Prideful delusion is an interesting and important human phenomenon, with obvious Freudian origins and still-huge ability to pass without serious criticism in a supposedly ultra-informed, seriously democratic society. Foaming, torch-carrying neo-confederates say they aren’t racist. The Ford Motor Company, one the major purveyors of the machine that obviously and aggressively undermines its own feigned concerns (cities and the human future) dares to pontificate (and fudge) about “The City of Tomorrow.” Witness:
Notice the tagline there on the Youtube page: “For the first time in our planet’s history, half of the world’s population lives in cities.” Are suburbs cities? Yes, according to Ford, but no according to actual logic. Yet those are the massively unsustainable, fastest-growing places in which the majority of the U.S. population now lives, thanks to Ford and the rest of our car-addicted corporate overclass.
That is Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which represents the branch of the capitalist class that collects its rents from tweaking basic public inventions like computers, cell phones/radios, satellites, and the internet.
It turns out, to the surprise of nobody who cares about elemental reality, that the products Mr. Shapiro’s clients sell are extremely dangerous when combined with capitalism’s #1 product, automobiles. As reported by Automotive News:
10 percent of the 35,092 fatal crashes in 2015 involved at least one distracted driver, resulting in 3,477 fatalities, up 9 percent from 2014. Distraction was also factor in 16 percent of the 5.6 million non-fatal crashes in 2014, the most recent data available, the [NHTSA] said.
The NHTSA has responded to this public health emergency with — you guessed it — voluntary guidelines for the slightly less deadly deployment of the offending products.
This is where Mr. Shapiro comes in:
Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, called the guidelines “de-facto” regulations that defy calls from lawmakers for the Obama administration to refrain from issuing new regulatory actions until the next administration.
“NHTSA doesn’t have the authority to dictate the design of smartphone apps and other devices used in cars — its legal jurisdiction begins and ends with motor vehicle equipment,” Shapiro said in the statement. “Under their vision, they would have the influence to control the design of technology products down to the fitness tracker worn on a driver. Such a vast and extreme expansion of NHTSA’s authority, if it were to happen, would have to be explicitly granted by Congress.”
Quite right, yet how is it that we not only have that, but refuse to talk seriously about fixing the problem?
The answer lies in the political economy of what is and what is not discussable. Cars are as profitable and pro-capitalist as they are wasteful and dangerous. Hence, directly discussing and combating their wastefulness and danger is forbidden within the great marketing campaigns we know as mainstream media and mainstream politics.
Fortunately, Mr. Musk also has something to say about what would happen if that taboo were ever shattered:
“People may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous.”
Musk, of course, is thinking only of the immediate dangers to individuals in and around in-service automobiles, not the larger dangers of climate change, resource depletion, and petro-war. He also presumes that driving, not cars-first transportation, is the problem to be addressed.
Nevertheless, the point stands: People may outlaw driving cars because its too dangerous.
TCT hereby goes on record to say the sooner, the better.