Some Farmer Math

Harvey Mussolini certainly would have been proud of Signore Marchionne’s “God Made a Farmer” Super Bowl ad. It is a classic piece of fascist propaganda, aimed at the usual target — insecure lower-middle class white men. Nationalist, racist, profoundly irrationalist and macho-sentimental.

The core of the irrationality is the ad’s (and the underlying essay’s) intentional, reactionary obliteration of the huge institutional differences between the facts of the present and an idealized past. The ad (and essay) clearly paints today’s “farmer” as the same figure as yesterday’s — i.e., as a worker, rather than a mere business manager. That is, of course, a huge laugh. As observed by Alexis Madrigal, in an excellent story we linked yesterday:

It’s true that whites are the managers of 96 percent of the nation’s farms, according to the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture. But the agricultural workforce is overwhelmingly Mexican with some workers from Central America thrown in. The Department of Labor’s National Agriculture Worker Survey has found that over the last decade, around 70 percent of farmworkers in America were born in Mexico, most in a few states along the Pacific coast. This should not be news. Everyone knows this is how farms are run.

This, of course, is indeed well known, though apparently not strongly enough to keep Chrysler’s target audience — white, lower-middle class, urban, suburban, and exurban “country” dudes — from seeing through the ideological game being run on them.

Meanwhile, the real point here, in the TCT view, is the basic math of the thing. To wit:

According to the latest surveys:

The average individual farmworker income ranged from $12,500 to $14,999 and the average total family income ranged from $17,500 to $19,999.

Farmworkers worked an average of 42 hours per week.

Only 39 percent of farmworkers reported being covered by unemployment insurance, 54 percent said they were not and 8 percent did not know.

A mere 8 percent of farmworkers reported being covered by employer-provided health insurance, a rate that dropped to 5 percent for farmworkers who are employed seasonally and not year-round.

The asking price for the most stripped down (and best-selling) Ram pickup truck? $22,640, or more than one-and-one-half times the total annual income for the typical person who actually does the tasks described in the Chrysler ad.

To borrow a line from another fascist personality: When I hear the word “farmer,” I reach for my revolver.

And, these days, behind every non-humble farmer fantasy stands our market-totalitarian overclass and its army of commercial indoctrinators.

Speaking of Clunkers…

clunker Cash for Clunkers is a mega-clunker, as it (very unsurprisingly) turns out.

What kind of MPG leap is the free-money-for-cars gambit yielding? It must be wondrous, right?

Not so much: analysts have determined that in May and June, the average fuel efficiency of recently purchased new cars was 21.8 miles per gallon. Since the program launched, the average has jumped to 23.2 mpg, a 6.1 percent improvement.

Wow! Stunning!

And how about the widespread report that the Toyota Corolla is now the #1 seller? Turns out that’s false. The actual bestseller is the Ford Escape SUV, which comes in six sub-models, so gets counted as six different makes, rather than one, in the bogus reports you’re hearing. As Advertising Age explains:

Interestingly, the government’s list of top-10 vehicles sold showed that consumers bought mostly compact cars during the promotion, with the Toyota Corolla in the No. 1 slot. The discrepancy arises because Uncle Sam considers each of the six versions of the Escape (as well as different versions of the trucks) to be a separate model, while Edmunds tallied all Escape-model sales.

The actual top ten models people are choosing with their “Clunkers” trade-ins, according to

1. Ford Escape — an SUV

2. Ford Focus

3. Jeep Patriot — an SUV

4. Dodge Caliber — an SUV

5. Ford F-150 — a pick-up truck

6. Honda Civic

7. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — a pick-up truck

8. Chevrolet Cobalt

9. Toyota Corolla

10. Ford Fusion

So, five of the top seven are SUVs or pick-ups.

“Only in America,” as they say…

A Dodge Indeed: “Gas Prices” or Carmageddon?

“America is addicted to oil,” but only because the world’s capitalist overclass is addicted to perpetuating the automobiles-über-alles transportation order of the United States.

To any rational observer of current events, this remarkable arrangement is now massively and multiply promising to become perhaps history’s greatest teacher of the lesson “Be careful what you ask for — you might get it.”

Always a capitalist’s wet dream, the reign of the private automobile was always basically inevitable in the United States, where the flux and flow of human and national histories gave corporate shareholders their clearest path to essentially unchecked power and an ensuing paradise of industrial-scale money-making. Contrary to mainstream dogma, ordinary people would never have spontaneously used democracy to demand the wildly expensive, destructive, and dangerous cars-first American situation. Only an overclass that thrives on waste and enjoys extremely deep political dominance could have called it forth, via Promethean assumptions and methods.

So, now that the wheels are undeniably starting to fall off, is the overclass likely to break the historical rule that entrenched elites never voluntarily give up their powers and privileges? Will the powers-that-be admit they fucked up, and start allowing discussion of their fuck-up?

You can judge the odds of that happening by pondering items such as Daimler-Chrysler’s latest avoidance tactic, the “$2.99 Gas Guarantee.”

You can expect no efforts to be spared to keep the impending arrival of Carmageddon to be labeled a problem of “gas prices,” “oil addiction,” “alternative fuels,” etc. — anything and everything but what it actually is: capitalism’s self-dug grave.