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Who Killed the Electric Car, Anyway?

who killed the electric car

The film, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" answers the question: If free trade is so free, why haven't I been able to buy an electric car at the local autoplex?

If you haven't seen "Who Killed the Electric Car?" yet...

The film defined a line-in-sand moment in American social activism, dragged a spotlight to the intersection of big money and American politics, and acted as a preview of the Occupy movement. GM was sure they could never be held accountable for their actions - but they were wrong.

Here's the general idea of the film. In 2006, Toyota and GM weren't producing electric cars, not even as a tiny, top-drawer, elite market. (I guess we all knew that much without even seeing the movie.) But the reason for this might not be, as they would have you believe, that we didn't WANT them, or that battery technology just doesn't exist that would support current automotive needs. The real reason might just be that the slash-and-burn capitalists who are making a killing (oh, pardon the pun, it just volunteered) off the 3 dollar a gallon petroleum business were in bed with the automakers.

And because our duly elected American government officials - the Bush II administration at that time - were in bed with both of them, separately and together.

And because, alas, we were voluntarily bringing our daily wages and slapping them down eagerly on the dresser so we could get in bed, too.

Eesh. (Bring on the Occupiers, please hurry...)

I said then:

"It might be a matter of bully-boy capitalists and corporate dictators pushing us around because they CAN, and you and me supporting them because we don't think we have any choice.

who killed the electric car cows

The dictatorship depends on a docile, mooing herd offering up its wallet and asking no questions, and we've been worked over by professionals through advertising and other means (read Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky, or rent the movie by the same title for an in-depth discussion of this topic) so we'll do exactly THAT. But the good news is that the corporate brainwashers are just renting space in our skulls, they don't have a long-term lease."

We CAN evict them. We're seeing it on every streetcorner in America today.

"Who Killed the Electric Car?" Trailer


Speaking of corporate dictators...

Plug In partners petition

I've been trying to figure out what irritates me so much about the Plug-in Partners campaign which consists of circulating a petition aimed at automakers, asking them to please make us an electric car so we can spend our hard-earned money on it.

It's certainly not Plug-in Partners' fault; they're just being practical. Whatever it takes to get people into electric cars, right?

But petition? An automaker??

I always thought petitions were something the governed directed toward their governors. For example, a citizen might petition the mayor, the attorney general, the president, or whatever.

So how did an automaker, a supplier of products which I can choose to buy or not to buy, become so powerful that the only way I can get them to make a product I want to spend my money on is to petition them?

free burma

(Oh, right. Through cheating. Okay.) The reality is what gets under my skin; that rather than a free market, in which the buyer gets what they demand...

... we have a corporate dictatorship which offers limited choices designed only to benefit the capitalists behind the corporation at the expense of you and me and Aunt Corrie's dog.

In the context of a corporate dictatorship, of course a petition from the peasantry would be a reasonable communication.

So what if the big raunchy bed doesn't suit you anymore?

bed with dog
  • Bye-bye, denial. I know, this is the hard one. I'm in denial about being a subject in a corporate dictatorship, but I'm working on it. Let's figure out what IS, and work with it.
  • Let's not confuse education with advertising. Ever really pay attention to how much advertising we Americans get bombarded with? Everybody's trying to sell us something, studying our every move and making an excellent living at it, too. Like the trout said, hey - I think that worm might be carrying a hook.
  • Let's check our power level. We're not talking about how much charge is left in the Xebra's batteries, here; ) I'm talking about making a realistic assessment of our personal power. I might not be able to do everything, but that doesn't mean I can't do anything, either. The corporate dictatorship still depends on my money.

    Noam Chomsky (I'll talk about him from time to time, because he makes me THINK) says that Americans always come up to him after a lecture and ask, "What can I do?" about whatever social issue he's addressing at the moment. And he responds with something like, "Just about whatever you want to. It's not like somebody's going to come drag you out of bed in the middle of the night and off to prison for speaking your mind."

    In other countries, he says, even in places where it's quite dangerous to gather or to speak your mind, people come up and tell him what they already ARE doing.

    So what makes us Americans "sit 'n spin" rather than going our own way? If the American legend of frontier independence is more than just a myth (remember the Boston tea party? So why didn't we all chuck our SUV's in the lake when the price of gas hit 3 bucks a gallon??), why didn't we all get those gas-gulpers converted to electric? Why didn't we tell GM and Toyota to kiss our super-sized American bootays?

    Well, there's a drain on our collective battery, somewhere. We act powerless when we AREN'T.
  • If we're FEMALE, we gotta check our self-esteem for leaks. Women, girls, old ladies with red hats: are you listening? Ssh, don't tell, but we've got money. And we're the ones, overwhelmingly, who care about the environment. And last time I checked, we're allowed to VOTE...and even though we (STILL) don't make as much as the boys...we do SPEND a fair chunk of America's consumer dollar. Which leads to my next item...
  • We CAN go shopping. Or not. If I make forty shopping decisions in a week, and thirty nine of them directly put money in the pockets of people whose politics I can't STAND... ...then that's ONE act of free will, exercised. Hey, it's a start.

Maybe this week I don't make any changes in my buying habits; maybe this week I just feel my power as the owner of one of the many dollars it takes to make a corporate stockholder happy, and think about it.

That's another start. Thinking powerful thoughts - that's a start. Thinking powerless thoughts, that's NOT.

Deciding to watch "Who Killed the Electric Car?" was a pretty powerful thought. It really changed the way I look at our political process. I always knew we have lobbyists in our country, but I never really thought about how that could play out until I saw "Who Killed the Electric Car?".

Anyway...next week, maybe I ask a few questions about just who exactly owns what. It can be a real puzzle to unravel, of course, but thanks to the Internet, information is easier to come by than ever. Who makes Cocoa Puffs? General Mills? And who owns them? And what else do they own? And which political candidate did they support last election? (Probably all of them, interestingly enough. A million to you and two million to your opponent means you get defeated all right but I still get to call in my favors because I was THERE for you in your time of need. How clever.)

Then I could read something. (Hey look, I'm reading something now!)

Then I might be able to find five minutes here or there and write something. I could write just about anything, couldn't I, once I got started? A letter to the editor, an email to the governor, a note to the mouthpiece of one of those corporate dictators...something. I could express myself according to my conscience.

You could sign the petition. By all means, do. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that.

But hey, about that murdered EV in "Who Killed the Electric Car?"

Don't worry, it's not really dead, and I truly believe the electric car never will die. There's too much love.

Look for the three-ton HUMMERS to be gathering dust in GM's car-mausoleum. Where they belong.

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