December 17, 2008

Joel Achenbach wishes he could be "something other than a detestable, oozing, suppurating lesion on the body of civilization."

He's "the embodiment of all that is wrong with America":
"On weekends I engage in countryside motoring as if it's a form of exercise. Worse, during the week, despite the availability of mass transit, I almost always drive to work, a five-mile jaunt on surface streets past one bus stop after another."
Joel's not about to stop sinning. He likes his car, his "empowerment device," and since most Americans feel the same way, he thinks what we need is some sort of "transformer" car, basically a golf cart with "clip-on parts" or something.

Via Jac, who, apparently, is not amused by Achenbach's comic stylings and disdains the desire for power at the expense of "the planet."

56 comments:

AJ Lynch said...

That was funny and cleverly written. What is not to like?

SteveR said...

I would argue that what is wrong with America is we form our opinions (and set public policy) often with complete disregard to sound science.

This is often seen as elevating the role of man to influence the laws of nature under the instruction of people (hypocrites)like Al Gore and Leo DeCaprio. That only serves to polticize the issue (for power and money interests) while diluting the things we can and should do to actually make a difference.

Why bother to educate yourself when you can spend your time figuring out how to hook up with someone at a party and placate your sense of guilt by watching a "documentary", listening to a song and taking your plastic bags back to Albertsons.

Maguro said...

Enviros are so serious all the time. It's the new Calvinism.

William said...

One of the unintended consequences of the sexual revolution is that morbid guilt has attached itself to increasingly silly infractions. Instead of worrying about excessive masturbation and dark, inchoate feelings for Tom Cruise, intellectuals now worry about their carbon footprint. If they suddenly designed a car with the environmentally sound emissions of a Hillary Clinton fart, Achenbach would go on to obsessively worry about his BBQ intake.

Bissage said...

Mr. Achenbach is a badass with a Honda Accord?

A freaking Accord?

Anthony Bourdain owns that middlebrow poseur rebel shtick and he’s already beaten it to death.

Bleech.

MadisonMan said...

Y'know, when someone pulls up next to me in my gas-stingy weird-looking car, I just think: Thank you for paying more in gas taxes than I do, you idiot.

But I am a good person. I got up early and shoveled my walk, my neighbor's walk, and the driveway by hand -- eschewing the snow blower (I'll probably use that after the big dump (snow, not morning, titus) on Friday AM), and then I virtuously walked into work.

ricpic said...

Keerist, the guilt of the beeyootiful people!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Why do we drive more than necessary even though it harms the planet?

Excuse me while I laugh at Global Warming fanatics (idiots). HA HA HA Looking outside my window the icecicles hanging from the eaves are about 4 feet long. I'm inside of an ice cage. The temperature is -11 this morning and expected to snow every single day for the next week IF we get tempertures warming up to the high 20's.

Screw the planet. I want Global Warming. It's better for the planet, for plants, for animals and for people. We expend much less energy keeping warm when it is.....ahem.....actually warm.

Don't bother railing about it. Many many respected scientist are not falling in line with the Global Warming/Climate Change politicalically correct group mind set mantra. You aren't changing my mind so STFU.

Mr. Achenbach is a badass with a Honda Accord?

A freaking Accord?


Let me laugh again. HA HA HA.

Try sitting in our 1967 Chevy Stepside Pickup truck that has been lowered 2" with drop spindles, 300 horse 350 Crate Motor, 700R4 4 speed automatic transmission, disc brakes in the front to stop this horse powered machine, setting on monster BF T.A. Radials on 8" factory rally wheels with Flow Master exhaust that just sounds mean coming down the road, not to mention next to you at a stop light.

Ground pounding, window rattling, head turning, tire smoking....daily driver.

That is how you feel BADASS!!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

eschewing the snow blower (I'll probably use that after the big dump (snow, not morning, titus

Don't worry about it. We'll use up your carbon credits clearing our driveway and the neighbors with our John Deere 790 tractor/backhoe. Diesel!!

I use incandescent light bulbs too!! AND transfat Crisco. Bring it on.

Henry Buck said...

Cross-posted at JAC:

"Why do we eat more than necessary? Why do we buy more books than necessary (when we could all use the library)? Why do we make and see more movies than necessary? Why do we watch TV more than necessary? Why do we stay up later than necessary (thereby using more electricity than necessary?) Why are we online more than necessary?

