Speaking of Fraud…

clunkers

I recently mentioned how the nation’s car dealers are using the federal government’s new Car Allowance Rebate System, a.k.a. “C.A.R.S.,” a.k.a. “cash-for-guzzlers,” as the basis for bait-and-switch selling.

There could be no clearer proof of this flagrant criminality than the above photograph, which today’s online edition of The New York Times is running above a caption reading:

A car was displayed in a dumpster at a dealer in Springfield, Vt., as a promotion for the rebate program, which was said to have exhausted its funds within a week.

Now, that car in the dumpster is a 1990s Toyota Corolla. I can swear from long personal experience that a 1990s Toyota Corolla would take you around town at more than 30 MPG, and approach or exceed 40 MPG on the highway.

That means the car in the dumpster here is massively ineligible as a subsidized trade-in under C.A.R.S., which pays cash only to those trading in old cars getting lower than 18 combined MPG — or roughly 1/2 what that dumpstered Corolla gets. If you bring in a 1991 Corolla thinking you will be eligible for a $3,500 or $4,500 credit toward a new car, you are massively mis-informed.

Nonetheless, there it is, bigger than life, on that car lot, and probably also in its saturation advertising on local TV.

This shameless disinformation speaks triply to the runaway insanity of this market-totalitarian society. At this very late date, our system is:

1) Giving away free money for the purchase of still more iterations of the very commodity that is arguably the greatest single threat to continued human civilization.

2) Junking, not fixing and re-distributing, 1990s Toyota Corollas.

3) Doing less than zero to police the humongous, especially blatant marketing fraud being perpetrated by the nation’s car dealers vis-a-vis “cash-for-clunkers.” How many downward MPG car-swaps will be achieved, as the dealers lure and switch-sell owners of 1990s Corollas? That number, certainly, will not be zero…

What’s New, Waste-o-crat?

Insanity, they say, is redoubling the same old efforts while expecting different results.

Have you ever stopped to wonder what’s going to be “new” about the post-bankruptcy auto industry?

I always say that it would take a committee of experts to conceive of a more wasteful arrangement than our autos-über-alles transportation system here in the USA.  Indeed, profitable economic waste — maximum foisting of salable parts and services — is the whole point of the thing.

Over at the “new” Ford, they are getting more blatant than ever about this.

maxheadroom460In a report on how Ford designers are using virtual characters and “mindset segmentation” to focus their manipulative efforts, The New York Times for July 16 conveyed this quote from “Murat Yalman, Ford’s director of global advanced product strategy, a strong supporter of an approach that personalizes the ideal buyer for everyone involved in a vehicle’s development”:

“We had done lots of models based on rationality, but now we are recognizing that emotions play a much more dominant role than we ever admitted,” Mr. Yalman said. “In buying a car, you have to fall in love.”

He added: “We now focus quite a bit on aspirations and dreams.”

These can be embodied in products. “Think of someone who has a really high-end parka in which you could climb Mount Everest. But the person only wears it on the train to work.”

Straight from the horse’s _____.

The Violence Inherent in the System

mva

In corporate capitalist America, cars-first transportation has always been unquestioned.  As a result, we have spent the largest part of the immense wealth that has flowed through our polarized, brutalized society in the last century building the vast automobile system with which we remain stuck.  It is by far the biggest, costliest public works project in human history — not even close.  It has always been devoted to serving its central purpose, too, which, contrary to long-running propaganda claims, has NOT been transportation, but rather maximum profit for business owners.

Yesterday, The New York Times published a story about new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  Take a look at the video embedded in this story.  It is heart-stopping, at several levels.

This extreme violence is what we have been trained to accept as not just normal, but “an emblem of the American spirit” and a confirmation that capitalism is the best of all possible social systems.

It won’t be long before we recognize, one way or another, how very insane we’ve been, ecological, socially, and, yes, economically…

The main IIHS finding, by the way, goes unreported by the NYT:

The death rate in 1-3-year-old minicars in multiple-vehicle crashes during 2007 was almost twice as high as the rate in very large cars.  The death rate per million 1-3-year-old minis in single-vehicle crashes during 2007 was 35 compared with 11 per million for very large cars. Even in midsize cars, the death rate in single-vehicle crashes was 17 percent lower than in minicars.

Barack O-Boondoggle

He’s technically smart, especially compared to the Texas Vegetable now in office, but he does NOT get it.  He talks of the historic nature of our present socio-economic crisis, but has zero understanding of where we stand in history.  Parroting the usual one-sided self-flatteries about American hard work, optimism, and creativity that pass for mainstream history, he can only imagine finding new ways of doing more of the same.

The core goal and promise is also the core impossibility: “fuel[ing] long-term economic growth.”

That simply ain’t gonna happen, and would be a complete disaster if it did.  The planet is past Peak Oil, Peak Water, and Peak Farmland.  It is also past the point where slight changes can make a difference in climate change, species loss, pollution, etc.

The only way forward, the only way to preserve political progress and modern society’s primary benefits is to create an economy capable of not just tolerating but leading toward economic contraction.  And that ain’t capitalism, which must always grow, without end.

Instead of acknowledging the dire need for public industry, Obama is going to do what Dmitry Orlov observes all leaders sponsored by decrepit and outdated overclasses do: promulgate new and expanded elite boondoggles.

This, of course, is insanity writ large:  Using the most powerful office in the world to do the same old things, while expecting different results.

A great many Obamaniacs are going to be massively disappointed…