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It's all about your priorities.

by Colman Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 05:01:07 AM EST

According to the FT

Europe’s car industry will have to cut its carbon dioxide emissions to 130g/km by 2012, the European Commission is expected to agree on Wednesday.
This is less than the cuts that the environment commissioner, and soon to be Japanese car user, Stavros Dimas, wanted. They expect to achieve a further 10g/km cut through miracles. I mean use of biofuels and other innovations, including ones that tell the driver to change gear or inflate their tires.

But this is the good bit:

Commission officials say the scheme will seek to strike a balance between the interests of manufacturers of big and small cars.
At what fucking point, exactly, did this scheme become about the interests of car manufactuers? The point is to reduce CO2 output, not balance the interests of various marketing department spewing out the latest in teutonic penis extensions and substitutes.

The industry had been backed last week by Angela Merkel, German chancellor, who warned Brussels against setting emissions targets that hit the motor industry, particularly companies such as DaimlerChrysler and BMW which produce larger models with higher emissions.
Aiiiieeeeeeee. The whole damn point is that conspicious consumption by car is causing a huge and pointless amount of our CO2 output. Can we please compete for status on some other basis?

The car industry, which says that even a 130g limit would be very difficult to meet, industry looks almost certain to fail to fulfil its 1999 voluntary agreement to cut emissions to 140g/km by 2008.

The current Fiat Punto, which is bigger than the version I drive, gets 123g/km. The problem is precisely big cars and conspicious consumption.


Display:
So much of the current system's inefficiency is down to conspicious consumption. We need to channel our status competition into avenues that produce less CO2 and burn less oil.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 05:03:47 AM EST
    This raises and interesting question: what other ways are in today's world to show your status? Nobility titles do not impress anyone now, and I think it is illegal to keep a horde of slaves around, or at least of clients.
    Of course, all this does not mean that conspicuous consumption is not as old itself.
by Deni on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:57:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would depend on how you need to display your status to reassure yourself. As an exercise - which I don't have time to do right now* - list the things from which you derive comfort about your social status.

* Not having time is, in fact, sometimes a status marker: look! I'm busy so I'm important.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:00:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Being socially inept, I don't know what my social status is, never mind what things are responsible for, or make me comfortable about it.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:01:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not really about what your social status is perceived as by others, more about how you perceive how other people perceive you, especially for the anonymous middle classes.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:04:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I don't know how others perceive me, that's what "socially inept" means.

Things I visibly don't have:

An ipod; a car; a bluetooth earpiece for my mobile; a watch; expensive clothes, shoes, or glasses.

The only think I can think of is my job, for those people who have a reason to ask me what I do, and I'm not particularly happy about that one either. Maybe having organic food delivered to our door each week is a status marker. I can't help but thinking of it as snobbery, at times.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and I have a bike that I sometimes use to commute, and a fairly complete set of windproof bike clothing and other accessories to go with that.

But any of these status markers actually make me feel embarrassed.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:20:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you are one of the top posters in the classiest European blog...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 11:00:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, it is really quite a bit easier, not to speak of cheaper, to just not give a damn about status.
On the other hand, I suspect that you, as well as I, are in that strange scientific (academia/quasi-academia) social segment that can show its superior social status by dressing badly. "Oh look at me, I'm so smart I don't even have to care how I look! I'm important enough to be completely lazy and put on the first things I find on my bedroom floor in the morning. If you are lucky, I'll remember the pants!"
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:11:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is that: I think it was Veblen that suggested that being an academic, artist or thereabouts was worth several social classes.

It's also about not expecting or being expected to play by exactly the same rules as "normal" people.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:14:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have never felt to belong to any class (except, maybe, as a middle-class kid). In fact I have been at some pains to make myself classless, so I can easily circulate through the strata. But that has less to do with clothes or visible paraphenalia, and more to do with the fact that no-one quite knows what I do. And I sometimes wonder myself.


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 08:13:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, Veblen said that academics were in the unfortunate position of having to belong to a social class above their monetary class. And therefore spent a higher proportion of their money on status displays than any other segment.
by bil on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 02:43:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's really about being in a completely different hierarchy. The intellectual classes (plural) has a hierarchy just as much as the monied classes. This hierarchy consists of non-members, students, grad students, assistant professors, tenured professors, and so on.

