I hate hippies. They smell bad, they disregard the laws of this nation, support terrorism, are lazy, and are a general nuisance. Hippies should be treated like Kudzu, they shouldn’t be allowed in most states, and where ever we find an area infested with them, we ought to call in the Army Core of Engineers to help us solve the ecological disaster created by their presence. After all, I’m sure that the Army Core of Engineers know the answer to my favorite joke: “What’s orange and looks good on a Hippy?” But this article isn’t about hippies, or rather it isn’t about ALL hippies. It’s about a special breed that call themselves Vegetarians, Vegans, and other such monikers. These folks have one thing in common, a dastardly sinister plan.


They seek to cause the extinction of the noble cow.


Yes, you read that right, and whether the Hippies are aware of their plan, or not (because let’s face it when you smoke so much Mary Jane, are you really aware of anything anymore? Do you even still count as intelligent life?), make no mistake, this is their goal. Cows, or more properly, Cattle, are not a natural animal. Much like modern corn has strayed so far beyond its Teosinte origins, so have Cattle. They are dependent on us for their livelihood and cannot survive in the wild without us, just as we are dependent on them for their tastiness, and could not have a hamburger without them. But some people hate Cows so much that they want to see an end to our symbiotic relationship, and thus an end to Cows. They won’t stop till every last Cow in the world is deprived of its purpose and cast into the wild to die painfully. Their goal is for cattle to join the Dinosaurs in oblivion.

But we are not helpless against the Hippie menace! No, far from it! If we act together we can reverse the tide and save the future of cattle everywhere. A solution has been discovered by another writer who has put together an elegant but simple plan on his website. To help his plan succeed all we need to do is sponsor a vegetarian. It’s simple, effective, and fool proof. Simply find a friend of yours who refuses to eat meat and inform them you are sponsoring them, and then eat three times as much meat as you normally would. By doing this you not only counteract their part in the Crusade Against Cows, but push the tide backwards even further, helping to preserve a Bright Bovine Future. Once they see the light and agree to help preserve the future of our cattle, you can then either go back to eating a normal amount of delicious cows, or sponsor another vegetarian.

Act now! The future of our tasty and noble friends hangs in the balance!

-Angry Midwesterner


Despite the mounting evidence that more or less proves that current hybrids are less about energy efficiency and more about conspicuous consumerism, I have to admit I normally have a soft spot for hybrid cars. Not because I have any remaining delusions about their being good for the environment, or good for my wallet, but because… well, they’re nifty gadgets. That CVT is pretty damn cool, and the electric-gas motor linkage isn’t too shabby either. But this was all before I visited the Bay Area. Now the sight of a Prius fills me with a desire to go out and club some snooty hippies.

The Bay Area, being in California, sucks. One of the major ways it sucks is the serious traffic problems. If the highways and freeways are the arteries of the San Francisco Metropolitan Area, I’m surprised it hasn’t had a heart attack yet. You would think that California, being the home of supposed greenies and environmentally friendly folks, would have decent public transit, but no, you would be wrong. California has a huge car culture, the people out here love to drive (poorly), and can’t be asked to take a train or bus. This means all 7.2 million people are on the roads during rush hour, creating a problem of unimaginable proportions.

Much like the rest of the country, the Bay Area tries to alleviate the congestion using dedicated HOV lanes, and much like the rest of the country they allow hybrids to drive in these car pool lanes. The one big difference between the Bay Area and the rest of America is the level of conspicuous “green” consumption going on out here. All of the hippies, and their flower children have a Prius out here, and given the abnormal concentration of hippies, this means there are a lot of Prius’ on the road, and since these folks all want their “independence” it means all of these Prius’ are single occupancy vehicles. I guess it must make Gaia cry when you car pool, almost as much as when you shower.

Let’s get this straight people, your Prius is NOT a car pool. Those HOV lanes are there to reduce traffic, and since all of you nancy boys are driving single occupancy hybrids you’re not helping the problem in the slightest. Furthermore, you’re not helping the environment. Your Prius get’s a lousy 44 person miles per gallon [pmpg] (and that’s if we’re being generous), my Saturn SL1 get’s 32 pmpg if I drive it alone too (actual performance), but given that I regularly carpool my performance is much closer to 64-128 pmpg, and is a SULEV to boot. This means when I carpool, I do a hell of a lot more to reduce traffic, pollution, and gas consumption than you do. Not to mention the fact that, when I send my car off to die it won’t leave a lot of nasty reactive battery waste behind, just clean readily recyclable metals and plastic.

