Remember when the government raised MPG requirements for automobile manufacturing, and the industry complied? It was in the same epoch in which commoners could also deduct their credit card interest from their tax bills.
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:
Edmunds.com 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.
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 edmunds.com?
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…
That’s a scan of the “Tread Lightly” ad I clipped from the local alt-weekly a while back.
Yes, folks, this is the kind of thing you can get away with in our glorious culture. Selling Land Rovers, with their 12/18 mpg rating and their $77,675 – $93,325 MSRP, under the idea that this monstrosity among monstrosities could have anything whatsoever to do with ecological concern.
The level of chutzpah, deception, and delusion involved among both the peddlers and the over-privileged purchasers of these things would make Orwell gag in surprise. The dealership — Land Rover Portland/Land Rover Oregon — says it cleans up after itself, so that somehow excuses the massive wastefulness and destructiveness of the product? Sure, yes, right.
The depravity of this is multiple. For now, though, I’ll simply repeat Robert L. Heilbroner’s words:
How strong, deep, or sustaining can be the values of a civilization that generates a ceaseless flow of half-truths and careful deceptions?
Capitalists know only one solution to any problem: redoubled doses of the same old medicines. The reign of the automobile and the auto-industrial complex is clearly doomed. There is simply not enough energy in the world to make it last past roughly the middle of this century.
So, what do corporate car-marketers do? They heighten their efforts to misinform their “targets.”
The latest form of this trend is the change in the way car-capitalists state their miles-per-gallon claims in advertising. The old practice was to state two MPG ratings, one for city driving, the other for highway. So, my 1998 Toyota Corolla was advertised as having 32/41 MPG.
Now, in these increasingly dangerous end times for the automobile, the marketers have taken to simply shifting the city part of the MPG rating into the footnotes. Virtually all new ads that bother to mention MPG now only state the highway rating.
This is neither more nor less than planned disinformation, an intentional attempt to alter people’s access to and perceptions of vital information about products. Though you will never see this fact admitted in public, it is a standard method of big business marketing.
Capitalism, you see, is a just a well-disguised form of humanity’s 6,000-year run of pre-historic barbarism. A a social system, it is entirely of a piece with the older forms of class coercion that its apologists have long tried to distinguish it from.