You're going to say that the monied classes are special because their appeal encompasses the greater mass of people to form the middle class. But this too is false since it is a distinctive feature of Anglo-American societies and not Western let alone Eastern European societies.

For every Lifestyle, there is a hierarchy within that lifestyle. People who are in, people who are out. Examplary paragons and mere amateurs. Furthermore, few human beings are individualized enough to have lives that are anything but a crude agglomeration of ready-made pre-packaged Lifestyles.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Wed Feb 7th, 2007 at 01:21:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I've pointed out before, just keeping to a minimum acceptable standard for Sam's work milieu - we're virtually class traitors for owning only one car, and a small one at that - is bloody expensive. But that's the point of conspicious consumption, of course.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:16:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
going to Paris to buy cheese counts ? ;-)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 10:27:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cheese? Nah, I can get cheese here. Decent charcuturie is a different matter.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 10:32:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But for decent charcuterie, Paris is not the place. You have to go all the way to Lyon...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 10:58:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope this little regional contretemps will not lead to butchery. ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 11:41:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Remind me to bring some charcuterie lyonnaise next time I come to Helsinki...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 12:21:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I certainly will, mon ami. Good to see your sig here again...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 01:10:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But I'll throw "owning nice stuff" into the pot. Though I'm more interested in my tech toys and some nicely crafted other things than excessively big cars or massive ranch houses (Which is lucky, since you would not believe the price of a big house in Dublin. Or a small house, for that matter. Did I mention we suddenly decided to move house?)

And consuming nice food. There's a status marker, mixed in with the more visceral pleasures.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:03:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
   No, things you can show to the world, not that make you feel good. Answering to your previous question, I think a lot of people are more self-assured by the reactions of others (admiration, envy etc.) than anything else.
by Deni on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:08:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In most cases they don't know what those reactions are: it's mostly the imagined reactions that reassure them.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:11:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The communist isn't going to care that the capitalist boss thinks well of him. The same goes for the capitalist in reverse. And the environmentalist, and so on.

So first you must establish who it is that you're talking about. Whose status competition is it that produces CO2 and burns oil? The answer to this is obvious, it is the rich. It certainly isn't the political dissidents nor the intellectuals nor the artists.

So your strategy can only be interpreted in a limited number of ways. Either the rich must use natural resources other than fossil fuels. Or the rich must use design (human attention) as a resource. Or finally they must cease being "rich", regardless of their wealth.

You should know that the first two avenues are impossible. There are 6 billion human beings on this planet graduating from an ever increasing number of schools, universities and colleges. There are also powerful supercomputer, sophisticated expert systems, and a long-term research programme to develop artificial intelligence. Attention is not scarce and if it is scarce it will no longer be so.

As for other natural resources, what makes fossil fuels scarce is that we consume them. We burn them or synthesize from them and they are no more. This is not the case with steel or aluminum or copper, all of which are extensively recycled. It is also not the case with materials like diamond which are easily synthesizable. And of course both glass and concrete were cheap back in the heyday of the Roman empire. And while gold and platinum are scarce, they are also relatively useless.

So you are left with my personal favourite, eliminating the rich as a class. I personally favour every solution that has even a hair's breadth chance of working, including reprogramming, imprisonment and mass murder. You of course might prefer to eschew violence as a tactic so maybe getting rid of currency in its present form (which has a good chance of working) is more to your taste.

In any case you are stuck with only two options; embrace conspicuous waste or become a communist.

by richardk (richard kulisz gmail) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 10:32:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
indeed.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:41:01 AM EST

The point is to reduce CO2 output, not balance the interests of various marketing department spewing out the latest in teutonic penis extensions and substitutes.

Communist.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:44:37 AM EST
This is why I wrote in an earlier Salon that Dimas's choice of Toyota is silly, because the Prius is a BIG car (and the Lexus he was contemplating even more so).

