Choices Made for Us . . .

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When you’re not free to choose, you take what you get. More precisely, you get what those who’ve taken away your choices decide you’ll have.

No more – and a lot less.

This taking away of choices does more than diminish our options. It diminishes our humanity. One of the easiest ways to see this – literally – is to have a look at a group of people wearing the same uniform. It makes them look all the same, the literal meaning of uniform.

One form.

It is not accidental that uniforms are common in contexts where the individual’s choices are reduced to nil – as in the military. As in tyrannies, where the old school uniform was the dreary black or grey suit worn by the Dear Leader – and by everyone else, too. Or – in modern tyrannies – the Chin Diaper, which serves the same essential purpose as a uniform. Which is to establish the look of universality and – just as important – to make it clear that choice is no longer yours to make.

Americans used to have all kinds of choices – especially when it came to cars, which were a visual affirmation of the choices they were free to make, generally.

There were very basic cars and there were very fancy cars, with a spectrum of prices that made it possible for practically anyone to buy a car that suited their means and their preferences. You could buy something not far removed from a lawn mower – old VW Beetles had air-cooled engines not much different from the air-cooled engines that powered what you used to cut your grass with. The old Beetle didn’t have air conditioning and it wasn’t very speedy but it was very different by dint of being very affordable. Almost anyone could afford to buy it. Or you could buy something more evolved, which suited your needs and budget better.

Practically anything you might want was available – and you were free to choose it because the car companies were free to build it and offer it, if they thought there were probably enough people interested in buying it.

These expressed preferences determining what was available.

This was called the free market – and it existed (more or less) from the dawn of the automotive age at the beginning of the last century to nearly the end of it.

It does not exist any longer – which accounts for the uniformity of current cars. The market has not decided that all cars must look and actually be largely the same cars (modern cars are as functionally homogenous as they are aesthetically homogenous). That choice has been made for us by the government, which over a period of about 50 years gradually acquired the power to effectively winnow down the choices we’re allowed to make to size, color and the number of doors.

To be precise, it is the government bureaucracy that has winnowed down the choices available to us to those choices.

Which is not unlike the choice to receive the Jab or lose your job.

This is noteworthy because we are told we live in a democracy, which is to say a place where the people have the right to make choices and the government is bound to defer to them. But there is nothing democratic about the federal regulatory apparat, which is just a few people making choices for all the people.

Who have few choices, once those choices are imposed upon them.

Agencies such as the Department of Transportation issue uniform regulations that all car makers must abide by, irrespective of the expressed choices of the people buying cars – whose choices are never allowed to be made in the first place by dint of the regulations that preclude them.

You cannot buy a new car like the old Beetle – something very basic and thus very affordable – because the few who are the unelected regulatory apparat have decreed such cars may not be built. The interesting thing about that being no law specifying such a prohibition was ever passed by the people in this “democracy.” Rather, the regulatory bureaucracy – which is never obliged to submit itself to the choice of the people – issues regulations that serve the same purpose as a law, without the bother of having to pass a law.

The people be damned (with apologies to the phraseology of William Henry Vanderbilt, who actually meant a very different thing; the opposite thing, in fact, of today’s meaning).

It works very much like the way things work in an army, where the soldiers wear the same uniform and eat the same food and do the same things – with the difference being that they are under no illusions about having much choice.

And they signed up for it. Made the choice to be uniform.

For us, the facade of choice remains, when it comes to the cars we’re allowed to buy – and which the car companies are allowed to build. We can choose to buy a Toyota or a Chevy or a BMW. And they still let us pick the size and the color. Also the number of doors – though even that choice is winnowing, a function of the same regulatory pressure that is winnowing choices, generally.

You may have noticed that there is not much choice left in the way of sedans, for instance. And of cars, generally. Only a few car companies still sell cars at all – and there are only a few sedans (a form of car) still available. Superficially, it may appear that people prefer crossovers – the homogenized form of vehicle that is becoming the only form of vehicle we’re allowed to buy – because they are more versatile and thus more practical than sedans and cars, generally.

Which is true, but only superficially.

Why are sedans and cars generally less versatile and practical?

It is because of the choices made by the regulatory apparat that place a maximum priority on gas mileage rather than physical size, which has led to smaller sedans with smaller trunks that are much less versatile and practical than crossovers – which are shaped homogenously so as to maximize the amount of interior space available inside the box. The sedan shape can only be made more spacious by making it longer – and that means bigger and heavier, which means more engine – which means lower gas mileage, which the apparat makes more expensive, via fines for noncompliance with the ever-higher uniform “standards” it imposes.

