Addiction to Oil and Addiction to Slavery: A Fair Comparison?

By · April 14, 2011

Cotton Fields

The first shots of the American Civil War were fired 150 years ago. In his new book, 1861: The Civil War Awakening, historian Adam Goodheart looks at the earliest days of the Civil War, when the country was preparing itself for a fierce battle. Goodheart argues on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross that the Civil War “was really about slavery in almost every significant way.”

What does this have to do with hybrid and electric cars?

Professor Goodheart explains to Terry Gross that he makes the century-and-a-half struggle over slavery come to life for his college students today by comparing it to Americans’ current struggle with oil addiction.

“Many of us recognize that in burning fossil fuels, we’re doing something terrible for the planet, and terrible for future generations. And yet in order to give this up, it would mean unraveling so much of the fabric of our daily lives—sacrificing so much, becoming radical eccentrics riding bicycles everywhere, that we continue somewhat guiltily to participate in the system.”

Adam Goodheart
Author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening

Much like we are addicted to cheap oil today, he said Americans “were simply addicted to slavery and couldn’t give it up.”

Adam Goodheart

Adam Goodheart is the director of the Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College.

In 1861, the future of the south and north alike was interwoven with the economics of cotton, textile production and slave labor. There seemed to be no way out, and yet America found the courage to abolish slavery—even though we are still living with its legacy.

Of course, Goodheart is not equating one-to-one the horrific and unparalleled human toll of slavery on its victims with the effects of tailpipe emissions, high gas prices, and oil wars. That’s not an appropriate comparison. Instead, he’s overlapping cheap cotton and cheap oil—and the anguish of a country trying to somehow pull itself out of morally reprehensible practice upon which its economy depends.

Comments

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 3 years ago

And there's all the damage from oil spills in the Gulf and in the wilderness from burst pipelines.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

I wish we as a society would refering to the adjective "cheap" when placed in front of oil. Because we have not see cheap oil since the 70's, and we complained about it back than as well.
Maybe we can replace that adjective with the true adjective "ridiclously expensive" oil. WAKE UP people our emancapation proclamation needs to come soon.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

@ Anonymous

I am an Australian and cannot believe that most Americans complain about the price of "GAS" or petrol as we call it....let us compare. I hear on the news from the US your all screaming that it is going to be or is in some places $4 per gallon, converted to metric liters that is 0.909cents per liter...pretty damn good I'd say!! In Australia, well I just filled my car up last night and it cost me $1.51 per liter or converted into Gallons this would be a staggering $6.65.
If Americans where really serious about reducing their Gas usage, the Ford F truck would not b the number one selling vehicle which astounds me. I am sure if you where paying $6.65 per gallon of gas this vehicle would quickly NOT be the number one selling vehicle.
And here lies the answer to your addiction to oil, it is to cheap!! Put the price up to near ours and Europe's and all of a sudden electric vehicles seem very attractive even with the high purchase price and without government subs.
I love you Americans but please wake up and smell the roses and pull you head out of your arses before it is too late.

· · 3 years ago

"Of course, Goodheart is not equating one-to-one the horrific and unparalleled human toll of slavery on its victims with the effects of tailpipe emissions, high gas prices, and oil wars."

I'd argue that it is much worse. Not just addiction to oil - but to fossil fuels in general. More people could suffer and die because of climate change in the next 100 years than 200 years of slavery.

We are talking about Billions of people here.

· · 3 years ago

@Anonymous "Maybe we can replace that adjective with the true adjective "ridiclously expensive" oil. WAKE UP people our emancapation proclamation needs to come soon."

I think you need to wake up and learn about the real cost of oil. It is being HIGHLY SUBSIDIZED by the federal government. Just for starters look at all the "security" costs in the middle east.

· Van (not verified) · 3 years ago

Thankyou for a brilliant insight. As with comparisons with the Holocaust, any comparison with America's unwillingness to end slavery, to our inability to end our dependence on foreign oil must be highly limited.

The reason we are still dependent is not because the voters did not want to cut back on oil. But no alternative was presented, we were told the fix is just around the corner. But it never came. Recall the hydrogen economy, a hoax. And no money was spent developing lithium batteries such as will be in the second generation Leaf. When that battery hits the market, Katy bar the door, we will shift to all electric because we hate our dependence of foreign oil, with its costs to the environment, and its costs in blood.

