Thoughts on Mr. DeCourcy's Post

It would be interesting to update this research post bail-out. With the Obama administration's professed desire to incorporate green tech into Detroit's short and long term plans, as well as a forum to do so with high percentage share ownership, these ideas are rapidly becoming reality. Should the government be subsidizing the development of this technology? Well, the answer to that question depends quite a bit on political ideology. Some would argue that bailing companies out who failed to catch the wave of green technology demand in the first place is an example of throwing good money after bad. However, at this point, since the American taxpayer now owns a big piece of Detroit, I think a more pragmatic view is that Big American Auto should be doing everything it can to develop and incorporate these technologies, if not for environmental purposes, then certainly to increase sales. However, one thing sticks out to me from Pat's piece...the number 90, as in 90% of our rare earth metals, which green tech depends on, come from China (I have seen estimates of as much as 95% subsequent to some Chinese purchases of Canadian mine assets). If this is the case, then it is just one more example of an area where souring Sino-American relations in the future could be disastrous for our economy. Is that so different from depending on potentially unfriendly oil producing countries as we do currently? Maybe not. But, if you consider China's growth rate, and the fact that it could potentially have enough spare capacity to soak up the supply of rare earth metals in the future, it does paint a slightly different picture than the current oil scene. All in all, and based on the current situation as it stands, I believe that it is in Detroit's benefit to innovate towards some of these green solutions themselves while taking, as Pat suggested, advantage of trade opportunities with countries such as Japan. However, the caveat that this is no panacea to future energy issues should be part of the public debate and not simply ignored as electric technology is embraced.

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