Please folks, think of the commute time, the environment, or just our plain good old energy dependence, and get your Prius out of the damn car pool lane. It’s for High Occupancy Vehicles, not Keeping Up with the Joneses.

-Angry Midwesterner


The Honorable Ronald E. “Dr. No” Paul, Representative of the Texas 22nd House District and candidate for the Republican nomination has “made it”: His candidacy and, more particularly, its followers has made the New York Times Style page. The profiles of the followers are quite amusing. The guy who keeps half his savings in silver is probably the best. Paulville gets a mention, too, and it doesn’t (yet) appear to be a scam. Can you imagine the people who frequent bars in Lower Manhattan moving to West Texas? What about white guys who wear Rasta hats? It’d be an awesome thing to behold but Angry New Mexican better watch out, they’ll be in pissing distance of him.

Discuss!

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ObFascismTag: Sorry, not this time. I can’t blame this little bit of madness on discredited European nationalistic philosophies of the inter-war period of the 20th Century. It’s entirely home-grown.

Coca To remember, we Angry Men were in a lively discussion about whether or not to legalize the ganga, when Angry Midwesterner forked the discussion by producing not one, but two distinct arguments:

But it’s much more sensible to regulate things which:

  1. Folks sell which is bad for you. Profiteering from misery and
    death is a bad business and is unethical.
  2. Folks doing crap which impacts my health. I can have a beer in the same room as you without you suffering any effects. The same is not true for Mary Jane or Tobacco.

In the last rant in this series we demolished, er, discussed AM’s first point. So now, we turn to the second:

Angry Midwesterner
But it’s much more sensible to regulate things which involve folks doing crap which impacts my health. I can have a beer in the same room as you without you suffering any effects. The same is not true for Mary Jane or Tobacco.

Angry Immigrant
Well, maybe not from -smoking- the tobacco or MJ, but chewing and brownies are usually single-person effective.

The resulting stupidity from abuse of any of the three can be multi-person, though…

Mildly Piqued Academician
As AI has pointed out, I could use MJ or tobacco in a way that doesn’t impact you directly. And as anyone who has passed a campus bar on a Saturday night can see quite plainly, alcohol can and often is used in a fashion that directly impacts others.

Angry Midwesterner
I guess I’m more in favor of a smoking ban. I’m not sure I directly oppose these things.

Mildly Piqued Academician
Yes, well you certainly are in favor of that. I guess I find smoking bans to my own personal liking, but not so much philosophically, if you catch my drift. That is to say I like what they do for me personally because I don’t like being around cigarette smoke (or MJ smoke), but don’t feel I’m on particularly strong grounds forcing a ban.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
What about alcohol? In practice, alcohol frequently affects nearby folks. And, in theory the answer for MJ, cocaine, and heroin is no, they don’t necessarily affect those nearby. So?

Angry Midwesterner
With alcohol, I can have a beer and not necessarily effect you. My having a beer at Ruby Tuesdays at a table next to you, forces nothing on you. If you’re smoking next to me, then necessarily, you have negative impact on me.

Mildly Piqued Academician
The whole “smoking ban” is a separate issue from whether a substance like MJ should be legal. One can quite consistently say that smoking bans apply no matter what’s being smoked. Many people who use MJ don’t even smoke it; I wouldn’t be shocked if the majority of heavy users do not (they vaporize it, from what I understand, which is a low temperature extraction method that leaves most of the tar behind).

I can also see a case that cocaine should be illegal and MJ legal. I’m not saying this because I want to use MJ personally. The last time I had any was well over ten years ago and I never qualified as more than an occasional user anyway. I barely drink alcohol, though by the crazy rules put forth these days I probably qualify as a “binge drinker.”

Angry Virginian
For the record, smoking pot does not necessarily get you high or have any perceptible effect whatsoever, besides making you smell funny. It seems to have more of an effect the more you do it – Of course, that could be an illusion resulting from the fact that only people who are affected by it choose to use it again.