Why do we live more than necessary? Can't we all just live the appropriate amount? Could you tell me what that amount is?"

Roger J. said...

"Saving the planet" is perhaps the expression I like least--it is totally banal and meaningless.

The notion that somehow we think our species capable of either "saving or destroying the planet" says more about our inflated sense of self importance than our capacity to make it happen.

Roger J. said...

BTW: what's up with that global warming thing--havent seen much about it lately. Is it still the latest threat to the planet? or has something else happened? Has it gone the way of nuclear winter? the epidemic of heterosexual aids? the depletion of all critical materials? Its so hard to keep up.

MadisonMan said...

Feel free, Dust Bunny, thanks for paying the tax on the diesel.

I don't think the gas tax is high enough.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I really wish AlGore and company would share with the rest of the class what the optimal planetary temperature is supposed to be.

jayne_cobb said...

It's still there Roger.

It just becomes "climate change" during the cold season.

Henry Buck said...

The funniest new proposal I've heard is the plan to tax people by how many miles they drive.
We already tax the sale of gas, which is an indirect tax on miles driven with the added benefit of encouraging the purchase or more fuel efficient cars. The new tax though-- based upon odometer readings--will hit gas guzzlers and Prius drivers equally.

AJ Lynch said...

DBQ:

I thought you lived in sunny warm part of California?

Hoosier:

Gore et al would never disclose the desired temp just like liberals would never place a price tag on the amount of money needed per student to run a public school. They will just say it is Mo Money!

AJ Lynch said...

Henry Buck is my nominee for best comment of the week.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I thought you lived in sunny warm part of California?

Nope. Mountains. Elevation 3500 ft.

Feel free, Dust Bunny, thanks for paying the tax on the diesel.

No problemo. It's an ag machine there is no tax. :-)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The new tax though-- based upon odometer readings--will hit gas guzzlers and Prius drivers equally.

I wonder how they think they can possibly enforce this? With the exception of one vehicle, all of our trucks (5) are pre-1970 and tricked out like the 67 Chevy. Are they going to force us to retrofit all vehicles with some sort of GPS device? Will we have the odometer nanny police sneaking into our driveways to check on our mileage along with our lightbulbs, cooking oil and thermostats? Will we establish another new and expensive bureaucracy funded by taxpayers and thereby negating any tax benefits of this retarded plan? Probably.

I wanna see that. LOL.

tim maguire said...

Certainly there is a type of person who lives to worry and feel bad. His compaints are just the complaints of the moment. Cure them and he'll find others.

His current argument is that it is the primary duty of each person to use as little as possible, to die leaving as small a mark as possible. In his more extreme moments, he will support the mass culling of humanity to reduce our mark (under the obvious assumption that people other than himself will be culled).

MadisonMan said...

I wonder if no tax on gas for farm vehicles is true in WI as well. Seems like a good idea for family farms.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Via Jac, who, apparently, is not amused by Achenbach's comic stylings and disdains the desire for power at the expense of "the planet."

To clarify: I blogged Achenbach's post because I found it funny and agreed with it.

siyeh pass said...

Seems like a good idea for family farms.

I agree, but I thought (for some) it was all about the free market. This sounds like an indirect subsidy.

John Althouse Cohen said...

And it's not just that I agreed with him, but that he started with something I had only vaguely thought about (people drive because they want to and disregard the costs), then clarified it better than I would have (the power thing), and connected it to a broader policy point (that you can't expect to change human nature, etc.).

John Althouse Cohen said...

Screw the planet. I want Global Warming. It's better for the planet, for plants, for animals and for people.

You should read Greg Easterbrook's very pragmatic, open-minded look at how global warming would actually affect us. He concludes that it would be a net negative for America's interests, not to mention exacerbating global inequality of well-being.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Seems like a good idea for family farms.

"I agree, but I thought (for some) it was all about the free market. This sounds like an indirect subsidy."

The diesel bought for ag usage (usually in large quantities by the farmer/rancher and stored in tanks on their land) has a dye in it so it is a different color than the diesel bought at the regular pump. If you get caught driving your vehicle on the roadways with the "ag" diesel, there is a significant fine. So the usage is strictly for business or "ag" purposes.

