Ford’s Boondoggling It Up, Too

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GM has been criticized – rightly – for boondoggling it up at taxpayers’ expense. For “investing” – on someone else’s dime, taken from them by force, it always bears repeating – in vehicles that have obviously dubious prospects of actually selling. Like the $40,000 electric economy car called the Volt.

But others are on the take, too. Unfortunately, that includes Ford – the only one of the Big Three that didn’t take bailout money did take a “loan” of $5.9 billion to develop their own electric loss-leaders – including hybrid versions of the Focus compact and C-Max van. (See here for the Popular Science story lauding Ford for this.)

The fact that none of these cars would have ever seen the light of day absent the government throwing your and my money at GM and Ford is telling – yet no one seems to be listening. Instead, we’re told that electric and hybrid cars just need a leg up – a bit of “pump priming,” as they like to say in Washington.

They have been priming the pump for at least 20 years now. Well, where’s the beef?

The truth is very little progress has been made – if the measure is building an alternative-fuel vehicle that’s commercially viable. I was writing about cars back in the early ’90s when GM came out with the Impact (also called EV-1) electric car.  Interestingly, it also cost about $40,000 – just like the current Volt – and like the Volt, it required massive subsidies (including a “lease” arrangement designed to reduce the monthly cost) to make it plausibly palatable to potential buyers – and even so, it flopped. Because – Big Surprise – most people don’t see the sense in buying a $30,000 or $40,000 “economy” car when they can spend $15k or less and get an actually economical car.

Well, not much has changed twenty years down the road – they’re still at it. And just like Dr. Goebbels assuring the German masses in 1944 that ultimate victory was just around the corner, we’re still hearing that with just a bit more “investment” of other people’s money – taken from them at gunpoint – we shall have automotive wunderwaffe: hybrids and electric cars that actually cost less to own as well as to drive than regular cars.

But consider:

Did Henry Ford go begging to Uncle for “loans” to build his Model T – or his Model A? Did either car require massive government subsidies to cajole otherwise reluctant buyers into considering them? Did GM have to subsidize the self-starter? The overhead valve V-8? Why doesn’t the Corvette (or the Mustang) need a government subsidy?

It apparently never occurs to the politicos shoveling money at projects such as the Volt, et al, to ask such questions. That’s assuming they’re merely ignorant – of automotive history, economics and engineering. I think more highly of them, myself. I am convinced they understand what’s going on all too well – and just don’t care. Or rather, do care. Very much, in fact.

Because there’s just too much money at stake.

In the distorted world of crony capitalism, it is a competitive disadvantage to not be on the take. In the same way and for the same reasons that local politicians scrabble for their constituents’ “fair share” of state (and federal) largesse. The calculation being, someone’s gonna get the money – might as well be me. Or us.

Ford got a lot of credit – rightly – for not needing (or taking) the bailout money. But Ford management wasn’t about to leave $5.9 billion on the table – $5.9 billion that would just go to someone else (like GM). There was no downside to grabbing the cash – from their point-of-view.

That is, from the point-of-view of crony capitalists.

Unlike, say, the Edsel project back in the ’50s – which almost killed Ford – this time, it’s not Ford’s money that’s on the table. It’s your money – and mine. Ford did not have to risk its own capital on building latter-day Edsels – that is, Ford did not risk its own limited resources on this project – resources that would thus not be available to advance other projects. Rather, it risks your money – and mine.

Which means, no risk at all. As the saying goes: There’s more where that came from.  Uncle has virtually limitless resources to call upon. And in a crony capitalist economy, that means – so does Ford.

And of course, there will be no consequences for failure. It does not matter whether the electrified Focus and C-Max sell. They can be absolute disasters – by the old measure, the formerly free market measure. Just as the Volt is proving to be. Just as the EV1 was.

Who cares? Uncle will pick up the tab.

Meaning, you and me will pick up the tab.

Before American business got thoroughly marinated in crony capitalism, it invested its own capital in new products which, after extensive market analysis and other forms of due diligence, it figured had a good chance of making a buck. An honest buck. A buck freely exchanged – something that’s becoming as rare in this economy as the right to be left alone.

And if the product failed – well, lesson learned. Don’t do that again.