There are lots of luxury versions of the small cars. Hell, he could have taken a luxury version of the mini, or of the Modus (lots of legroom) or even the A-Class or the Audi A2 Diesel (which gets 78 mpg).

The symbolism of taking a smaller car would have been better than the cheap stunt of taking a Japanese car, which antagonizes the industry further and insures that nothing will happen.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:49:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But, as I told you back then, he's got a mercedes so he's not going to go for anything less than a Prius or a Lexus.

Bus passes would do nicely.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:53:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
is a Mercedes. Audi would be okay, I think.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to some analyses, [attribution needed] Mercedes-Benz considers the creation of the A-Class to have reduced its prestige in Europe, and the company has concentrated its efforts on its other, larger vehicle (and more profitable) lines.
Sigh

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:00:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Prius is not a big car (unless you compare it to a Smart). It's a mid-sized car comparable to an Audi A4 or Ford Mondeo. This is two steps down from the luxury segment Commissioners usually have and only one up from the Golf segment the A-Class and Mini belong to (the A2 is another class smaller). Either way, the Prius gets better mileage than the Mini or the A-Class.

The symbolism is justified as the German car industry has been lagging behind on the hybrid front, so they deserve the slap in the face, and more. It isn't just symbolism, it's also a long overdue first step towards greening goverment strategy in the EU. Potentially. The next step is to design a comprehensive procurement policy which puts a heavy weight on environmental impacts.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 08:23:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]

At what fucking point, exactly, did this scheme become about the interests of car manufactuers?

Because THEY CREATE JOBS, don't you know? We should be grateful of anything they do and we should never prevent them from doing anything, becuase that destroys jobs!

Remember that the biggest economic problem ever, and the cause of Europe's decline, stagnation, irrelevance, and subsequent destruction is unemployment.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:54:50 AM EST
That is why the government picks up the tab when large companies like these decide to lay off their workers, by allowing them to go into early retirement instead. Right?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:57:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't seem to remember (am I that old?) that the stagecoach manufacturers, farriers, ostlers and vets were supported when their transport industry was found no longer relevant to the society in which they operated. Oh yes sorry - they didn't have a vote. Scrub that ;-)

Society evolves. Circumstances change. Employment changes. The society that fails is one which fails to educate people to be human beings first and work fodder last.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:59:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's because government still perceives too much tax money to waste.

That logic is infaillible.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 10:33:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh?  Comment not make sense.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 10:39:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Makeum heap big trouble?

Why paleface talk with locoweed?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 11:39:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tax man = percepteur in french.
He who perceives.

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.
by lacordaire on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 11:56:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, a gallicism. perceive = receive (or grab)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 12:01:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes I wonder if all this detail regulation is really needed. Why not just raise fuel taxes and let the Market work it's Magic (tm)?

But I guess this is less politically noxious and give the clerks in Bruxelles something to spend their time on.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 06:58:38 AM EST
Is 130g/km a value averaged out over all the models a company produces?

Money is a sign of Poverty - Culture Saying
by RogueTrooper on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:07:53 AM EST
And how is such an average weighted?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:12:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would like to recall that not forcing euroepan automakers to get to the 125  g/km  for medium and medium-large cars can heavily backfire..a s the lack of improvement in mileage standards in the US during the 90's.

I think it is good to try to get there for medium and medium -large size.. just for the technology component..

One day eventually we should reduce consumption.. I just happent ot hink that unfortunately it will nto happen until oil becomes very expensive and the manufacturers have to adapt their models quickly.. then the best mileage will win...

The bad spot is of course... what happens if the increase in oil prices is too sudden, with no time to adapt (luckily in the jump from the 10-20$ barrel to the present 50-70$ it took roughly a year)...int his recession will take account for the destruction of consumption...

So... taxes on oil and tolls in roads will not be a bad idea...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:12:46 AM EST
Off topic: kcurie, I think this should be translated for ET and put in context. I have asked Escolar for permission but have no time today.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 07:17:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you want me to translate  it?

I am rather busy.. but I can have a try.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 09:28:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'll translate and you can do the context. I created a writeboard (http://123.writeboard.com/4a71463dc6a35f34a) password: escolar

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 6th, 2007 at 10:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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