More Electric Car Kool Aid

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I had planned to review the new Chevy Bolt electric car based on a test drive – but GM has rescinded my privileges for reasons knownst only to them but strongly suspected by me. So, this review will focus on the things that are knownst about the Bolt without actually having driven the thing.

Which would have been a challenge regardless – given its maximum range is “up to” 238 miles.

Beware the “up to.” It is marketing cheese.

They never say “at least.”production-line

It is always the most optimistic – and almost never actually achievable – scenario. (See late night infomercials about real estate/multi-level marketing flim-flams.)

This “up to” business is something to consider carefully when considering a pure electric car like the Bolt. Because unlike a hybrid electric car like the Volt (which isn’t a bad car, actually; see my review based on actual pre GM contretemps seat time) when the Bolt runs out of juice you are dead in the water for at least – not “up to” – half an hour to 45 minutes.

That’s assuming you can find and plug into a high voltage “fast” charger.

These are not generally available, however. Which means plugging into a regular 120V household outlet, just like you would a toaster.17-bolt-dashboard

And that means hours of recharge time – probably overnight.

So, “up to” 238 miles is dicey. Unless you’re in no hurry.

In real-world driving it is probable the Bolt’s range is less than 238 miles. Especially in electric car-unfriendly conditions such as very hot days when you’ll want to run the AC (which is run by the batteries) or very cold days (when you’ll want heat, also made electrically in the Bolt) or at night when you’ll want to turn the headlights on (also drains the battery).

The Bolt’s “up to” range also probably assumes slow driving.

Electrics do their best when they aren’t actually moving. When they are stationary. This is how a hybrid saves gas. The IC engine shuts down while the vehicle is “idling” at a red light. The electric motor/battery pack combo is very efficient during low-speed/stop-and-go driving.17-bolt-batteries

But on the highway, at high speeds, the dynamic changes.

When I test drove the Volt, I got about 50 miles down the road on the batteries. Which is very good for an electric car. But it also isn’t very far. Thank god for the IC engine the Volt carries around as a back-up generator. Without it, the Volt is useless for other than commuting.

The Bolt hasn’t got IC back-up.

Once its batteries wilt, you walk. Even if it does go “up to” 238 miles, regardless of AC (and heat) use, or burning headlights, or driving 75 on the highway – that’s still not genug for a trip to Disneyland … unless you happen to live “up to” no more than 238 miles away.   

And if the actual/real-world range is say 100 miles or so…

I asked GM to send me one, so I could find out what the real deal is – and report that to you.soup-nazi

But they are withholding – which is telling.

If the car does have a realistic 200-plus mile range, you’d think they’d want it confirmed by skeptical journalists such as myself. I did, after all, write honestly – favorably – about the Volt.

When a major car company holds its cards close about a car, you have to wonder about the car.

But these are speculations. Let’s return to facts.

A Bolt stickers for $36,620.

A Sonic hatchback – very similar car except for its drivetrain – stickers for $17,580. This is roughly half the price of the Bolt.2017 Chevrolet Sonic

Put another way, you’d spend $19,040 to buy a Bolt rather than a Sonic.

Or, put the $19k and change in your pocket instead.

And use it to fill up the Sonic.

Unleaded regular is currently selling for about $2.20 per gallon. You could buy 8,654 gallons of gas with the money you didn’t spend on the Bolt.

The Sonic’s “combined” mileage with its standard 1.8 liter IC engine 30 MPG according to the EPA (26 city, 35 highway).

At that rate, you could drive your new Sonic (cue Dr. Evil voice) maybe not one million  miles… but around a quarter-million miles (259,620).dr-evil

In other words, “break even” (if you bought the Bolt) is a very long way down the road.

Now, you would get a government give-away (i.e., a tax subsidy) of about $7k for buying the Bolt rather than the IC-engined Sonic.

The math still sucks.

The price of gas would need to double or triple before the Bolt – before any pure electric car – even begins to make economic sense.

And practical sense remains dicey regardless of the cost of fuel.17-volt-on-flatbed

Maybe the Bolt can travel “up to” 238 miles.

The Sonic (which I have driven) absolutely can go almost twice as far (402.6 miles) and it can be refueled and ready for another 400.2 miles in less than 5 minutes at any gas station.

Which – unlike a “fast” charger – isn’t hard to find.

