Let Them Eat Hummers

UPDATE: My pals at the Huffington Post have syndicated this entry. Hop on and post a comment, if you feel so inclined. They love the love, and so do I.

With apologies to the excellent Michael Moore, and his desire to bail out the Big Three that he claims have been more “responsible than almost anyone for the destruction of our fragile atmosphere and the daily melting of our polar ice caps,” but I’m not buying it.

Three astoundingly rich, obnoxious and spoiled CEOs from three astoundingly incompetent, short-sighted and corrupt automakers do not a destructive mandate make. As Hillary Clinton famously wrote, it takes a village, people. And for years, our American corner of that village has been exporting pollution and excess to the rest of the world, in the form of gas hogs that don’t work, suck up cash and destroy the environment. And the people who bankrolled and built them are as responsible as those who bought them. And none of them deserve to be saved from their own obvious failures.

It’s not like this was rocket science. For years, analysts and journos like Jim Kunstler, myself and others have been ringing the peak-oil alarm, not to show the rest of our consumerist fantasyland that we are smart, or that we have data that it doesn’t, but to argue that there is no such thing as a free ride. Regardless of whether or not oil production peaked in the ’70s, ’90s or yesterday, eventually it will peak, and we had better get busy on building the next energy infrastructure now, and it better be as green as that stuff Stephen Colbert and Willie Nelson smoke at Christmas.

Time, like our atmosphere, is a-wasting.

And the answer is a-blowing in the wind: Investment belongs not in the latest bonanza, which is a horrendously underperforming amalgam of hedge funds, housing, war, debt and invented wealth fed through proprietary algorithms and unregulated stratagems, but in what’s left of our imbalanced ecosystem. I hate to tell you people of faith this, but a growing number of us believe that without this planet, we are nothing. And the faster the planet warms, the more we pay, the harder our backs are pressed up against the wall of extinction.

And the Big Three automakers from Detroit have known this all along. One of them built an electric car, and then shelved it the minute the Bush administration decided that hyperconsumption was an “American way of life,” as White House puppet Ari Fleischer once explained. This is why they built Hummers and killer SUVs while forward-thinking companies like Toyota and Honda built hybrids, and took over the auto market in the process. Michigan had its chance to lead on this issue, and instead it cashed itself out and built crap. This is not something that should be rewarded, no matter the stakes.

Because the stakes are always overrated. What, the entire population of Detroit or Flint will never find a job again? Please. Join the club, people. Entire industries that have refused to evolve with time and technological progress have been left behind, so if the shoe fits, wear it. This is what being an American has supposedly been about all along: Individualism, freedom, destiny. And the people that built and bought Hummers while Los Angeles burns and New Orleans drowns deserve the fate that they wrought with their own free hands, deciding to follow the herd off the cliff rather than strike out alone on a path towards the future.

So no, Big Three and its enablers, you can eat Hummers. All of you. You’re lucky the Obama administration is, like the Bush administration before it, in handout mode, a fact that will probably reward the richest of you and then press the rest to repent. Hummers and SUVs, like it or not, are the closest thing we have had in the 21st century to environmental terrorism. And if our government likes to say it doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, then why is it considering dropping billions on willing participants that have screwed my daughter’s bank account and environmental future by building Earth-killers with no inherent value whatsoever? Does that make it complicit? And if so, doesn’t that make everyone who built and bought those cars complicit as well?

There are no innocents in this world, except our children, and they didn’t ask for this. And so we should honor their uncertain futures by abandoning those who would live in the past at the expense of those increasingly expensive futures. That includes the Big Three, and their partners in crime.

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