With alcohol, I can have a beer and not necessarily affect you.

Yes, but drunk driving and other drunken stupidity does necessarily have a negative impact on me, and prohibiting alcohol could and would reduce both. I don’t want to die in a car accident with a drunk driver, but that still doesn’t mean that Prohibition was a good idea.

Angry Midwesterner
Yes, but again we come to the idea of necessarily. Drinking a beer in a public place does not necessarily lead to drunk driving. Smoking in a public place does necessarily lead to second hand smoke that the rest of us have to deal with.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Well, strictly speaking, it doesn’t necessarily lead to that. There are lots of filtration systems that would prevent any smoke from being inhaled by those nearby. They’re just usually cost-prohibitive.

This was, of course, another reason why I opposed the fascist Illinois ban. It did not ban the effects, or require means to avoid them, it simply introduced the nanny state to yet another area. And created yet another aspect of life where the elite get one set of rules and everyone else gets another. Liberalism loves that, of course, so I’m not surprised. (Liberty for me but not for thee and all that.) But I’m still saddened.

Mildly Piqued Academician
Conflating the legalization of marijuana with smoking bans strikes me as really effing stupid… a logical road to nowhere except “stuff I find distasteful and therefore should be banned” which is no basis for public policy in a democracy. This is exactly like making laws against driving under the influence substance-specific. It completely, utterly misses the point.

Angry Midwesterner
Except that you forget I am as opposed to Tobacco as I am to MJ. In my opinion it is the same deal. The problem is peeps conflating smoking with crack.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
I think MPA’s point is that being opposed to MJ smoke is no reason to ban MJ in general. The current laws don’t simply forbid smoking a doob in public places, they make possession of more than a tiny amount a serious felony, equivalent to assault, robbery, and other serious crimes.

That’s a pretty harsh step just to prevent some annoying and moderately unhealthy (for one dose) secondhand smoke. It’s also completely and utterly irrational and tyrannical, unless MJ is such a serious threat in and of itself that it warrants it.

Which it clearly isn’t.

Angry Midwesterner
I just argue MPA is viewing it from the wrong mindset. Clearly smoking MJ is not as bad as assault. But I am working from the standpoint that Tobacco is as bad as MJ, and should also be banned. This comes from a two-fold position:

  1. From the reasons any sort of smoking ought to be banned.
  2. From the fact that drugs in general are a bad thing to have floating in society (see Amsterdam).
Marijuana So, recently, inspired by these fine articles sent
courtesy of Mildly Piqued Academician:

http://hightimes.com/lounge/vaporella/4228

http://www.nerve.com/regulars/datingadvicefrom/misshightimes/

I mused:

Potheads!

A higher class of potheads, perhaps, given that there is at least one room in the house you might not mind hanging out with them regularly in, but potheads none the less…

However, also good arguments for legalization: once again, pot is the drug that doesn’t make you crazy, aggressive, or hyper—just kinda stupid and laid back…

Well, around here, such a statement is viewed by some Angry Folk as tantamount to declaring war on Truth, Justice, and the American Way (or Mom, Baseball, and Apple Pie for you America-hating Lefties out there)!

(Actually, when I say “some”, I really mean “one”, as you might discern from the exchange below. *Ahem*, it’s not really fair that I get to editorialize, but such are the perks of editing, I suppose. Let the games begin!)

Angry Midwesterner
And while we’re at it lets legalize prostitution, and all kinds of other social ills. I mean let’s face it, Amsterdam is a great place to live! High times, high crime, and slavery, FTW!!! And hell while we’re at it, let’s legalize selling rat poison to folks rolled up in cigarettes, let people buy a nice little dose of death for themselves!

Mildly Piqued Academician
Um, right.

It’s simply not sensible(or even ethical, I’d argue) to regulate all things that people do that may be bad for them.

So you need to weigh costs vs. benefits.

I have no problem making crystal meth illegal and marijuana legal, not because I think smoking pot is a good thing—I have consumed enough in the distant past of a quasi-misspent youth to understand personally—but because I think that the current path of criminalization costs way, way more than it benefits. (NB: I was never “into” MJ but I’m man enough to say that I did, in fact, inhale. If Bill Clinton really meant to say “God, pot smoke is some awful stuff”— supposedly he always coughed—he should have been man enough to say that, but as we all know….)

