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.

Mostly to automate long- and short-distance delivery driving (i.e., to further reduce labor costs), the overclass is sponsoring a huge and massively hyped research project, in hopes of coming up with robo-trucks and robo-taxis. So, imagine a triple trailer running on “AI” as you watch this video of a Tesla driver saving at least two cars full of people from “autopilot” catastrophe:

Turns out that successfully driving automobiles — and success kills 40,000 a year in the USA and 1.25 million worldwide — is extremely complex.

Subsidized Oxymorons

ossuary Massive personal and collective harm are features, nut bugs, in cars-first transportation. Basing everyday locomotion on heavy, complex, independently-steered boxes traveling at high speeds is never going to become compatible with anything like maximum personal safety and overall ecological sustainability. The laws of physics are, as Billy Bragg once observed, very, very strict.

None of this prevents those who prosper from the sociopathic reign of the automobile from pushing, with the help (or at least the non-resistance) of those who should know better, the delusion that better roads and cars are somehow, someway going to be enough.

Witness the World Bank’s Global Road Safety Facility, which expresses legitimate alarm over the fact that 90 percent of the “1.25 million people killed on the world’s roads each year and another 20-50 million seriously injured” are residents of the Third World, but proposes to solve this problem by massively deepening the world’s reliance on automobiles.

According to the World Bank, what is needed in the Third World is more conventional development (“integration” in WB lingo), so that the Third World can become like the First World, where the level of “traffic safety” is, it says, just fine and dandy.

Should we somehow manage to transcend it and pass on the basis for further human progress, our grandchildren will want to laugh and vomit over such high-minded nonsense, which would be hugely obvious and repulsive in any age not utterly lobotomized by its own ruling ideas.

Cars Versus Kids

As current host of the nation’s biggest single advertising platform (the Super Bowl), NBC Sports Group has, according to today’s Advertising Age, done some extra research:

NBC analyzed the ads in the last four Super Bowls (2014-2017) based on 575 variables like creative messaging and structural elements. It then looked at the effectiveness of each ad based on five performance metrics: creative appeal, ad cut through, creative engagement, brand social and brand search. NBC will use these results to help guide advertisers on their Super Bowl creative.

Turns out that this research shows that:

If you want your Super Bowl ad to be a success, less is sometimes more. Don’t, for example, include both a puppy and a cute kid. For automakers, featuring children works best, while animals perform especially well for food and beverage brands.

So, let’s ompare and contrast, shall we, dear DbC reader?:

Item 1 — “For automakers, featuring children [in TV ads] works best.”


Item 2

fatality table

This ranking, which is produced and published (but never actively emphasized) only very occasionally by the (Satanically mis-named) National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, has certainly not changed since 2002. As the NHTSA explains, the long-standing fact is this:

Motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in every age from 3 through 33 for both sexes combined. [emphasis added]

So: In America, associating children with the machine that is the clear #1 death threat to children is the #1 way to sell said machines.

Kid Killer

Per The New York Times, May 29, 2017:

The most common cause of death in children under the age of 15 is unintentional injury, and the most common cause of unintentional injury is car accidents. Between 2010 and 2014, 2,885 children died in motor vehicle accidents nationwide — an average of 11 children a week. That number excludes pedestrians.

Gary Shapiro is a Mercenary Mass Murderer

Gary Shapiro 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.”

Sounds a lot like what the booze industry thinks of MADD. Mr. Shapiro gets millions a year to make sure thousands of extra people keep dying in entirely preventable carnages. All on behalf of the already fantastically wealthy corporate overclass, of course.

Traffic Fatalities

car skull The research doesn’t get any clearer. But the topic is the lifeblood product of corporate capitalism, so the research gets curtly and utterly ignored.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands die. Per today’s New York Times:

[H]ighway fatalities last year recorded the largest annual percentage increase in 50 years. And the numbers so far this year are even worse. In the first six months of 2016, highway deaths jumped 10.4 percent, to 17,775, from the comparable period of 2015.

This is America. These are our priorities, our values.

It will be somewhat interesting to see who Drumpf picks as Transportation Secretary. Evel Knievel is dead, so it’ll have to be somebody else. Not, of course, that it matters, since no topic is more thoroughly “bi-partisan,” a.k.a. shielded from any kind of democratic, humane scrutiny.

What’s In a Word

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Orwellianly-named (ponder the concept: “highway safety”) federal agency in charge of making sure the inherently dangerous, planet-killing technology known as the automobile keeps a viable public image, “car crashes are one of the leading killers of U.S. children age 1 to 13.” That’s the audio product. When it comes time to put the story in print, the NHTSA writes: “Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old.” [emphasis added in both quotes]

In reality, of course, car crashes are the clear, no-contest #1 killer of U.S. children, even for those aged 1-13, who are not yet old enough to drive.

Why does the NHTSA pull its punches in this blatant manner? Can anybody think of a reason? Could it be that perpetuating cars-first transportation is “one of” the sociopathic behaviors our corporate overclass can’t live without?

Annals of Misreporting

car skull The East Coast Blizzard of 2016 is killing people, report the corporate media. Balderdash. By keeping people from driving their cars, the snowstorm is saving lives on a big scale, as is very occasionally almost acknowledged in self-same media.

“I think in reporting any story, journalists are taught that human life is the ultimate value,” said Joe Saltzman, professor of journalism at the University of Southern California. “So the first question we ask on any story is, what’s the death toll?”

Yes, quite so, except when the story is cars. There, the ultimate value is profits for corporate capitalists, so the basic facts are not newsworthy.

Centers for Damage Control

fox guarding henhouse This week’s howler comes from Gwen Bergen, PhD, MPH, MS, behavioral scientist in the Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control [the DUIPNCIPC!] at the Centers for Disease Control:

“Motor vehicle crashes and related injuries are preventable.”

That of course, is not only official doctrine, but complete malarkey. No amount of safety technology is going to stop large subsets of 200,000,000+ independently steered (or remotely commanded) metals boxes traveling at high speeds on intersecting and undulating paths from colliding with one another and thereby injuring their occupants.

But even those whose careers stem from genuine worry over the appalling, undiscussed carnage of cars-first transportation can’t summon the chutzpah to face and state the plain truth that automotive travel is remarkably dangerous to the human person. Admitting this technological fact is simply and deeply verboten in our market-totalitarian society.

Instead, you get apparently sincere professional hopes pinned to utterly unexamined strings of reassuring presumptions:

“Although much has been done to help keep people safe on the road, no state has fully implemented all the interventions proven to increase the use of car seats, booster seats, and seat belts; reduce drinking and driving; and improve teen driver safety.”

News flash: Not only are no states going to do everything possible (which would include criminalizing cell phone use inside cars), but TCT says it again: Even if some state did everything on Dr. Bergen’s list, it would still be home to huge surpluses of preventable, inexcusable injuries and premature deaths.