The new standard – that all vehicles be electrified – via the imposition of regulations that winnow the choices available to build them otherwise and thus, for us to have the choice to buy something else –  will leave us with very little choice to buy anything that isn’t an electric crossover.

The Universal Transportation Appliance.

Small, medium or large. 

But we’ll probably still be allowed to choose the color.   

. . .

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37 COMMENTS

  1. All alike in even more ways that Eric’s latest covered. I’m sure Eric has a limit on words per story! Bought a new Jeep Wrangler and it comes with a one year “free” of Sirius do dads in the car’s programming not the radio. Like remote start that becomes part of one’s smart phone. No longer part of the key FOB. If was a simple choice for me, no thank you. If you want to keep the radio with Sirius, it’s inexpensive but they keep your credit/debit card information to raid your bank account at renewal time. Yes you can make the refund you your money but you can’t op out of having to go through the hassle and willfully renew. Another, no thank you. Just bought a new C8 custom ordered Corvette, $80,000. With a number of emails I pushed the blue On Star button for a free 90 days of trial service. But I have to give GM a credit card number to get the free trial service after just handing over 80 grand. The one thing all of these different systems have in common is the demand of plastic but all of them want the cars owner to be part of Apple Card Play so they can charge your credit/ debit card through Apple. The cars want to keep their hands in the car owner’s pocketbook for years to come. No thank you.

    • Hi Mark,

      Yup – and that’s why much as I admire the performance/capability of a car like that new Corvette, I’d rather spend $30k doing a complete resto job on my ’76 Trans-Am. True, it will likely never handle as well as the ‘Vette, no matter what I do to it. But in the hands of a guy who knows how to drive, it could match moves with a Corvette driven by a person without more than average skills. Regardless, my TA will never control me – or filch my wallet, electronically!

  2. If I’m an automobile manufacture, and I want to streamline my operation, cut costs, etc. I don’t want to make a variety of automobiles.

    if I really want to make money like the banking cartels, then I also want to finance, and that requires more expensive cars that most people can’t afford without making payments.

    So I have my legal team draw up the regulations and hand them off to some government agency.

    The automobile manufacturers are to blame. Corporate Amerika has taken over the government so I will not patronize their products anymore. i will buy the old VW bug and drive without AC or back up cameras.

    The best way to fix this problem is to starve the beast.

  3. Speaking of limited choices and conformity… Eric, did you see the ‘post’ I wrote on car colors? It should be ‘pending review’ or whatever that state is called in wordpress. Just something I wrote up to for you to use here if you want to, to have an article to fill in or whatever. No issue if LRC copies it like they did once upon a time either. If you don’t want to use it, that’s fine too.

  4. Oh the happy little bugmen. Why have a choice and true feature differentation, when you can choose a brand name? That is, after all, that which tells you and everyone else who you are. In a fit of irony, the least evolved bugs are the MuskMaoChinNuts. I am green. I am techno-savvy. I am a hero. I am smart. I am the future. Thus you, are a dinosaur and must be destroyed. I know many of these chin nut Musk Cultists, and every one of them is as dumb as an acorn.

    This auto revolution isn’t going to work. These dolts are, as Toyota’s patriarch has stated, going to destroy the auto industry, and much of the rest of the economy trying to make a mass market for these inferior products. Buy cash flows from copper, met coal, thermal coal, nickel, aluminum, and the reliable energy sources needed to produce and distribute and power these bug-mobiles en masse. We need to have a plan to strengthen ourselves for when this comes undone. We can’t stop this tidal wave, but we can position ourselves to profit from it on both sides of the trade.

    They can own nothing and be happy. We can own our little claims on the materials needed to carry out this madness and arrive at the day when this fantasy crumbles in a position of strength.

    Thank you Eric. This is an insightful article about what we all see on the road – nothing but the brand nameplate as differentiator – just as the bugmen and their unseen commissars like it.

  5. Never did the depressing lack of choice hit home harder than 2.5 years ago when my ’06 Forester manual turbo blew a gasket. When I found out that Subaru only offered manuals in the Cross Trek (no thank you at any price) and the WRX (my bucket car) I decided to keep the Forester and have the engine rebuilt at a later date. My husband’s Accord was just as old as my car, so we decided to minimize the stress and buy two vehicles at the same time (he got a CRV).

