ties and sleepers.

    All of your points put together, sum up the nature of what I call an “early 20th century mentality” that has comfortably resided in our blood for way too long. Hey, if it was good enough for my dad and granddad, it’s good enough for me. What makes that old way invalid are the changes in total population and that population’s diversity. When they were alive, they were used to seeing the signs at the public water fountains that said, “Whites Only”.

    Except for the last eight years, things have improved and I believe we will soon be witness to even more and better improvements.

  19. Tom Bender

    Buy american cars and support american jobs! GM has more American workers than all the southern states foreign car companies combined. plus the profits from The big three stay in this country. I’m was an auto mechanic and still fix my own cars, I have owned Fords, Chevys, Pontiacs, and Chryslers. You can’t beat the ride in a Lincoln, the beauty of my former Lebaron Convertible or my current Ford Mustang Convertible, the towing capacity of a Ford, like my Excursion. A Prius isn’t worth the gas savings, it’ll never pay for it’s extra cost, and wait until you have to buy new batteries!

  20. Bob Difley

    Tom – Aren’t Toyotas and Nissons that are made in America American cars? How about Fords that are made in Germany? And profits go to the stockholders and stay in this country only if the stockholders live in America. And even if they do live in China, much of the profits that the Chinese make is re-invested in America. Maybe your mean whether the CEO is American or Japanese. I believe the CEO of Toyota-America is American. Also if you look at the resale value of a Prius, you will find it is higher than almost any other car, and the battery lasts the life of the car, so they don’t need to be replaced until the car is worn out. besides that, battery technology and the movement toward mass production are lowering the costs of batteries. Thanks for your comments. Bob