The late P.J. O’Rourke called journalists notoriously gullible.
So I had occasion to remember upon finding the complaint of Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez: “It shouldn’t be so hard to buy an electric car.”
Newspaperpersons seem to believe that yanking just a bit harder on the levers of power will fix everything. New laws, stiffer regulations, larger subsidies, more meddling in free markets–everything will work out and electric cars will abound.
Like me, Lopez noticed Paul Scott’s letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago about killing off internal-combustion engines. Instead of asking Scott a relevant question over the phone, for example, whether it must not be terribly frustrating to waste one’s life, Lopez went to meet him and his ex-wife (and ex-L.A. Times reporter) Zan Dubin Scott and listen to their virtuous claptrap.
“Climate change is the culprit, and vehicle emissions are a major cause,” Lopez propounds.
Al Gore told Congress in 2007 that automakers shouldn’t be expected to solve global warming. “Don’t single out cars and trucks,” Gore said in a statement before his appearance. Tailpipe emissions were “only a slice of the problem”–and not the biggest slice.
But the people of Manhattan, who control our minds, have always hated cars and trucks, which give average people the ability to move around, do their work, and go to the weekend fishing shack. That hatred extends to car culture. “How revolting–he fixed up an old Chevy and enters it in car shows and children see it!”
The hatred filters down. Schoolkids hate cars, too, and refuse to get their driving licenses. It is agreed among the fair and the vain that instead of driving themselves, average people should ride trains and buses (which nobody likes very much), or pedal around on bikes (dangerous in cities and cold and wet in the rain), and they also agreed among themselves that EVs are the answer in automotive mobility and it would be more convenient if one could purchase one’s in the Gucci store–end of discussion!
Let’s reverse climate change to the perfection of 1921. Wait–even better–the summer of 1870 inspired the percipience of Manet’s “In the Garden.”
Oh, heck, let’s just go back to the day the last crystal of the last continental glacier expended its essence.
After much factory toil, Abner Shutt, protagonist of Upton Sinclair’s 1937 novel “The Flivver King: A Story of Ford-America” was finally able to buy a car–a used flivver–and he didn’t care that it was ugly. “It had a seat to sit on, and a cover to shelter you from the rain, and an engine which would run and run, and wheels which would turn and turn.” Abner and his family wanted independent mobility and a heater and defroster would have been nice. “They wanted to be able to get into a car and go places. They might not always know where they wanted to go, or what they would do when they got there–but these were problems which Henry [Ford] did not have to solve.”
Ice cream stands in little country towns did the solving.
Cars with internal combustion engines have been and will remain the best way to go places.
Wait until Lopez hears about subscription services for automated EVs that will answer your ride request and arrive moments later to whisk you away, and no one before you will have puked on the upholstery or inscribed an obscene message into the console (because the occupants are on camera the whole time, watched in Moscow, Pyongyang, and the Vatican).
Life will be simple, la vida pura.
Here’s a future topic for Lopez: Sex dolls claim to be lifelike.