Not a subsidy, because if the fuel was taxed the farmer would just deduct the taxes on their return anyway.

Six of one, half dozen of the other.

Henry Buck said...

People do all sorts of things because they want to and disregard the costs. Driving is a very, very tiny slice of that greater phenonemon. (See the earlier discussion here about "100 Things to do Before you Die.")

The "urge" for power is not a "fundamental evil" of human nature as you write. It is the basis of human progress and culture. Thanks to that urge, human beings, naked and relatively weak compared to other animals, are not confined to a sunrise to sunset subsistence existence in tropical climates.

Hoosier Daddy said...

He concludes that it would be a net negative for America's interests, not to mention exacerbating global inequality of well-being.

I'm sure global warming on the scale of Algore's fevered dreams would indeed be a bad thing.

But again, what pray tell, is the optimal temperature we need? Hell scratch that, what's the moderately ideal temperature we need?

Donna B. said...

Taxes on fuel are usually designated for highway construction/maintenance. Vehicles that don't use the highways are sold fuel that isn't taxed.

In some states, electricity that is used in a manufacturing process is not taxed. It is considered a raw material that will be taxed when the completed product is sold.

Severance taxes are fun too. Louisiana has such a convoluted severance tax collection system that it's easier (sometimes cheaper) to pay it twice than to jump through the legal hoops to get the overpayment refunded.

Okay I feel bad and have a headache now. I think if taxes were banned, there would be no global warming. Think of trees saved by not having to fill out all those fricken' forms.

knox said...

Enviros are so serious all the time. It's the new Calvinism.

I remember a quote from PJ O'Rourke where he says something like: he has traveled all over the world and, across all cultures, he found that most people are decent, pleasant human beings. Except for 2 groups: Somalis and Environmentalists.

knox said...

when someone pulls up next to me in my gas-stingy weird-looking car, I just think: Thank you for paying more in gas taxes than I do, you idiot.

I know you meant this with humor--to some extent-- but a lot of people with big gas-guzzlers are either 1. poor 2. old, and committed to their Buicks 3. African-American or 4. some or all of the above.

I mean, I live in a part of Knoxville that has a large population of all 4 of these groups. There are more giant Buicks, Grand Marquis, Caddies and Chevy Caprices than you could shake a stick at. Certainly more than there are SUVs.

It's a bizarre notion for me, to actually wish for higher gas prices or taxes--I mean, for anyone other than a politician to do so. It's a commodity that we are totally dependent on--especially those who can't walk to work or afford a hybrid. It's like wishing hardship on other people. Yuck.

Henry Buck said...

knox, you're missing the point. It's not wishing a hardship on other people. It is environmental sinners getting their just desserts.
That attitude allows environmentalists to maintain their self-regard as humanitarians and champions of the oppressed as they simultaneously enact policies that further burden the plight of the less fortunate.

Brian O'Connell said...

Enviros are so serious all the time. It's the new Calvinism.

I call them the New Puritans. Others are using that term. I think I came up with it on my own but I can't remember- I might have seen it somewhere. Don't you hate when that happens?

George Carlin had the best response to the "Save the Planet" nonsense. (I'm sure the video's online somewhere.) The planet is in no danger whatsoever and will be here long after we're gone no matter what happens. It's really "Save the People", if you believe we're in a crisis at all.

And I think we'd all be better off with a warmer environment, regardless of costs to coastal areas. One theory has it that the medieval warm period was a big factor in the Renaissance- along with the Black Death. In fact the poles have had ice packs for only 10% of earth's history. By that reckoning we're actually in an ice age right now. There's plenty of room higher up the temperature scale.

Der Hahn said...

But over the long term ... you'd probably want to err on the side of assuming that people won't change much. And it is human nature to like to be empowered.

I will suggest this to Obama.

I wish he would do that. Just leave out the car fantasy in between.

MadisonMan said...

It is environmental sinners getting their just desserts.

Why shouldn't people who consume more and pollute more have to pay more? Shouldn't actions have consequences?

MadisonMan said...

In fact the poles have had ice packs for only 10% of earth's history.

Total oversimplification.

A more correct statement, from the standpoint of climate forcing, would be: The poles have had landlocked oceans or landmasses that promote Glacier Growth for only 10% of Earth's history.

