Let me turn now to the automobile
industry, a topic we return to often because so much of the last century of
American history has been shaped around the private automobile. Let’s begin this
way: the private car is the largest single cause of air pollution in our
society. What comes out of the tailpipe of that car is what pollutes our air
more than anything else. The automobile is the largest killer of Americans, in
car accidents. [It’s] way more deadly than Wars or any other cause. And I won’t even go
into the injuries that it causes. And I won’t even go into the use of fossil
fuel and the use of all kinds of resources to make all these cars. But it
was always a most inefficient way to move people, or to move produce, or to
move anything, the private car. It would have been much cheaper, per person per
mile of transport, to have a really good rail system, a really good street railway
system, a really good bus system. And we know exactly how more efficient it would
be because most other countries in the world rely on those systems more than we
do here. And that’s not because Americans are peculiar, it’s because the private
automobile, producing something that would sit in your garage, or your
driveway, or somewhere, most of the time and only be used occasionally, costing
you a fortune to fuel it, to insure it, and to buy it in the first place,
this was profitable for car companies. And that’s why we have that system. It’s
even famous that the car companies used their profits early in the 40s and 50s
to get rid of street railways, to hamstring politicians so they wouldn’t
fund the railroads the way they once had so that the railway could be a
competition. No, we have the private car because it was profitable, even though it
was wasteful of resources and deadly. But now that the capitalist system in the
United States is in hard times (well, you may not have noticed that if you’re in
the top 5% but for the rest of us…) all of that has to stop. That’s why we
have car sharing now. We’re gonna call it a nice name because
it’s crazy to have the car sitting in the driveway. It’s much more efficient to
share them. Even more efficient it would be, to have public transportation. But we
would have to defeat the profit-driven private car companies beyond what we
have done so far to get to anything like a rational way to not waste resources in
moving people and objects around our society.

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35 thoughts on “Richard Wolff on the Auto Industry”

  1. Too bad the US ripped up all of its light rail infrastructure. Now we sit in traffic, experience road rage, waste time, and cause air pollution. Sad.

  2. tesla is solving a few of these problems. and as a result is one of the most shorted and despised american companies in history.

  3. Exactly how fucked are we? Sorry not sorry Im part of that 55% of people who cant scrape up $400 for an unexpected emergency. .

  4. I wish your were right.. but most countries in the world are not the size of the US, Richard! In fact, none of them are, except for Australia (but that only has a small handful of regions) or Russia (but I guess they have no good public transport either)

  5. Buses and trains won't take you everywhere in this country or even most countries. If you remove cars then you are left with bicycles, horses, and walking. Delivery services would no longer be viable without the auto industry. We would end up shutting down the majority of our industries if we went away from the auto industry. How will you get tons of produce from the farm to the train station? How will you get the produce from the train station to the market without spoiling? Today we use refrigerator trucks and trailers to keep food fresh from the farm to the market. That is one example of a major industry that would be impacted and the obvious impact on the society as a whole. Other things that need to be moved and refrigerated are medicine, meat, certain electronics, chemicals, etc. We would have to develop a new cross country rail system that would be close enough to farms, dairies, etc to make it financially viable for everyone. Or we could just use the highways, byways, and current transportation system we already have just make everything electric.

  6. While I support a vast increase in public transportation private automobiles will still be with us. In light of the climate change crisis we must remove almost all internal combustion engine vehicles from our roads within ten years. With the Green New Deal we could build those millions of new electric vehicles here in the US. Vehicles built by unionized workers receiving a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.

    If we want to look at the rot the automotive industry has caused we need to look no further than the VIetnam War. Vietnam at the time was a major producer of rubber. Without that rubber the US automotive industry would've ground to a halt. I had an Aussie friend that once told me that they were under strict orders not to fire their weapons inside of rubber tree plantations as a damaged rubber tree would've been out of production for at least a year. Knowing this order the NVA would hide and snipe down on enemy soldiers. Once my friend returned fire and was severely punished for this act.

  7. Perhaps you have seen a recent interview on Sophie & Co with the ex Chairman of GM? Fascinating vision; fleshing out the bones of what we know will be the death throws of the individual passenger car in the next 15-20 years.

  8. Over unity systems aka electromagnetic free energy has been available since the 30's. It has no footprint carbon or otherwise. The gas and oil industry has been and continues to suppress this technology even in the wake of our impending doom. Maybe we deserve to go extinct.

  9. If we as a society could give up just the car and animal products, we could probably save ourselves. Sounds simple, but I think we are screwed.