    I do not consider myself an average female car shopper because I’m proud to admit that I love a fast vehicle that is fun to drive and I could not care less about the environment or my carbon footprint. I drive a lot and I require 3 things – manual transmission, performance, and handling at whatever cost per gallon it takes.

    I was heartbroken at the pathetic choice I had from the limited manufacturers (Subaru and Honda) I was willing to buy from.
    Because of my aging knees and my kids’ horror picturing their children’s grandmother behind the wheel of a WRX, I opted for an Accord 2.0T 6 speed. The dealer had to have it flown in from Mars, and I admit it’s a fun sucker to drive, fast as hell, and handles like a dream. That’s all the credit I can give it. Beyond that, I don’t appreciate being treated to a nag fest every time I get into the car or getting sudden brake whiplash whenever the brake sensor thinks a phantom whatever is coming at me, but it was the only car with a manual transmission I thought I could live with.

    A recent look at Blue Book stated that my car at 35K miles is worth damn near what I bought it for. So much for the BS line that “nobody wants manual transmissions anymore.” I think that after we get the Subie tagged again I’m gonna petition my husband to get rid of the CRV and he can drive the Accord and I’ll drive the Subie.

    I’ve never been a trend setter, but I’m seeing more and more people opting to keep/restore their aging vehicles. We also have a mid-size ’06 Dodge Dakota truck with a manual trans that we’re hanging on to as well. Could this be the single finger salute wave of the future to piss off the tree huggers? Nothing would make me happier!

  6. Since the only way to get a decent car anymore is to buy a used one, in your opinion what is the last year that cars still had any practical value before they became our current bland mess?

    • Many new dealerships are running low on ’22 models. I will avoid a plug in for now, a SUV hybrid is something I may get next year, another option is the Seltos by Kia. Reason SUV’s are popular, easier to get in and out of and loading stuff in the back like coolers, other containers , groceries or luggage. Many people went from mini vans (us incl) several decades ago, to a small to midsize suv. Sedans and cars not as practical. young folks starting out (like me in the 70’s) now buy a Corolla, Honda Fit, Kia Forte, K5, Nisson Sentra.

  7. Look how well DC is handling the roll out of vaccines to kids 5-11!

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/parents-react-after-learning-kids-received-expired-vaccines/ar-AARuDgW?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531

    Does a vaccine no longer work after two days past the expiration? I have eggs that are two weeks past their Doom Date in the fridge. Should I be concerned? I love (sarcastically speaking) how the medical community is up in arms (no pun attended) over a two-day expiration date, but double dosing that same child doesn’t raise any concerns?!?

    • Expired mRNA jab means the mRNA has broken down at least to some extent or maybe no difference at all.
      Provided there’s nothing much else in the jabs the expired jabs still get the card marked as being jabbed but no turning of the cells into spike protein factories, maybe, if they are lucky.

  8. Eric, one of the main problems is the so called “Civil Service”. As it stands, its almost impossible to fire them. Which means that no matter who is in the top positions, the same people remain in place for decades. That is one of the main dangers of any highly centralized organization. After awhile it spends much more time on its internal agenda, than it does on its supposed purpose. Such groups are also easy to infiltrate and subvert. Something that the Progs specialize in.

  9. It goes deeper than the defined regulations too. Any responsible business will self-select products and services viewed in part from the persepective of how regulators might react to it, even if there’s no specific rule in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) that pertains to it. And even to ask for guidence is to tempt fate. This, despite every federal regulatory agency having a “dual mandate” to both restrict and promote the industry they oversee.

    • Seriously. There is an elimination of color choice too. Seems like all I see out there is white, black, silver, and gray. Maybe 2% are some derivative of red or tan. And everything else is less than 1%.

  10. “Ah, but wait! There’s more!”

    Those among the “privileged” certainly do NOT deny themselves whatever indulgences they can get, nor do they bother with the same constraints that we “serfs” are admonished to observe…certainly not the face diaper, as one of the embarrassments from my state (CA), Speaker Pelosi, is seen dispensing with when it suits her (and she thought she’d not be observed), or the “Governor”, who, prior to being embarrassed with the phony recall election (the corruption of which deserves its own article), had prompted same by wining and dining with his cronies at some wine country posh Frog restaurant.

    Way back some 75 or so years ago, Dear ol’ “Uncle Joe” Stalin certainly didn’t lack for the finest that the Soviet automotive industry could churn out, had a penchant for whatever American rides Harry Hopkins, Averill Harriman, or even FDR himself had brought over as a gift from the American people. His fave was a Packard, which at times he’d get behind the wheel himself, but absolutely forbad any photography when he did…mostly b/c the First Secretary was a rather short man (about 5’3″), and when at the wheel, had to sit on a specially-made “booster” seat in order to see properly, so he looked like a junior high schooler furtively driving Dad’s ride!

