Musktopia Here We Come!

Tyler Durden's picture

Authored by Howard Kunstler via,

It ought to be sign of just how delusional the nation is these days that Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X is taken seriously. Musk continues to dangle his fantasy of travel to Mars before a country that can barely get its shit together on Planet Earth, and the Tesla car represents one of the main reasons for it — namely, that we’ll do anything to preserve, maintain, and defend our addiction to incessant and pointless motoring (and nothing to devise a saner living arrangement).

Even people with Ivy League educations believe that the electric car is a “solution” to our basic economic quandary, which is to keep all the accessories and furnishings of suburbia running at all costs in the face of problems with fossil fuels, especially climate change. First, understand how the Tesla car and electric motoring are bound up in our culture of virtue signaling, the main motivational feature of political correctness. Virtue signaling is a status acquisition racket. In this case, you get social brownie points for indicating that you’re on-board with “clean energy,” you’re “green,” “an environmentalist,” “Earth –friendly.” Ordinary schmoes can drive a Prius for their brownie points. But the Tesla driver gets all that and much more: the envy of the Prius drivers!

This is all horse shit, of course, because there’s nothing green or Earth-friendly about Tesla cars, or electric cars in general. Evidently, many Americans think these cars run on batteries. No they don’t. Not really. The battery is just a storage unit for electricity that comes from power plants that burn something, or from hydroelectric installations like Hoover Dam, with its problems of declining reservoir levels and aging re-bar concrete construction. A lot of what gets burned for electric power is coal. Connect the dots. Also consider the embedded energy that it takes to just manufacture the cars. That had to come from somewhere, too.

The Silicon Valley executive who drives a Tesla gets to feel good about him/her/zheself without doing anything to change him/her/zhe’s way of life. All it requires is the $101,500 entry price for the cheapest model. For many Silicon Valley execs, this might be walking-around money. For the masses of Flyover Deplorables that’s just another impossible dream in a growing list of dissolving comforts and conveniences.

In fact, the mass motoring paradigm in the USA is already failing not on the basis of what kind of fuel the car runs on but on the financing end. Americans are used to buying cars on installment loans and, as the middle class implosion continues, there are fewer and fewer Americans who qualify to borrow. The regular car industry (gasoline branch) has been trying to work around this reality for years by enabling sketchier loans for ever-sketchier customers — like, seven years for a used car. The borrower in such a deal is sure to be “underwater” with collateral (the car) that is close to worthless well before the loan can be extinguished. We’re beginning to see the fruits of this racket just now, as these longer-termed loans start to age out. On top of that, a lot of these janky loans were bundled into tradable securities just like the janky mortgage loans that set off the banking fiasco of 2008. Wait for that to blow.

What much of America refuses to consider in the face of all this is that there’s another way to inhabit the landscape: walkable neighborhoods, towns, and cities with some kind of public transit. Some Millennials gravitate to places designed along these lines because they grew up in the ‘burbs and they know full well the social nullity induced there. But the rest of America is still committed to the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world: suburban living. And tragically, of course, we’re kind of stuck with all that “infrastructure” for daily life. It’s already built out! Part of Donald Trump’s appeal was his promise to keep its furnishings in working order.

All of this remains to be sorted out. The political disorder currently roiling America is there because the contradictions in our national life have become so starkly obvious, and the first thing to crack is the political consensus that allows business-as-usual to keep chugging along. The political turmoil will only accelerate the accompanying economic turmoil that drives it in a self-reinforcing feedback loop. That dynamic has a long way to go before any of these issues resolved satisfactorily.

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hedgeless_horseman's picture


America refuses to consider in the face of all this is that there’s another way to inhabit the landscape: walkable neighborhoods, towns, and cities with some kind of public transit. Some Millennials gravitate to places designed along these lines because they grew up in the ‘burbs and they know full well the social nullity induced there. But the rest of America is still committed to the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world: suburban living. 

Kunstler's book on this topic, The Geography of Nowhere, is excellent.  

LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD's picture
LowerSlowerDelaware_LSD (not verified) hedgeless_horseman Apr 3, 2017 10:39 AM

Why comment on the article when this space is best used for spam advertising?!?!? Where is How about SchlongWave?

hedgeless_horseman's picture


I gave several copies to the local town council, several years ago, and they actually implemented a couple of the ideas in the book, specifically, turning a back alley along the main road through town into a walking path.

It is a bit like spitting in the ocean, trying to fight suburban chintz and Happy Motoring, but no drop ever feels it is responsible for the flood.

Ignatius's picture

When Kuntsler is on, he's on, even discounting the few places where we disagree.

We can do a lot better, but it'll be a long cultural shift.

"Virtue signaling."  Love that turn of phrase.

