Talking about numbers, I just read in the Sacramento Bee that in 2008 the number of new vehicles sold in the State of California totaled 1,447,460 down from 1.881,030 in 2007. This means that 433,570 fewer vehicles were sold last year than the year before. In fact the sales of new vehicles in 2008 were the lowest since 1993. The California New Car Dealers Association is predicting some 15.1% fewer new car sales in 2009 with an expected figure of 1,229,000. With all the closures of new car dealerships in Marin County I would estimate that the sales of new vehicles in our county will plunge even further.
Superficially this is good news for the environment, fewer vehicles means fewer carbon emissions, excepting that we need new more efficient vehicles and need to get those fool size SUVs off the road. Also the county as well as the state depends heavily on sales taxes collected from new vehicle sales and the diminished source of government revenue is causing all sorts of ripple effects on the level of basic services we expect from our governments. The ripple is getting so pronounced we may all have to trade down to drinking ripple. Fine wines are also no longer selling in the volumes previously produced. People are trading down to less expensive wines, however on aggregate wine consumption in California is still increasing. Production volume of wines in California increased by 2.5% in 2008. Oregon had us Golden Staters way beat by increasing their wine production by 9.3%.
All these numbers are making my head spin just as if I had drunk a jug of ripple. We are trading down on wine and we are not trading down on the size of our vehicles. My solution to this is the “ultimate stimulus package” of a free Corolla with the purchase of ten cases of Corona. My friend Dave who is my co-host on blog talk radio each Wednesday, bought a brand-new Saab now that that this GM company is in bankruptcy in Sweden. Dave is a very bright MIT engineer and he is willing to risk that parts and service will be hard to get for the substantial discount he received in buying the new Saab. I just hope Saab does not stand for Send Another Able Body when the car breaks down and I have to help push it. It also seems that another of the Generals in the DOW Industrials has drunk too much ripple. Just this week General Electric’s market capitalization dropped to a low of 89 billion dollars and they cut their dividend by two thirds. GE had a market capitalization in excess of 500 billion dollars or almost a gazillion back in July 2000. I just remembered the Y2K ad that was “yes to KIA”, if only we had bought those small cars we would not have today’s headache.