Dave Mosher, Popular Science Millenial spokesperson
"We need clean renewable energy, no more fossil fuels, fussy nuclear technologies, none of that stuff. Automakers, you guys got the government to build you a national highway system, it's certainly within your capabilities to have them build you a clean, renewable electric grid. Get it done."
Let's start with the claim that the automakers got the government to build the highway system for them, presumably so they could sell cars. That's a bit like saying the U.S. built canals so stable owners could sell mules. Yes, the auto industry played a role in lobbying for the U.S. Interstate system as we know it today, but without the social and political pressures of the Cold War, we'd likely have a lot fewer federally funded Interstates and lot more private toll roads.
Moreover, Mosher's position completely neglects the fact that transportation of goods and people has been a necessary element of any human economy since, well, humans. Without an infrastructure to move stuff around, you're limited to the resources in your immediate vicinity. Which in the average Millenial's case, apparently amounts to a few trendy restaurants and whichever of their friends are within walking distance. The roads weren't built for the car companies. They were built for the entire populace, and the United States as a whole, to enable the growth of the economy in the face of multiple concerns, including growing urbanization, geopolitical power struggles, and, by 1916 when the first Federal Aid Road Act was passed, the economic and supply demands of World War I. Forty years later, it was the post-WWII build-up and entry into the Cold War and the Space Race that fueled American infrastructure. The carmakers took advantage and grew along with everything else, but without those cars and roads, we might not be speaking English right now.
Next let's consider the idea itself: that the U.S. (and presumably the world) should have a perfectly clean, renewable energy grid. That's a great idea. In fact, it's an idea that's the better part of a century older than Mosher, and it's been in progress in one form or another for about as long. Today, we're still making breakthroughs in solar technology thanks to development of new materials and methods, we've greatly reduced our dependance on coal as an energy source across the nation, and wind power is more plentiful than ever. But all of these things cost money--money measured not in Millenial terms, but in societal, generational terms. Figures reaching well into the hundreds of billions of dollars to develop and implement over a decade's time or longer. But Mosher's Millenials want it now.
And that's not all they want--they want us to replace our existing nuclear power plants with this renewable energy, so it's not just a matter of developing new energy supplies--it's a matter of completely replacing the entire grid. Now, they demand.
To top it off, they want the automakers to spearhead this and "get it done." Because, apparently, automakers are the sole consumers of energy in the U.S. They must have built Mosher's camera, lit his studio (with nasty, nasty gasoline-fired generators, no doubt, because they're Jurassic-era cretins), and stitched his fun yellow shirt, too. Nobody else in the U.S. consumes power and should therefore contribute to the improvement of the grid, clearly. Or at least so implies Mosher.
"Make cars more affordable...We don't care if they're glitzy and glammy and have all kinds of fancy electronics in them."
Cheaper cars--we can get behind that idea. Who doesn't want cars to be more affordable and better? That's the ultimate ideal of American progress: more for less. But when taken together with his other demands, Mosher's desire for cars that are even cheaper than today's cars makes it clear just how divorced from reality this Millenial maundering is.
There's a saying in racing that's echoed in many other aspects of life, because it encapsulates a fundamental truth of technology and economics: Fast, reliable, or cheap; you can pick any two. Mosher wants all three. Because he's a Millenial, and Millenials apparently know the way the world should work. All of us 34-and-up dinosaurs have just been screwing around, heads in the sand.
Oh, and that awesome self-driving system in your ideal car? That qualifies as "all kinds of fancy electronics" these days.
"So that's really it auto manufacturers, that's all you need to do to sell me a car and the rest of my generation."
Well, then, Mosher Millenials, I hope you're happy riding your fixies well into your 60s. Because it'd be damned impressive if we got all of these jobs--or even half of them--done by then.
Of course, it might happen a little quicker if you'd stop ranting about what you want and start building it. Then maybe you'd see that it's not a lack of ideas making the automakers build the cars they're building. It's the expertise, the effort, and the expense it takes to move an entire society from one technological era to the next. And that's a load the automakers should definitely not shoulder on their own.
Even for the everyone-is-special Millenial generation, membership in which I hereby deny, refuse, and repudiate for all time.