Unless you have a plan to magically move Antarctica, or to open up the Arctic Ocean to adjacent oceans, we're pretty much stuck with the climate forcing (discouting any man-made forcings) we have now.

siyeh pass said...

That attitude allows environmentalists to maintain their self-regard as humanitarians and champions of the oppressed as they simultaneously enact policies that further burden the plight of the less fortunate.

A lot of the gas tax we're talking about, here, could be funneled into mass transit - trains and the like. For the most part, it seems that that would lessen the burden of the less fortunate. There's nothing that says it has to go back into roads.

AJ Lynch said...

"gas tax ... could go into mass transit to lessen the burden of the less fortunate".

We already do that to a very large extent. Here in Philly, for every $1 paid by a transit rider, the government pays $2.

Simplified using raw data, the SEPTA ass transit system reports it has about 300 million trips per year. The govt forks over about $2 per trip and the average rider reaches in his pocket and pays $1.

A buck for a bus ride seems like we have lessened the burden for the less fortnate quite a bit.

Joe said...

The logic that the earth warming in the 21st century is bad escapes me. The earth has been warming since the Maunder Minimum. The net effect has been a boon for mankind.... Perhaps that's the point; what is good for man is bad for the earth.

Of course none of this is really about truth or reality; it's about making shit up to sell copy. And being apocalyptic sells more copy.

Henry Buck said...

For upscale suburban environmentalists, one bonus is that keeping the price of gas high and the less fortunate dependent up public transportation will also keep the wrong element out of their leafy, bobo enclaves.

knox said...

A lot of the gas tax we're talking about, here, could be funneled into mass transit - trains and the like. For the most part, it seems that that would lessen the burden of the less fortunate. There's nothing that says it has to go back into roads.

Most cities in the US for whom mass transit is feasible already have it. Surburban sprawl precludes mass transit for the rest. If you live in, say, Virginia, it's worth it to drive to the bus stop or metro station, then catch the bus/train into DC. But in even a small-ish city, many people wouldn't put up with the hassle. Mass transit is not a solution for any but a few unique cases.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

A lot of the gas tax we're talking about, here, could be funneled into mass transit - trains and the like. For the most part, it seems that that would lessen the burden of the less fortunate. There's nothing that says it has to go back into roads.

Nice idea...except for those of us who drive many miles in the nasty old fly over country areas(and now to be taxed by the mile)where there is NO mass transit...NO public transportation. We are to pay taxes with no return. Seems like there was a revolution or something like that for a similar reason.

You want us to pay more than others and subsidize services that we will never ever use in the name of Global Warming, which is basically a political and economic scam.

MadisonMan said...

You want us to pay more than others and subsidize services that we will never ever use in the name of Global Warming

Actually, I want it so the USA becomes more energy efficient. I don't care what it does as far as AGW goes.

AJ Lynch said...

DBQ:

You have to let us know if they ever try and put a GPS in your vehicles to assess you a new tax.

I think we would all like to watch the fireworks as the govt tries to do that. Heh.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Why shouldn't people who consume more and pollute more have to pay more?

Um, they do now? The more gas I consume, the more tax I pay. The more stuff I buy the more tax I pay.

Shouldn't actions have consequences?

But of course they do. See, as someone who drives a SUV, I end up paying more in taxes than you do with your weird looking gas stingey car. I also have a higher car payment than you do and I'm cool with that.

If liberals really believed in actions having consequences they'd shun welfare programs and other government programs which supplant personal responsibilty with the Nanny State.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Actually, I want it so the USA becomes more energy efficient. I don't care what it does as far as AGW goes.

Actually, me too. As long as it isn't at the expense of the overall economic health of the world and of the people. So far, all the programs are either impractical, cost inefficient or actually damaging to the world's environment. Having people in one country (the US) cut back on their economy and pollution (and I do NOT include C02 as pollution) while doing nothing for other areas of the world in cutting back pollution (India, China, Africa) is foolish.

Until there is some logic and rationality to the plan, it is all a freaking shell game that is geared, on purpose, to cripple the Western economies with the help of the useful idiots in the "green" movement.

AJ Lynch said...

The financial fiascos make it critically important that public schools, our government and the industries we choose to bailout are economically efficient and competitive.

