Flexing, Indeed

Automobiles have always been overkill, a means of promoting salable waste.

The phenomenon, like the political-economic order it expresses, cannot slow down: It is a systemic imperative.

Given its advanced age, the overkill is now openly farcical.

Consider this current television ad, tellingly titled “Flex,” for tailgates on 2021 Chevrolet pick-up trucks:

Here, the farce is so extreme, GM’s massive marketing team couldn’t think of any way — and they undoubtedly tried — to show the suggested use-value actually being used in a non-hilarious manner.

White men continue to pay good money to become victims of such shameless, sociopathic gimmicks.

Vision Zero = Stockholm Syndrome

According to Wikipedia,

Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997.

This aim, if one takes it seriously, is, of course, an effort to deny and defy the laws of physics, which dictate that massive, independently steered boxes careening past one another on open pathways must always pose severe collisional dangers to both their occupants and other human beings.

One might also note the effort in this stuff to reduce the topic of harm to collisions, which thus become a macabre distraction from the issue of automobiles’ huge and inherent problems of pollution, energy waste, and distributional elitism.

In any event, Vision Zero was and is an effort by Sweden to perpetuate the Volvo Group‘s car business. The fact that it was passed by the Swedish parliament is merely a sad statement about the weakness of social democracy (aka socialism) in that nation-state.

Vision Zero is a cynical “social marketing” ploy by corporate capital.

If you doubt this, consider the main corporate sponsor of the especially laughable American version of this Orwellian gesture:

gm sponsor logo

Meanwhile, here is the current spiel on the Volvo website:

volvo web image

Notice the word “in” there in the penultimate sentence. Notwithstanding the question of how Volvo proposes it could ever be satisfied in its phony goal, the question remains: What about people killed or seriously injured BY your products?

Crickets, of course, on that one…

Shove Affair: More Data

Since at least the early 1960s, quasi-official doctrine has insisted that “Americans are having a love affair with the automobile” is all anybody needs to know about the making and meaning of transportation in the United States.

The barely disguised purpose of this longstanding hypothesis is to squelch consideration of how and why it is actually our business class, not our great masses, that has the intractable romance with cars and trucks.

DbC mentions this because, if you bother to look into the facts, the evidence is quite overwhelming: Democractic preference has a rather different relationship to U.S. transportation outcomes than love affair dogma would have you presume.

Consider this graphic showing results obtained by Transportation for America and other groups in a November 2019 survey of 1,029 U.S. voters:

Let’s spell out what this shows about the actual transportation preferences of ordinary Americans, shall we?

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Americans want policy to focus on fixing existing roads and adding capacity to public transit.

Seventy-two percent (72%) of Americans want to fix existing roads before building new ones.

Seventy-three percent (73%) of Americans want to require states to ecologically justify any new roads.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of Americans want there to be a ten-year moratorium on the construction of new automotive roads.

Two points:

  1. This is all without any sort of political leadership, so is pretty close to actual spontaneous public preference.
  2. This is mighty peculiar stuff, if you think there’s a popular love affair with automobiles…seems like somebody might want a divorce?

McKibbenism 2021

Bill McKibben, in today’s New York Times, says the suspension of the Keystone XL Pipeline project is a victory.

One might ask how so and why.

Take heart! McKibben explains:

The apparent cancellation was, he says, a harbinger suggesting that “much of the rest of the elaborate architecture of fossil fuel expansion begins to topple.”

That, friends, is quite a string of weasel-words. “Much of.” “Architecture of.” “Expansion.” “Begins.”

Meanwhile, here are the actual tar sands production data through 2019:

Despite Covid, 2020 production set yet another record, by the way.

So, the straight dope is that the whole Keystone XL protest gesture did not keep a tablespoon of tar sands in the ground. And the expansion of fossil fuel use continues very much apace.

[By the way, a point-of-information for the kiddies: This fuel gets put onto railroad cars when gesturers block pipelines.]

The only two ways to change fossil fuel use are 1) business-as-usual/eco-social collapse or 2) radical alteration of the structure of everyday life — not just the mode of fuel deliveries — in our modern, corporate capitalist order.

The hour for McKibbenite posing is getting very, very late.

Electric Dinosaur

6,500.

That is the curb weight, in pounds, of the standard (not upgraded) forthcoming “electric” version of the Ford F150 pickup truck.

If you remember your Physics 101, you know that F = m*a. Force-of-impact equals mass times acceleration, that is.

Mass being what we non-physicists call “weight,” what this means is that this supposedly wondrous new vehicle — the “electric” version of what has long been the best-selling automobile model in the United States — will now be roughly 2,000 pounds heavier than the current gasoline-based F150.

In other words, when this thing crashes into an old-school (pre-SUV-diktat) “car,” it will be carrying an additional 2/3 of such a “car” into the collision. When it hits a pedestrian or bicyclist, well…