Are They Stupid or Evil?

cliff-drive They know what’s happening, even as they insist we keep speeding for the cliff:

“Electric motors are good for acceleration and for the stop-and-go of urban duty cycles. Internal combustion engines are great for highway driving because gasoline is an incredibly dense power source,” he said. “What you’re seeing at this show is that automakers are combining the two, in a wide variety of ways, for the benefit of consumers.”

“The EV strategy is still alive and well,” he said. ”Fuel is a finite commodity” and prices “will go up again.”

Source

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The Limits of Debate

nero-fiddling As it kills the planet and renders American society ever more unprepared for the increasingly inhospitable future it is doing so much to worsen, that epic, world-historic boondoggle, cars-first transportation, remains utterly undiscussed and undebatable in our mainstream institutions. Witness the recent spat between Killary Klinton and Bernie Sanders:

“He voted against the money that ended up saving the auto industry,” Clinton said.

No, I didn’t he insists, saying “In terms of the auto bailout, of course, that made sense.”

Nero had nothing on our leaders. Nothing whatsoever.

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Blue Dog Coalition’s Transportation Nonsense

puppy-logic DbC‘s editor lives in the Congressional district of one Rep. Kurt Schrader, the estimable co-chair of the Blue-Dog Coalition, a group who claim to believe that (wait for it…) the Democratic Party is too far to the left.

Within the Blue Dogs’ pathetic attempt to ensure themselves lifetime tenure as well-paid D.C. placeholders, here is what such types have to say about transportation policy in the USA:

“It is the position of the Blue Dogs that any comprehensive infrastructure package should be fully paid for in a fiscally responsible manner and a hearing would allow Ways and Means Committee members the opportunity to explore avenues for providing sustainable, reliable, and responsible transportation funding and planning well into the future.”

This is Congro-Speak for continuing the long-running practice of unanimously shoveling more cash into cars-first transportation “into the future.”

On behalf of our grandchildren, one has to ask: This is what passes for “sustainable” and “responsible” politics in 2015?

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More Deaths by Car

train-derailment You know that recent train derailment in Philadelphia, the one that, while killing one-eleventh of the average daily number dying in U.S. car crashes (32,719/365 = 89.6), made the top story in all the major MSM outlets? While the standard spin in the MSM was (and of course had to be) the special terrors (and thus foolhardiness) of rail travel, the reality is that these deaths were due to the worse-than-pathetic treatment of passenger rail in this, the home base and proving ground of corporate capitalist dictatorship.

Per today’s edition of The New York Times:

[D]espite having some of the least-extensive passenger rail networks in the developed world, the United States today has among the worst safety records. Fatality rates are almost twice as high as in the European Union and countries like South Korea, and roughly triple the rate in Australia.

The cause? Hardly a mystery:

According to the International Transport Forum of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States invested less than 0.1 percent of its gross domestic product on rail systems in 2013, a quarter of what was spent by Britain and one-sixth of the investments by France and Australia.

Over the past decade, even developing countries including India, Russia and Turkey have consistently invested far greater shares of their G.D.P. on rail.

Per capita, the United States also comes up short. In 2011, the most recent year for which comparative statistics are available, it spent roughly $35 per person on all rail infrastructure.

By comparison, Japan spent nearly three times as much — more than $100 per person — with the 28 member countries of the European Union investing similar sums.

In terms of safety, the return on that investment has been clear. Japan’s famous Shinkansen “bullet train” network has never experienced a fatal crash or derailment in 51 years of operation, while in France the same can be said of its gleaming fleet of high-speed TGVs, which have zipped across the French countryside for close to three decades.

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Death by Car at People’s Park

DbC recently saw a sign that it endorses, in Berkeley’s People’s Park. Click for larger version. Copyleft restrictions only:

peoples-park-image

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Secretary of Waste

warpeace “The mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”

Of course, in market-totalitarian America, “America” means corporate capitalists. Hence, we find the U.S. Energy Secretary out pimping for extension of the reign of human history’s most wasteful lifeblood-to-a–ruling-system product. As reported by Automotive News:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy wants auto suppliers to know that it still has $16 billion in low-interest financing available to support efficient-vehicle programs, and it wants them to step forward for a share of those funds. The department’s lending authority comes under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program, which Congress created in 2007. Early in the Obama administration, the Department of Energy used the program to lend about $8.4 billion to Ford, Nissan, Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive. Suppliers were always eligible, but none secured funding. Now, under Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the program is being overhauled to make it easier to fund production of technologies such as lightweight materials, efficient engines and low-friction tires.

