Thursday, August 08, 2013
At the end of the day yesterday, between email and errands, I paged through this
list of "12 Most Embarrassing Cars" and found that the third entry, the Hummer H2, had
earned the following interesting distinction over all the rest:
Cringe score: 3.5Immoral, eh?
Most-cited reason: Too big
Top write-in: Immoral
Most people purchase and judge cars for implicitly selfish reasons, although they buy into the moral-practical dichotomy, and so fail to see that being selfish is defensible on moral grounds, to say the least. Such things as being able to haul a trailer, making a good impression, and economizing on gas are actually moral considerations to a rational egoist.
Keep this example in mind the next time you hear some conservative or other argue that Americans will come around and vote for more business-friendly politicians, once they see some leftist policy drain their pocketbooks. Even the most mundane daily economic decisions, such as what kind of car to drive, are hardly immune from abstract, philosophical considerations.
Since the only thing most people regard as morality is altruism -- in fact only one possible type of morality -- it is safe to say that the kind of people labeling an H2 as immoral will also vote for the likes of Al Gore on such a basis. (By this false standard, the really moral ones vandalize such vehicles.)
The news isn't all bad. The lead-in to the gallery reports that, "The top write-in suggestion for most embarrassing car was the very sensible [sic], very successful Toyota Prius." At least one comment exemplified what I suspect is -- for better and for worse -- a common, sense-of-life type of gut reaction to the Prius and to unalloyed altruism generally:
Prius (Pious) owners think they're wonderful human beings because they bought a gutless, butt ugly car that has no room inside, goes zero to 60 in 3 minutes, and gets the same mileage as a much sportier car they could have bought for $10K less.Now, more than ever, implicitly selfish Americans could stand to hear that they are, in fact, right, to feel disdain for the Prius -- and that their pursuit of the most attractive, practical, and enjoyable car they can afford is actually the moral choice. Any guilt they might feel -- that might bubble up as anger over what kind of car some sucker might buy -- is completely unwarranted. In better days, such a car would have been laughed off the market the year it was introduced, if it ever even got to that point.