Angry Midwesterner
But it’s much more sensible to regulate things which:

  1. Folks sell which is bad for you. Profiteering from misery and death is a bad business and is unethical.
  2. Folks doing crap which impacts my health. I can have a beer in the same room as you without you suffering any effects. The same is not true for Mary Jane or Tobacco.

[Editor’s Note: Okay, now things fork off covering both of AM’s points, and the whole debate gets way, way too long for one article, so we’ll just cover the first point above, and get back to the second later!]

Mildly Piqued Academician
Folks sell which is bad for you. Profiteering from misery and death is a bad business and is unethical.

Ah, well it’s back to Prohibition, then: Alcohol kills a lot of people. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rate of serious negative outcomes due to alcohol consumption is on par with MJ, if you adjusted for rate of usage, possibly more.

There are many activities that are more dangerous than MJ usage that are not just allowed, but indeed encouraged and heavily subsidized, by the state, high school football being an example. Sometimes it’s in the public interest to regulate a behavior, but that doesn’t mean that making it illegal is the way to go most of the time.

For instance, I’m quite happy to treat MJ use as a public health problem, but legal prohibition has done more to damage civil liberties in this country than nearly anything over the last forty years. A large chunk of the people in jail are there because of the draconian drug laws. Law enforcement has had major distortions of its incentives over the years because of dubious removal of property: look up forfeiture sometime.

The price of MJ is high not because it’s expensive to grow but because of its prohibition. Much of the violence in that sort of market happen because it’s a black market. If you could buy Philip Morris’ manufactured Rasta Man Ganja down at the Circle K (with a nice big tax funding public health measures) you’d see the prices go down, the violence and criminality sucked out of the market, the cops being able to go back to what they should be doing, etc.

I will leave any religious/ethical arguments to others more qualified to make them.

Angry Midwesterner
Alcohol in moderation improves your health with no ill effects.

Smoking “in moderation” permanently impacts your health negatively.

Mildly Piqued Academician
As I said, so do a lot of things that society actively subsidizes.

My general principle is this: The state has to be very, very careful about what it regulates of the behavior of consenting adults.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Really, is there any evidence, any at all, that MJ has worse societal effects than alcohol? Given the incredibly lethal effects of drinking and driving, the role of alcohol in domestic abuse, assault, and manslaughter, I suspect the public health case can very easily be made against alcohol.

People can take cocaine, MJ, tobacco, heroin, and a wide variety of other drugs in a way that impacts their health less than contact sports, skiing, or most extreme sports. And some do. Many, of course, abuse those substances and come to a bad end. But far, far more abuse alcohol and destroy their lives.

Along AM’s lines, the Temperance movement was 100% correct, and Prohibition was the correct and proper thing to do. And, in fact, it was successful, in that it massively reduced alcohol consumption and, especially, public drunkeness (which was the point). It also, of course, built criminal and political empires.

In both respects, just like the War on Drugs.

Angry New Mexican
Or, to paraphrase Dennis Leary:

They say marajuana is a gateway drug. As far as I’m concerned, marajuana only leads to one thing: carpentry. Because once you start smoking you want to turn everything into a bong.

Angry Midwesterner
My concern is the following:

  • Can it be done in moderation?
  • Does its use necessarily impact those around you?

So temperance was wrong.

Mildly Piqued Academician
Given the incredibly lethal effects of drinking and driving, the role of alcohol in domestic abuse, assault, and manslaughter, I suspect the public health case can very easily be made against alcohol.

Of course it can.

Alcohol (like many other drugs) can be used in a totally responsible fashion, but is frequently abused to varying degrees. The question of whether this is something we put up with, treat as a public health issue (education, rehab) or as a legal matter (these are not exclusive, of course) is a different matter.

The cost of legal prohibition, as AOC correctly notes, is a giant increase of the state’s coercive power and a giant increase in criminal enterprise, in fact in a vicious circle. Sure, it reduces consumption…But At What Cost?

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Can it be done in moderation?
For over half of all drinkers, the answer is no. For MJ, cocaine, and heroin the answer is yes (for at least some). So?