Instead, we’ve – amend that, the government has – removed all natural incentives (and moral hazard) from the process – or is removing them, as quickly as possible. Which means that unlike the Edsel (and in GM’s case, the Aztek), bad products don’t die a natural death. They just get more subsidies.

After all, the well’s bottomless.

Throw it in the Woods? 

 

 

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50 COMMENTS

  1. Most scientists claim that the Dodo bird was the stupidest animal on earth – but rational people realize that the stupidest animal on earth is the Taxpayer.

    • I was just thinking about this last night and today. We are the worst enables in the history of mankind. We have perhaps financed more harm, hate, and misery than any other generation/s. We work our asses off to finance government crusades that squander our money and kill people! All the while we go about our daily activities of business as usual. And the fucking LEOs, and other tax feeders get us for more technical fouls all the way! I LOVE IT!!! We deserve it.

      • It’s strange you mention that Dom, I spent the afternoon thinking the same thing. Maybe it’s some kind of Spring Cleaning for the soul.

        I don’t really think people like you and I deserve it though. We see the problem and we do what we can. We talk about it to our friends and then they feel better confronting it because they know its not just them. Forums like this what help a lot Eric, you’re doing a valuable community service here.

        BTW Dom, I volunteer K9 Search and Rescue with my trusty dog, so I have the opportunity to interact with LEOs on a pretty regular basis. One thing you might be surprised to hear is a significant fraction of folks who got into the profession for the right reason (helping people in trouble) feel the same way we do. Education is the key but maybe more important is creating an environment where its OK to talk about the problem without being labeled a fruit loop. The message is getting through. Don’t give up.

      • Sorry Eric, I got muddled. I meant to say “Forums like this help a lot Eric, you’re providing a valuable community service”. As a side note, if you ever get around to upgrading your blog, allowing thumb fingered idiots like myself to edit their mistakes would be on the top of my list for suggested improvements 🙂

        And Dom? Never forget you’re one of the good guys. Chin up, square those shoulders, remember why you’re doing this; the idea is to make the world a better place to live in for everybody. It’s a noble calling.

  2. It should be noted that the city used money from a federal program (more of the boondoggle money that is the subject of Eric’s article) and the company that makes the chargers is giving a big discount, hoping it’ll turn into a drug dealer giving the first hit free.

    On a brighter note, Ford is doing something that actually is a step in the right direction: http://www.freep.com/article/20120328/BUSINESS0102/203280330/Ford-brings-diesel-back-new-Transit-full-size-van?odyssey=tab

    • The ingenious aspect of our system is how it’s managed to get almost everyone in on the scam. As an example, a year ago, the Census Clowns kept coming back to our place – despite my having told the lady three times that two adults live here and that’s all I’m gonna say. Eventually, she comes back with her “supervisor.” I repeat my line. He goes on about how they need to get more info so that my county can get its “share” of federal resources. I wish I could have puked on demand but instead I just told him not interested and went back inside….

  3. http://www2.insidenova.com/news/2012/mar/26/manassas-debuts-electric-vehicle-charging-stations-ar-1783571/

    Here’s an article about a town in my area installing charging stations for electric cars. I like this quote from an interview from a guy who is “green” enough to have actually bought an electric car:

    He said the new city chargers would be a good idea for residents who have a long commute and can park at the charger while they work. He was concerned with the charging time for residents who he said would need it the most—those traveling distances in excess of their car battery’s single-charge range.

    “You’ll only get 15 to 20 miles per hour,” Karnbach said about the charging time from the Manassas units. “What benefit is it to me if I go to, say, a Walgreens and plug in—I’m probably not going to stay there an hour.”
    (end quoted text)

    So if a person lives 30 miles away and forgets to charge the car before leaving home, they have to live it plugged in for at least two hours otherwise they won’t be able to make it home? The good news is that there are a few good bars that are an easy walk from the chargers so drivers will have something to do while waiting…

    • Well at least they are charging something to use them. But somehow I doubt they will pay for themselves plus upkeep.

      Whomever was interviewed doesn’t seem to really understand how batteries work.
      1) the charge needs to be the voltage of a fully charged battery pack. This means regardless of the line current the car’s charging system adjusts the voltage appropriately. So stating the line in volts doesn’t matter. What matters is current. Of course it’s easier to get the higher currents using higher voltages and then having the charger lower the voltage and increase the current.

