Q: When does the entire political establishment — both wings of the Business Party — ever achieve Congressional unanimity?
[Hint: Despite the disgusting near-misses on imperialism and illegal wars, it only happens on one topic.]
A: When public subsidies to cars-first transportation arise.
Consider the interesting exception represented by the 2005 passage, amid oil war and the onset of global warming, of SAFETEA-LU. The final Congressional vote there was 502 yea to 13 nay. The 13 nays were Republicans grandstanding their supposed opposition to public spending.
The point? There is zero coherent opposition to cars-first transportation in the United States, even at this extremely late date.
It has long been asserted, across the political spectrum, that the great American majority want cars, cars, and nothing but cars.
Among our social classes, that inflexible attitude is, in actuality, held only by the overclass, those “primary beneficiaries” (quoting business historian Alfred D. Chandler) of corporate capitalism, who are certainly very far from a majority of the U.S. population.
Despite a century of indoctrination by these vested interests, and notwithstanding the near total neglect of proper analysis and leadership from the would-be left, and notwithstanding the big swath of automotive insanity that admittedly exists within it, benighted car-lust is not held by the actual majority, meanwhile.
Evidence of this lack of ascribed unconcern abounds, if ones bothers to look for it. Here is one recent and imortant piece of actual thoughtfulness among the masses:
He sees production of “millions and millions of electric cars and buses” as the road to a sustainable future. That this outrageous claim does not instantly disqualify him from his perch atop what passes for a green movement speaks volumes about the weakness and subjection of that tendency, as well as about the depth and power of automotive delusions in this most propagandized of nation-states.
Tellingly, Señor McKibben chose The New Republic magazine as the venue for announcing his proposed plan for perpetuating cars-first transportation. Yes, let us rally the Blue Dog Coalition in support of one of history’s three worst inventions!
The political left has been really terrible, even by its own low standards, on issues of “consumption,” and the point goes double for the sub-topic of cars-first transportation.
Need evidence? Consider the fact that this book contains no chapter on transportation:
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.”
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.
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?
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.
DbC recently saw a sign that it endorses, in Berkeley’s People’s Park. Click for larger version. Copyleft restrictions only:
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.