· · 3 years ago

The whole issue is that US drivers are not DIRECTLY paying the full price of the gas that they are using. We are only paying may be 30% of the real cost of gas, the rest is being paid by the society and our future generations.

Less government meddling in oil is what we need. Let BP and Exxon send people to the middle east to secure oil wells. Let them also pick up the cost of Asthma treatment for millions of Americans.

· Samie (not verified) · 3 years ago

We all know the hidden costs of petroleum so I will not go there. What I will say is that cheap oil has its tradeoffs but lets remember that cheap petroleum built the "American Dream".(suburbia, transportation grid, shopping malls, consumption of cheap goods/foods, disposable income, durable plastics, ect, ect, ect....)

Economically speaking, the tradeoffs at some point will lean towards more costs than benefits. By costs I mean costs that can be reflected & measured in short-term thinking. Unfortunately how costs are going to be defined is most likely through a reflection of peak oil conditions & not hidden costs.

· Samie (not verified) · 3 years ago

As for the article:
Radical eccentrics? Is Adam Goodheart for real. Have a little faith in markets. If conditions create the potential for a large number of consumers to seek viable alternatives to petro, it will happen. As funny as it sounds hardships due to costs or say inconveniences cause markets to innovate so people who wish not to ride a bike will not be forced to do so.

As for the title of this article or say how Adam Goodheart phrases his argument, I see comparisons between slavery economics & petro economics but to generally compare each without definition of economics is absurd.

· · 3 years ago

Thankfully the Republican party was born to end slavery.

· · 3 years ago

@Michael,
Yes, dyed-in-the wool democrats hate it when I remind them of that fact :-)

· · 3 years ago

@Anonymous 2, (I wish you guys would give us some sort of name)
Many of us Americans agree with you. Unfortunately, there are a few spoiled pampered brats like anonymous 1 who really don't know how bad life really is without cheap oil.
Oil is absolutely fantastic and is the reason that we don't worry about starvation in dry years or blights and why we can have all of the cheap stuff to entertain ourselves. Of course, those are made by slaves in China, but thanks to the wonders of cheap oil, the slaves are so far away that we don't have to admit that we're still addicted to slavery too.
Unfortunately, that fantastic oil, like the gold in California, is getting harder to dig out and we're also learning of the bad side affects.

· Ben Brown (not verified) · 3 years ago

Those who owned my African ancestors definitely felt the market would correct itself if it was ordained because God had given all "men" common sense in overseeing their "interests." No one mistreats slaves, it wouldn't be economically wise is an actual quote. The people saying it no doubt convinced themselves of the absolute truth of their statements.

I see my state senator, voting against the concept of climate change because it would be too devastating to business and our economy to do otherwise, as absolutely stunning. As someone who also has Jewish ancestry, like he does, I see little difference between him and Pharaoh who couldn't imagine giving the Jews less work [cause they were going out for a time to worship God] in favor of his "economy".

As someone who is also affiliated with the Cherokee nation and Christian, I read Romans 8 as those who cause creation to suffer, heedlessly- caring mainly for their own interests, are in a different camp than those who actually do relieve the anguish in creation.

What Adam Goodheart has said about the parallels of slavery and our challenge to sustainably interact with creation rings in my heart as true.

· Bill W (not verified) · 3 years ago

I just hope we don't have to have a civil war to break our addiction to oil. But the way things are going, with the willful ignorance of the GOP, I have my doubts. The bad news is that they have most of the guns.

· Dc (not verified) · 3 years ago

There always has to be some "free-marketer" chirping on about how once the problems of fossil-fuel industrialism and car-dependency become to great to ignore, then the mythical free-market will come to our rescue and we can get back to commuting 30 miles so we can save 5 dollars on a plastic hair dryer@wall-mart. Well...guess what. If the free-market is a myth, the its totally laughable for the energy market. The market is manipulated and controlled, and has been almost since day one. We have known for decades that car-dependency and FF would be our ruin, yet the so-called free market has done next to nothing to correct or even mitigate this state of affairs. More cars, more roads, more pollution and ever more peverse subsides for oil and auto companies has been the norm, and if oil and auto companies have it their way(and they will) expect very litle to change. When your industry controlls governments and the market, you can block and hinder change at will.