So temperance was wrong.
Then how is the anti-drug movement right? MPA is right, the ridiculous efforts to stop drug trafficking have destroyed more lives and done more harm to liberty in this country than any other aspect of the 20th Century, including the Red Scare and the Political Correctness nonsense. They have also doomed many to lives of brutal criminal assault or to lives of crime to support habits. In fact, the effects are far, far worse than Prohibition, which was benign by comparison.

Angry Midwesterner
Taking cocaine and MJ always gets you high, so the answer is no, it cannot be done in moderation. The answer for alcohol is yes, it can be done without getting you high.

Mildly Piqued Academician
Cocaine I won’t comment on—I wasn’t crazy enough to try that and it holds no appeal to me at all—but it is most certainly possible to consume MJ without getting high, very much in the way that one can drinking a few beers.

But this is all beside the point: My primary argument against prohibition of most currently illegal substances has to do with what it’s done to our police forces and how much crime its bred. Whether or not the use of MJ is a dumb idea (I think it is) is separate from whether the state should generally prevent you from doing it. I think joining Scientology is far, far more damaging than most drug use (don’t get me started on those bastards) but don’t think that the state should be able to prevent someone from doing so.

Angry Midwesterner
Here I have to side with Germany. Scientology should be destroyed.

Mildly Piqued Academician
Oh I hate Scientology (and have been personally affected by it quite adversely, as close relatives were early Scientologists) but think that it and other cults of its ilk are the price of the First Amendment.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Alcohol always has effects, but those effects don’t become pronounced with a small number of doses. So does moderation mean “absolutely no effects at all,” “a small effect,” “a moderate effect,” or “does not impair one’s ability to lead a full human life?”

Angry Midwesterner
Fair enough. We’d need to define this further.

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Agreed. Or simply agree that society should, generally, allow people to engage in moderately self-destructive or risky behavior, if it’s not a great burden on society or others. Otherwise we rule out not only drug use, but also motorcycles, jet skis, high school, college, and professional football, mountain climbing (esp. free climbing), base jumping, skydiving, etc., etc.

After all, even tobacco, nasty as it is, doesn’t reduce lifespan in every case. So, despite its harmful physical effects, one can’t say that it’s always self-destructive, just really, really risky.

Unless the mood-altering effects are themselves opposed by you, but if so, then we’d better ban prayer, meditation, television, and mass assembly as well, as all of those have been known to alter the mood. Hell, I’ve been high from sleep deprivation…though if you wanted to ban that, I wouldn’t object too much…

Of course unrefined cocaine has been used socially for a very long time in South America without ruinous effects, and the refined version has been used by productive, (otherwise) law-abiding members of society. Is it a dangerously addictive drug? Sure, but so is alcohol, and it combines physical dependency and ease of access with psychological addiction, so by that measure it’s probably worse.

Under what conditions should private use of a drug which causes no unwanted effects on other citizens be banned?

As you can tell by reading the comments, my article on hybrids generated a ton of interest and comment. On top of the actual comments, we’ve had a bunch of discussion on our super-secret internal email list. Given the quality of the discussion in the aforementioned article, we’d like to give everyone a chance to continue the conversation.

For those of you who missed the first edition, I basically argued that hybrid automobiles only start to make sense for the typical American driver (as defined by the DOT) when gasoline reaches the economically crippling $10 a gallon. Mere “European” gas prices won’t cut it. Inflation, which is largely driven by gas and commodity prices these days, will not make matters any better as it increases prices across the board. If anything, hybrids are even more screwed.

So what do the 12 Angry Men have to say?

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Right, in fact hybrids in general (even at the SUV level) aren’t yet worth it economically. But they may be worth it for early adopters (who by definition buy such goods before it is economically rational to do so), nerds, and greenies.

Of course it would be far more worth it for the greenies to drive their old, decrepit, smog-producing VW minivan to a rally for greatly increased use of nuclear power, which would do far more to reduce fossil fuel emissions and oil dependencies than any number of hybrids.

But you can’t drive a pro-nuclear rally around to show off to your hippy friends, so that doesn’t work out…

Status good is spot on. (Note: Strictly speaking economists don’t use the term “status good” but such things would be a type of Veblen good.)

Mildly Piqued Academician
Right, in fact hybrids in general (even at the SUV level) aren’t yet worth it economically.