We live in a fast-paced world. People chafe at waiting 5 minutes in a Drive-thru for their lunch. Who believes people will wait 30-45 minutes for their electric car to recharge every 200 miles or so?

How about every 100 miles or so?    

How about for several hours?

But let’s go back to the facts.on-da-pipe

There is no way to juggle the numbers and have the Bolt come out as the economically sensible choice.

And for $36k – to start – you could by a Lexus.

Maybe not an electric one. But so?

If economy is no longer the criteria, if function isn’t a factor, then brand cachet and luxury and performance must be.

The Bolt looks like what it is – a subcompact Chevy economy car. Only it’s not exactly economical.

It’s also not exactly luxurious, either.17-bolt-side-view

Ok, it comes standard with 17 inch wheels and a large (10.2 inch) LCD touchscreen. The base Sonic has 15 inch wheels and a smaller (7 inch) LCD touchscreen. Both cars come standard with AC and power windows and locks. The Bolt has a better stereo (six speakers vs. the Sonic’s four) but both have 4G in-car WiFi and Bluetooth and the same basic suite of apps.

Is it worth paying almost $20k more to get two more speakers and a 3 inch larger touchscreen?

The Bolt is quicker – zero to 60 takes about 7 seconds vs. about 8.4 for the IC-engined Sonic.17-bolt-last

Neither car is slow.

But the Sonic goes much farther, with much less hassle.

For about half the price.   

So, you tell me. Would you buy one?

People didn’t buy the Spark EV. It went over like a box of dildos sent to the Pope.

I’d love to be able to tell you more about the way the Bolt drives. But GM would have to let me drive one.

Or rather, flatbed one down to me.

I guess we’ll see!

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Author of "Automotive Atrocities" and "Road Hogs" (MBI). Currently living amongst the Edentulites in rural SW Virginia.

41 COMMENTS

  1. Chevy Bloat just was named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year. They should have driven it around a frigid Michigan winter instead of a sunny California summer for a real battery test. Person of the Year is tax-subsidy king Elon Musk.

    • Hi John,

      I have a friend – now retired and who shall remain nameless – who used to be a mid-level exec over at GM back in the ’90s. The conversations we’ve been having lately… maybe in 20 years, they’ll be committed to print. But for now, it’s omerta.

    • Hi John,

      Motor Trend is basically the freelance PR arm of GM and the other car companies. Eager to please. Brock Yates and the other Giants are spinning in the earth at high RPM….

      • I still have my April 1989 issue of C&D with their parody of “Motor Trend”.

        I really miss that sort of automotive journalism.

        I scanned in the entire insert a few years ago. Check your email.

      • Yep, and today I was in Home Despots parking lot and heard, long before I saw, a black shiny car moving along slowly. I was just getting glimpses but the exhaust note was heavy with power and low back pressure. Once by, I still didn’t know what it was so I turned around and drove by where a young guy had parked it. It had a bowtie on it and SS with four doors. I suppose it was an Impala SS and evidently had some big power by the sound. Probably it was a fun car to drive and I had to wonder what the price of it would have been without it supporting bullshit electric cars. Just one more way consumers get ripped off since you know GM or any other company ain’t gonna give shareholders the shaft and will pass the cost on in every other vehicle they make that can stand on its own. What BS.

  2. Perhaps an EV would make sense for my wife. (perhaps) We live in Arizona and are getting solar power installed on the house, which means the vehicle would charge for free. And my wife only drives about 250 miles a week, and rarely more than 30 miles from the house. But $36k for one? Hell no. Way too pricey.

    By the way, speaking of the touchy feely goody good alt-fuel craze…. Are there any cars offered out there that run on E-85 still? This is known also as “flex-fuel”. I have only been able to find the Jeep Cherokee 2.4l, the Chevy Malibu, the Chevy Equinox, and the Ford Focus. None of the Japanese or Korean cars seem to be offering an E-85 vehicle anymore.

  3. I drive an all electric 4 year old Mitsubishi iMiEV and it is smaller than a Bolt and great. BUT we’re talking central London here & I have to drive my home school kid back and forth to stuff through the Congestion Charge zone which would be £11.50 per day in a normal car. And I can park for free in Westminster which covers most of the museums and other good stuff. The 60 mile range is no problem since the average speed is not much more than 10 mph and the tiny size means I can squeeze into parking spaces others can’t consider. There is nowhere within an hour’s drive that I can go more than 40mph.