As for Mr. Goodhearts contention that the american civil war had anything to do with slavery is also essentially false. The only connection one could make with slavery and oil dependence is that in modern terms, yes, we are all slaves to fossil-fuels, and by extension, to the auto and oil companies. But to suggest that the us civil war was all about slavery is like saying the americans invaded Iraq and Afghanistan to spread peace love and democracy. Also, americans dont "struggle" with oil dependancy anymore than I struggle with a desire to eat or sleep. Americans LIKE like the fossil-fueled smog-choked suburban trash heap called america. They will do anything to preserve it, as fuel gets more costly and more scarce, the violence and terrorism of the american petro-empire will only get worse.

· Samie (not verified) · 3 years ago

Dc
I think you are putting emotions in front of reality. Take the petroleum market. You fail to mention the distortions of this market by government (tax cuts, oil subsidies, non-market value leases for drilling, taxpayer military support, diplomatic support, & reduced environmental/safety regulations). So if government lowers the true value of the petro market, where is the incentive to innovate or seek alternatives? Will it is happening at a turtles pace but it is happening as more "costs" are added in. Last I checked we have the first gen. of mass produced vehicles as options to consumers.

As for actual energy markets I agree they are tightly controlled & centralized. That is why I am a proponent of electric vehicles. Each auto manufacture can choose which battery technology to use in a vehicle & many consumers will have options on how they want to charge up that battery say solar, wind, tidal, coal, nuclear, natural gas, ect, ect.... This creates a decentralized effect and in my view may help spur more market innovation in battery technology & renewable energies as long as markets remain somewhat free to do so.

ex-EV1 driver sorry but "slaves in China" is a poor example. I agree human rights & liberties in China are almost non-existent but that does not make someone a slave when they have some autonomy & some options on where he/she wants to work. Believe it or not some of the same companies that once exploited cheap labor in China are looking at this nation as a new market to expand their products in.

Lastly, believing in the power of markets to innovate & make our lives better does not make me evil or some nasty mean conservative. I think some liberals often attack global trade focusing on the bad side of things & not the positive aspects of it. I always wonder what gives people the right to blame markets when they themselves participate in them & usually not knowing, but are, contributing to poor labor practices when they need the latest gadget to blog on & complain how bad free trade is. Sorry for the rant but I had to say it...

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

EVNow - "I think you need to wake up and learn about the real cost of oil. It is being HIGHLY SUBSIDIZED by the federal government. Just for starters look at all the "security" costs in the middle east."
NO, you need to wake and understand that its not all about money. Human lives are on the line everyday to protect our oil interest, and That's "ridiculously expensive". American's are not better than the rest of the world, but to keep our costs low, we place people in harms way for the cheaper price. "RIDICULOUS". I am a part of the HUMAN race 1st
ex-EV1-driver - "Unfortunately, there are a few spoiled pampered brats like anonymous 1 who really don't know how bad life really is without cheap oil"
I would like to know when YOU lived without oil? Obviously, you did read the article above. The south did not think they could live w/o slavery either. Are you afraid that our society might go on w/o oil? The south goes on w/o slavery. You said in your bio that you made a sacrifice to purchase your Tesla; however you did not sell your MG or your other 2 cars. So who is the spoiled brat? Republicans, like you never really worked in the real world that was not gov't subsidized in some way (Miltary, defense and aircraft industry). I tired of subsidizing you, because you have no vision w/o oil. I believe we can live w/o oil, because we are more innovative then a 150 year addiction to oil. Your an engineer without vision. Keep throwing rocks from your glass house.

· Cranky Old Man (not verified) · 3 years ago

If people in the United States can be faulted for any characteristic the rest of the world doesn’t share in spades, it is their passivity. The rest of the world’s super rich call that ‘stability’ and its why, in spite of the country’s enormous deficits, they have continued to park their money in the ‘safe haven’ here, at least until recently. And anyhow, the world’s ruling classes can be thankful that the US stopped minding its own business and intervened in WWI thus preserving ‘the Great Game’ in which the (oil-fired) advances in productivity can be used not to make the lives of everyone better but to engage in mass slaughter while they contest with each other for control of the world.

