How We Kill Our Children

skull After yet another school slaughter, the silenced majority of Americans may — in our market-totalitarian cultural and media ecology, it is no easy thing, so don’t bet on it — finally be getting outraged enough to deal some defeats to our gun-nut Know Nothing faction, which has, through the shamelessly pandering of the Republican Party, been running murderously amok for a couple of decades now.

Having said that, let us ponder a related fact that remains unmentioned and unmentionable in our society, yet might be of some interest to the actually sane and ethical: In the United States, the leading killer of young people is — by far — the supposed “freedom machine” known as the automobile.

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, in 2016, a total of 3,969 high-school-aged children — kids aged 14-17, that is — died in U.S. car crashes.

For U.S. children aged 0-17, the 2016 car crash death toll was 9,787.

Adopting the biologically modern definition of childhood, which recognizes that the human brain actually reaches full maturity only at about age 25, we might also ask how many individuals aged 0-24 died on U.S. car crashes in 2016. The answer to that question is 24,005. That works out to 66 such deaths per day.

So, 3,969; 9.787; 24,005…and, although such numbers are utterly predictable and built into the very infrastructure of our famous way of life, despite our self-flattering talk about no child being left behind, only the crickets chirp about such satanic digits.

There’s a story to that, of course. Coherent reporting and analysis of the true costs and benefits our cars-first transportation order is, for pretty obvious reasons, anathema in mainstream politics and media. Unfortunately, due to its own fearfulness and vulnerability to long-running propanganda about the masses’ supposed “love affair with the automobile,” what passes for the political left has never yet dared to explain how directly and deeply the reign of the car in America expresses the preferences of our corporate capitalist overclass, not Joe and Jane Nascar.

As a result, the society, whole planet in tow, keeps speeding toward Carmageddon and our children keep paying the ultimate price. Without so much a word, and to almost nobody’s outrage.

Proof of Delusion

Buffett Warren Buffett is probably the U.S. overclass’s last and best claim to still possessing some measure of sanity and, therefore, legitimacy. Buffett, after all, is observant and honest enough not only to admit that his class conducts war on it subordinates, but that it tends to win that war.

Ah, but this is corporate capitalism, and, as such, only certain things are thinkable and doable. Building a genuinely sustainable transportation system, as DbC readers know, is not among such things — meaning the system is doomed, not too far hence, to crash on its own contradictions.

Can the great and powerful Wizard of Omaha see and plan for such a fact?

Apparently not. Not only has his Berkshire Hathaway investment empire just completed the biggest take-over of a car dealership conglomerate in American history, but here is how Buffett gushes about this transaction:

Cecil and Larry [Van Tuyl, the now-former owners of the selling enterprise] have given us the ideal platform with which to build an auto dealership business that will be thriving and growing 50 and 100 years from now. The fun has just started. [Source: Automotive News, March 10, 2015]

There is very close to a zero percent chance that anybody will be selling automobiles to ordinary households 100 years from now. The reasons for this inhere in the extreme mismatch between the automobile as a devourer of resources and planet Earth’s limited supply of resources. Obviously, this mismatch does not register on even the sharpest of corporate capitalist minds.

To amplify Upton Sinclair, it is impossible to persuade somebody to understand something, when that somebody’s fortune depends upon not understanding it.

Edsel Award

edsel At the upcoming Washington Auto Show, Automotive News will be presenting its Lifetime Achievement Award to none other than Edsel B. Ford II, great-grandson of the spectacularly over-estimated Henry Ford, who, contrary to ruling mythology, invented neither the automobile nor the assembly line and who did not want to make sure workers’ incomes kept up with capitalists’.

At a time when the car corporations are hyping their alleged “innovation” harder than ever, this award provides yet another angle from which to comprehend the profound decrepitude of this, corporate capitalism’s beating heart.

What has Edsel B. Ford II done to merit anybody’s lifetime achievement award, other than squarely occupy his inherited overclass perquisites? Nothing whatsoever, rather obviously.

Interestingly, it seems that our friend Ralph Nader accepted the 2010 version of this award. Would any hen accept a Henhouse Management Award from the fox journalists cheering vulpine henhouse raids?

In any event, Ralph apparently showed up and repeated his fealty to the misleading (and apparently Nader-ego-boosting) deaths-per-mile statistic.