Well, not accounting for externalities. And “worth it” is tricky. It ain’t just gas mileage, or no one would ever get the add-ons to a car… or buy anything but the basic economy vehicle that gets you around.

But they may be worth it for early adopters (who by definition buy such goods before it is economically rational to do so), nerds, and greenies.

Right. If the nerds and greenies (big overlap there, obviously) need to justify their purchase, they can go right ahead. Fundamentally this is no different than the lawyer justifying his purchase of an Infiniti as a sign of having “made it.”As David Brooks has noted, it’s become acceptable to spend lots of money on high end “basics” such as a fancy kitchen among the bobo class, aka the current upper class.

Status good is spot on.

That’s true. But many other goods fall into that camp. Early adopter markets are quite important for the eventual broadening of the market. When fleet vehicles such as taxis, cop cars, etc., end up going hybrid you’ll see a big shift. Third gen hybrid may well push this as it will be cheaper, smaller, and better. In this case, the early adopters did
the rest of the world a big favor. 🙂

Angry Overeducated Catholic
Well, not accounting for externalities. And “worth it” is tricky. It ain’t just gas mileage, or no one would ever get the add-ons to a car… or buy anything but the basic economy vehicle that gets you around.

Right. I meant in simple economic analysis based on fuel efficiency. As you say, very few people buy their car for entirely (or even primarily) economic reasons. Otherwise the Fusion, Milan, and Altima could not all successfully compete—being the same car with different shells and options. Fortunately (for them) external options make a difference.

Right. If the nerds and greenies (big overlap there, obviously) need to justify their purchase, they can go right ahead. Fundamentally thi is no different than the lawyer justifying his purchase of an Infiniti as a sign of having “made it.”

Yes, and there’s nothing wrong with either. Both also signal to one’s peers that one is a member in good standing of the group and agrees with the aims and beliefs of the group, and such signals are of great importance to us naked apes.

As David Brooks has noted, it’s become acceptable to spend lots of money on high end “basics” such as a fancy kitchen among the bobo class.

Yes indeed. Or to spend lots of extra bucks on organic food at faux farmers’ markets like Whole Foods. I suspect part of this a legitimate interest in these things and part is a desire to be able to consume conspicuously without appearing to be a wasteful and evil conspicuous consumer.

That’s true. But many other goods fall into that camp. Early adopter markets are quite important for the eventual broadening of the market.

Yes, and there’s nothing at all wrong with status goods—together with other luxury goods they form a huge component of the economy, after all.

When fleet vehicles such as taxis, cop cars, etc., end up going hybrid you’ll see a big shift. Third gen hybrid may well push this as it will be cheaper, smaller, and better. In this case, the early adopters did the rest of the world a big favor. 🙂

Exactly. If hybrid tech pans out the early adopters will be those who kept it alive long enough to do so. And if it fails, they’re the ones who took the risk (and loss) to give it a try. Entrepreneurs of consumption, as it were… 🙂

Mildly Piqued Academician

Yes, and there’s nothing at all wrong with status goods—together with other luxury goods they form a huge component of the economy, after all.

They always feel a little “dirty” though… Why else would bobos go through so much trouble putting on counter-cultural airs? Why else would people like Richard Nixon famously go on about wife Pat’s “good Republican cloth coat” in the Checkers speech? Honestly I think that the argument that bobo-ism represents nothing more than changing tastes of the upper class is spot on.

Angry New Mexican
So, to paraphrase AOC from the comments of the original article are hybrid car owners
“driving around the block displaying your Goreon commitment to the admiring public,” like the folks who shop at Whole Foods (evidently including Obama… no wonder the wacky left opposes The Clinton Restoration(TM))? Are they really interested in engaging in self-promoting faux-greenery, namely saving the planet without sacrifice (or at least without their sacrifice… the opposition to Tata Motor’s ultra-cheap car betrays this hypocracy)?

Or on the other hand, are folks who buy hybrid just crazy first-adopting geeks (I can relate, I bought a 1st gen Iomega Zip Drive back inthe day), who will eventually help move the technology to the mass market?

Only time will tell… Readers, what’s your call?

