It’s 1979 All Over Again

With only a few minor adjustments to account for dates and sports utility vehicles, this NY Times article on recent car buying trends could have been written thirty years ago. Start with the headline:

As Gas Costs Soar, Buyers Flock to Small Cars

I have childhood memories of such headlines. Change the price-a-gallon and replace “sport utility vehicles” with “gas-guzzling boat-sized sedans” and the following paragraph would have been relevant back then, too:

The switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles has been building in recent years, but has accelerated recently with the advent of $3.50-a-gallon gas. At the same time, sales of pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles have dropped sharply.

Finally, here is where history repeats itself in perhaps the most moronic way:

The trend toward smaller and lighter vehicles with better mileage is a blow to Detroit automakers, which offer fewer such models than Asian carmakers like Toyota and Honda.

Yet as a testament to how the entire auto industry, regardless of country of origin (which means little in a globalized production line), is completely behind the times, consider the gas mileage of the fuel-efficient vehicles the Times lists in a sidebar:

The city mileage does not even reach 30 M.P.G.! We should be getting 100 M.P.G. now. We should have taken care of this thirty years ago. But no-o-o-o-o. We got frightened by the Iranian Revolution and elected an ex-B movie actor who stroked our precious imperialist egos (“It’s okay, my fellow Americans, we’re still a great big superpower”), and, once in office, undid the energy policies of the Carter Admin that would have saved us time, money, war, lives, and at least a part of the global warming crisis we face. Thanks, Reagan Democrats! I hope you guys learn your lesson this time!

But, like Detroit, you probably won’t.

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