      2) The current is limited by what the cells can take without degrading times the number of cells. This is at the voltage of the pack.

      So once the inlet voltage and current is sufficient for the charging system to provide the maximum safe charging current, increasing beyond that is meaningless. What these values are will vary from car to car.

  4. Another fantastic article! I first heard of you from LRC, and love the way you write about a range of issues, raising questions and principles only discussed in niches (unfortunately).

    One question: your articles all end with the same ‘woods’ tagline. What does it mean?

    • Hi Eric –

      Thanks! (And, welcome to our little club.)

      “Throw it in the Woods” is a saying I pirated – this old country guy I used to know would use it as his stock response to any problem. Washing machine broke? Throw it in the woods!

  5. The electric car is still a money loser. The required break through hasn’t happened yet. If it happens automakers will use their own money to develop electric cars. Until then what we have is a bunch of control freaks in DC who say ‘Here’s this pile of money if you go work on what we want you to work on’. So a corporate executive who would like to build competency in electric cars just in case the break through happens takes the money. There’s salaries and bonuses in that big pile of cash. If he doesn’t take it someone else will. Meanwhile the company gets to build competency, in house knowledge, on other people’s money. No way it gets turned down.

    This is a fascist (corporatist) system. You either play by the fascist rules or you get exterminated by the government working for your competition.

    • Based on what I know about the engineering factors, the main obstacle is weight. If you got the car down to around 1,600 lbs., then an electric motor/battery can be efficient enough to make the car practical from a performance point of view and also from an economic point of view.

      But the catch 22 is it’s basically impossible to build a 1,600 lb. car that’s legal (“safety” compliant) and also affordable (i.e., without using costly composites and so on).

      Of course, if you got the weight down under 2,000 lbs., then electric power becomes irrelevant since you could get 70 MPG out of the thing without resorting to elaborate technology.

      The whole thing’s as retarded as Forrest Gump after a lobotomy.

      • Batteries are heavy. That’s where the electric car weight penalty really is. A quick search shows the Volt has a battery pack weight of 175kg (385lb). Electric motors are also heavy. In the end it’s a considerable amount more than what an economy car has tied up in its drivetrain.

        On top of that comes all the other weight adders.

        So even if the safety weight adders were eliminated the electric cars would still be under performers. They would be better, but one still would be better off in dollars and cents to buy a gasoline or diesel powered economy car.

        • Brent, what do you think of the new ceramic ferrite brushless motors from a power/weight perspective? I understand direct drive DC motors have the advantage of getting rid of the gearbox and I’ve heard this can reduce weight significantly.

          What do you think of LiOn tech? Could this improve things further?

          • Li Ion is in use now. It’s how Tesla motors models have turned into expensive bricks when the cells dropped below minimum charge.

          • Li Ion is in use now. It’s how Tesla motors models have turned into expensive bricks when the cells dropped below minimum charge.

            As to the motors, I’ve only worked with tiny stuff so I wouldn’t know at car size.

      • If Senator Forrest would just visit the VW Transparent Phaeton Factory in Dresden, Germany, he could apply the technologies in use there to build new green cities
        The batteries in electric cars only need to be large enough to get your car to the electrified thoroughfares that run throughout your city.
        Cars with a motor able to run on electrical power obtained through Nikola Tesla’s induction system don’t need to have the entire power plant supported by their 4 wheels.
        We can all drive bumper cars that are powered by a grid underneath the road. You just need enough motive power to get your vehicle to these grids.

      • Eric you do not get it. Weight is not the big problem unless you are only talking about low speeds. Wind resistance is a far greater problem. Most people like to sit up high and drive fast. Those are the major problems with gas mileage. If you take two cars and add 500 lbs to one of them and drive that car 10 mph slower on the highway and it will get better mileage.

        Take two cars the same weight and decrease the wind resistance to one and it will get far greater gas mileage. Yes weight makes a difference but not as much as you make it out to be.

        I was recently on a trip and noticed immediate differences in gas mileage when I went from speed limits of 65 mph then 70 mph and then 75 mph. There was a huge difference in gas mileage.