  10. Life is all abpit profits. Tell me how from day-to-day one is not attempting to profit from any particular situation? On this channel we're always talking about how to accommodate the Monopoly, another words how to get the monopolist to give us our fair share well we should be seeking out the abolishment of regulations that maintains this inequality between the monopolist and the plantation workers, so that the plantation workers can become part of that socio-economic class that can expand their wealth. You see it in the absence of economic freedom as well as sound money we are forced to bag or threatened the monopolist for handouts well we don't have to have that violent herons medieval mindset regulatory system in place but rather just simply reintroduce the ancient free markets based on sound money lol then nobody has to resort to being a demonic diabolical tyrannical violence oriented Society, because after all you would have the ability to participate in the economy on an equal Level Playing Field, and that's all that you're really required succeed. In fact it is the lack of economic freedom and the complete absence of sound money that we uses the two components to derive the misery index. misery it's not actually measured by the lack of economic freedom and sound the money in there is your answer to the root cause of all the in equity and social ills and above all the solutions. Economic freedom and sound money

  11. All very true. The cost of car ownership is crazy. The price of the car plus insurance plus registration every year, smog inspections , repairs and regular maintainance. Crazy, when the typical driver uses their car 4% of the time , 96% of the time it is parked somewhere. Plus gasoline.

  12. I have 15 cars at any given time. I have my commuter, my luxury commuter, my SUV for the family, my truck for hauling, my smaller truck for when I can save on gas, my race cars, my parts cars for my race cars, my kids cars and the wife's car. You will never take my ability to keep my cars.. you must all live in cities… they're trying to make us all give up private ownership. In reality, we own nothing.. services and automation will control life, while we fight each other to the death for a job..

  13. Also, the car companies teamed up with the fossil fuels barons to ensure it would require GAS to run them. Squashing, burying all other ways that was discovered for cars to run on. Even murdered some inventors, to keep GAS as the only option. Oh yes, Fossil Fuels barons and Car Manufacturers. They are the root of most of the Worlds present day nightmares.

  14. Honking Car Locking wakes people up and creates Noise Stress Everywhere. It Needs to Change to Technology that does not emit Noise into our communities. It wakes our kids up and creates Health Stress for those of us with Insomnia, Ptsd, Cardiac Disease, Hypertension, and Migraines. Please lock your car quietly with light flash Only!
    Please be considerate of your neighbors. We can hear it inside of our homes when you park! Thank you.

  15. 4 tons of C02 on average PER AUTO.
    1.1 BILLION vehicles in THE WORLD.
    ● GM since 2012 has bought back $ 14 BILLION dollars of shares. To pad WALL STREET billionaires and GM Management with share price bonuses.
    That instead of new plants and technologies, and new jobs it would create in the USA.
    There are more Chinese building cars and parts for GM than Americans.

  16. I will keep fixing my 12 year old minivan when it breaks instead of buying another car and creating demand in that industry.

  17. Us was built in a way that everyone has to buy a car…instead of public transportation…it sucks…build more public transportation usa…cuz it sucks now

  18. If one lives in a large enough city, getting around without an automobile is practical, although not every city has high quality public transit systems. Unfortunately, our suburban communities are even less effectively served by public transit. Some cities, such as New York and Philadelphia have extensive commuter rail, subway lines and buses. Yet, the streets are every day filled with automobile traffic. Despite the costs associated with driving from home to work and back every day, a significant number of people continue to choose to drive an automobile. For most of my own working years I lived in the suburbs but made the daily trip into the city by commuter rail. I still had to drive about two miles to the nearest train station. And, all along the rail line into the city, huge amounts of land were paved over to provide parking for everyone's automobile. Despite a good deal of talk about enlightened "transit-oriented development" to make better use of the land, nothing has been done.

  19. So many ignorant comments. Nobody is going to take away your freaking car. We are just tired of building cities for cars instead of people.
    We are also sick of subsidizeding the automobile. You want your car you pay the true cost.

  20. We need to build power stations that tap into the heat of the earth's core to generate electricity…. fossil fuel use has had its time. We have to stop polluting our atmosphere with carbon….

  21. As a US ex-pat, when I first moved to Asia the thought of not owning private transportation was inconceivable. A year in China changed that completely. China has excellent public transportation and so does the UK, Japan, Singapore, and Korea. I don't miss having an automobile, at all, these days. I also do not miss the various costs of maintaining an automobile.

  22. How’s great to going with public transport . It’s not only to get less pollution but less fossil fuel saving also. I hope by one self on a car how much to produce carbonated footprints in the air. Thank you 🙏🏼.

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