The Sharecropper State

…in which the vast majority of serfs people never actually own anything, but rent everything.  We’ve seen this trend in innocuous stuff, of course, such as in the online music business where the foul recording industry can take (i.e. repossess) music away from purchasers simply by removing it from “The Cloud” and similarly in TV shows and movies, where the equally-foul studios can do likewise.  (Consumers owning the physical media of CDs and DVDs has always been the bane of the respective industries’ profit plans, both because they can’t control “unlicensed” third-party distribution and because once the sale is made, they can’t claw it back.)

According to Big Business, therefore, property is theft (of the products they consider their own, and not the purchasers’), a sentiment which would have made that foul mountebank Proudhon rub his hands with glee — except of course that he wanted “the people” (i.e. the State) to own everything rather than giant corporations (in his time, the Church).

So what’s brought this rant on?  The Germans — or, to be more specific, the German auto industry.  Try this little scenario on for size (courtesy of Insty):

Volkswagen recently announced that it plans on making massive amounts of money by introducing more vehicles with over-the-air updates (OTAs), many of which will be able to store and transfer personal profiles so that users can effectively just rent their vehicles for eternity. Additionally, VW has suggested future models will have ability to lock features (that have already been physically installed) behind a paywall that users can unlock via subscription services — things like heated seats, satellite navigation, or even the vehicles top speed.
“In the future, our customers will buy, lease, share or rent cars just for a weekend, and we can use software to provide them with whatever they need over the air,” VW brand’s sales chief Klaus Zellmer said during an online presentation held on Tuesday. “The ID family has been designed for further development, with OTA updates to improve the software’s performance and tailor it to our customers’ needs.”
Other German automakers have pitched (or introduced) similar concepts over the last few years and it smacks of the terror that is the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” — a plan which envisions a near future were the general populace owns nothing and giant multinational corporations (and their heirs) effectively hold all the cards. It’s the kind of thing one might call you an unhinged conspiracy theorist for believing, until you head over to the WEC’s website to read a dozen or so articles explaining exactly how it’s to be implemented or notice that most Western governments seem to be pushing some variant of the “Build Back Better” campaign. The plot is often the same and hinges upon prioritizing stringent social controls, increased government spending, collaborating with large businesses/banks, and enhanced surveillance in exchange for some vague promises about public safety and environmental reform.

Not content with adding a whole slew of “conveniences” (unnecessary geegaws like remote starting, keyless- and stop-start ignition, “memory” seat adjustment and such) to their cars, said conveniences which simply drive up the cost (and profits) of cars into the fucking stratosphere, these bastards now think they can sell the cows and charge the owners for the milk they draw, ad infinitum.

Yeah, well, maybe not.  I’ve been a lifelong fan of Volkswagen, having owned seven of their various models over the past forty years, but I have to tell you right now:  when it comes time to replace the Tiguan — and it’s going to happen soon — it’s not to a VW dealer I’ll be going.  No way am I going to give them any of my hard-earned dollars to support their evil machinations.  Ditto Mercedes (I’ve been looking at their GLA 250 mini-SUV), or any other car company which wants to initiate a similar program to Volkswagen’s.

Given my age, this will most likely be my last-ever purchase of a new car;  and I was planning on driving it for at least the next decade, or until my brain turns to rice pudding and, not needing a car anymore, I would have to be installed in some care facility which would feed me, wipe my decrepit ass and put up with my incoherent ranting and raving.

But that’s a topic for another time.

In the meantime, I’m going to shop for a new / low-mileage secondhand vehicle, just not of the VW / Mercedes persuasion.

Does anyone know which auto companies don’t plan on this thievery?


  1. A parallel to this is the John Deere thing, where Farmer Bob must use JD support, parts, and techs to keep, or get, his tractor running because JD claims when you buy a tractor you own the machine but they own the intellectual property – the software – that allows it to run. IIRC, there are multiple lawsuits roaming through the courts on “right to repair,” no idea where they stand.