        You are so concerned about things like that extra 40 lbs of air bags or whatever but if you truly want a vehicle that gets great gas mileage then you design it for a max speed of 70 mph. You do not want that though. You liked the VW bug so much but that was not capable of over 100 mph like the power you now can not live without.

        Clover

        • Its’ doubtful you or I have any idea what Eric wants. Thinking otherwise is the losing game of positivism. Let’s talk about what we want.

          I want the men of technical ability to temporarily revolt until TPTB relent and allow us to approach a greater future liberty. With my rhetorical skills, there is a 0%-1% chance my data packets of glyphs I deposit on EPAutos will have any affect.
          If the Clover Majority would allow the suspension of seat belt laws, airbags, and auto insurance, and traffic laws, as your part of the bargain, drivers could adapt and the roads would still function.
          Now, the technician engineer part of the bargain is to re-purpose the wasted safety dollars and put them into the actual transportation grid.
          It would cost the same to have a system where all the streets are assigned nodes and the functions of a vehicle are controlled by an autonet. Under the AutoProtocol vehicle exchange protocol, there would be no fatal crashes just like there are no fatal crashes on the internet.
          If you prefer, you just click on Baltimore Maryland with your driving mouse and the vehicle does the rest. Technically there is no difference to moving packets of information or packets of physical elements.
          When there is an authoritarian Clover stranglehold over most of the physical world, at least demand something good from the men you are choking.

          • Tor,

            You do – you’re a non-Clover! I want the same as you – a society based on free association and voluntarism. Clover doesn’t comprehend us – because Clover worships coercion and collectivism.

          • Eric I understand your wish for volunteerism. You and many others here do none of that so you have to do nothing. That is the flat out truth. You say it is your option to volunteer but why is it that you say that is one of the major things that you back when you do none of it?

            Freedom improve gas mileage? Not in my lifetime. Some of the guys on here can not come close to the rated miles per gallon of their vehicles because of their freedom to speed, tailgate and hit the brakes and aggressive driving which sucks gas.

            Even Dom tells how his motorcycle sucks gas a lot more than his car because he drives it so fast and aggressively. That is freedom.

            Clover

          • Freedom improved gas mileage in the short period of time it was allowed to react to higher fuel prices. Just look at the sales figures for Pinto, Vega, Mustang ii, Maverick, Nova, and other such cars from 1969 to 1976 when CAFE came in.

            Plus many vehicles were sold into the marketplace competing on fuel economy from the time cars began.

            What you, like all control freaks don’t like, is that other people don’t have the same priorities you do. And instead of doing the hard work to convince people of the merits of your priorities you decide to use force and manipulation instead. Or at the very least convince those who wield the power of legal violence to use it.

          • OK Brent since we are talking about fuel economy, what is your daily average? You say you drive a small 4 cyl, it should average at least in the mid 30s. What is your average?

            Clover

            • Here’s the thing, Clover – for the umpteenth time:

              Whatever mileage Brent’s vehicle returns is entirely Brent’s business, because Brent pays for the fuel and Brent paid for the vehicle. It is therefore none of your business.

              And that’s the difference between creatures such as yourself and human beings. You are a thing that lives by force; that is, an animal. You are incapable of even understanding the concept of dealing with others on the basis of free exchange; of living in peace with your fellow man. Because you are not a man. You are a bacillus. A disease that has infected the human genome. The cancer that threatens to destroy humanity.

          • I didn’t realize fast and aggressive are the same:

            “Even Dom tells how his motorcycle sucks gas a lot more than his car because he drives it so fast and aggressively.”

            Even on my worse days with the bike (which has blown piston rings and burns oil, has over 50k on the clock, and the valves are leaking oil) I get around 30 MPG.

            Clover picks an arbitrary topic/question and pounds the fuck out of it.

            FYI, I average 40 MPG in my commuter car and 35 on my hog.

            P.S. Just replaced the tired engine in the hog, so fuel economy will increase, you nosy fucker!

          • OK Dom so you get upset about the things that you have said yourself. Get over it. Do not blame me for things that you have said.

