Commercial Analysis

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Peddling Pull

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Sean Blankenship sincerely believes that he’s “making the electric car more accessible.” He is truly unable to integrate all of the facts surrounding why he’s in the position he’s in. He is aware of them, but he can not make sense of them. More importantly, he doesn’t want to be able to make sense of them – and altruism provides him the opportunity to avoid having to do so.

In the commercial, the “negative externalities” (as they’re called in the jargon of post-modern economics) of pollution and congestion are blamed upon selfishness. If people cared less about their own narrow concerns and more about the bigger picture, the story goes, these things would not exist. Here are two historical examples of people caring more about the bigger picture than about themselves: the welfare state and labor activism. The result of the former was the institutionalized pardoning and encouragement of indecent behavior, irresponsible home ownership, and crime. The result of the later was wide-spread belief that low-level, unskilled or partially-skilled labor was more valuable than it actually is. The popular reaction to both was the creation of suburban sprawl – and the resultant pollution and congestion. The first contributed by giving relatively decent people nowhere to go except out to the hinterlands t create the suburbs, and the second encouraged these people to realize the delusion that they deserved the same kind of relaxing, country club lifestyle that their “fat cat” bosses enjoyed. The major facilitator of both of these phenomenons? Government. The excuse the politicians gave to be given these powers? Fighting against the “excesses” of selfishness for the sake of something “bigger”, “nobler”, whatever. Irony. Tragic, tragic irony.

If the principles of a free society had been adhered to from the beginning, suburban sprawl, pollution, and traffic congestion would never have happened. The worst in the society would have either died of starvation or existed on the periphery of civilization – in small towns and on farms. They certainly wouldn’t have been subsidized to destroy historic, solidly-built, well organized neighborhoods right in the center of American cities. Similarly, if freedom had been respected, the cries by industrial labor unions to be given the political power to force more from industry management would have been ignored. The value of labor would have been seen for what it actually is: a marginally valuable activity deserving of a comfortable, yet modest, urban existence. The phenomenon of poorly-built, pretentiously-decorated homes on cheap land far from cultural values, and accessible only by equally poorly-built, pretentiously-decorated automobiles, would have never come into existence. There wouldn’t have been a demand for any of it.

Unfortunately, this is not what happened. The culture destroying, pollution causing, and traffic generating phenomenon of suburbanization continued unabated. Whenever the anxiety of betrayal and appeasement became too much, and they felt they should feel happy about it, they praised it in superficially capitalist terms such as “progress”, “privacy”, and “comfort” – and whenever they felt bad about it, they criticized it as “indulgent”, “wasteful”, and “selfish.” This commercial is doing both: pretending like what they are show casing is capitalism (not corporatism), as well as claiming that the moral basis of capitalism can be altruism (not egoism).

The fact that electric cars, hybrid cars, ethanol, and all the rest of the “green” solutions to transportation are some of the most heavily subsidized and government-encouraged activities in the country is not one that is difficult to discover. The people who work on these projects are no different than their labor union predecessors. People like Sean Blankenship are being paid far more than they’re worth, to provide a technological “solution” to a problem that is actually moral/political. Whenever his self-delusion that he’s an entrepreneur, equal to people who create things without government help or encouragement, wears thin – just like the union thieves who resorted to accusations of “selfishness” whenever their pretensions about “justice” became too obviously bogus – Sean Blankenship will do and say whatever he can to fall back on the excuse that he’s not a political parasite, but a high-minded, altruistic, non-money-grubbing idealist; so that makes it okay.


Written by commercialanalysis

August 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Posted in Education

2 Responses

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  1. This is one of the best commentaries on the evil of the welfare state that I have seen from an Objectivist commentator. This should get as much publicity as possible in O’ist circles and beyond. Great work.


    August 11, 2010 at 2:48 pm

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