  11. What cars will the regulators allow the Kulaks to drive? The Kulaks being the unvaccinated or un-boosted? My guess it will be the horse. We’ll be able to go when and where we want around their road-blocks and around their cars that they will lock us out by not having a current vax card to drive. We better get ready to plow our own fields and make our own bread.

  12. JK:While I agree with the sentiment that agents of the state and bureau-rats are whores, I think they are worse than whores. A whore only sells what is actually theirs. Something bureau-rats and politicians will never do.

    • Just as back in ’84, “Ol’ Dutch” (Ronald Reagan), admonished liberal Democrats in the Congress for spending the taxpayers monies like drunken sailors. Then he caught himself, realizing he’d made an intemperate remark, and apologized…to DRUNKEN SAILORS.

  13. I have yet to discover, or have pointed out to me, where in the supreme law of the land congress is allowed to delegate its authority to create law to a bureaucracy. Which means that each and every bureaucrat that creates such law, currently known as “regulations”, is a criminal. Which means without reservation that the US is a nation of Men, NOT law. That whatever scoundrel is capable of purchasing government authority is free to do so. Washington DC is nothing less than a red light district, with the government whores selling power to the wealthiest corporate Johns.

  14. It is a ‘facade of choice’ as you say. No where is this more evident than the incestuous relationship between “the news” and our uni-party politicos. It astounds me that more people have yet to catch on to this reality. The sheep are apparently still dazzled by the Donks and the Pubes, must be the different color ties they wear around their necks.

  15. ‘Which is not unlike the choice to receive the Jab or lose your job.’ — eric

    … or to be denied boarding on a ship or aircraft. These folks complied … and here’s what happened next:

    ‘Ten people aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship approaching New Orleans have tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Saturday night.

    ‘The Norwegian Breakaway had departed New Orleans on Nov. 28 and is due to return this weekend, the Louisiana Department of Health said in a news release. Over the past week, the ship made stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico.

    ‘More than 3,200 people are on board the ship, officials said. [Norwegian] requires all passengers and crew members to have been vaccinated against the virus at least two weeks prior to departure.’ — AP News

    What can one say, except to repeat (and repeat, and repeat) what CDC director Weeping Walensky admitted August 5th on CNN: ‘What [‘vaccines’] can’t do anymore is prevent transmission.

    Four months later, tens of millions of media-programmed Americans remain unable to process Walensky’s cognitively dissident statement … just as doomsday cult members refuse to believe the world didn’t end on the appointed date, and instead set a new date.

    If they’re called ‘vaccines,’ they must work, right?? That’s what the talking heads say on the prolefeed.

    When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.‘ — George Orwell

  16. When it happens naturally, fewer choices aren’t a bad thing. they are the result of inefficient players being driven out of the market. We are left with those who can best use their resources as our choices.

    When it happens due to govt fiat, we see we are not better off. I think everyone preferred incandescent lights to compact fluorescents and toilets that used to flush.

    This lack of choice is devoid of the coordination between consumers and producers, handed down to us by our betters.
    Except the example of our betters these days are Brandon, Kamala & Pelosi.

    Govt education has been highly effective if the public accepts this as normal, good & proper.

    • ‘When it happens naturally, fewer choices aren’t a bad thing.’ — Dan

      Whereas the managed market (dirigisme in French) has given us a ‘choice’ of three great ‘vaccines’ — and dozens more from our prolific overseas comrades!

      Truly our bounty overflows. /sarc

  17. Funny, that was what all the neighborhoods were starting to look like in Alexandria in the late 1980’s, an endless sea of cookie-cutter 3 story clapboard condos, mile after mile, and they really did all look just alike.

    • The difference being, those cookie cutter condos were apparently close to what people wanted, unlike the pretend market for bureaucratically approved cars. There are only two things which can stop an economy from growing. Natural disaster, which is typically temporary, and government interference, which does not stop until the economy dies.

      • LOL My guess you don’t have an HOA in your neighborhood. Developments go so far as to have approved paint colors and exterior materials. “Sure, so don’t live there,” except that with the mega develpements that went up in the DC area, not living there means commuting to work from Cumberland MD.

        • I would never, under any circumstance, be guilty as charged of being involved in either an HOA, or working in DC. So no, I have no experience in such matters.

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