Still At It

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In 1953, at a closed-door Congressional confirmation hearing, GM President Charles Wilson acknowledged his habitual equation of his employer’s profit-making endeavors with the overall welfare of the society in which it was based. Asked if he could even imagine a conflict between these two phenomena, Wilson, via a leaked transcript, infamously admitted he did not and could not:

I cannot conceive of one because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa. The difference did not exist. Our company is too big. It goes with the welfare of the country. Our contribution to the Nation is quite considerable.

Wilson’s shift of tenses reveals that, even among cronies, he knew there was something troubling in the equation. Yet he did shift squarely back to the present tense in his final sentence: We are big, so you will take what you get.

Despite the smoldering times, this elite equation of car corporations with the national interest has not altered one iota since 1953.

Here, indeed, is what new Ford CEO Jim Farley unashamedly told Automotive News today:

We have an important job to do not only for Ford but for our country and for the Ford family.

You see? Ford = Ford family (major stockholders) = United States.

So, as always, run that up your flagpole, folks.

“That Doesn’t Just Happen”

The quasi-official explanation for the existence of cars-first transportation in the United States is an extension of American Exceptionalism: “Americans are having a love affair with the automobile,” it is said, is all there is to know about the making and meaning of mobility in this, the best of all possible societies.

Now, one important sub-axiom of love affair doctrine is the presumption that capitalists, being mere order-takers, have played no independent part in the extraordinary, continuing paving of the continent. “What would you folks like,” our heroic Henry Fords are said to always ask. “Oh, cars…hmm. Cars, you say? Oh, yes,…cars, cars, of course! — excuse us, we hadn’t thought of that. Tell us more, so we can give you what you desire!”

This would surely still be the main explanation an organization such as the Ford Motor Company would give, if any public servant were ever so brazen as to inquire into the insane trend toward escalating manufacture and sale of pickup trucks.

Why is this suicidal thing happening, oh dearest Ford? “Well, it’s what the people demand!,” you can hear them say.

Consider, then, this image, which shows an advertisement Ford Motor is now running in the trade magazine Automotive Age:

Ford ad

You could spend hours decoding the few dozen words in this one. But, still, consider the plain meaning of the first two sentences:

F-Series trucks have been America’s best-selling truck for 43 years running. That doesn’t just happen.

No, indeed. It does not.

McKibben Gets Exposed

DbC has always held that Bill McKibben is a mis-leader. The new Planet of the Humans movie, which is provoking a veritable firestorm of hate from green photo-op “movement” types, includes a scene that raises the addictional question of whether McKibben is conscious of his own awfulness.

The scene, which shows the would-be saint being asked the most basic question in the world, runs from 1:24:32 through 1:25:45 of the film:

Draw your own conclusions, as Preacher Danny Radnor once said…

Chutzpah, Unchallenged

Prideful delusion is an interesting and important human phenomenon, with obvious Freudian origins and still-huge ability to pass without serious criticism in a supposedly ultra-informed, seriously democratic society. Foaming, torch-carrying neo-confederates say they aren’t racist. The Ford Motor Company, one the major purveyors of the machine that obviously and aggressively undermines its own feigned concerns (cities and the human future) dares to pontificate (and fudge) about “The City of Tomorrow.” Witness:

Notice the tagline there on the Youtube page: “For the first time in our planet’s history, half of the world’s population lives in cities.” Are suburbs cities? Yes, according to Ford, but no according to actual logic. Yet those are the massively unsustainable, fastest-growing places in which the majority of the U.S. population now lives, thanks to Ford and the rest of our car-addicted corporate overclass.

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.

Death Machines

elon-musk Touting the overclass fantasy that computer navigation will someday somehow rescue cars-first transportation from its own fatal flaws, that king of hype, Elon Musk, let loose this Freudian slip:

“You can’t have a person driving a 2-ton death machine.”

Quite right, yet how is it that we not only have that, but refuse to talk seriously about fixing the problem?

The answer lies in the political economy of what is and what is not discussable. Cars are as profitable and pro-capitalist as they are wasteful and dangerous. Hence, directly discussing and combating their wastefulness and danger is forbidden within the great marketing campaigns we know as mainstream media and mainstream politics.

Fortunately, Mr. Musk also has something to say about what would happen if that taboo were ever shattered:

“People may outlaw driving cars because it’s too dangerous.”

Musk, of course, is thinking only of the immediate dangers to individuals in and around in-service automobiles, not the larger dangers of climate change, resource depletion, and petro-war. He also presumes that driving, not cars-first transportation, is the problem to be addressed.

Nevertheless, the point stands: People may outlaw driving cars because its too dangerous.

TCT hereby goes on record to say the sooner, the better.