SixIsNinE's picture


here's some great links exposing the Musk hoaxes     SpaceX To Send Humans To Mars Before Sending Humans To Space   FRAUD SpaceX Hoax Mini-NASA fakes just like Daddy!   NASA Space X Frauds  - How High Can We Go

Franklin Mint Chip's picture
Franklin Mint Chip (not verified) SixIsNinE Apr 3, 2017 10:52 AM

You are all going to get chipped and you are going to love it too.

tmosley's picture

>muh environment

>don't drive cars, just force everyone into cities

Where do they dig these assholes up?

Four chan's picture


HillaryOdor's picture

Wait a minute.  So suburban living is the greatest misallocation of resources ever?  What an absurd claim.  If I have worked to acquire the resources to live my dream in the suburbs who the fuck is this asshole to tell me I'm misallocating my resources?  So the proper allocation of my resources is to give it up for whatever Kuntlser wants? And let me guess, the solution to the problem of suburban living is to herd everyone like sheep into the agenda 2030 megacities where we can all be controlled, right?  For the Earth of course.  Meanwhile the oligarchs will likely continue to claim enormous sprawling tracts of land for their compounds which they fly to in their private jets and helicopters.  But that's okay.  They are the ordained. 


Fuck Kuntsler

hedgeless_horseman's picture


And the solution is to herd everyone like sheep into the agenda 2030 megacities where we can all be controlled, right?  


That is, however, a very straightforward strawman fallacy.

HillaryOdor's picture

First of all it's not a straw man.  Go read the fucking link you put there.

"straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent."

I did not refute any argument.  I simply asked if that is his solution to the alleged problem, and what else could it be?  If suburban and rural living is the problem, then urban living has to be the solution.  What is the third option?

Blue Snowflake's picture

The third option? Genocide and other depopulation techniques

dumbhandle's picture

Who was Obama's mad scientist that wanted to sterilize our wives?

hxc's picture

Don't listen to HH. He bandies about logical fallacies all day without understanding how fallacies work (that they are essentially a break in the chain of a logical argument, not a comment that somehow invalidates the speaker's opinion)

HillaryOdor's picture

Agree.  You can commit a logical fallacy and still come to a correct conclusion.  

But what's even more stupid is that Cuntslur is clearly making this argument.  I'm not making it up.

"What much of America refuses to consider in the face of all this is that there’s another way to inhabit the landscape: walkable neighborhoods, towns, and cities with some kind of public transit. "

I don't know about you guys but I can already walk around my neighborhood and my city has public transport.  In fact every city I've been to in America has public transport.  So how are we to interpret this statement?  Walkable?  If it isn't walkable now, then to make it walkable means to pack everything even closer together.  In other words, people need less land, less space, less privacy.  We need to be closer and closer to each other.  Also the idea that we should all focus on public transit, even those of us fully capable of affording an automobile, is another way of saying people have too much autonomy in their travel.  He's clearly talking about mass urban living as the way forward.  That means loss of freedoms and choices and privacy, and that's exactly where many capable adults are misallocating all their resources trying to avoid.  

silvercity's picture

Some people want to live somewhere that doesn't require them to listen to their neighbor's music all day long.

unsafe-space-time's picture

Modern system is built around cars and wastes too much finite energy. We need more horses.

SixIsNinE's picture

hate to break it to you, but his "reusable rocket" only works in theater movies.  it's not real.

it's as real as movies like 2001 -  GRAVITY - THE MARTIAN.


remember - we can now be lied to LEGALLY all the time, in fact, it is standard operating procedures these days.   

The fake Space Program is one of the key reasons they brought the legal propaganda (smith-mundt) to CONUS - everything considered National Security is fair game.

And as well, the courts have determined that there is nothing in the LAW that requires the fakestream to tell us any truth.  Nothing they say is binding to be truth.


It's a War on for Your Mind - and if You are a ZeroHedge poster YOU are the RESISTANCE!

do NOT allow the Snowflake Libtards to cover themselves with RESISTANCE -    Fakers !

RESIST Libtardation Today! and Everyday !


DetectiveStern's picture

My favourite Musk bullshit is hyperloop. A 600 mile tube made of 3mm steel that is a vacuum? Ok pal whatever you say.

hxc's picture

That's for the idiots that actually thought California would get a massive high-speed monorail that costs next to nothing to ride and would take next to no time to build

flaminratzazz's picture

With a name like kuntlers, you damn well better be correct.

Someone might call you names otherwise?

Stuck on Zero's picture

Kunstler needs to get out of his hippie pad in the woods and to the library to do some reading.  Public transit, such as rail or subways is the least efficient of all transportations systems in terms of passenger miles. The most efficient is the jitney ... a form of ride sharing. Uber is a modern form of jitney and it is taking over everywhere.  Wake up Kunstler.

hedgeless_horseman's picture


Public transit, such as rail or subways is the least efficient of all transportations systems in terms of passenger miles.