See if you can find a copy of “50 Years Driving in the Wrong Direction: Taken for a Ride on the Interstate Highway System”, by film maker MIKE FERNER. You can read about it here: http://www.counterpunch.org/ferner06282006.html. It shows you how the ‘free market’ (sic) in personal transportation came about in the US. Did you know those perverse southern Californians had an excellent public transportation system until at least the early 1950s? There is some footage in the documentary where streetcars stacked layers deep are being torched that looks like the end of the world.
Even electric vehicles may ultimately no longer be viable in a world increasingly choked with people. But it is tempting to speculate what that world would look like now if public transportation had shared the road with electric cars. A lot of the oil floating in the atmosphere around the world would still be in the ground. A lot of the people killing to get the means to poison themselves and the planet would still be alive. The US would have a long-haul transportation system that made sense. We could even keep a few oil-powered cars around for those who really need them and for those of us who would like to pay two or three times what it costs to get from point A to point B by driving instead of flying when the trip involves an overnight stay.

And while you are at it, take a look at Daniel Yergin’s “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power”. It is a remarkably honest history of the oil industry for someone who is head of Cambridge Energy Associates and often accused of being the mouthpiece for the oil industry. In it you will discover, among other things, that: FDR was warned towards the end of WWII that ‘peak oil’ was coming for the US by two naval petroleum geologists; that Eisenhower sensibly wanted to use the rest of the world’s oil first and opposed tariff protection for the US oil industry but was overruled by that paragon of wisdom and leadership the US Congress; that there really WAS a ‘free market’ in oil production in the early years of the industry – and that it was not such a good thing if one was interested in the overall health of the oil fields from which so many ‘independent businessmen’ were sucking the blood of the earth.

Hope I’ve perked your interest.

· M@ (not verified) · 3 years ago

"And yet in order to give this up, it would mean unraveling so much of the fabric of our daily lives—sacrificing so much, becoming radical eccentrics riding bicycles everywhere, that we continue somewhat guiltily to participate in the system.”

The above quote is such an erroneous statement it's not even funny. It's sad because it perpetuates the myth(s) and belies the EASE with which making the transition (and the benefits) can be done! In doing so it reduces the drive for individual change (think John Brown, Rosa Parks). Does it take a bit of work? Yes. But the complete FREEDOM from the yo-yo prices of gasoline/oil is worth it. The grin that lasts for minutes on the face of someone who experiences the thrill of an eBike, Twike, EV for the first time. After making the switch/leap and driving a Twike for 4 years, I thought about "the question" -- What is the biggest change in my life after driving an EV for 4 years?" The total absence of stress in my life due to gas prices -- I no longer shop for the lowest priced gas station, or think "Damn! I shoulda bought it yesterday (or in the other town, etc)" That, my friends is freedom from the bonds of oil! Yes, I still buy gas every other month or so for the family/wife's car (Prius, might make it a plug-in). Am I eccentric, hell yes. Sacrifice? Not at bit! The days I have to drive my ICE (Infernal Combustion Engine) -- or ride the ICE bus -- over my bicycle (soon to be eBike) or Twike quite simply aren't as FUN. Add some fun to your live everyday -- drive a plug-in vehicle!

Americans see a bicycle and running as "exercise". In China and Africa these activities are known as "transportation".

· · 3 years ago

@Mr. Anonymous,
I am definitely spoiled. I know it is because of the cheap price of oil. I like being spoiled. Therefore, I am seeking an alternative that will allow me some of the spoils I enjoy even after oil runs out.
I have lived partly without oil - it is called survival training. Even then, I was probably wearing clothes or carrying tools that took advantage of cheap oil to make. I could also call to be rescued by oil if things got really tough. It sucks!
Also, I never said I was a Republican. I just use that fact to bring-down holier-than-thou Democrats. Don't worry, I have other things that I use to annoy Republicans for balance (eg. what part of "conserve" don't you conservative Hummer drivers get?).
I'm bothered by those who think they are entitled to their spoiling and they think that is the norm. That scares me.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

This is a totally bogus argument, there is simply no comparison between the absolute inhuman evil of slavery and the use of fossil fuels. Owning slaves meant directly depriving another human being of their freedom. It was a purely selfish act, taking one's labor by force rather than paying someone, and it was never "necessary" for society to allow it. The cost of using fossil fuels is that maybe, possibly, someday, society will need to take more drastic measures to fight climate change. But that is balanced by all the benefits modern society, not just for ourselves but also for future generations who will be able to benefit from living in a modern society where they aren't dying of starvation, or polio, and living like medieval serfs toiling in the fields just to feed ourselves. If one objected to slavery, one could have not owned slaves. Not using fossil fuels is quite another matter. Had it not been for the modern conveniences built up over the last 200 years using fossil fuels we'd all still be living a pre-industrial subsistence lifestyle... not much more comfortable than slaves. So many simple things we take for granted like being able to visit an out of state relative are only possible because of the many technological advances built one on top of another, and all powered by fossil fuels, leading to the modern automobile. Sure possibly we could eventually transition to something else, but only because we have NOW have the benefit of technical advances made possible by a society built and powered by fossil fuels. Putting that on par with slavery simply demonstrates a lack of perspective.