The changes that Moniz announced today include legal clarifications to show that suppliers are eligible for the program, a promise to respond more quickly to applicants and the creation of a new online application portal.

Moniz announced the program changes on Wednesday during a speech to the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association, or MEMA, a trade group representing auto suppliers.

Today we are presented with an opportunity to hit the accelerator on U.S. auto manufacturing growth,” Moniz said.

To restate: In the year 2014, the person in charge of solving the nation’s energy challenges is bragging about “hitting the accelerator” on making automobiles.

Orwell was an amateur.

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Telling Equation

The least surprising possible news from today’s New York Timess:

New legislation to pay for transportation is a priority for both parties because the nation’s Highway Trust Fund is nearing insolvency. Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, has said the trust fund could begin “bouncing checks” by this summer. That would force a halt to construction projects around the country, officials have said.

Note the equivalence between “transportation” and “the nation’s Highway Trust Fund.”

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The Wages of Opportunism

C. Wright Mills complained of the U.S. left’s “liberal practicality,” by which he meant a tendency to sell out at the first chance, a “kind of democratic opportunism.”

quixote Ralph Nader, for all his upsides, is a major case-in-point, and precisely in the area that delivered him his fame — cars.

Consider the pathetic lawsuit just filed by Public Citizen and allies. The goal? To force car capitalists to make back-up cameras standard on all car models sold in the United States. The alleged reason? Such cameras “would prevent 95 to 112 deaths and 7,072 to 8,374 injuries each year.”

Now, let’s take 112 deaths as a real number. In 2012, a total of 34,080 people were killed in U.S. automotive collisions. 112 divided by 34,080 equals 0.003. That’s three-tenths of one percent.

And, of course, one major question is how much good a back-up camera actually does. If a child darts in front or back of a moving car, how much does the camera speed driver reaction time? It certain can’t be 100%, and might well be close to zero. Meanwhile, according to the Naderian logic of lawsuit, once the cameras are mandatory, the inherent dangers of automobiles to darting children are just fine and dandy.

Such tragi-comic flea-fucking, is, alas, the beginning, middle, and end of what passes for transportation militancy in this market totalitarian society, despite the times.

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Electric Vehicle Demagoguery

ev-lemon As he labors to further reduce corporate taxes, Zerobama is asking his own marketing targets fans to petition him!

We petition the Obama administration to:

Create Fast Charging Network for Wide Scale Adoption of Electric Vehicles

Fast charging stations should be installed every 50 miles across the United States Interstate Highway System. These chargers will allow electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Spark, Nissan Leaf and other vehicles to be recharged to 80% capacity in 20 to 30 minutes. This will allow drivers of electric vehicles the freedom to travel throughout the entire US without fear that they may run out of power.

There are huge societal benefits from switching to electric vehicles including reduced pollution, noise and dependence on foreign oil.

Created: Jul 23, 2013

Love the mention of specific corporate products right there in this oh-so-authentic expression of spontaneous popular democracy! And those “huge” benefits? You mean like a forest of new coal-burning plants to make the electricity for this suicidal (and probably physically impossible) proposed network of “fast” — attention plebeians: “20 to 30 minutes” to partially refuel a car is now fast! — chargers?

Orwell couldn’t make this stuff up. Super-boondoggles as “solutions.”

Luckily, this “petition” seems to be harvesting only about 10 signatures a day. People aren’t as stupid as the overclass (and a great many would-be greens) presume.

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Fool’s Errand

quixote I want to like Bill McKibben. I really do. But the man is a stone cold idiot.

His latest gesture is even nuttier than the windmill tilt against the Keystone XL pipeline. Now, the proposition is to get universities to “divest” from “fossil fuel” corporations.

ROFLMFAO, Bill. Divesting from things that depend on subsidies and special treatment — things like the not-so-great state of Israel — makes powerful sense. Divesting from the world’s most internally profitable organizations is, well, a pointless gesture.

It’s also, of course, a misdiagnosis. Fossil fuel corporations are where they are today not because of simple corruption, but because of the reign of cars-first transportation policy. To peddle the notion that you can somehow do something about the former without fighting the latter is just plain stupid. It is also, alas, the hallmark of McKibbenism.

“Do the math” indeed.  This kind of shallowness and misdirection — C. Wright Mills called it, aptly, “liberal practicality” —  is worse than good old inaction.  There is only so much time and energy available for organizing and political action.  To spend that time and energy in ways that are patently hopeless and silly is a major sin against the future.

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