2018-10-25

Gas Pump Politics are a Sure Sign We are Screwed

[What fresh hell is this?]
Imagine if the cigarette industry had never been reined in. Imagine if "Surgeon General's" warnings had never been amplified into a more meaningful gesture -- SMOKING KILLS -- or had never even existed in the first place. Imagine if cigarette taxes had been fought and killed at every level politically, and, even worse, that cigarettes were subsidized and provided to the public at below market costs. Imagine if cigarette commercials were not banned from TV, but instead became an omnipresent, full of sexy images and catchy jingles at all hours of the day and night promoting smoking.

That's the infuriating reality we live in, only cars are the new tobacco.

Filling the gas tank of a borrowed car the other night, I was greeted to the dumbfounding sight of a Jeff Johnson political ad blaring out of the TV installed in the gas pump.

"Tim Walz wants to raise the gas tax," it said, along with a bunch of other scary sounding things.

(Well, at least that part is true.)

Robot gas pumps spewing misleading defense of car culture is a desperate throe of a deadly 20th century legacy.  To me, today's gasoline guzzling political Koch-addicts recall the tobacco company lobbyists of the 80s and 90s, like the ones parodied in the film Thank You For Smoking or eulogized in The Insider. These are folks who desperately lied and cheated their way into preserving a way of life that killed millions.


[This guy is tremendously dishonest.]

The same thing is happening today with the political desperation around the automobile, where defending the planet-killing gas pumps and freeways are the last refuge of a political ideology devoid of ideas.

The "Stuck in Traffic? Blame Transit" billboards that line Twin Cities' suburban freeways is gaslighting bullshit brought to you by the hacks at the Center for the American Experiment. Johnson's wannabe Scott Walker gas pump ads droning on and on from a loudspeaker in the fluorescent night... Michelle Bachmann promising to bring back cheap gas as she loses her mind in front of Minnesota voters... The Koch Brothers / "Flint Hills Resources" astroturfing campaigns against transit funding in cities across the country...

Meanwhile the ice caps melt and the storms rage louder.   

[A real pic taken by my friend Amanda in Southern Minnesota.]

Imagine an Idiocracy-level future where gas pumps worked like early streaming video: wealthier people pay a fee and get their gas right away, but folks who want a five-cent discount have to watch a bunch of ads first, about how science is bunk, about how climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, or as Trump says, "it'll fix itself." Imagine getting a penny off a gallon for each time you whack a punching bag shaped like a pipeline protestor.

It's not that far fetched. Car culture will not go gently to the grave. The Republican snake oil men will do anything they can to keep profit margins fat while the world burns. Freedom gas, now offering predatory loans from the pump: it's not even a metaphor any more.

It suffices to say that gas pump ads should be illegal, just like direct to consumer pharmaceutical ads should be illegal. (To me, pharma ads are shameful, a national embarrassment worthy of our immoral profit-driven health care economy.)



Instead we should regulate gas pumps like they did with tobacco. There should be massive warning labels on gas stations: not "Kwik Trip", but "Kwik Death." Not "Holiday", but "Extinction " should be emblazoned on the marquee.

People buying gas should be required to watch videos of polar bears starving to death or scenes of people fleeing a flooded village on the Ganges.  There should be taxes on the deadly product that go directly to aiding the poor folks living in the most vulnerable parts of the world, the people at the bottom who had nothing to do with the legacy of 408 ppm and climbing (today's reading).

Instead we get this dystopian gas pump farce. I imagine it will only get worse from here.

1 comment:

Z said...

I wonder what is costs to run those ads? Perhaps it's an untapped market for progressive groups to run exactly the type of ads you're describing.

Also, hell yes to everything in this post.