· Dom (not verified) · 3 years ago

The American civil war was not fought over slavery. It was over State's rights. Saying otherwise is grossly simplifying a complicated issue. I'm not saying slavery is/was right, because it isn't, it just isn't what the war was really about. I would think a historian would know this.

· · 3 years ago

@Dom,
Check your history books. The Civil War was fought over the Southern States defense of their "right" to own slaves. The state's rights rationale was created after the war, which they lost and which ended state-endorsed slavery here, as a way of defending the decision to secede.

· · 3 years ago

@Anonymous (not verified) "NO, you need to wake and understand that its not all about money. Human lives are on the line everyday to protect our oil interest, and That's "ridiculously expensive".

Hmmm ?! I didn't say anything about - its all about money. If you read the post I was replying to, that is the one talking about money.

· · 3 years ago

@Michael · "Thankfully the Republican party was born to end slavery."

Bit of historical revisionism there. From wiki ..."It emerged in 1854 to combat the threat of slavery's extension to the territories, and to promote more vigorous modernization of the economy."

Anyway, the important question is, why is the Republican Party so racist now ?

· · 3 years ago

The shift in the Republican party away from it's more humble roots to
what it is today (and, no, I'm not a fan of what it has become) began fairly soon after the Civil War. The bitterly contested 1876 presidential election found the Republican winner, Rutherford B. Hayes, compromising with southern Democrats the following year by having occupying Union troops depart that region, thus effectively ending Reconstruction.

Varied events of the next 20 years eventually found the 1896 presidential Republican winner, William McKinley, exhibiting many of the traits we often associate with modern Republicans: a creature and defender of big business. The mold was pretty much set by then.

His Vice President and eventual successor, Teddy Roosevelt, seemed to be cut from a very different cloth, as he is largely remembered as a conservationist and the founder of government institutions that might be more often associated with Democrats in more recent times (Food & Drug Administration, etc.) But a schism pushed these progressive Republicans to the fringes, witnessing Teddy Roosevelt unsuccessful 1912 Bull Moose presidential run. Most of the supporters of that movement probably migrated to the Democratic party shortly thereafter.

Teddy's nephew, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was able to hold onto
power for so long by somehow fusing the very uneasy alliance of progressive northern Democrats and southern Democrats (the latter being largely decedents of the Confederacy.) This began to unravel after WWII. It would take a succession of Republican presidential hopefuls or winners (Barry Goldwater, then Richard Nixon and then Ronald Regan) several decades to change this large block of southern Democrats into card holding Republicans, but that's what we essentially have today.

An oversimplified historical synopsis, yes . . . and I'm waiting for the slings and arrows coming in from the right. But this might help explain, in a nutshell, why we can have Abraham Lincoln and Jesse Helms (can you think of two more polar political opposites?) both proudly proclaiming themselves as Republicans.

OK . . . back to electric cars . . .

· · 3 years ago

The demand for slaves in 19 century America was a result of limited industrialization and automation primarily in the production of cotton throughout the south. Slavery rapidly expanded after the introduction of the cotton gin, a machine that could automatically separate cotton fibers from cotton seeds. Previously this task was done by slaves and by hand. The quantity of cotton which could be processed by hand was therefore very limited. After the cotton gin was introduced, enormous amounts of cotton could be processed very quickly and that resulted in a need to dramatically increase the growing of cotton. However, the process of raising cotton itself wasn't automated and so large numbers of slaves were brought in to work the cotton fields. Had the entire cotton production process, end-to-end, been automated (far beyond the technology of the time), slavery would have been naturally ended in the south as it had been in the north once the north began large scale industrialization.

So what does this tell us about how to break our addiction to oil? The answer, when found, will be a comprehensive end-to-end substitution for oil in both fuel as well as vehicle technology, . The electric car could fill the bill, especially as there costs decline. Electric cars will also drive demand for PV. If there were a significant PV cost breakthrough (a $1 per watt for example), electric cars would rapidily gain market share over ICE..

