Friday, April 2, 2010

California, No Longer Relevant?

California, arguably the birthplace of the car culture, and at one time the place to be if you wanted to produce anything for the aftermarket, or simply live the culture, but that was then, this unfortunatly is now, and things have sadly changed.

California was at one time a major world market, what California wanted, California got. For decades it has dictated to the rest of North America the standards for everything environmental. This has been the legacy handed down to everyone by a bunch of spineless government official who have caved into the numerous fringe tree huggers who have nothing better to do than make the life of the car culture miserable.
These groups gather members who do not fit into society in any other spot, people who essentially don’t have a life. Why else would someone want to support closing hundreds of square miles of land to everything but hikers, how could they ever expect anyone to be able to get to the remote corners, not that that is ever a consideration, they just want to be able to say they a have saved the area from some imagined harm.
This attitude has expanded into every facet of the automotive hobby, short-sighted smog regulations, with really no consideration for the effects of the lobby, beyond another victory for their group. Current diesel inspections for example; any modification to a California vehicle will result in a failed inspection, however, no thought was given to the fact that there is no test to determine that said modification is actually helping the vehicle to burn cleaner, it simply is not allowed. You see the fringe knows better.
Fact is that they have managed to make it unlawful to make any modification to any vehicle beyond how it rolled out of the factory. Before you freak out, check the regulation, the rules are there, simply not enforced.
California enacted a rule requiring all diesel-powered vehicles (highway trucks) to have catalytic converters and catalyst injection systems, retrofitting is far to costly so all the farmers and any other owner for that matter has been forced to purchase new vehicles. This has the effect of driving many out of business, and those who do survive, passing the cost along to consumers, not only food, but everything moved by transport.

Totally ridicules making the continent follow their misguided view of how things should be. Voters rule, and these groups claim millions of members, weather they actually vote is another question, but those who depend on getting re-elected to boost their egos will always bend to this lobby. Any company who wants to sell any vehicles in California has been forced to bend to the imposed regulations, and for a long time it made good financial policy to do that because that is where the market was. I saw ‘was’ because that is no longer a truthful statement is the grand scheme of the marketplace.

Some interesting facts gleaned form various government web sites, and being government they do tend to sugar coat things, and not provide the whole story.
Unemployment in California is reported to be 12.5%, however this number only reflects those receiving benefits, it fails to include those who are no longer eligible, or illegal immigrants, or those who had no work before the current financial issues. A more accurate number would be closer to double that number, 25% is indeed something to think about.
Foreclosures in California is at one in 195 homes for January, and quite frankly I have no idea how many empty houses there are in California, the number is far to big to consider.
Bankrupted company, and personal filings for 2009 where 210,000, that is up 58% from 2008, this would explain some of the foreclosures and unemployment numbers.
Something else to look at is the various Ponzy Schemes that seem to have targeted California residents, taking some 100 Billion out of the national economy, rather redistributed that wealth, sort of. Still a couple of California municipalities which were former enclaves of the rich and famous are now on very hard times indeed; Palm Springs being one of the hardest hit.
Silicone Valley once a powerhouse has been shrinking since the telecom bubble burst, and many of the major players have moved off shore, or only have a presence as a head office, all their production farmed out to someplace else.

What does all this mean? A massive reduction in the state spending power; to the point of no longer having any relevance in the grand scheme of things. Not only is the State in debt to the point of possible never getting out, but the population has taken a massive hit to their discretionary spending with more and more families looking to the essentials before toys.

For those of us in the Car Culture are at a point that we need to unite into a voice as loud as the environmental fringe. The Automotive aftermarket has been quoted to be worth near 100 billion, add to that the repair industry, and the OEM sector and the mind boggles that they even notice California exists any longer. We are at a time when we need to stand up and shout, ‘no more, we are out of here’. Some have actually voted with their corporate feet and left California, but the market leadership is still taking a passive approach. I was recently told that being so big makes the aftermarket to easy a target, if it is so big, and it is, why not use the size to dictate policy, rather than always giving in and behaving like that poor kid sent to the principals office, you know, looking at the floor, shuffling of feet, teary eyed, droopy shoulders, just waiting for a scolding for something rather than standing up for your position.

California is no longer relevant, and probably has not been for some time, so why on earth do we continue to let them dictate the rules of a game they are no longer in?

Do you want change? Make your voice heard, call your favourite manufacturer of aftermarket parts and express your support. Call SEMA and tell them it is past time to stand up and fight back.
It is time to take back our hobby and say no to those who are trying to regulate it out of existence.

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