Mickey Mousing the GND

mickey in car cartoon

Most likely, the Democratic Party’s ruling elite (meaning its big donors, office holders, and back-officers) will again succeed in staving off Bernie Sanders (meaning the actual preferences of the majority of its voters).

Here’s a prediction about what will take place in that process: The Green New Deal will not disappear, but merely get repackaged and used as a DP marketing tool.

It isn’t hard to see coming, if you look. Consider, for example, the contrast between these two items:

ghg in CA graphic

The Green New Deal leads with bold action to zero out Los Angeles’ main sources of harmful emissions: buildings, transportation, electricity, and trash. Our accelerated goals and new targets include:


Building a zero carbon electricity grid — reaching an accelerated goal of 80% renewable energy supply by 2036 as we lead California toward 100% renewables by 2045.

Creating a Jobs Cabinet to bring city, labor, educational, and business leaders together to support our effort to create 300,000 green jobs by 2035 and 400,000 by 2050.

Mandating that all new municipally owned buildings and major renovations be all-electric, effective immediately, and that every building in Los Angeles — from skyscrapers to single family homes — become emissions free by 2050.

Achieving a zero waste future by phasing out styrofoam by 2021, ending the use of plastic straws and single-use takeout containers by 2028, and no longer sending any trash to landfills by 2050.

Recycling 100% of our wastewater by 2035; sourcing 70% of our water locally — a significant increase from our existing pathway; and nearly tripling the maximum amount of stormwater captured.

Planting and maintaining at least 90,000 trees — which will provide 61 million square feet of shade — citywide by 2021 and increasing tree canopy in low-income, severely heat impacted areas by at least 50% by 2028.

That second item is a synopsis of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s recently unveiled “LA’s Green New Deal” policy.

Garcetti, whose pappy’s O.J Trial fame allowed him to grow his very own big wig, is clearly positioning himself for a future run at being Babysitter-in-Chief in the Clintonian, big money, BAU D-brand manner.

So, let’s ask: Can you spot the rather obvious omission in The Mayor’s “bold” new policy?

The intro does mention “transportation” — in second, not first, place, of course — but then…crickets.

Meanwhile, it’s really quite clever for history’s single greatest municipal emitter of automotive pollution to select now and 50 percent as its baselines, isn’t it?

Tilting at Fossil Fuels

quixote and sancho panza

Saint McKibben continues with his efforts to portray “the fossil-fuel industry” as a mere bad apple that could somehow be killed off through divestment.

In truth, fossil fuels are far more integral to corporate capitalism than McKibben acknowledges, not least because corporate capitalism is utterly dependent not on fossil fuels, but on automobiles and economic waste. If we don’t move to minimize automobile use, oil (and other fossil fuels) will continue to get produced and burnt.

McKibben wants to have his cake and eat it, too, on this topic. In his latest self-explanation, he says that “fossil-fuel financing accounts for only about seven per cent of Chase’s lending and underwriting.” This not only begs the question of the internal profitability of fossil fuel businesses, but also implies that fossil fuels are really only 7 percent of the overall corporate capitalist economy.

The elementary facts, meanwhile, are these:

ExxonMobil reported a net income of $20 billion dollars in 2018.

Meanwhile, just the U.S. automobile sector alone is several times larger in its overall economic impact than McKibben’s silly 7 percent number.

It also happens to now be our #1 source of GHG emissions in the good ol’ US of A.

Somehow, though, cars never make it into McKibben’s diagnosis:

It’s all but impossible for most of us to stop using fossil fuels immediately, especially since, in many places, the fossil-fuel and utility industries have made it difficult and expensive to install solar panels on your roof. But it’s both simple and powerful to switch your bank account.

Solar panels and credit unions? Seriously? This movement is in deep trouble, folks. We aren’t going to sweet-talk our way around the huge problems we’re facing in this make-or-break century. We must speak the truth about power, and Bill McKibben doesn’t do that.

Pushing the Message

Here is a hallway snapshot I took on my visit to the local car dealership this morning. Fascinating that car dealerships still get away with such shameless things. Also amusing to see that, in the “high tech”status-monitoring graphic here, there are no automobiles parked in the dealership’s lot! Paging Dr. Freud…

greenwashing at car dealership

More on Killing for Money

Cigarette filters were invented in the 1920s. When the public began to contemplate the true nature of cigarettes, filters went, in corporate endeavors, from experimental oddity to mandatory product part.

Wikipedia explains:

[Filters were] considered a specialty item until 1954, when manufacturers introduced the machine more broadly, following a spate of speculative announcements from doctors and researchers concerning a possible link between lung diseases and smoking. Since filtered cigarettes were considered “safer”, by the 1960s, they dominated the market. Production of filter cigarettes rose from 0.5 percent in 1950 to 87.7 percent by 1975

The purpose of the cigarette filter was never, of course, to make cigarettes safe, since such a thing is an oxymoron — as every corporate seller of the things surely knew by 1954. The real purpose was to extend the salability of cigarettes in spite of the undeniable fact that they are deeply defective and dangerous things.

