More Blood for Autos?

{Source: American Physical Society*}

Click on the graphic at left.  When you do, you’ll see one of the car capitalists’ dirty little open secrets:  If and when they do finally start to sell more fuel efficient cars, the rate of death on US highways is going to rise beyond its present clip of 40,000+ annual snuff-outs.

That’s because, as the figure shows, the car-makers have been using the increasing efficiency of modern engines to make heavier cars that get about the same MPG as prior generations of lighter cars.  So, there has already been some decent progress in making more fuel-efficient gas engines.  But the increase has gone almost entirely into making heavier, safer cars, rather than lighter, better-MPG, but substantially deadlier cars.  Vehicle mass, you see, is one of the main factors in the survivability of the frequent high-force collisions that inhere in autos-über alles transportation.

In the abstract, of course, some of the heightened danger that would come from making cars lighter and more MPG-efficient could be reduced by having everybody change to smaller, lighter cars all at once.  But that isn’t going to happen, because, since it would undoubtedly require strong governmental rules and actions,  it would do the one thing the car capitalists fear the most: legitimize autos-über alles as a central topic of popular democratic politics.  And, if that ever happens, people might start to ask what alternatives exist.  For the overlords of big business, that’s the slipperiest of slopes.  Hence, it’s verboten — a topic no responsible, serious “leader” can raise.

What we’re pretty clearly going to get instead is a “bailout” that compels whatever car corporations remain to start using engine efficiency gains for higher MPG results.  That will mean a swath of much smaller, lighter vehicles will be on the road, running alongside all the SUVs and heavier current vehicles.

Here’s my prediction:  When that change comes online, in the next 5 years or so, the annual death toll on US roads will eclipse 1979’s record of 51,103 killed.

[And note the similarity there in the background circumstances:  The worst years on record were the oil crisis years of the late 1970s and early 1980s…]

Change you can die for!

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* The American Physical Society’s new energy-efficiency report is well worth studying.

First Wall Street, Now the Car Capitalists

Corporate-sponsored politicians have a way of saving their true plans and meanings until after the elections.

Lo and behold, today we found out what President Obama’s conception of “helping the middle class” really is.  (There is, of course, no such thing as a working class any more, within corporate-sponsored public affairs.)

“The auto industry is the backbone of American manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” [Obama] said. “I would like to see the Administration do everything they can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Congress has already enacted.”

“In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the auto industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient cars here in the United States.”

Kevin Phillips has it exactly right: Established, imperial ruling classes are simply incapable of doing anything but more of the same, even when the endgame is at hand.

The basic economic problem in the United States and the wider world is extreme economic maldistribution. The rich have gotten too rich for their own good. They’ve won all the poker chips.

In response, first the “conservative” bails out Wall Street, and then the “change” agent sweeps in and says his notion of appropriate and urgent new action is to give free money to…Detroit, Michigan’s own set of infamous/incompetent/overpaid capitalists. You know, the guys who once ran around saying that their firms’ interests are one and the same thing as the country’s (and, hence, the whole world’s) interests…

As Phillips says, right up to World War I, Great Britain’s overclass could never convince itself to admit that its coal-based industrial heyday was over and done.

And here we are now, a century and an empire later, and our “fresh” leadership is promising to pretend that the backbone of the past is going to continue to be able to serve as a backbone of the future.

Ah, can’t you just hear the progressive, forward-looking echoes of P.M.-elect Lloyd George:

“The steam engine is the backbone of British manufacturing and a critical part of our attempt to reduce our dependence on foreign coal,” [Lloyd George] said. “I would like to see the Administration do everything they can to accelerate the retooling assistance that Parliament has already enacted.”

“In addition, I have made it a high priority for my transition team to work on additional policy options to help the steam engine industry adjust, weather the financial crisis, and succeed in producing fuel-efficient steam engines here in the United Kingdom.”