Companies compulsively lie. Not always with big lies. With disingenuous half-lies.
It’s as if the heads of public relations staffers and advertisers would split open if they simply told the truth: WE’RE DOING IT TO MAKE MORE MONEY. NOW GET ON BOARD OR ELSE!
Above is a simple, current Volkswagen. We had one. It’s a great car. Cheap to buy, cheap to run. Very refined for a shitcan. We loved it.
But “consumers love it” is no longer a good reason to make and sell stuff. It never was a good enough reason.
The only reason to make and sell stuff is to make more money.
More money, more money, and more money, until the whole planet has been consumed. And then we’ll start in on the asteroid belt.
Since the VW Golf is perfect, VW has to further perfect it by creatively destroying it by figuring out how to make more money off it, all while putting the best lipstick-on-a-pig spin on the whole story.
You’ve heard the expression, “Change is good”? And, “Change is the only constant”? And you’ve heard that you need to change continuously in order to be a happier, healthier, more vital, and still-worthwhile member of the human race?
So here’s what VW expects you to buy in a couple three years:
The yellow thing is called an “iBuzz”, I kid you not. It’s basically an updated, electric VW van that your aunt and uncle conceived your cousins in. (Or your cousins conceived you in?)
Why electric? We’re told by VW and the greater automotive industry and by politicians of all stripes that electric mobility is the wave of the future. We will adapt to it for our own good. It will solve climate change, Beijing’s air quality problems, acid rain, whatever. We’re told all about VW’s and Ford’s and Honda’s beneficence, their desire to save tadpoles and old growth forests and children and women.
It’s bullshit. VW will go electric because the average internal combustion auto has something like 1400 parts that need assembling (by human beings called “workers”) whilst electricmobiles have like 200 parts that need assembling (by far fewer human beings called “workers”).
I have no doubt that an ancillary benefit will be cleaner air and a cooler planet. But please tell the truth: the main benefit will be to the automotive industry’s stockholders.
Understand exactly where I’m coming from, and why I’m writing this:
As someone who is sitting in a centrally-heated home while a blizzard rages outside, as someone who does not dig ditches for a living, as someone who has no desire to ever assemble a vehicle, internal combustion or electric, I would be okay with all this, if only, if only . . .
. . . corporations could treat us like adults and tell us the simple truth: that they’re in this for the money and, oh yeah, by the way, there are on occasion good side effects to that approach.
I guess simple truth is too difficult. I guess PR people and ad copy people need to feel creative, since the rest of their lives are so dismal.
btw, this is not new. The 1939 World’s Fair was one orgiastic paean to capitalism and how it’s-all-for-you with no mention of profits. That defensiveness was understandable at the end of the 1930’s, in a decade when capitalism nearly went under.
But now? Why? I think we’re all pretty cool with buying stuff and understanding how that works. I’d admire a car company that says, “Boy, are we gonna make a shitpile of money if we can strong arm you enough to change and give up the stuff you like now!”
In the car industry, there’s another nasty trend that I’ve written about before: autonomous vehicles.
Does this photo make you sweat?:
Cars that drive themselves are here now. More are coming. For various reasons, I don’t think they’ll become universal.
We’re being told that they’ll help Grampa get to the doctor when he’s in a cast and Grandma is blind and the grandkids are in Oregon – grandkids always seem to be on the West Coast nowadays, don’t they? – or when you have important business to conduct with the pornographer on the other end of your smartphone. They’ll be safer than human drivers because as machines they’ll be as perfect as your DirecTV or your nav system or Windows.
Nonsense. The simple truth is that we’re being asked to change our entire way of life so that car companies can make even more money.
VW and Ford and everybody else will be running their own fleets of autonomous vehicles. You’ll call them up piecemeal or else by subscription plan – just like with the aforementioned lovely DirecTV or your smartphone – and order a vehicle to come around.
What does VW make as profit when they sell a (low-tech, old fashioned, cheap, polluting, un-hip) Golf nowadays? A couple three hundred bucks total if the customer doesn’t finance it?
Hell, you’ll be paying $500 a month forever when you subscribe to a car! And the car will still be VW’s! And we’ll believe it’s a good deal! And far better than the old-fashioned and more dangerous way of life!
Let’s just be told the truth.
You are constantly being told that you must “change”. Despite the nostrums, change hurts. It upsets lives. It ruins peace of mind. It costs money. It scares people. It even kills some people. It puts a lot of people (“workers”) out of work.
And when those workers lose their jobs and their physicians prescribe opioids, the workers, not the employers or doctors, are then blamed for their addictions and politicians call them deplorable.
It’s a lovely world we’ve created.