I have major concern with hybrids as well as alternative fuels as to their ability to break our oil addiction. This is because these approaches aren't a transformational end-to-end solution, but rather tweaks to our current approach. Electric cars have the ability to obsolete oil, where as hybrids and alternative fuels would allow oil consumption to coexist for a very long time.

· · 3 years ago

@EVNow,

"Anyway, the important question is, why is the Republican Party so racist now ?"

Really??? That's what I think about the Democratic party, which is always race baiting, as you are doing here.

Let me remind you that during the vote for the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, 80% of Republicans voted for it, while the Democrats couldn't even muster up two thirds of their party to vote for it.

· · 3 years ago

@EVNow,

"Bit of historical revisionism there. From wiki ..."It emerged in 1854 to combat the threat of slavery's extension to the territories"

Thank you for proving my point.

From wiki,

"The modern Republican Party was founded in 1854 to oppose the expansion of slavery into new states."

· Max Reid (not verified) · 3 years ago

http://www.suntimes.com/4868099-522/cta-to-test-electric-buses.html

Chicago tests Electric buses.

· · 3 years ago

"Let me remind you that during the vote for the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act, 80% of Republicans voted for it, while the Democrats couldn't even muster up two thirds of their party to vote for it."

@Micheal . . .

A somewhat deceptive statistic. Please see my post, above. Democrats, in the 1st half of the 20th century, were a very large and loose coalition. FDR's ability to bring together northern liberals and the southern Democrats was an extraordinary feat that was destined not to last. Take a look at what the Democratic party by 1948, only 3 years after FDR's death.

Yes . . . Strom Thurmond (self-proclaimed segregationist "Dixiecrat",) Harry Truman (centrist) and Henry Wallace (left-of-center progressive) were all Democratic presidential candidates that year.

It took real civil rights legislation in subsequent decades, largely advanced by centrist and progressive Democrats (the less than 2/3 in 1964 you refer) - and, yes, the now-nearly-extinct moderate Republicans - to move repulse the "Dixiecrats" and move them into the ranks of the GOP.

Racist white southern Democrats didn't suddenly change in the 1960s. The ones who chose to maintain the old segregationist beliefs merely became Republicans, the old association of Abe Lincoln having been one a century earlier be damned. That's been pretty much the status quo since about 1980.

Getting back to the slavery/oil addiction analogy . . . I think indyflick's analogy (above) hits it home for me.

· · 3 years ago

> This is a totally bogus argument, there is simply no comparison between the absolute inhuman evil of slavery and the use of fossil fuels. Owning slaves meant directly depriving another human being of their freedom <

And driving a 6,000 pound, 10 mpg, solo-occupant SUV as a commute vehicle directly deprives me of the freedom to breath clean air and enjoy clean water. It contributes to my asthma-suffering nephew being able to breath much at all. I hear regularly about peoples' "rights" - and while I don't contend that the tragedy of slavery equates to polluting our environment - I still can't figure out why everybody has the "right" to drive whatever polluting, giant automobile they wish to drive at the expense of MY "right" to not be dependent on foreign oil... to have cleaner air and water...to be safer on the roads, etc.

· · 3 years ago

> sacrificing so much, becoming radical eccentrics riding bicycles everywhere <

And why is "riding bicycles everywhere" considered eccentric today? When did we become a country of soft, squishy "Wall-e" people? It is normal to sit on the couch and watch TV. We waddle out to the attached garage and drive down to the grocery store for more potato chips when we get low. I mean that's the GOOD life! But ride your bike to school, work, the store? That's downright eccentric! Truly a sad state of affairs. I know far too many people who equate the bicycle as transportation with "going backwards" - like in third-world countries. We've only fully developed when we all drive 2-ton cars to move our little bags of protoplasm around. :sigh:

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

@ Sammie,

"Each auto manufacture can choose which battery technology to use in a vehicle & many consumers will have options on how they want to charge up that battery say solar, wind, tidal, coal, nuclear, natural gas, ect, ect...."

---How exactly do consumers get to choose how we want to charge up the batteries in our EV's? I can't call up ComEd and say, "Hey ComEd! I want my electricity to come from tidal power today. And tomorrow I want it to come from coal."