            Clover

            • “OK Dom so you get upset about the things that you have said yourself. Get over it. Do not blame me for things that you have said”

              Parsing Clover-speak is always a challenge!

              Is it just me, or do any of you guys hear the same Lennie (from Mice and Men) cadences in Clover’s sayings?

          • Yes Eric I do not speak as well as you. It is very easy to read what you say. Things like your $2000 air bags and 50 lb spare tires. We know from what you have said that you would prefer cars to be death traps to save a hundred lbs to improve gas mileage but at the same time you drive in a manner that makes your gas mileage suck. We can read what you are saying but it makes no logical sense.

            Clover

            • Ah, Clover – you’re such easy meat!

              Let’s see now.

              “Yes Eric I do not speak as well as you.”

              Well, I wouldn’t know – never having heard you speak.

              “It is very easy to read what you say.”

              Really? And here I thought you were reading what I wrote. Sigh.

              As regards the rest:

              “Things like your $2000 air bags and 50 lb spare tires.”

              Go and run your Cloverwagon into a telephone pole so that both the driver’s side and passenger’s side air bag deploy. Then have the wreck towed to a body shop and get a quote. Meanwhile, remove the spare, jack and related equipment and put the pile on a scale. I’ll wait.

              “We know from what you have said that you would prefer cars to be death traps to save a hundred lbs to improve gas mileage but at the same time you drive in a manner that makes your gas mileage suck. ”

              No, sweet and sour ol’ Clover – what I would prefer is to be able to choose efficiency over your obsession with “safety.” And I can ride my motorcycle at 80 MPH all day and get better mileage than your Clovermobile does at 40!

              Maybe this will help you “read” what I am “saying.” Then, perhaps, you will be able to make “logical sense” out of it… as opposed to the illogical kind.

          • Clover, the actual fuel economy I get is none of your concern. It’s your priority, not mine. The car’s fuel economy is probably about 4th or 5th on the list of why I keep it.

            I beat the EPA rating with it and that’s more than you need to know.

            But this is your typical diversion into the personal. To control through social construct. Of course when that fails it’s government force time. When you learn how to convince people of the superiority of your ideas then you’ll be something. Until then you’re just another control freak.

            I respect socialists and other statists who attempt to argue through ideas and respect that other people may live another way. There aren’t many of them, but there are a few who respect that someone doesn’t want to participate in their vision. They would be happy to simply live their way amongst themselves. You should learn to be like them.

          • Munkov, yes it hard to tell what Eric wants but we know what the government wants concerning transportation. That is less accidents and less deaths. That is shown by improvement in road design and added barriers. They also add seat-belt laws and air bags and crash standards to decrease injuries and deaths.

            What does Eric want? Freedom for dangerous drivers to do as they please and exclusion of all safety devices in vehicles, I would guess that includes the ones on the highway also because it is costing him money.

            Clover

        • It’s common to cling ones preconceived notions and find confirmation, better to be uncommon…

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SKEODtaQUU&feature=player_detailpage

          John Steinbeck’s speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, December 10, 1962

          “Literature was not promulgated by a pale and emasculated critical priesthood singing their litanies in empty churches – nor is it a game for the cloistered elect, the tinhorn mendicants of low calorie despair. Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed.”

          “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires”

          …In every bit of honest writing in the world there is a base theme. Try to understand men, if you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and nearly always leads to love. There are shorter means, many of them. There is writing promoting social change, writing punishing injustice, writing in celebration of heroism, but always that base theme. Try to understand each other.

  6. We often hear talk of “authorities” and “lawful police power.”

    Most Americans think of our police as the lawful power in our society. But it should be remembered that the officers of the Gestapo, KGB, Stasi and all the other enforcers of totalitarianism were the lawful powers of their respective societies.

    Societies we recognize as being ruled by hopelessly evil governments, but at the time, the inhabitants of those societies didn’t think of their police as EVIL. Well, maybe some of them did, but not the majority.

    Officer 82nd Airborne of the West Bumfuck Police Department is no different from Comrade-Lieutenant Ivan of the GRU or Obergruppenfuhrer Hans of the SS. He’s the law, and he wants to see your papers.

  7. “Why doesn’t the Corvette (or the Mustang) need a government subsidy?”

