Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Zero Percent Down... Syndrome

Yep, zero % down - just for you!
The general production forecast consensus from the auto-god-world for the amount of vehicles manufactured for 2012 is set to be 78 million 'units' (i.e. all manner of cars and trucks worldwide).

Such a figure is a staggering one to digest (to say the least). It would appear that only countries like China or India can compete with such a production scale, however more in terms of population growth than automotive production output. 78 million far surpasses the yearly population growth of most Western 'civilized' and techno/petro economically driven countries. So, what might that mean? Does it mean that out of some bizarre, unfortunate and twisted socio-economic set of circumstances, decisions and fate, we (i.e. the 'Western peoples') find ourselves producing an insane quantity of automobiles compared to the amount of new human lives or the number of new trees planted in one calandar year?

In other words, have we compromised life in general or the sacred importance of propagating life (human included) for the sake of manufacturing, financing, selling, owning and operating cars?

The automobile, more than anything else in the West, and specifically here in 'good 'ol North-America', is not only a symbol of wealth, success and personal 'freedom' (yawn...) as we already know, but in more recent times has reached levels of deity worship (with only cell phones trailing behind a close 2nd place). The ubiquitous Car (and it's twin companion at arms, the petro empire) seems to be a non-negotiable entity. To suggest a better way, one that is somewhat scaled back... well, don't even go there! The response is likely to be: "How dare we criticize or oppose any issues related to cars and oil production especially regarding any negative human and environmental impacts caused by this untouchable industry and economy both on global and local scales. How dare we! Who do we think we are anyway?!"
Oh, oops, sorry, I almost forgot to add our friends the bankers/financiers to the list. What, you may ask is the link between bankers and the production of 78 million new vee-hic-als? Well, it might have something to do with the promise of owning a new car in 2012 by means of zero-%-down-financing-don't pay before 2013' offerring from our all too eager-to-lend and friendly banking/financing facilitators. An activity otherwise known as the 'Zero percent down syndrome'.

All this leads me to the following assessment pertaining to a more local example: with the purchase of an automobile made so easy now, such carelessly tempting financial 'instruments' like 0% down-pay-me-later-pal, it seems that everyone in my neighborhood, except perhaps my 12 year old son and his pet fish, now owns a car... or two or THREE!!!

Due to my careful and meticulous anecdotal observations and correlation of this data , I have concluded that the number of vehicles on my street alone has more than doubled over the last five years! But, as life would have it in the 'credit-desperate world' of cheap and easy financing, there are other reasons why the car population and density have doubled in my neighborhood as well:
1) the recent 'demand' and construction of cheaply built and financed condominium 'units' (there's that word again: 'units'!);
2) the construction of heavily governmentally financed (i.e. through us, the public) sports recreation and health centres; and
3) the close proximity to the usual franchise horses of the apocalypse such as 2nd ('evil') cup, Star(expletive)ucks, Tiny Tm Horton, et al...

All the above elements, realites and attributes have lead to a mad and whacky world of cars cars cars in my borough, the likes of which have produced the beginning of a plethora of acts of auto-lawlessness and saddly enough, fatal accidents, as recent as the one which happened a few days ago not too far from where I live,-An impatient and distracted driver ran a red light and collided with a mini-van, projecting an unsuspecting and innocent three year old boy out one of the van's windows to his instant death. Another car accident fatality; Another statistic. This is the type of sacrifice I was refering to above. Car culture has traded convenience and blind addiction for another precious life. We will have to wait for the official coroner's report.

As for auto-lawlessness: due to the inadequate number of parking spaces available now to accomodate the increased volume of vehicles in my hood, drivers are now parking illegally in front residents' personal parking aprons (e.g. like my own!), illegally double-parking in front of stores, fire-hydrants and other zones deemed 'illegal' parking areas, and of course my favorite one, the reckless performance of 360 degree 'U' turns right in the middle of a busy intersection while pedestrians are attempting to just safely cross the street. It's a frenetic car chase scene right out of a Keystone cops episode; a chaotic exhibition 'out of sync' with anything rational and natural, in order that someone can arrive 2 minutes faster to the closest Second Cup coffee shop so they may sit down and consume another crappy cup of 'coffee'!

Tell me that's not a sign of a culture totally out of whack and pathetically imbalanced; made only possible - of course - by the Zero Percent Down Syndrome. (no, no...I'm not angry!)

PD Cafargo June 2011 (no longer contributing to this site)

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