I mention all this because, despite Bill McKibben’s continuing insistence that they are part of the solution to looming ecological disasters, electric automobiles are cigarette filters writ large. They are a technology that our mass murdering corporate overlords are foisting upon us in order to keep selling automobiles, which, like cigarettes, are an inherently defective way of accomplishing everyday intra-urban locomotion.

If you want evidence of this, consider what Automotive Age reports about EVs:

[A]utomakers…invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new technologies that don’t yet pay for themselves — “profit deserts” is what Mark Wakefield, co-leader of the global automotive and industrial practice at AlixPartners, called them.

Electrification isn’t the only major r&d initiative. Investments in automated-driving technology are on pace to reach $85 billion through 2025. Combined, those investments won’t do anything to boost bottom lines in the near term, Wakefield said.

Electric vehicle sales volume, Wakefield says, will remain low, averaging just 14,000 units sold per EV model through 2022. That’s a far cry from what automakers expect from traditional vehicles.

Automotive Age, July 1, 2019

The only logical explanation for this “profit desert” phenomenon is the same one that explained the corporate move to filter cigarettes back in the 1950s.

The Mary Barras of the world certainly know they are selling a product that is ruining the planet’s living conditions. But these executives need a way to make their efforts look innocent, so they can keep doing what they do for the big money. Inside the industry, EVs are made and sold at a loss so that cars in general can continue to be sold.

Meanwhile, as Mary Barra also certainly knows, in the United States, automobiles are now the nation’s single largest source of GHG emissions — bigger now even than electricity generation.

Should we say it? Death by Car…

The Chutzpah of the Age

At Nuremberg, they at least set out the standards for deciding who was a public-sector mass murderer.

No such standards, of course, exist for our glorious entrepreneurial killers. Because, you know, “free market.”

Consider the breathtaking temerity of this recent statement from Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors:

We’re very much looking forward to rolling out this technology because we do believe it will save lives.

quoted in Automotive News, June 30, 2019

The technology in question is the haloware/vaporware known as robotic (“self-driving”) cars, a product which — lo and behold — “everybody in the industry underestimated how hard a problem this was going to be.” [industry observer quoted in same source as Barra quote above]

But the deeper story here is Barra’s shamelessness about the actual relationship between her organization/product and public health.

death rate chart

In the United States, you see, automobile collisions alone (cars-first transportation also kills in quantity in less immediate ways) have, since their epochal triumph over sane transportation technologies, killed almost four million people.

Despite sponsored and faux-critical hoopla about safety improvements that have reduced the physical danger of individual automobile collisions, the present rate of annual car crash deaths remains about 40,000, which just happens to be exactly the average for the years since 1945.

Oh, and, by the way, more than 8,000 of our current annual dose of 40,000 car-cullings befall individuals aged 0 to 24, a.k.a. children. Children. 8,000. Killed. Every year. By automobile collisions.

Meanwhile, over the top of it all, Ms. Barra speaks of “saving lives.”

Orwell couldn’t have dreamt up this true, and continuing, story.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Two questions about automated automobiles. Look at the “self-driving” van below, then think about these issues:

  1. How many ways are there for external physical events to interfere with the operation of the various doohickeys on this thing?
  2. How expensive will the operations performed by these doohickeys be, if and when they ever get miniaturized and sufficiently shielded from external shocks to be truly salable on an industrial scale?

It’s not very mysterious why these massively hyped things aren’t arriving a whole lot faster than the hoary old — yet still frequently promised — flying car.

A Wager We’d Take

Kara Swisher credits herself with being “pretty good at this guessing game.” She says, in today’s New York Times, that owning a car will soon be a quaint thing of the past. DbC hereby offers to wager Ms. Swisher on that one — our entire gross monthly revenues versus one-tenth of yours. The proposed bet: Ten years hence, neo-taxi hiring will indeed be more popular among yuppies like Swisher, but — barring the arrival of the ecological catastrophe we are so obviously courting but not confronting — overall car-ownership rates will not have dropped by even 10 percent in these United States of America.

The problem for Swisher is that she does not understand corporate capitalism, which literally, institutionally requires the perpetuation of cars-first transportation in the United States, come Hell and/or high water. Unlike the transition from land phones to cell phones — the “guess” that Swisher imagines herself as having oracularly foreseen for us, selling fewer cars would constitute a reduction in net effective demand/commodification/commercialism/waste. As such, it is anathema to our socio-economic order and the elite privilege it exists to serve.

Funny how you can become a wealthy pundit in this society and be utterly oblivious to such elementary facts.

Meanwhile, the trend Swisher thinks she sees is not even happening.

How They Sell Overkill

Under the capitalist-dictated regime of cars-first transportation, the private automobile is all about selling people as much stuff as possible, never mind the consequences.

This ad from Volkswagen directly states one of the bedrock propositions of this endeavor: “More room means more fun.”

One might reflect, in reviewing this shameless, preposterous piece of mental manipulation, upon the thing that has for many decades been the leading cause of death for American children and young adults. That would be automotive collisions.