    I suspect VW’s hare-brained scheme “works” (or, rather, may work) because, first, car prices have risen so high few can afford to buy one (and what one buys is crap that will last only 7-10 years) so they lease it and the leasing mentality has fully taken hold. Sean, or Symone, accepts that they’ll spend X dollars forever and every 3 years get to use a shiny new car that actually belongs to someone else, so why not “lease the options, too.” Sweet deal for the lessor, but sounds more like Gullible’s Travels for the consumer.

    1. @Jake,
      Thanks for filling in the details. I recall hearing / reading how farmers were doing everything in their power to retain 25-year old (pre software) equipment and keep it running, for the very reason you describe .. I just didn’t recall that it was Deere. In the dark days when I lived under the jackboot of The Peoples’ Republic of mAssachusetts, there was all kinds of chatter about a state level “right to repair” bill .. and of course the auto dealers were massively opposed to it. I worked with a woman whose brother owned an indie repair shop. Needless to say say, he was in favor of the bill.
      I too would love nothing more than to have my previous Honda. Damned thing ran like a champ until half the igniter packs blew out … cost to repair was more than value of the vehicle.
      My “much better than me” better half drives a 2002 CR-V … damned thing is like the Energizer Bunny … her Achilles Heel is that the vast majority of her driving consists of trips less than 10 miles, but I digress.
      – Brad

      1. JD isn’t the only one. Its just the most blatant. Brother bought a new (to him) piece of machinery because he had to. But if there’s a software glitch, its sitting dead in the field until the tech gets out there (keep in mind during the summer/harvest, they get there when they get there). When you’re dealing with sensitive things like crops it can just kill you.

  2. I am young (late 30s) but I am totally against the amount of technology on cars today. When I started driving 20 years ago, I loved the cars then. Technology back then was cruise control, a CD player with a subwoofer installed for good bass sound, heated seats and maybe keyless entry. (But there was a physical metal key, not push button start).

    Today, cars have some ridiculous stuff in them. Lane keep assist, automatic headlights, satellite radio, key fobs with no actual key, and large viewing size touch screens installed in the dashboard next to the driver. And the auto makers keep this contest going of who has the biggest tablet screen installed in their cars. Seriously, aren’t you supposed to be watching the road and not a computer screen?

    Don’t get me started on hybrid and all electric vehicles that the libtards say we need to transition to otherwise we will all go to hell for globally warming the planet. Green? You kidding me? Is it environmentally friendly to manufacture batteries to begin with? And the recharging stations – how is that power created? Is that process “green”? When the time comes to “recycle” the batteries from all these electric and hybrid cars, where will they be put? Do they biodegrade? Is that process green?

    For me, I’m sticking with gas. I will admit I am mildly intrigued by the Tesla cyber truck but it’s a no go at this point.

    For your question on what to purchase? I recently purchased a used Toyota RAV4. Toyota Certified used. Came with a 7 year, 100,000 mile powertrain warranty, and a 12 month 12,000 mile
    Bumper to bumper warranty. It’s a 4 cylinder all wheel Drive vehicle. I get about 22 mpg for city driving (stop and go) and close to 30 highway. Plenty of room, very reliable.

    I purchased the regular gas version not the hybrid.

    I do NOT like the touch screen radio nor the key less key fobs, but that’s all cars these days. Other than that , Toyota has been and is the king of reliability.

    I considered a VW Tiguan, I loved the looks but after reading the reliability issues with VW electronics, I decided Toyota was the way to go.

    I used to have a Honda. Today’s Honda’s don’t seem to be built as well as older ones.

    I recommend checking out Toyota. (With the disclaimer that all modern cars have way too damn much technology in them). I want my experience with cars to be me operating a machine, not driving a computer down the road.

  3. ’47 Packard.
    Style, comfort, solid American steel.
    Leather and burl interior.
    And if dictated by dictators, the petroleum-based engine can be replaced by a battery, with a few dozen computers designed to discuss window position, and humidity, and ‘toxic’ intents of the operator.

