The “New” GM: Now Selling a Product You Can’t Buy

230volt The level of desperation in the automobile-industrial complex is now so extreme, they are touting products that are not real. Can you buy a Chevy Volt? No. Will you ever be able to? Perhaps. Will these hype vehicles ever be affordable, reliable, and practical? Doubtful. Are they an intelligent use of the Earth’s remaining non-renewable resources? No way.

None of this will enter into public discussion, of course. This is market totalitarianism, and cars are mandatory. No questions asked or allowed.

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…

Ah, the Mighty NHTSA…

mousedish The mouse that doesn’t even squeak, the Orwellian sop to Naderian special pleading, the organization that dares put “highway traffic” and “safety” not just together, but together in its very name…

So, let’s say the Congress wanted to find a way to give away some free money to help further bail out car capitalists by encouraging commoners to step up their anemic, Great Depression III automotive purchasing rates.  Which governmental agency would one expect the money to be managed by?  The Commerce Department, perhaps?

In reality, can you guess where the conduit lies for the federal government’s new Car Allowance Rebate System, a.k.a. “C.A.R.S.”, a.k.a. “cash-for-guzzlers” program?

Yep:  In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration!

This fact speaks volumes in several directions, not least as proof that the NHTSA, both by design and established practice, does nothing serious to make personal mobility safer in this market-totalitarian society.  It is a cover, a shield, a deflector for our massively deadly, dangerous, and irrational cars-first arrangement.  Hence, in a nation where 35,000-55,000 people die in car crashes each and every year, the NHTSA in the year 2009 has the time and staff to administer a complex program for passing out free money for even more cars!

Footnote:  If you watch any TV, you’ll have already noticed that, in local auto dealers’ aggressive come-on advertising, “cash-for-guzzlers” is most certainly not being explained in any substantial degree.  Judging from these ads, which (at least in my “market” of Portland, Oregon) are blatantly mis-labeling the program “cash-for-clunkers,” any reasonable person would conclude there are no requirements for obtaining money other than owning a clunker.

In reality, there are narrow rules based on vehicle age and gas-mileage ratings.

Hence, the actual main effect of the “cash-for-guzzlers reimbursement system” is to serve as a publicly-sponsored marketing platform for a new round of bait-and-switch selling on the nation’s car lots.  “Now that you’re here…”

Flattery on Wheels: “Motorsports”

earnhardt
High-Octane Schmuck

As part of my ongoing research on automobiles-über-alles, I just watched CNBC’s documentary on the business of NASCAR.

It includes some excellent quick glimpses of the truth behind the scenes of this shameful mega-enterprise/IQ test.  Thinking they’re talking to CNBC and hence other corporate overclassers, some corporate planners briefly tip their hand about their real motives.

For instance, this admission from Tom Murphy, VP of Media and Sponsorships at the Sprint telecom corporation:

This [NASCAR] is a superior marketing asset and we judge it in the ways any marketer would, no differently than when we buy TV advertising and airtime…newspaper or magazine advertisements. This is a giant, giant ad machine.

But, while watching, I also noticed that NASCAR’s major players go out of their way to call car racing “motorsports.”

That’s another great proof of Leslie Savan’s observation that much of marketing’s symbolism is a way of flattering the perceiver.

“Motorsports!” Yeah, driving a car is now a “sport.”

P.S. The photo above is the mega-dolt peckerwood Dale Earnhardt, Jr. standing outside the fake “old western town” he has had constructed on his North Carolina property.

Talk about an excellent advertisement for radically progressive taxation…

Department of Cats and Bags

catbag Two items pertaining to the real nature of “the free market.”

Item 1: Existing Business Markets Depend on State Suppression of Basic Information

In 2003, researchers at a federal agency proposed a long-term study of 10,000 drivers to assess the safety risk posed by cellphone use behind the wheel.

They sought the study based on evidence that such multitasking was a serious and growing threat on America’s roadways.

But such an ambitious study never happened. And the researchers’ agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, decided not to make public hundreds of pages of research and warnings about the use of phones by drivers — in part, officials say, because of concerns about angering Congress.

On Tuesday, the full body of research is being made public for the first time by two consumer advocacy groups, which filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for the documents. The Center for Auto Safety and Public Citizen provided a copy to The New York Times, which is publishing the documents on its Web site.

Item 2: Corporate Capitalists Know Private Enterprise is Often Inferior to Public Enterprise

A government-run public [medical insurance] plan would have “unfair advantage over private plans, eventually crowding out private plans from the marketplace,” said Bruce Josten, executive vice president of government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A Stroll Back through Marketing History

thalidomide My friend and colleague Douglas Pressman sends along a link well worth clicking.

These little nuggets call to mind a couple quotes by George Santayana:

Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.

And, of course:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.