What is your metric for efficiency?


Energy consumption?

Time of commute?

Please cite the study.

tmosley's picture

I would use man hours per mile. Not just the man hours spent doing the commute, but also those spent paying the taxes/tolls that pay for the public transit vs the cost of ownership of the vehicle.

I have done these calculations for myself. In my mid sized city, it is far more efficient to own a car. All in cost is under 10 cents a mile (not counting the sunk cost of the vehicle itself--I pay cash for used vehicles, in my case, assuming my car broke down today, it might double the cost per mile, but it could last ten more years, so who knows?). The inconvenience of using public rail/subways is catastrophic to the efficiency of using it anywhere outside of a place like New York or London. Busses are better, and as SoZ stated, by far the most efficient non-owned transportation is ride sharing, but even that is an order of magnitude over the cost of owning a car (as you have to pay for the driver). Maybe less if you are in a place that allows carpooling.

Also a pain in the ass to bring home groceries via public transportation. Never mind trying to lug something heavy like home repair materials. Trucks are handy, and you will miss them greatly if you are a homeowner.

Might be worth using public transportation if your taxes are already paying for it and the stops are sufficiently convenient to everything that you need easy access to (home, shop, work).

Stuck on Zero's picture

Efficiency of transport today usually means miles traveled divided by cost on a systemwide basis.  If people bicycle then count travel time as a cost and months spent in the hospital (from accidents) as a cost. Subways are the least efficient transit because of invested costs and on-going costs such as constant pumping, lighting, ventilation, etc. Automobiles are quite efficient because they consume no energy when off but they clog things up and require infrastructure such as parking garages. Jitneys are nearly point-to-point, like autos, but share infrastructure with many passengers. They are the number one transit system in most of the third-world.

VK's picture

The only metric that matters is ultimately energy. Rome was a solar empire, built on hundreds of thousands farms across the empire that allowed a small proportion of the empire - 10% to live in urban areas and allowed a tiny proportion of those urbanites to enjoy the fruits of surplus and to pay for the armies to protect those energy flows. It ran into trouble as the cost of maintaining the newly conquered territories greatly exceeded the marginal benefit of those new territories. Couple that with the Roman Italian population growing ever more accustomed to not doing much in the way of fighting and depending on mercenaries and slaves to keep the empire running and you have the recipe for decline, decay and collapse of the population by 90%.

The US is a fossil empire, built on ancient sunlight that took millions of years to form and is now being used up at an astonishing rate. As the surplus energy running through the veins of the global empire decreases we will see increasing system instability. The peripheral countries and the once middle class are all seeing the effects of reduced energy surplus. What Kunstler maybe doesn't want to mention is that conflict and a population decline are as inevitable as night follows day. So yes suburbia is doomed indeed and in the long run all cities over a million people as they require huge subsidies from rural areas in the form of resource extraction and waste disposal.

hxc's picture

Fuckin HH. Calls out people on their logic with only the most rudimentary understanding of logic, then speaks in generalities and demands his interlocutors cite sources for any statement... sources he previously states are invalid.


Fuckin child masquerading as an old man. To quote our glorious leader: SAD!

gallistic's picture

Right on.

Hedgeless Horseshit is a windbag of the year douche, but most people here buy his bull(horse)shit. He is one of the golden boys that gets his sophomoric writings published here on ZH, and inserts pictures into his posts.

This is a self-involved Dad of the year douche who can publish photographs of himself mercilessly blasting pumpkins with a shotgun, and teaching his kid how to blast fruit in a manly manner.

This is a self-involved survivalist of the year douche who posts pics of the latest home-cooked meal that gives him those aromatic, perfumed farts he gracefully spreads around Texas.

This is a self-involved businessman of the year douche who shamelessly peddles his wife's bored-rich-housewives' five day slumber party where for 50,000 dollars they get to see a goat slaughtered, milk a cow, learn how to (gasp!) cook, and actually fire a pistol.

This is a self-involved douche who posts pictures of fetuses and gets on the bully pulpit, judging the heathens, and proclaiming that his god is bigger, richer, and better than those of (whomever).

This is a self-involved rifleman of the year that cannot draw obvious conclusions because he does not understand simple ballistics and the tactical employment of firearms.

This is a do as I say hypocrite of the year douche who would never haul groceries (or anything else) on public transportation.

This is a self-involved douche whose colossal and capricious egotism frequently transmogrifies into hilarious rivers of mental diarrhea.

In short, he is the douche of the year- year in, year out.