  4. A second for the. Toyota. Or Honda. I got my current Toyota Highlander with 21 months and 14,800 miles on it. That was unusual, but I’ll never buy a new, new car again, had too many good experiences with low mileage, late model cars from places like CarSense or Car Max type outfits. My 2004 Acura TL is still going, niece drives it with 225,000 on it now. Yes, I’m OCD about maintenance and always used synthetic oil, but I suspect you’re not one to neglect maintenance, either, Kim. Either of those brands, or their upscale brands, Acura or Lexus, are superb.

    I’d put the Lexus or Acura cars up against the German makes any day and bet on the Japanese cars every time.

    1. Oh, and before some gear head comes in and posts “You don’t need synthetic oil, Dino is just fine.” I’d like to say I don’t buy that. It didn’t matter when the recommendation was to change your oil every 3,000 miles but nobody does that now. Engines have much finer tolerances nowadays, too, and the manufacturers are recommending lower weights for fuel economy. Typical oil change intervals now are 5,000 – 7,500 miles.

      Synths resist shearing in high heat like you have in Texas better than dino oil. Shearing is the breaking down of the very long hydrocarbon chains in oils (which is what makes it slippery) into smaller ones with use. And in colder climes up in Yankee land (well, also in your area, occasionally, it seems), where my car is stored outdoors (in favor of garaging our two motorcycles), the synth flows much better at cold temperatures and gets in to the cylinders quicker at startup, which is the most stressful time in your engine.

      Now nothing will start a heated argument faster than a discussion of oil brands, but frankly, I doubt that matters much, if at all. Mobil 1, Valvoline, Castrol, whatever is on sale at the auto parts place is fine with me. But it’s always Synth. Always. Which one you get probably matters not much as all, but THAT you get a synth is critical, IMO.

  5. I’m a Toyota man. Over the years they are the only vehicles that I’ve owned that have been trouble free. The wife has a Nissan Maxima, which I love, but the AC is busted. Again. In Texas, AC isn’t an option. It’s life support.

    I, like coffeeman above, Have a RAV4. I went to the used car dealer I always use to buy one of two 10 year old 4Runners (the best truck I’ve ever owned) and the old lady had already picked a small litter of smaller SUVs. So I have a Rav4. It’s good on gas, reliable. But I don’t care for the FOB, which seems to fail if my mobile is in the same pocket.

    I call most of the Toyotas I’ve had ‘a chubby girlfriend that can cook’. They don’t make your heart race, but they are always there, and seem to love you no matter what. Never break, cheap to fix if they do. Parts are plentiful. For the most part, I’ve only had to pay for consumables like tires, brake pads, oil, whatnot.

    FWIW, I had a 94 Cadillac Deville at one point. Worst.Car.Ever.

    Thus I dubbed Cadillacs ‘Crazy stripper chicks with fake tits’

  6. Nearly 10 year old Toyota Tundra here; replaced my nearly 15 year old Mustang (I both needed a truck bed and enough space to fit Wife up front and three car seats in the back, neither feature being available in the Mustang. The cab width requirement limited me to Dodge, Toyota, and maybe one other – it was an easy choice, although I would also have taken a 4Runner, had one been available used for a decent price).
    I plan on it being the last “new” vehicle I buy for a good long while. All the doodads I want, with very few of the ones I don’t. Plenty of space for camping trips, power for hauling, cargo capacity, and a good 4WD for hunting and off roading.
    I’ve only ever bought one actually new vehicle in my life: the Wife’s minivan. Also a Toyota, and we got it heavily discounted due to “hail damage.” It has one tiny ding on the hood and one on the roof. Big whoop. That van has since been cross country multiple times with small children, and served as a pickup truck stand in when we didn’t have one available.

    The geegaws and tech is nice, when it works the way I want it to. But I don’t need it. (First car was a truck, a 1989 S-10 4-cylinder manual with no A/C or power steering. That truck was an economical powerhouse, able to take mountain passes at 70 mph uphill in 4th and still give 26/gal. I miss it), but the Family needs more room than its single cab offered.)