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ObFascism Tag: Boboism is nothing new. Adolf Hitler practiced it personally—put on of being a “man of the people” while living in luxury himself—and it’s a part of the denouement of previous romantic movements.

In case you missed my last article detailing my passionate hatred for the latest bit of consumer stupidity, known as hybrid automobiles, I’m back with a sequel piece. Here I’ll be employing the mighty power known as algebra to explain why buying a hybrid automobile makes no economic sense, except in what would be best classified as a nightmare scenario. To illustrate this, I want to compare the Toyota Prius with (in my opinion at least) one of the best inexpensive cars on the market, the Toyota Corolla. The cars are of a similar size and equal seating capacity (5). So what makes the humble Corolla more than a match for the mighty Prius from an economic perspective? The answer is simple: cost.

Consider the following vital stats about the two automobiles:

Car City MPG Highway MPG MSRP Range
2008 Prius 48 45 $21,100 — $23,370
2008 Corolla 28 37 $14,405 — $16,415

According to Uncle Sam, it’s plausible to assume that the average driver puts about 15k miles on a car every year. Likewise, according to the DOT, the average American keeps their car about 4.5 years. That’s not a whole lot of time to recover the cost of the vastly more expensive Prius. But with the price of gas these days, it has to be a good deal, right? Wrong.

Assuming that the cars depreciate at an equal rate (or you just crash them into a tree and get nothing from your insurance company) and that inflation (now pushing 4% per year) drops to zero, here’s where the Prius becomes cheaper as determined by the price of gas (here we only consider the lowest end model of each car):

When the Prius Price of Gasoline (per gallon)
Costs Less $2.00 $3.26 $5.00 $8.00 $10.00
Years 22.8 14.1 9.1 5.7 4.6

So for a Prius to be more economically sensible for the “average” American, gas has to cost $10.00 a gallon. And this is assuming 0% inflation. The numbers get worse when you factor in a 3% inflation rate. Assume that the gas price listed is the price today and that the cost of gas increases inline with the 3% inflation rate (Ben Bernanke and I are both being hopeful). Then the crossover point looks like:

When the Prius Price of Gasoline (per gallon)
Costs Less $2.00 $3.26 $5.00 $8.00 $10.00
Years 36 18 11 6 5

So unless we assume that gas prices are going to head up significantly faster than the inflation rate, it’ll still take $10.00 per gallon gasoline to make the mightly Prius cost-competitive with the humble Corolla. Perhaps that’s something to think about the next time you head to visit the Toyota dealer…

Hello, Angry Biologist here! While this blog was ostensibly created so that I could write rants along with my fellow Angry Men, as I kind of inspired the whole Angry Man Blog idea, I’ve been too busy watching pterodactyl porn for the last two years to actually write a rant! No really, in all seriousness I’ve been campaigning for a very important organization that I want you all to be aware of, it is called NAMALA, the North American Man Amphibian Love Association.

NAMALA is a group in the spirit of the American Way, Freedom, and Equal Rights for everyone. We work to provide a support group for interspecies relationships, and advocate sexual freedom for everyone! Why stop the laws at allowing gay marriage. What about people like me who have developed close intimate relationships with amphibians. Why don’t I have the right to marry the person or frog that I love? Why am I denied this freedom? Who will champion my rights? NAMALA, that’s who.

As a long time frog lover, I feel that what a consenting adult and amphibian do in the confines of their laboratory is no one’s business. But NOOOOOooo! I have to file papers with IACUC, and would you believe that writing up “sex” as the protocol you are going to use with an animal usually gets rejected!?!? Don’t even get me started on PETA. For folks who “love” animals, they certainly don’t love people who love animals. But one day, hopefully soon, we at NAMALA will win our fight against oppression and be free to enjoy hot frog on man action whenever we want. Now if you’ll excuse me I have some… uh… experiments to run… yeah, that’s it!

*RIBBIT*

You’ve seen them around, you know, the greener-than-thou yuppies-cum-hippies who own their shiny new $25,000 hybrid automobile and insist on castigating everyone about how they should be more green — you know, by buying a hybrid like they did. Nevermind the cost arguments — $25k is too much to spend on a car that doesn’t carry little Johnny’s soccer team and can’t go from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds (like Tata Motor’s Electric Car, say)— it’s all about the planet man. Didn’t you see Al Gore’s movie?

