business news in context, analysis with attitude

The other day we had a story about how the California Air Resources Board issued a new ruling that will "put in place a sweeping plan to restrict and ultimately ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars," effective in 2035.  The rule also sets interim targets, requiring that 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold by 2026 produce zero emissions. That requirement climbs to 68 percent by 2030.

One MNB reader wrote that "this is so reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s obsession with manufacturing what the government wanted to make . . . with zero regard for what their citizens wanted to buy," prompting my retort:

I think that's an absurd comparison.

California is recognizing and dealing with an issue that presents an existential threat to humanity.   It actually is showing leadership.  Sure, it may be ahead of where consumers/citizens are, but that's the definition of leadership.

The Soviet Union had different priorities in mind, I think.

One MNB reader chimed in:

Respectfully, I think you got a bit aggressive in denouncing the reader who laid out their position that California is practicing an economic model similar to the U.S.S.R.  Further, if you remove the Soviet reference, the perspective is still correct.

Let’s say in 2026, California’s estimated car sales are 100,000 thus they have to sell 35,000 zero emission vehicles.  What happens if new car buyers have purchased 65,000 gasoline powered vehicles by end of June?  Do you remove all gasoline vehicles and offer only electric or do you revise your estimate?  Or do you operate on a strict ratio of 35%/65% and only sell electric each month end when the ratio is out line?  Do you plan to penalize shoppers who travel to neighboring states if they choose to purchase elsewhere?  While the plan is certainly well intentioned, particularly for individuals who accept the existential threat and corresponding solutions.

But ultimately, it is about building demand.   Not government regulation.

I think your points are legitimate, and I'm honestly not sure how implementation will work.  I do accept the existential threat, though, and hope that California figures out how to make it work.

My pique was prompted by the Soviet comparison, and I'll stand by it - I'm guessing that citizens of the Soviet Union would find little familiar about California's culture, economy and general vibe, and I get tired of people picking on the state using specious comparisons.

Along the same lines, yesterday we linked to a story from Bloomberg about how "drought is shrinking crops from the US Farm Belt to China’s Yangtze River basin, ratcheting up fears of global hunger and weighing on the outlook for inflation" I referred to this as a 'Holy Crap!" story because "Eye Opener" just didn't seem adequate.

One MNB reader responded:

I am sure that it is implied that this drought is a result of our current climate issues.  I believe that there may be some truth in that. My point in this is not debate the history of the recorded weather events.  I would like to bring up another Holy Crap moment that is currently taking place in Canada and the Netherlands.  Their governments want farmers to cut down on Nitrogen.  An August 21, 2022 Wall Street Journal article points out that the nitrogen produced by farm animals, and used to fertilize the crops needs to be reduced and quickly.

Based on the policies set forth by these countries, there will be shortage in a food supply as a result of these policies.  Now we will not only be dealing with a drought, but reduction in food supply as result of these governments policies.

I too believe we need to do a better job of protecting our planet.  The problem is that Canada, The Netherlands and the US for starters are not weighing the costs or effects of cutting off nitrogen or fossil fuels.  I am not talking about costs in terms of dollars and cents.  I am talking about costs to the earth and society.  For example, batteries for EVs require lithium.  Lithium requires a lot of mining in order to keep up with the demand of batteries.  This mining will destroy wild life habitats potentially worse than what we have seen in the Amazon.  Not fertilizing crops and reducing livestock will lead to food shortages.

We need to let technological developments create pathways to get us to a cleaner environment rather than the current knee jerking we are seeing here in the US and abroad.  There are developments currently in the works to resolve the nitrogen issues. Implementing those developments make more sense to me than cutting live stock numbers in half, and stop fertilizing, which will lead to food shortages.

I want a safe place for our family tree to expand.   Drop the agenda and finger pointing on the climate. Lets fix this but do this smart and discuss how to get there without creating further damage to our planet.

Responding to my piece about Nugget Markets, one MNB reader wrote:

I have been calling on Nugget stores for years as an Acosta sales person.  You are right, if there was one of these stores in my area I would shop there.  They are clean, friendly, and a true partner when it comes to their business.  Thanks for doing this, was a great piece and spot on.

On another subject, from an MNB reader:

The “healthcare is hard to disrupt” view is still valid. Why was Amazon forced to buy One Medical, and fold a failing Amazon Care? p.s., One Medical (1Life) is not profitable, reporting operating and bottom line losses, burning cash and adding debt. That deal will have it’s own challenges.

Reacting to Michael Sansolo's column yesterday about lessons from the Duolingo language instruction app, which we titled "Más Que Diversión y Juegos," MNB reader Bob Thomas wrote:

A person who speaks many languages is called MULTILINGUAL.

A person who speaks two languages is called BILINGUAL.

A person who speaks just one language is called AMERICAN.

True.  I fear that I am one of those one-language Americans … I just don't seem to have an ear for languages, as my high school Spanish teachers would confirm.

Finally, regarding the passing of Erby Foster, one MNB reader wrote:

I was very sad to hear we lost Erby way too soon.  He was a huge supporter of mine during my early career with Clorox, my involvement with the Network for Executive Women (NEW), and Clorox’s Women’s Resource Group.  Erby had a impact on everyone he met and left our industry a better place for all.

And, from MNB reader Joy Nicholas:

Erby was a great man and the real deal in the industry DEI space.  He helped shape NEW and he will be missed.  Thank you for sharing, Kevin.