  7. You couldn’t be more right. I work in the IT field. I am absolutely inundated by the cloud-nazis. If the Jehovah’s Witnesses were as pushy as the cloud people, you wouldn’t slam the door in their face, you’d shotgun them off the front step as soon as the doorbell rang.

    I was asked a couple of days ago what my companies cloud strategy was. My response was word for word “To stay out of the fucking cloud as long as I possibly can.” Needless to say that was not what he was expecting.

    For all your reasons and more. Most companies rely on some sort of information anymore. So you take the crown jewels of your company, and hand it off to some 3rd party , who may/may not/screw you care.

    I think the Parler issue earlier this year should be a cautionary tale to anyone thinking the cloud is magic. Morality of it aside, in the cloud you are now at the whim of whoever is running it. “But I’m not doing anything wrong” won’t save you. Your company could get on some shit-list of the woke plutocrats by accident, and now you are shut down for however long and litigation is your only answer.

    The cloud is a bad fucking idea, the same way closing the Libraries and allowing Google to have all the books is a bad idea.

    1. The Cloud People.

      They tart it up like a three dollar hooker on Saturday night, but “the cloud” is, has always been, and will always be “some unknown guy’s computer in some unknown place controlled by other unknown people of unknown integrity and skill.”

      It makes great money for some people, though.

      1. Can’t argue with that. And yes it does, which is why its being pushed harder than the miracles of “Demucraatic Socialim”

      2. Every single executive of my acquaintance, bar none, has refused to put anything onto the Cloud. They even ban correspondence from being stored there, let alone mission-critical software and data. One told his underlings that if any one of them ever suggested doing so, they’d be fired immediately.

        These are all guys at senior level at companies with multibillion dollar capitalization, and the entire reason for their stance is that THEY DON’T TRUST ANYONE.

        Word to the wise.

        1. Kim. 100% there. But its the short sighted management types who get caught up in the marketing wankery of it, and think they can save $$$ on capital investments for infrastructure. They don’t take into account the risks and the ongoing costs.

          Its also why they’ll never head up a company of their own either.

          Unfortunately periodically I get to be their prison bitch and have to re-explain it all over again.

      3. Jake,

        “The Cloud People.

        They tart it up like a three dollar hooker on Saturday night, but “the cloud” is, has always been, and will always be “some unknown guy’s computer in some unknown place controlled by other unknown people of unknown integrity and skill.”

        It makes great money for some people, though.”

        You summed that up exceptionally well. Can I steal that description?


    2. When I worked at the local Emergency Management Agency I shocked and I think almost had in tears a sweet young sales lady that cold called our office to push their cloud based emergency management software. Part of her opening pitch was “Have you heard of The Cloud?” with all the fervor of a Born Again asking “Have you heard the Good News?”.

      The shocked part came when I told her with dead certainty that it was a matter of when, not if our connectivity would fail during an emergency, rendering her software useless.

      The near tears came when I ranted that any Emergency Managers that relied on her product were professionally negligent, incompetent fools that were going to get someone killed, and that if their business model depended on cloud based emergency management software they were delusional.

      All of our critical databases and checklists were backed up off site at the County servers, locally on multiple PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, external hard drives and thumb drives.

      And all were maintained as hard copy documents in multiple locations.

  8. “Given my age, this will most likely be my last-ever purchase of a new car;” Yep, where I was in 2014. Bought a new one just before the electronic tsunami hit: non-optional brake-control, radar, navigation tracking, etc. I won’t be buying another new one, ever. I’m in the market for a good used copy of the one I have. The “two is one” theory applies to vehicles as well.

  9. This is not new and it is not just VW. All of the automakers see that they only get about 20% or less of al of the economic output of a car over its lifetime and are trying to increase that. They see themselves becoming more like technology companies where having one product (phone, operating system, search engine, whatever) leverages them into an ongoing revenue stream. OnStar and other similar services is an example of that.

