CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Things I Didn’t Know

Ramping up slowly here, folks, and it’s staggering how much happens in the world of traffic in a week — there are dozens of things I would have posted on, had my attentions not been elsewhere.

With Hummer on the verge of extinction, save for its purchase by some Chinese manufacturer looking for a new market niche for emerging oligarchs, I came across this piece by Salon on the rise and fall of America’s most unbeloved car brand. This bit struck me in particular:

Beginning in 1996, a series of tax laws combine to create large tax credits for certain Hummer buyers. By 2002, the New York Times reports that, thanks to changes in the tax code during the Bush administration, an eligible buyer can deduct $34,912 of the $48,800 base price of the Hummer.

God does that now seem like a piece of Bush-era lunacy (and keep in mind at the same time the deduction for hybrid vehicles was being capped and restricted). That whopping deduction supposedly reflected the Hummer’s role as a “light duty truck,” and hence a work vehicle for yeoman farmers and the like, though the only people I ever saw driving them looked dressed for nothing for labor intensive than a day on the links — and they were certainly never hauling anything beyond a pair of jet-skis or ATVs (and don’t get me started on those!). In retrospect they were the perfect emblem of the Bush interregnum, a totem of entitlement, profligacy, social and personal insecurity, militarism as a form of consumption, and absolute pretension — “all cattle and no hat.”

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This entry was posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 at 8:12 am and is filed under Things I Didn't Know. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Things I Didn’t Know”

  1. dance Says:

    surely that sort of pretension would be “all hat and no cattle”?

  2. Tom Vanderbilt Says:

    But of course, thanks for the fix…

  3. aaron Says:

    Still not fixed.

    I certainly agree for the most part, but you flew off the handle a bit. The hummer market wasn’t entirely fashion. Some were work vehicles, but mostly as mobile offices for sales people and contractors who don’t need to haul around a lot of large equipment (like electrical).

  4. aaron Says:

    You also might want to check the dates in the piece. How much did Bush change the law in 2001?

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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