No Fixed Abode: Mr. Trump's (Not So) Wild Ride

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

They say that Donald Trump is Literally Hitler. That he is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler. That he believes all the things that Hitler believed. That his plan to restrict illegal immigration is literally equivalent to killing six million people. He says he can build a peaceful relationship with Russia instead of having an awesome progressive war over Syria. Guess what? HITLER ALSO BUILT A PEACEFUL RELATIONSHIP WITH RUSSIA. Before attacking Russia. It’s true. Look in an old racist history book and you can see that Hitler made peace with Russia in nineteen-something, right before he sent Messerschmitt Bf109s to attack peaceful villagers in Mexico, or Spain, or whatever.

Alright, so all of that might be a bit exaggerated, although if you’re one of the participation-trophy Millennials who is currently milling about a Starbucks in an attempt to overturn a democratic election, you probably don’t believe in that.

But what if it had been true? What if Donald J. Trump wasn’t just a businessman, hustler, and television personality who managed to elevate himself to the Presidency mostly on his own dime despite being stabbed in the back by everybody from CNN to Paul Ryan, but instead he was literally Hitler?

Well, if you’re a student of pre-war German history like I was as a child, you know that he would immediately insist on a few things: a revival of traditional culture, full employment, and … wait for it … a People’s Car.

What would that look like? What would the American Folks-Wagon be?

Let’s start with the price; that’s the easiest thing to figure out. German Wikipedia says the target price for the KdF-Wagen, the state-sponsored Beetle, was set at 990 Reichsmarks, which would be about 4,100 Euro today. That’s a tough calculation to accurately make, but let’s say that it’s in the neighborhood. The People’s Car was priced to compete with plain-Jane motorcycles. Today’s Honda CB500 series bikes retail for about six grand. Let’s say $7,999.

Who would build it? Hitler thought in terms of vertical integration; his concept was for the State to build the car, employ the people, control the price, and handle the marketing. But it’s worth noting that the United States beat Hitler in World War II partially by letting existing factories build designs that the government had approved; that’s why many “Colt” automatic pistols from the era were actually built by typewriter maker Remington Rand, and it’s why Ford built everything from Jeeps to bombers. So maybe the best thing to do would be to settle on a very strict design spec and let companies bid for the business of building it. The only caveat, of course, would be this: 100-percent American content, or as close to 100 percent as could be reasonably managed. It ain’t that tough, you know. Toyota almost does it with the Camry.

Engineering and design would be paid for by the United States Government. This would do more to lower the price than you realize. It’s common for a new platform to cost north of two billion (with a “B”) dollars nowadays. That’s a lot of money, but it’s a rounding error in government scale. We’re droppin’ seventy-five Bees on food stamps every year. Let’s not even talk about what the F-35 cost.

The production term of the American People’s Car would be set at 10 years. That’s long enough for tooling and fixed costs to be completely amortized in a manner that doesn’t cripple the balance sheet. And we’d start with an existing engine/transmission combination. It would be tempting to just eminent-domain an existing car design altogether — last-gen Nissan Versa/Dacia Logan, I’m looking at you — but that wouldn’t give a new generation of American engineers a chance to learn and grow. Remember that the People’s Car isn’t just a car; it’s a way to elevate people out of poverty.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t use the old Versa as a template in terms of footprint and features. The car should be the biggest box possible, made as cheaply as possible, with a full suite of safety features. It should be modular, so it could be easily switched to hybrid or electric power. And the entire technical plan of the car, from CAD files to production-line schematics, should be made freely available to the American public. In other words: open-source the mother.

We’re long past the era of “stamp books,” which is the way that people “financed” the KdF-Wagen. THE_CURRENT_YEAR is a place where people like their gratification now and their payback later. But there’s a problem: the average American doesn’t have the credit necessary to finance a $7,999 car. Not a problem. The government will finance anybody who is eligible for the Earned Income Credit by simply taking the credit back until the car’s paid off. Sign and drive. Alternately, we could just have people sign over their tax refunds to the government until their balance on the car is zero.

So that’s how we’d do it. A $7,999 car in every garage. But why would we do it? The answer is simple, and it’s the same answer that the real Hitler had for starting the program. When you put the working poor of a country into a reliable vehicle, they can get to work. They can get to child care. Their lives become significantly more predictable. Safer, too — wouldn’t you rather have America’s children in a new car instead of a ’96 Explorer? I think we could distribute a million cars a year to the poorest Americans. Think of the jobs it would create, too. If you want to get all (Bill) Clinton-esque about it, you could start by hiring people who are on public assistance now. Hire all the veterans who came back from Afghanistan with nightmares and scars only to find their hometown factories closed. Hire the disadvantaged people whose hopelessness has turned them to violence.

The biggest winners in all of this, besides the American people? Wait for it: the automakers. By and large, they despise being in the small car business. They do it for CAFE and to keep the government off their backs. Well, those days are gone, as my dearest love Este Haim would say. CAFE will be adjusted. Everybody’s free to go build upscale crap. The American people will be just fine without the Cruze and the Focus and the Elantra.

That’s the plan. Over to you, Mr. Trump. Here’s your chance to be literally Hitler. It’s good for America, it’s good for all of us — even the spoiled brats who are marching in the streets right now to protest an election. Let’s put them in cars, too. And tint the windows, so I don’t have to look at them, okay?

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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15 of 284 comments
  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Nov 12, 2016

    It is a great day in America - one half of population is in the war with another. I never seen a country as divided as America. Important thing though is that Hillary with her war mongering did not get elected. If she was elected there would be war with Russia and I can assure you Russia most like would win because unlike America Russia is a united country and Russians can fight for their country last man standing as Germans found out hard way.

    • See 12 previous
    • Fendertweed Fendertweed on Nov 15, 2016

      @Lou_BC, Thanks for your reply. I don't think using "neoliberal" advances the point or is necessarily accurate (I studied poli sci etc., but tend to reject such labeling as often not helpful) --- but I agree with almost everything in your last post (11/14/16 10:21 pm).

  • Wumpus Wumpus on Nov 14, 2016

    Message to Mr. Trump. We have cars. We've had cars since Hank Ford dreamed up the model T. If you want to be a proper 21st century tyrant, we need a people's *plane*. Preferably with autopilot enabled because I live in Maryland and don't want Marylanders flying over my home. This message is about a week late because it didn't hit me until now (when I looked at the subtitle).

  • Blueice Patient 28, sorry, but it is Oktoberfest. Bring a kegof Kraut beer and we will 50% you.
  • Bd2 Probably Toyota, Hyundai is killing them these days.
  • Bd2 Japan is evil, stop buying their vehicles. I hope TTAC has a holiday for PEARL HARBOR.
  • Wolfwagen If Isuzu could update this truck and keep the cost between $25K - $30K they would sell like ice pops on dollar day in a heat wave.
  • 3SpeedAutomatic I'm at that the inflection point of do I continue to putting money in a 12 yr old SUV entering a heavy maintenance cycle or start shopping.I have noticed comparable new SUVs with $2.5k knocked off the sticker price, but still with the shenanigans of $300 for nitrogen in the tires. However, I have noticed the same 2 yr old SUV which are only $4.5K less than the original sticker price. Usually the used cars price should be 35% to 40% less. This tells me there's a stronger market for used as opposed to new. Part of this is to handle the monthly note. Considering installments of 72 months, you'll never pay the beast off. Just wait till the end of the model year which is just two months away, and I think the comparable new SUV will come with larger markdowns. May not be the color you want, but there are deals to be made. 🚗🚗🚗