    Maybe it works, but I doubt it because people interact with cars in different ways. Avoiding VW will not fix the issue though because all of the car companies will at least be trying something like it. Avoid cars that have that stuff from whomever, they will figure it out.

    1. See also: Microsoft Anything

      Read your EULA. Not only do you not own the software you “bought”, you don’t own anything it produces.

  10. I’ve never understood the attraction of the cloud. But I’ve never had or paid for internet at home. Since the Wuflu, my university not only provides a loaner computer (brand new MacBook) but also a hotspot. So I have internet at home for free now, but only until they ask for the loaners back. I spend so much time at school, I just use their internet services.

    I have several dozen hard drives to store my files (with backups). Although I still have 700-800 cds, nowadays, I record music straight from the internet using Quicktime. To my ear, it sounds no different than playing any music from a streaming service or renting the music from iTunes. So I haven’t paid for any music since I stopped buying cds more than a decade ago.

    Although I live in a major city, I walk most places. My 2004 Honda was found while I was walking along the street in my neighborhood. It had a for sale sign painted on the rear window. My previous car, 1991 Jeep, died and I went without a car for 6 years–by choice. I had grown tired of paying roughly $1000 for each trip to the mechanic.

    I’m looking for a replacement Jeep, but used and with no computer inside–preferably with a stick.

    1. You probably want a TJ. Plenty of them out there in stick (5 and 6 speed), nothing automated and those i6 4l engines will run for a half million miles. I’m in the market for one myself that I can mod up, but here in the People’s Democratic Republik of New Jersistan they’re all rusted to hell. That was the achilles heel of the TJs, sadly. They’re biodegradable. But damn, they’re easy to fix, and parts/accessories are everywhere.

      The only later vehicle I’d consider is a well-treated JK (2013-2018 only, with the 3.6, not the 3.8).

      1. Thanks for the tip. I’ll look into it.

        I had a Cherokee that I bought from a friend. She was going to trade it in, but sold it to me for the same amount the dealer was going to give her. After my mechanic checked it out (pre-sale), he said if I didn’t buy it, he wanted it. I finally sold it to my gardener last year for $500 since I just wanted it gone and he works on cars–something I never learned except for oil changes.

  11. My 2000 Tacoma has 309K on it and I’m giving it to my nephew, who’s just turned 16. My 2010 Tacoma has 281K on it and doesn’t use a drop of oil. I’m planning on keeping it until it dies, or 400k, whichever comes first. Like y’all, I’m not interested in all of the geegaws and doodads, and I detest the touch-screen BS. Unnecessary distractions when driving. I have no earthly idea what I’ll replace my current veh. with. I’m not even sure it will be replaceable.

    The proprietary software, and the mindset behind it, make me positively LIVID. Particularly with regard to farm equipment. Corporate farms may be able to afford factory authorized service. Family farms cannot. The cynical side of me wouldn’t be surprised if there was some collusion going on there.

    1. You don’t need to be cynical. Its absolutely going on. If not deliberately then on a “me too” approach to keep people dependent and chase the recurring subscription $$$. Lets say the .gov decides that if Agriculture, or us cranks out there, decide not to support whatever .gov scheme is being implemented, they just “encourage” John Deere or J.I. Case, VW or whomever to shut the computers down, because we are a threat. Or maybe .gov doesn’t do it at all, but VW does because its “responsible”. Of course business would never do something like that.

      Sad fact is that most of Ag and most of us are so dependent on the .gov heroin needle that it wouldn’t be all that big of a fight.

  12. Back in the days when I was a baby medical librarian, I (and others) spent the first decade of this century trying to convince hospital management that a) everything is NOT on the internet, b) just because it’s online it isn’t “free”, and c) what do you do when the internet goes down? We tended to not get answers and just be ignored.

