For most people, buying a car is not a pleasant experience. Getting a new car is always nice, even if you are not a car person, but the process of getting it is almost always a hassle due to how cars are sold in America. Getting a used car can eliminate the hassle of the dealership, but then you have to worry about getting hustled by someone trying to unload their lemon onto a sucker. The car market is extreme capitalism, where no one gives a sucker an even break or smartens up a chump.
Strangely, this makes it the ideal place to understand what has happened to our society over the last six months. For example, every car dealership website now has a prominent banner informing the visitor just how much the car dealer cares about the health and safety of their customers. There’s usually a link to their page detailing just how much they care about you, the sap they hope will buy a car from them. All of these mission statements are titled, “Our Response to COVID-19.”
In case it is not obvious, a business built around the phrase caveat emptor is not concerned about the safety of anyone, even the employees. Like every business in extreme capitalist America, the car dealers see an angle in presenting themselves as guardians of public health. At the far end of capitalism, the business must be both rapacious and patronizing. Telling you how much they care about your welfare while stripping you of what they can is the standard business model.
The thing about all of this that goes unnoticed is how predatory economics has not just been normalized, it is now celebrated. Forty years ago, soulless money grasping was seen as immoral. The movie Wall Street presented a morality tale about how extreme capitalism was soul destroying. Today, the ruthless businessman is in the morally superior position, while the person doubting the ethics of his behavior is portrayed as a naive and stupid person, possibly even dangerous.
Maybe it is just a case of monkey see, monkey do with these dealers, but all of their steps to show just how much they care are the same across the board. They have “contactless” car buying, which is a very strange thing, when you consider it. How much physical contact would one normally have with the the car salesman under normal conditions? Of course, since their goal is to screw the customer, maybe this is a strange inside joke or possibly a cry for help.
Of course, all of this is just a racket and everyone gets it, except for the people firmly in the panic camp. They see it as confirmation. In fact, that’s the point of all these ads from giant corporations telling us how much they care about us and the communities they are destroying. It is pure partisanship. On one side there are the people sure this pandemic is punishment for Trump. On the other side are people who are sure the other side is using the virus to advance their ideological goals.
This is the world of today. There are now two camps of people. One camp consumes every event and metabolizes it into fuel for their ideological war. As soon as the virus became news their chief concern was in how to turn it into another weapon in their social war to control society. As soon as the hated Trump declared his side on the virus issue, the Left immediately embraced a set of positions on the virus. Every left-wing and adjacent governor blew up his state to spite Trump.
The second camp are the people who realize that the new issue is becoming politicized and they form up an opposition to the Left. In the case of the virus, they started as curious or maybe mildly skeptical. These were the people who said it was just going to be a very bad flu most likely, but we needed more information. Now they are the people who say the face muffler is the six pointed star of totalitarianism. For them, the facts of the virus no longer matter anymore.
In this environment, there’s no truth or even the desire for truth, as all truth is determined by which side of the line you stand. The car dealers, for example, would have lepers selling cars if it moved more product. It is in their interest to go along with the safety campaign, so they go along with the safety campaign. They would have their people in hazmat suits putting the buyer through a delousing station if that’s what it takes to sell cars. They care, because they don’t care.
Everywhere else, the caring capitalists are either proof that the plague is real and a punishment for the Orange Man or it is just part of the fraud perpetrated by people obsessed with hating the Orange Man. Not only does this make everything extremely simple, it means the simpletons rule the day. If you’re inclined to automatically take one side or the other based entirely on your feelings toward the people on each side of the line, this is a glorious time to be alive.
The car dealership is now the metaphor of our age. The people running it engage in the most extreme form of ruthless transactionalism. They do so while pretending they care deeply about the people they will gladly fleece. Meanwhile, on the lot, one group of buyers is misty-eyed over how much the dealer cares about this plague sent to spite the Trump people. The other group grits its teeth behind its face mufflers, fantasizing about the revolution and that sports car in the showroom.
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