To think just because we don't get our fuel from fossil fuels makes us more free. Does anyone really think that? The utility companies will get what they want and for the price they want it at. Also, using alternative fuels isn't any less subsidized than fossil fuels. Look at the tax rebates companies get for getting a percentage of their fuel from something other than oil. Or look at the rebates a consumer gets when they buy a Leaf or a Volt or back in the day a Prius.

Those that think that are turning a blind eye to the subsidization of alternative fuels.

The REAL issue is that we want to slow or stop the flow of US dollars to politically unstable, non-democratic, terrorist funding regimes in the Middle East, Africa, South America etc countries. You don't need protectionist or free market policies when it comes to oil. Oil will always be bought by someone, somewhere no matter what. Let's just make it so it's not bought as much by the U.S. How we do it is up to us. Bringing in slavery, religion or petty political bickering is absolutely unneccassary and causes a downward spiral of finger pointing, blame game and hatred. Which again diverts us from the REAL issue at hand (see the first sentence of this paragraph).

So knock it off and put on your thinking caps.

· Dom (not verified) · 3 years ago

"@Dom,
Check your history books. The Civil War was fought over the Southern States defense of their "right" to own slaves. The state's rights rationale was created after the war, which they lost and which ended state-endorsed slavery here, as a way of defending the decision to secede."

My point exactly. I don't condone or endorse slavery, and I think it was a terrible thing. But the state governments had the right to decide within each state whether it was legal to own slaves. Each state was also part of the Union by choice, and felt that they also had the right to leave that Union. The North and the Federal government disagreed, and used force to force their view on the South, and thereby grow the power of the federal government. Slavery was a political issue in some ways used to justify the war. (Yes, I know that the South fired the first shot at fort Sumter.) But saying that the Civil War was fought over (and only over) slavery is an incomplete and dumbed-down version of history that seems to be taught more often than not. That's what I take issue with on the topic of this article. But perhaps the article misrepresents the actual content of the book, I don't know. I will admit I haven't read it.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

http://www.teslamotors.com/models/faq

Tesla is offering the 1st 1,000 vehicles in US for $ 40,000. Go check it.

· · 3 years ago

Well in my opinion their truly is no comparison to owning a human being and using a resource to the detriment of a society. However, there seems to be a common trend in the US to under react then over react to social and economic, and worldwide political issues. Slavery does serve as one of the examples. While most other countries had abolished slavery peacefully 50 plus years prior, this country almost destroyed itself over it.

The same can be said for WWII, the war on terror, health care, and of course energy and so many others. I've always wondered why diesel cars, tank-less water heaters, solar and wind are so well adopted in other countries.

So to those of you who talk about states rights being the reason the civil war started I have a question. Why couldn't the Southern states respect the rights of the Northern states not to have slaves?

@ Dom. I find it interesting to say the least that you can state that the states had a right to have a man own another man and yet whine about the federal government using force to stop it. Do you think the act of slavery doesn't involve force?

· · 3 years ago

@Anonymous, I believe that Tesla page you linked to is just for the reservation fee, not the final sales price. Sorry, no $40K model S.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
http://www.teslamotors.com/models/faq

"Tesla is offering the 1st 1,000 vehicles in US for $ 40,000. Go check it."

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

Hello Anonymous

Are you looking to buy a Greenpower in Illinois state, then check for this utility
EnergyPlusRewards

They are offering Windpower for extra 1 cent / kwh which is very nominal. So if your home uses 500 kwh / month, then you may end up paying $5 which is less than a cost of burger meal. Go check their website
http://www.energypluscompany.com/

· Dom (not verified) · 3 years ago

"@ Dom. I find it interesting to say the least that you can state that the states had a right to have a man own another man and yet whine about the federal government using force to stop it. Do you think the act of slavery doesn't involve force?"

Once again let me state that I don't agree that a state or anyone has the right to own a human being.

The question was whether or not the states had sovereignty within their borders to decide this issue. This country started out with strong state governments and a very limited federal government, and has slowly gone the other way after a couple hundred years of the federal government chipping away at the state's sovereignty. I see the Civil War and the surrounding political issues are just another and rather extreme example of a federal power grab.

· · 3 years ago

@ Benjamin Nead,

"Racist white southern Democrats didn't suddenly change in the 1960s. The ones who chose to maintain the old segregationist beliefs merely became Republicans, the old association of Abe Lincoln having been one a century earlier be damned. That's been pretty much the status quo since about 1980. "

So that's why a Republican, Ronald Reagan, signed into law the first and only holiday commemorating a black American, Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1983.