    I remember how much stuff I lost access to for months after 9/11 because so much was on servers in the trade centers and/or their lines ran through downtown Manhattan. I also remember getting to go home early after the great Northeastern Blackout since without power I couldn’t do anything, and even the stuff hooked up into the backup generator didn’t have internet access because our ISP lost power too.

    I’ve had a lot of folks look at me oddly that I always want hard copies (or at least thumb drives) of really important stuff. It’s like wanting paper means you’re a Luddite and us Luddites having shiny new tech and gloating over it doesn’t compute to them. 🙂

    I haven’t looked at new cars in a long time, our newest is a 2013 Hyundai, which I’m very happy with. (Now, if I could just get people to see it when it’s next to/in front of it on the road. It’s Mountain Dew Green for heaven’s sake!) We’ve also been doing well with our 2006 Sonata.

    1. I am the same way. I often get the response “no one uses paper/cd’s/dvd’s etc anymore” To which my response is, “Well I guess I’m someone”

  13. I see car ownership over here declining significantly once self-driving cars become reliable and readily available. Cars cost lots of money and they spend 90%+ of the time sitting quietly depreciating. It will be far more cost-effective to hire one as needed. With America being far larger it may take rather longer.

  14. Mr & Mrs AutoMaker will not be getting into my shorts over this.
    As you know, Kim, I’m a little older than thou, and the ’99 F250SD 7.3 that I bought used to make the great CA-NV relocation with is looking better and better with it’s 325K still strong mill. If I wanted to deal with clouds, I’d take up flying.

  15. The first Toyota I had was a 2002 Tacoma V6 extended cab 4×4 standard. It ran for 12 years and 235,000 miles before a deer did some unauthorized body work on it. Toyota replaced the frame on it and it ran well. In total I probably put 3,000-4,000 worth of work into it over time between a new rear end, some column switch thing for $1300 or so and probably some other stuff. I think I estimated high. It ran like a top.

    My brother in law had two Tacomas before I bought mine and one lasted over 300,000 and the other over 400,000 miles.

    The next Tacoma I got was a 2009 V6 double cab 4×4 automatic. It was good but the 4x shifter was replaced with a knob running a solonoid. I didn’t like that change. The truck had a lot of whistles and bells. I sold that because I started having transmission issues. I bought it used around 2014 with 65,000 and sold it 2020 with 150,000 miles.

    Current is a used 2019 double cab V6 manual 4×4 with lots of electronics. the shifter is still gone, 4x being activated by a knob controlled solonoid. It’s ok. I like the extras in the truck like using my phone for play lists of music and podcasts but I’d take the 2002 in a heart beat. The 2009 (Second Generation) and 2019 (third Generation) both have a wider frame than the first generation. This makes the cab more comfortable and probably decreases gas mileage.

    The only other brands that my wife and I have owned since 1996 or so are a Honda which lived forever and two Fords. I had a contour that blew an engine at around 110,000 miles then started wearing out with suspension, air conditioner compressor etc in 2001. The other was a Taurus with mystery problems that we bought used and replaced with a new 2005 Camry 4 cylinder manual transmission. My wife and I put 315,000 miles on it. we replaced it because she was the middle car in a three car accident. We replaced that in 2014 with another camry. The first camry burnt a little oil but ran fine.

    A toyota is going to last unless they decide to make their cars worse. If they are going to jump on the electronic bandwagon then I’m buying an old clunker without the computer connected to a cloud. I just home the fascist states don’t prevent their use by banning their registration etc.


  16. If the US would allow the import of some of the better shooting brakes (sports wagons), I’d be on them like a heavy sweat. I generally don’t enjoy the rough ride of most SUVs. The Genesis G70 would fill the bill nicely, but it’ll never be sold in the US, ditto for the GLA Shooting Brake. I’ve driven the Volvo V90 and love it. It looks great, drives like a dream, can haul a ton of stuff, but they can’t be found with the Base trim and always seem to be closer to $70K than $50K The V60 wagon is a better deal and has more storage room. They both are made in Sweden vs China, which has more than a little appeal to me.

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