Unfortunately it is way easier to focus our concern and anxiety on the delusion of global warming and just talking about making the country more energy efficient.

knox said...

Until there is some logic and rationality to the plan, it is all a freaking shell game that is geared, on purpose, to cripple the Western economies with the help of the useful idiots in the "green" movement.

yup. It's no coincidence that the author used the term "all that is wrong with America." Whether he was using it for comic effect or not, that's how most greenies feel.

It's the hypocrisy of the "Green Products" industry which I find especially gross. If you are a greenie, go buy your stuff at the Goodwill. Guess what: absolutely NO resources are consumed, NO energy expended in production. But that's no fun! And not chic at all!

And I'd venture a guess that the purchase of a fuel-efficient used car would be just as easy on the environment as the purchase of a brand-new hybrid...

Freeman Hunt said...

DBQ:

You have to let us know if they ever try and put a GPS in your vehicles to assess you a new tax.

I think we would all like to watch the fireworks as the govt tries to do that. Heh.


Yes. Definitely a demand for video of any bureacratic sap who shows up at DBQ's house to forcibly install GPS.

Until there is some logic and rationality to the plan, it is all a freaking shell game that is geared, on purpose, to cripple the Western economies with the help of the useful idiots in the "green" movement.

I also concur. I don't know why anyone goes along with it.

John Althouse Cohen said...

The "urge" for power is not a "fundamental evil" of human nature as you write. It is the basis of human progress and culture.

It's both.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Yes. Definitely a demand for video of any bureacratic sap who shows up at DBQ's house to forcibly install GPS

LOL. Yes, it would be pretty entertaining between myself and my husband who loves his trucks almost as much as he loves me.....or he'd better do so anyway.

And I'd venture a guess that the purchase of a fuel-efficient used car would be just as easy on the environment as the purchase of a brand-new hybrid...

This is actually true. The cost to manufacture and the environmental impact of manufacturing a "green" (I hate that term) car is just as great if not more so, because of the batteries, than an efficient standard vehicle. The cost return on saved fuel in buying a "hybrid" would take years and years to recoup the additional costs.

Here Don't argue with Germans about engineering.

Today it has warmed up to about 5 degrees and I'm working from home. Yay, computer commuting. My husband, plumber, is inundated with calls for frozen pipes, frozen well heads and frozen cattle troughs among other things. When it warms up to above freezing then it will be gushing pipes and broken pumps and flooded houses owned by absentee owners who still haven't been able to figure out that water freezes at 32 degrees and you should either blow the water out your pipes i your unoccupied house, put anti freeze in your toilets or turn on your freaking heat. Dumbshits. We have over a foot of frozen snow and another blizzard due tonight with storms expected all weekend.

His take on a Prius or other hybrid? "When you can make one that has 4 wheel drive and can haul a backhoe/tractor up a snowed in grade of 6% or one that can carry a load of pipe, tools, welder, generator, fittings and a 5horse ag pump.....then we'll talk."

Hybrids and other cars are all good and fine for urban purposes or freeway commuting. I dare you to take one out into a field and haul a ton of hay to a bunch of hungry cattle.

The "greenies", by and large live in sheltered urban areas, never far from a Starbucks and have no idea how people outside of their insular bubble actually live or what we need to get by. They want to cram their pet projects and "green" technology down our throats. Sounds good to them in SF.....not so good or practical from where I'm standing.

Henry Buck said...

No, JAC, it's not "both" as you so flippantly suggest, unless you think that being human, in and of itself is evil (which I suspect many environmentalists actually believe). People are not angels, to be sure, but there is a difference between being flawed as all humans are an being evil.

Man's attraction to woman (and vice versa) is not evil simply because in some instances it leads to stalking. Similarly, a desire for greater individual power over our surroundings is not "evil" because of how some people go about meeting that desire.

blake said...

Being anti-power is being anti-human.

Efficiency is fine. We'll need more power--lots more--if we're going to progress.

Conservation is not the answer. It has limited utility in certain circumstances but our survival will depend on us mastering energy levels several magnitudes higher than what we can do now.

AJ Lynch said...

Blake just made the smartest comment of the month IMO!

Freeman Hunt said...

I second that, AJ Lynch.