    The Corvette gets huge state tax breaks to keep them in Bowling Green:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2011/04/04/kentucky-approves-incentives-for-next-chevrolet-corvette-but-w/

    While not the same thing as a handout, at a fundamental level, what’s the difference?

    Also, the same post points out that Corvette sales have been terrible over the past few years (granted, article is from 2011). Once the baby boomers start dieing off in large numbers I could easily see GM going to congress and begging for money to keep “an American icon” in production, since I doubt many people in younger age groups want them (and won’t be able to afford them either). If I could afford a Corvette I’d rather buy a good late-model Porsche, BMW or even something crazy like an Alpha Romeo.

    • Good point!

      And I agree – I would not be surprised to wake up one day and learn that GM was lobbying to get the Feds to “save” the Corvette. It’s already been done – Harley Davidson did it.

    • The fundamental difference is that a tax abatement is simply letting people keep the money that is already theirs. Not robbing somebody (i.e., a tax abatement) is fundamentally different from robbing somebody (i.e., taxing) and giving that money to somebody else (i.e., subsidising).

      To consider these things the same, you have to believe that all of the money is the state’s in the first place.

      • Good point, Geo –

        Tax abatement is also fundamentally different from, say Social Security – which some people believe they have a right to because they “paid in.” In fact, their money is long gone. The benefits they receive today are taken by force from current workers – so it’s a form of welfare, just like, well, welfare… The only difference is the person receiving benefits is also a victim – having had his money stolen to finance the benefits given to an earlier generation of recipients.

  8. Eric,

    I guess there’s only one question I have regarding all the political issues you speak of here on this site…

    What do you suggest we do?

    We can’t resolve the truly ugly problems within the system. We can’t VOTE the system back into its proper form. The People won’t demand their rights back from the state. We don’t yet have the technology to leave Earth for some other human-habitable world, if such a planet even exists.

    I’m at a loss here. Do you have any practical ideas?

    • Before we can do anything, a sufficient number of “we” have to be aware there is a problem – and understand the nature of the problem. Most people are well-aware there’s a problem. But few people understand the nature of the problem – and dealing with that is the first step as I see it.

      This is why I always make it a point to clearly call out the violent nature of the system. Not that (for example) it’s “wasteful” or “inefficient” to use taxpayer funds for this or that program. But rather, that it involves threatening to murder your fellow man in order to compel him to provide the funds necessary to advance said program. And so on. Don’t waste your time arguing that (to use another example) seat belt laws are silly. Argue that you oppose using violence or its threat to force people who aren’t causing you any harm to wear seatbelts – and so on.

      Such an awakening is the essential first step. I believe we have made real progress, too. Issues that formerly were never discussed outside of a few small circles are now fairly mainstream. The question, as I see it, is whether we’ve got enough time left before the whole thing implodes….

      • Eric,

        Just a little frustrated here. I really like reading you’re work, but the general tone of “Sinners Repent For The End Is Nigh” in the political articles kind of gets to me.

        But you’re right. The fact that, for example, North Dakota is considering a state-constitutional amendment to abolish property tax is evidence of a light in the darkness.

        I posted the following as a response to another article on this site, but I think it bears repeating:

        There is great hope in the future, but it’ll be a while.

        The immediate future is most likely dystopic, but the history of Western Civilization follows a mountain climber’s path uphill to greater and greater heights. Look at it this way.

        Imagine Western Civilization as a mountaineer. It begins the climb and fights its way up the mountain to a peak, which represents the height of a First Stage of Civilization.

        But then it starts climbing down the other side through a mist that obscures all view, which is the passage into a Dark Age.

        However, sooner or later the mountaineer hits the bottom of the slope, only to find another one rising up before him. So he begins to climb again.

        The slope eventually rises out of the mist and reveals itself to be the side of an even taller peak, which is the Second Stage of Western Civilization.

        The mountaineer ascends THAT great height and then begins his descent and re-ascent.

        Wash, rinse, repeat. The history of the West.

        History says that each stage of Western Civilization is higher than its predecessor, with Dark Ages in between.

        The United States was just the most recent and highest stage.

        Look at the progress toward freedom, justice and achievement the Hebrews, then the Greeks, then the Romans, then the Medieval Europeans, then the people of the Renaissance, then the English and then we made.