Anteater's picture

The most efficient is scooters. Even more efficient, bicycles, the most efficient machine on the planet. Even more efficient, wind-powered tricycles. But far more efficient than those is tele-commuting and virtual reality.

flaminratzazz's picture

It takes calories to move a bicycle. Calories come from farming. Diesel gives the most kick per calorie..

SOOO a diesel fired bicycle is the answer.

tuetenueggel's picture

with all the sandniggers arround we should build bicycle rikschas in great numbers.

Let them do a bit work for community.

Darktarra's picture

Musk is an African American con-man.  Plain and simple. 

Winston Churchill's picture

You may want to visit Milton Keynes in the UK before proposing that.

Only the concret cows enjoy living there.

RagaMuffin's picture

the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world: suburban living.  Not WAR? Really?



dumbhandle's picture

We like living here in the burbs with our cars, competitive sports, gun collecting, motorcycles, jetskis, manufacturing, BBQ, businesses, churchs, and great public schools that we viciously control. Misallocation is the life, you should try it.

daveO's picture

Thou shalt not live in the 'burbs! The tribe has spoken.

PTR's picture

This X-er left the suburban sprawl for more foot-friendly environs.  Next stop, urban farming (SPIN- Small Plot INtensive, utilizing less than 1/2 an acre.  Doable, been done.)

SgtShaftoe's picture

He seems like a modern-day Howard Hughes. I wonder if he keeps his pee.

peippe's picture

check his shoes, 

so if they're Kleenex boxes.

: ) 

nuubee's picture

Actually, travel to Mars is within the technological capabilities of the 70s. Musk is right about that. He's entirely wrong about where he's spending his money to make that happen though. You can't put Mars within human reach by making liquid fueled boosters 10% cheaper.


Musk is a persuasive idiot looking for a government handout to keep his techno-cultists worshipping him.

tmosley's picture

Mining water and other heavy stuff in space makes such missions exponentially cheaper, in line with the standard lever on labor that capital provides. Have enough mining, refining, and fabrication facilities and you could actually construct the entire thing in orbit, and just use those 10% cheaper boosters to get the people into orbit.

I agree that these sorts of efforts should not be government funded, but I do think they have merit. The more we can expand our industrial base, the better everyone on and off Earth will be.

goldsaver's picture

Sorry t, on this one you are wrong. Building the spacecraft in space requires a space based building facility. This facility must, by definition, be built on earth and put in orbit, negating any economies gained by building the spaceship in orbit. Read "Mars Direct" or "How we will live on Mars" for the numbers.

You are right about the minning portion. Mars atmosphere can be easily processed to produce methane for rocket fuel. Once you get an unmanned "gas station" to mars, you can fuel all other return missions in situ, drastically reducing launch weight and cost.

Miner's picture

What's your source on the 10% number?  The goal is to make them cheap enough that space travel competes with international air travel.

nuubee's picture

The reason it costs so much to put 1 kg into space is beause for every 1kg you want to put into earth orbit, you need to expend approximately 13kgs in fuel and additional expendable stages.

This was true for the space shuttle as well. The only reasonable cost-cutting is a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle. But Musk isn't trying that, he's going with the tried-and-true kerosene multi-stage rocket. What he's essentially trying to do is use less expensive consumer grade parts, and some more modern design methods to iterate after failures in building the launch systems.

None of this is actually new really. lower grade parts and additional redundancy have been tried in the past, with failures experienced. I suspect Musk will succeed in using lower-grade parts with the additional redundancy's this time around, considering the massive improvements in electronics we've made.

However, this won't change the simple math of 13kg of launch vehicle mass for every 1kg that makes it to orbit.

At best he'll reduce launch costs 10%

Reducing launch costs is a short-term waste of time (long term, go for some form of space-elevator or entirely new physics for propulsion). History has shown us that as long as humans have a place to go, they will pay to go there, regardless of cost. With this known, Musk would do better spending his money sending robotic-automated martian-landscape development equipment. If he had spent his time renting space on Russian rockets, and building space habitats that self-fuel, self-mine-for-water, and self-power that land on Mars, he'd probably have 2-or-3 modules on Mars by now, ready for rich people to explore.

EvilScientist's picture

To my understanding the payload fraction is even smaller then 1/13. For some common system like Ariane V and Soyuz 2 it is closer to 1/40 or 2.5% (see But this depends heavily on the respective orbit you want to bring your payload. Or if you want to leave earth: The Saturn V sent just about 1.6% of it' s total mass to the moon!

Dr. Engali's picture

I see Howard is off his meds again.

RagaMuffin's picture

"walkable neighborhoods, towns, and cities with some kind of public transit. " Kunstlerville tomorrows Gulag today!!!!!!!!! skip the the details like any freedom of choice..........