The day before that whopper, one Jonah Lehrer wrote this:
[E]very innovation eventually leads to new shortages. We clear-cut forests, and so we turn to oil; once we exhaust our fossil-fuel reserves, we’ll start driving electric cars, at least until we run out of lithium.
Yes, sure, Jonah and Jonah’s editors, that’s exactly how electric cars work: The lithium in their batteries does what petroleum does in regular cars. Vroom, vroom!
As Alexander Cockburn once observed, the core function of the mainstream news media is to sow confusion where reality is perfectly plain. Add to this his personal history as a capitalist’s son and husband of a rentier billion-heiress, and it’s little wonder that Thomas Friedman is the tenured professor of the great gibberish machine, the pampered, flattered godfather of the propaganda clown army.
His latest contribution to the jabberwocky effort? His proposition yesterday that the world is being run by “petro-dictators now telling the world what to do.”
You see here why Friedman has attained such heights within the corporate capitalist spin industry. It would’ve taken a large committee meeting for days to prepare a more shamelessly Orwellian inversion of basic reality. Not only does Friedman’s claim reverse the actual past and present relationship between petro-dictators and corporate royalty, but it blithely and thoughtlessly restates the standard overclass insistence that oil, not cars, is our problem. (One could, of course, also note Friedman’s ongoing delusions about bio-fuels.)
The simple reality that must be kept from view is that cars-first transportation accounts for eight tenths of U.S. petroleum use, and cars-first transportation is the indispensable lifeblood of corporate capitalism. Oil dictators work for those who dictate transportation policies (and energy wars). Not the reverse. Oil will never be demoted unless cars are demoted.
And who are the car-dictators? Friedman’s own class, of course — the Richistanis who enthroned and employ the world’s petro-dictators; refuse to allow themselves to be mentioned as a possible source of problems; refuse to permit the first hint of a first hint of democratic questioning of auto-centric society, despite its radical and increasingly obvious unsustainability.
Such is the stuff our grandchildren will be barfing about, if we manage to leave them a world still capable of remembering and pondering it.
As the haloware rolls out, what are the lords of money actually hoping to sell you?
This, of course:
If you agree to pay the extra cost, Ford will swap out the stock v6 engine for a four-cyclinder with the smaller, deeply Orwellianly-named “Ecoboost” motor. The Explorer Ecoboost’s wondrously Earth-friendly fuel efficiency? “About 18 miles per gallon city and 26-27 mpg highway.”
The rationale? Of course, thanks to the basics of commodity exchange, in all ages, smaller cars mean smaller profits. Indeed, this fact plagues capitalists now as never before: “Manufacturers need more growth in large cars, mid-SUVs and full-size pickups to get into the real profit zone.” It also explains the 2011 Ford Explorer, which is merely a new version of the same old size-pushing gambit.
By refreshing the partly false, partly Satanically selfish SUV safety marketing claim while actually stripping away the (almost never used) functions of prior SUVs, while also comparing the Ecoboost’s ROFLMFAO mileage improvement “to the ancient 4.0-liter V6,” Ford has a product that, in the words of a commenter at Automotive News, “has all the right ingredients to be phenomenally profitable.”
Of course, even without mentioning the general criminality of car-peddling at this late date in anthropocentric geologic history, this diminished-SUV marketing effort constitutes a conscious and carefully planned EcoCrime compared to the obvious alternative of simply selling small, maximally fuel-efficient automobiles. By fixing prospects’ attention on (laughable) improvements on prior SUVs, Ford greenwashes its continued push to sell ever more SUVs.
The ruling ideology, distinctly including its academic manifestation, holds that automobiles are freedom machines and social equalizers. Cars-first transportation “unites [Americans] across class, racial, ethnic, and religious lines as few other aspects of our society can,” alleges Rutgers University transportation engineer James A. Dunn.
Of course, this familiar incantation is about as counter-factual as you can possibly get.
The claim, as DbC has explained before, doesn’t even hold water at the level of automotive usage. There, the rich enjoy the luxuries and choices, while the poor scrape, suffer, and go without. The distribution of cars, if one bothers to actually look at the uncontroversial facts, is one of the least equal categories of “consumer” goods.
The much more significant link between automobiles and social stratification, however, enters at the level of business ownership and the question of who benefits from selling cars. If you examine the institutional facts here, you discover that cars-first transportation is — literally — lifeblood to the investing class. Without it, the enormous privileges and prerogatives its members continue to enjoy, despite the times, would be in severe jeopardy.
If you doubt this link between cars and the upward flow of surplus wealth, consider the news that one of the major proponents of the latest, just-announced Obamian cave-in — the extension of greatly reduced estate tax rules — was none other than the National Association of Automobile Dealers. In the middle (or is it still the beginning?) of Great Depression III, you might think that NADA would favor measures to equalize income and wealth at least a little. After all, despite the inequities on the matter, it is commoners who buy most of the cars.
So why did NADA instead lobby for further extending the supply-side cap on estate taxes, a rule which overwhelmingly benefits the already-rich and, thereby, deprives the masses? As Automotive News reports:
WASHINGTON — In a victory for auto dealers and Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl, President Obama and congressional Republicans agreed on a tentative tax-cut package that would head off a huge increase in the estate tax.
The agreement yesterday, which still has to be approved by Congress, would set a maximum estate-tax rate of 35 percent for two years with an exemption of $5 million for individuals and $10 million for couples.
“This (proposal) will help restore consumer confidence and speed economic recovery,” the National Automobile Dealers Association said in a statement today.
The NADA and other groups pushed for the estate-tax rate in the proposal as an alternative to the Obama administration’s plan earlier this year for a 45 percent rate with an exemption of $3.5 million per person.
The average net worth of an auto dealership was $2.2 million in 2009, according to NADA data, suggesting that most dealerships would not be subject to any estate taxes under yesterday’s proposal.
About half of all U.S. dealerships are second- and third-generation family businesses, NADA spokesman Bailey Wood said.
In other, more honest words, car dealers are capitalists, and, as such, they always place themselves first, because they can and are used to it and believe they deserve it. “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people,” as one radically misinterpreted social critic once observed of the first principle of all overclasses, clearly remains the maxim of “the masters of mankind.”
This amazing piece of short-sightedness, of course, is but the tip of the iceberg. The automotive industrial complex remains a pillar of corporate capitalism and its drive to maximize and maintain overclass wealth flows. Automobile dealerships are small potatoes inside that order. As always, across the whole system, even when its own interests are close and easy to see, today always trumps tomorrow for our self-described “entrepreneurs.”
And, in the real world, that’s cars for you: Heedlessness machines and social polarizers.
Seems the United States is currently producing zero gallons a year of cellulosic ethanol. This, despite the assurances of hyped “entrepreneurs,” hundreds of million of dollars in subsidies, and a 2007 federal mandate for production of 100 million gallons a year by 2010.
For more, see this story by Robert Rapier.
Rapier’s conclusion? Will-power is not enough to alter the laws of physics. Cellulosic ethanol will never be more than a niche fuel. The wish that it would run the cars-first transportation order of the United States? “Fairy dust.”
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