GM CEO Dismisses UN Bio-Fuel Warning

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz
gm ceo dismisses un bio fuel warning

Speaking at the Beijing auto show, GM CEO Rick Wagoner went on the E85 offensive. The automaker's Beancounter-in-Chief ripped into a recent United Nations (UN) report claiming that ethanol production is warming the globe and reducing vital food supplies (a.k.a. a " crime against humanity"). Wagoner described the UN report as "shockingly misinformed." Yep, an army of scientists from all over the world has nothing on Rick Wagoner. Yes yes; the UN has a bureaucracy to rival GM's and its own political axe to grind. But more importantly, this kind of commentary from Wagoner [via the Financial Times] highlights GM's breathtaking arrogance and a failure to realize the development money they've spent on ethanol so far is a sunk cost. Wagoner tried to deflect attention the morality of raising cane in former rainforests and making corn juice out of food crops. "Oil prices are a far bigger driver of higher food prices than ethanol." Ain't moral relativism grand?

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  • Justin Berkowitz Justin Berkowitz on Apr 21, 2008

    @hwyhobo: I appreciate the first year contracts refresher. I am, in fact, familiar with consideration. Unfortunately your contract analysis of US treaty obligations is not accurate. if you want to discuss this further, feel free to email me. I can send you some reading suggestions in basic international treaties. You might find helpful in particular if I forward to you some of the reading list from a course I once took with the United Nations' Special Rapporteur to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.

    That said, I was and remain happy to stick to car and not politics. This blog post wasn't about American obligations to what you've described as "godforsaken" countries (an ironic choice of word). Frankly I don't care what other people believe, just as I'm sure you're not interested in my beliefs. In any case, I think most car enthusiasts are vehemently libertarian, making such discussions moot. But I missed the connection between this:

    GM: We know more than the UN does about international food markets.

    And this: why does it seem as though the people with the least ability to feed their families have the most kids?

    That's why I posted my above response, and since this political discussion has left me feeling nauseous, you are right to point out that it was a mistaken avenue for all of us. Want to stay talking about cars? It really would be my pleasure.

  • Dastanley Dastanley on Apr 21, 2008

    Justin Berkowitz: Upon reading my earlier post, I realize that I was ranting somewhat. I happen to live in a "welfare town" in New Mexico with a large portion of our population that chooses to not work for various reasons and then self righteously demands local, state, and federal aid because they are "underpriveliged" and "oppressed" (I know I can't spell). I was transferring lots of my frustration of this local situation to that of the article dealing with third world countries. I am really not some heartless a-hole that wants to see other people, American or not, suffer. There is nothing wrong in aid, whether it be local, state, federal, or international - long as it is temporary and not a permanent free ride. I recognize and often act on the universal law of giving to complete strangers or friends through charities or church in order to receive happiness and fulfillment. I just have a problem with (international) welfare as a way of life for others. I also have a problem with the international attitude of entitlement via the UN that the USA is the world's open bread basket. Third world populations seem to recognize and act on their human rights to populate unchecked - is this irresponsible? I guess we should agree to disagree on that point. And anytime that third world issues are brought up in such forums, there is always the danger of disguised racial issues - political dynamite in the least. hwyhobo brought up the point that we should just stick with relevant posts on TTAC, namely cars. Justin, I have read many of your articles and posts and respect your writings. hwyhobo is right on that point - why don't we just stick to cars and agree to disagree on the other points. And besides, you're more literate with the keyboard than I am so I could never truly compete with you on such a debate :-).

  • Kevin Kevin on Apr 21, 2008

    Justin:The US signed onto treaties to help eradicate poverty in the third world. Our government signed a binding agreement. That means you have a binding contract, too. Justin, that may literally be the stupidest thing I have ever read, and that's saying something. As you clearly know nothing about contract law, perhaps you should quit giving us legal advice. BTW did you miss my earlier point? Have you quit your job to become a farmer? If not, why are you still here talking? Seems to me you are contractually obligated to be pulling a plow right about now; perhaps I should report you to the UN police.

  • Justin Berkowitz Justin Berkowitz on Apr 21, 2008


    Now I'm getting really bored. First of all, we'll let you slide on what's clearly flaming in violation of the site's policy.

    Second, What you quoted from me was in fact hyperbole. Well, the third sentence is. I wrote it because frankly, I think it's very sad that many of the comments on this page were "people in the third world have it coming." As for the first two sentences, despite your flagrant insult implying I'm not too familiar with contract law, see my above comment and feel free to contact me for suggested readings in international treaty law.

    As for your earlier comment about moral obligations, no I didn't miss your point. There's just nothing to say. Knowingly or not, you presented a straw man example about the immediacy of moral obligations. No one, including me, disagrees with your example. Presumably under the straw man you have a greater point about the extent of moral obligations. This isn't the forum for such a debate, and considering that most of us read Nozick vs. Rawls in college and/or grad school, I doubt you're capable of doing such a discussion justice (no pun intended). Nevertheless, I have no interest in a lengthy debate about positive and negative moral obligations a la Princeton's Peter Singer and nobody has any interest in reading it.

    For everyone here, myself included, this uncharacteristically non-TTAC discussion about moral philosophy, or assertions about contract law is done. Either talk about cars, or ethanol, or GM.