You're so full of it.

· · 3 years ago

@Michael . . .

Lighten up, will ya? I didn't resort to snarky sign-offs and neither should you. Please also read some US history. Although you might consider the source part of the "Liberal Media Elite," this is as good as any place to start . . .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_strategy

. . . and, while we're at it, here's one for "The Gipper" . . .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States%27_rights_%28speech%29

If you can take anything away from what I've posted here its that the two major political parties in this country have gone through significant transformations over the past 150 years. You've had both saints and sinners in regards to race relations, and they have called themselves both Democrats and Republicans at certain points in history.

Your thesis states that only Republicans have had a positive effect in US race relations? Sorry . . . but even most Republicans would contend that this is an amazingly naive and overly simplistic appraisal. 'Nuff said on all of that. We agree to disagree.

Now, to get this blog more or less back on topic . . . which electric would YOU like to be driving?

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

Wow. Talk about beating a dead horse. Still talking about slavery? Aren't we supposed to be talking about cars and such?

· · 3 years ago

Well, the particular article we're discussing is slavery... but yes it has definitely gotten derailed into partisan bickering. Who didn't see that coming? I'm always willing to stipulate that the idiots in MY party are more bad than the idiots in YOUR party.

· Travisty (not verified) · 3 years ago

@Ben and @Michael
I just wanted to add that the Republicans of Lincoln's day and age were basically democrats of today. The two parties switched places with FDR and the new deal.

@Main Topic
I do think it's a good comparison. After the Civil War it is fact that people (mainly Southerners) tried to glorify the south and separate the Civil War from slavery. Even today many Southerners believe the South succeeded not because of slavery but sovereignty. Heck even text books are starting to omit slavery (most text books are made in Texas). Americans love to live in ignorance and forget about atrocities that we have committed throughout our history - indian massacres and slavery the worst.

I see no difference with oil. Americans don't care that we fund terrorist who are fighting against us, fund regimes that kill their own people, fund the growing of drugs that are smuggled to every part of the world, etc. The majority instead like to live in ignorance.

What the US really needs is a new awakening like the one that occurred in Europe some 300 years ago. We need the population to start questioning their beliefs and strive for knowledge.

A man can dream…

· Travisty (not verified) · 3 years ago

(No edit)
WIth the first part of my post this is less aimed at Ben but reather I wanted to add it to Ben and Michael's conversation

· Priusmaniac (not verified) · 2 years ago

Following the ambiguity of this phrase “Of course, Goodheart is not equating one-to-one the horrific and unparalleled human toll of slavery on its victims with the effects of tailpipe emissions, high gas prices, and oil wars.”, we should actually cut through the meat and really compare the two on a human perspective and on an environment perspective.

On a human perspective the slavery was freedom suppression for black people along with physical suffering endured during the forced work and associated repression. A lot of psychological suffering was present as well due to the exile and lack of family life.

The oil, on its side, is imposing suffering on people in foreign lands. In Nigeria it comes in the form of uncontrolled oil slick pollution that brings along cancers and other illnesses. It forces delta people to move away from their original habitat because they suffer hunger in their now sterile lands. In other countries oil create the opportunity for dictatorships to survive and impose hardship and torture on their people.

On an environmental perspective the slavery had no consequences.

The oil, on its side, is destroying the environment, the biodiversity, creating massive pollutant diffusion in soil, air and water. Inducing durable hardship on the planet. It also creates a massive buildup of greenhouse gases that will remain there for thousands of years.

So slavery had a very strong local directly visible human effect with decade’s long effects, but the oil has a global effect with strong delocalized human effects and in more catastrophic environment effects for the coming millennia’s.

As a conclusion, we can indeed say that there is no equation possible between the two. The second is much worse than the already horrible first one.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

No, it is not a comparrison because we have a choice and we are looking for alternative ways and can choose not to use oil. This article is insensitive to decendants of slaves.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 2 years ago

yeah, I think it's really great the Google is supporting electric cars because it's so healthy for the environment to use them, just hard to find an outlet. That's why I also like cars with natural gas engines. They seem fuel efficient and safe for the environment.

· · 2 years ago

> That's why I also like cars with natural gas engines. They seem fuel efficient and safe for the environment. <

Except for the fracking we're doing to get the NG.
http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/06/fracking-in-pennsylv...

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