        Each stage of Western Civilization outstripped its predecessors.

        Yes, we have a Dark Age in front of us. Hell, we may actually BE IN a Dark Age right now. Who knows? That’s a question for scholars a thousand years from now.

        But just imagine how the next Stage will shine, even if we won’t get to see it.

        Have faith.

        I’ll conclude with one further thing, that each stage of Western Civilization has contributed One Profound Idea to the Great Continuum.

        The Hebrews gave the world the concept of a Monotheistic God.

        The Greeks invented Science.

        The Romans developed Codified Law.

        The Middle Ages saw Christianity and its values establish the foundations of the modern world.

        The Renaissance reactivated the ancient concepts of Science and Law.

        The English created Representative Limited Government.

        The United States confirmed the fact that Liberty is the key that unlocks the genius of the individual.

        And I’d like to think that the next great Idea is to safeguard that Liberty by preventing the State from Making Laws.

        I’d like to believe that one day, the concept of taxation will be thought of the same way slavery or mutilation as punishment for petty crimes now are – a horrid barbarism of the distant past.

        And that the concept of DULY ELECTED, as an appeal to political legitimacy, will go the way of the Divine Right of Kings and the Mandate of Heaven.

        But for right now, lock and load?

        • It’s important, I think, to focus on the possible – without losing sight of the probable and preparing for the potential.

          It is still possible, for example, to resist without risking much – merely by doing such things as refusing to fly, and also by calling things by their honest names as opposed to evading the truth and speaking in euphemisms.

          At the same time, it is prudent to do what’s possible to prepare for the probable – a further descent into lawlessness and lawful tyranny; social upheaval, economic dislocation, etc. In this way, each of us can improve our odds of surviving the potential that’s looming.

          I hope it is still possible to change things for the better merely by changing the minds of a sufficient number of people. That’s what I aim to do via my writing.

          • Eric,

            Your comment on lawlessness got me thinking. What if the general population acted criminally whenever they got a ticket or a tax demand letter?

            Not in the sense of victimizing others, but rather in causing as much resistance for the state as possible if they had a run-in with some government goon.

            “I didn’t do nothin’ pig! What’re you hasslin’ me for?! I WASN’T DOIN’ NOTHIN!”

            Fight every charge tooth and nail. Never cooperate. Continually protest your innocence. Claim to anyone who’ll listen that you’re being set up. Challenge everything they say. Make them EARN their victory or grant your release, then sue their asses off for whatever nonsense you can dream up. Don’t worry, the system’ll accommodate you with this last one.

            Just like a criminal.

            • Two problems:

              It only works if a large number of people do it – and do it at about the same time. If not, the isolated individual just gets jailed (and worse).

              Two, we have something to lose. Real criminals don’t. Which is why real criminals can thumb their noses at the system – while we can’t.

          • Eric wrote –

            “Two problems:

            It only works if a large number of people do it – and do it at about the same time. If not, the isolated individual just gets jailed (and worse).

            Two, we have something to lose. Real criminals don’t. Which is why real criminals can thumb their noses at the system – while we can’t.”

            True enough.

            Does make you wonder, though.

            What sort of society would maximize the amount of time between the establishment of the nation and its eventual implosion?

            I mean a practical, real-world model that would best balance freedom and stability, while giving the coercive utopians and megalomaniacs as few opportunities as possible.

            Sort of like how the aluminum airplanes are made from WILL eventually fail, but the designers know that up front, so they spec the vehicle for maximum lifespan within the material’s limits?

            This material being human nature, of course.

          • Penn Jillette has a podcast called “Penn’s Sunday School.” The episode recorded last Sunday referred to his run in with the local law enforcers in Las Vegas. Interesting episode.

            Basically his view is that we won’t make any progress toward freedom until we feel completely Innocent when facing the state’s enforcement mechanism.

            Food for thought.

            • I a, already there. I feel zero guilt – indeed, I feel good – when I break “the law.” I do my utmost to ignore ridiculous traffic laws; to drive faster than the speed limit, to not wait like a drone for the “right on red only” if the way is obviously clear. I encourage everyone else to do the same.

              Viva Gorditas!

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