We have met the enemy and he is us…

02008-12-04 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Tom Friedman Can’t Make Up His Mind : TreeHugger
General Motors built cars that exactly matched the needs of an American economy based on suburban development, big box stores and fast food, all promoted by direct and hidden subsidies from the government. They built houses on wheels that had to act as living rooms, dining rooms and recreation rooms for the kids.

So now they have to reboot for a new generation, a new world. At least if they get bailed out they can make something useful. Friedman demands “a viable business plan” and may we suggest one:

Crank gas back up to four bucks a gallon and keep taxing it until we match Denmark and they will have lots of incentive to build efficient cars, mass transit and fuel sipping buses, and the government will get its investment back really fast. Otherwise Toyota and Honda will just print more Tundras and Ridgelines to serve the markets that the US automakers gave up.

And stop blaming GM for giving people what they wanted. To paraphrase Pogo, we have met the enemy and he is us, not them.

Agreed. We slipped into an infrastructure that was all wrong (((drive until you can afford the house and commute two hours each way if you must…))) and the car companies took advantage of that since they are not in the business of telling you that marathon commuting is wrong. We went down the wrong path and the SUVs are just as much part of that wrong path as are Super-sized fastfood and gigantic McMansions. The question must be how do we get from here (car-fetishism, lack of public transportation, fastfood, size is everything…) to there (public transport – with Wi-Fi! – Slow Food, local food, eating well, quality over quantity, well-designed efficient houses…). Blaming the car-industry for something that is part of our whole culture is silly. Instead we need to create a culture in which extended commuting is not an option, in which the car is NOT the focus of attention, and where it does not matter how fast, how powerful, how shiny your car is.


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