Now, I’m all for making the planet a better place for the grand-kids to live in, but thinking that your hybrid is going to do that means that you’ve succumbed to Toyota’s marketing machine. You know, Prius == Green (not Prius == Lunchbox as Jeff Dunham might have you believe. In a sense, that’s right… Toyota is getting lots of your green for that Prius. The planet, on the other hand, might not be feeling as good. There are a few serious problems with hybrid automobiles — first, the environmental impact of the batteries, second, that they have batteries at all and third that the better gas mileage advertised for hybrid was largely an illusion. I’ll deal with each of these points in turn.

First off, making batteries, especially the quantity of batteries needed for your average hybrid, is an environmentally nasty process. Mining the lead or nickel needed to make the current generation of batteries creates an environmental mess worthy of
Black Diamonds, not to mention all the copper for the added wiring or that creating batteries is a very energy intensive process that involves taking a ton of electricity from the grid (yay for coal). And the newer batteries are even worse — the old lead ones are merely an environmental disaster, the NiCAD’s and Lithiums have the added danger of being highly chemically reactive. Yum! Overall, this is a negative environmental impact that good old non-hybrid just doesn’t have. Score one for gasoline.

Second, adding an additional drive mechanism (aka the electric motor, batteries and the like) adds additional weight. Automobile manufacturers (from my quick googling) don’t seem to like listing curb weights for the hybrids because of the fact that they’re much heavier than a comparable single-fuel car (howstuffworks.com explains this quite well). The best estimates I’ve seen are somewhere in the realm of 10-30% weight increase if nothing else is done to drop the weight of the car. While regenerative breaking will mask this in city driving, on highway driving where your electric motor is just dead weight, you’ll see your hybrid doing worse than a single-fuel car on the same chassis. Another often missed point is the comparison of energy density. Gasoline is 45 MJ/kg, while the lead acid battery is somewhere in the range of 90-162 KJ/kg. Just moving around the “fuel” takes substantially more energy for a hybrid than for a good old gas guzzler. Score another one for gasoline.

Finally, the initially advertised ultra-awesome gas mileage for hybrids is largely an illusion. This is due to an artifact in how the EPA mileage tests were conducted and this artifact favored hybrids immensely. The EPA has since revised their numbers turning your 2007 Prius from 60/51 to a 48/45. That would be a 20% decrease in estimated city gas mileage (which is still higher than what you actually get in practice. Wired has a nice bit on this phenomenon, noting that Consumer Reports was routinely getting less than 60% of the EPA numbers on their real-life road testing.

But 48/45 on that ’07 Prius is still green-good, right? Yeah, it beats the heck out of the mammoth SUV, but still pales in comparison with the real-world 72 MPG you’ll get out of an ’05 Kawasaki Ninja EX250R. Behold the power of the crotch rocket! You see, the big difference between the Prius and a standard gasoline car is not so much the battery, but the shape and engineering. If we ripped out the hybrid stuff from a Prius it would still get better gas mileage than most normal cars — because the car is engineered to be light weight (to make up for the secondary drive system) and aerodynamic. Hence why the Ninja eats any automobile for lunch when it comes to gas mileage.

As our longtime reader, the Angry Diesel Engineer will attest, this gives you a much better bang for the buck than the fancy schmancy electric drive. Why this is not obvious to consumers is largely due to Toyota’s impressively successful marketing machine and their alliance with yuppy pseudo-greens (who believe that you can save the planet with no effort beyond writing a check). I mean, we’ve always known that driving smaller (lighter) cars gives better gas mileage. Even in the hybrid era, this is still true — a shiny gasoline-only ’07 Corolla does better on the highway (and not so much worse in the city) than the larger (and much heavier) ’08 Camry Hybrid even with all that extra hybrid engineering. So instead of banging their heads to make better batteries, perhaps the car industry could take some of that advanced engineering, currently the province of the Prius and put it to use on old-fashioned gasoline cars… a 40 MPG (highway) Corolla would be really nice… and with an MSRP starting around $15k or so for the ’09 it’ll be a lot less expensive too.

Special thanks to Angry Political Optimist and loyal reader Angry Diesel Engineer for some really good suggestions for this article..