    Electric cars are lovely to drive, especially in stop start traffic. Quiet and vibration free with instant torque at all speeds makes slow traffic a calming experience. Second hand electric cars are sometimes a good choice for people who drive short distances.

    BUT if it wasn’t for Clovers’ stupid incentives and penalties I wouldn’t go electric. Much cheaper to have an old gas car.

    In fact I have a 1985 Ford Country Squire for when we go out of town…

    • Spooner,

      Does that iMiEV have a receptacle on both sides?

      My friend on Oahu has a detail shop and got one of those in the shop. He couldn’t figure out how to open the “gas” door on the driver’s (left) side so he called me.

      I commented about how retarded you have to be, but it took me an hour and a half to open that damn door. IIRC, there was a cable on the other sided of the car that opened it.

      Nothing to be found as far as a charging receptacle. No way to fast charge. Just the single phase 120v charging on the passenger (right) side.

      Is that normal? The owner of the car was disappointed because he couldn’t use the “free” charging stations when he was out and about. He sold the thing the next day. Apparently the free gas was the only reason he wanted the car.

      • Yes, my UK spec iMiEV has two charge sockets; on the right a ‘slow’ charge socket and a ‘fast’ one on the left. Both the levers that open the little doors are on the drivers side, i.e. the right. The Japanese have the driver on the right, like the UK, so that probably explains why the levers are on the right. ‘Fast’ chargers aren’t that good; they normally take 30 minutes and can’t get you more than 80% charge because the batteries can’t take the heat.

        An electric car is great for someone who never drives far each day and who can install a charge point at home. And who has a real car in the family for longer journeys. And only if you buy it second hand.

        • I agree an electric car would be great under certain circumstances. I only drive 5 miles to work, not over 40 mph. Electric would be great.

          The problem is cost. I can get a really nice used car for $5000 so an electric car needs to compete with that.

          Certainly nothing wrong with them if price was competitive. I think they need to focus on getting the cost down instead of worrying about range.

          An electric smart car with a day’s worth of city driving for $10,000 seems like a winner.

  4. “Wolfcamp formation” “At Least 900 billion dollars of oil discovered.” so much for $2.50 a gallon. More like 40 cents. I keep telling you guys, EV’s are NOT about electric vehicles. They are about Crony Capitalism. Elon Musk doesn’t want electric cars, he wants to sell hugely expensive electric cars.
    We could EASILY put an electric rail in the fast lane of every freeway and RETROFIT existing cars just by changing the tire. You replace the left rear wheel with a motor/tire combination and voila.
    You drive to the freeway, get in the lane with the rail, and turn your engine off.

  5. re: keeping out of prison

    If we have DLs mortgages kids wives bills in your names bank accounts and all the rest. We’re already in prison. Think of what they call prison as Double Secret Probation and Prison.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0cF2piwjYQ

    National Lampoon was part of Harvard and was holocausted long ago. There is no anti-establishment wing of the establishment any longer.

    THE UNSETTLING OF AMERICA by Wendell Berry – philosophical agriculture book, and Berry’s greatest classic.
    http://shikshantar.org/sites/default/files/PDF/Wendell%20Berry-The%20Unsettling%20of%20America_%20Culture%20and%20Agriculture-Sierra%20Club%20Books,%20San%20Francisco%20(1977).pdf

  6. Electric cars are potentially very low maintenance. Low maintenance means low cost. I wonder if the low lifetime maintenance will keep the cars on the road forever, then electrics would be downright cheap to own. What I wonder about is software issues, what if they stop upgrading the software on the vehicles? After 20 years the computer that operates your car refused to boot up and the manufacturer refuses to correct the issue or you cannot replace a part because of software driver issues. Potentially a problem with internal combustion vehicles too.

    How I Used & Abused My Tesla — What a Tesla looks like after 100,000 Miles, a 48 State Road trip, 500 Uber Rides, 20 Rentals & 2 AirBnB sleepovers.

    It is not the autopilot that worries me about employment, it is the extreme low maintenance of self diagnosing machines.

    https://medium.com/@SteveSasman/how-i-used-abused-my-tesla-what-a-tesla-looks-like-after-100-000-miles-a-48-state-road-trip-6b6ae66b3c10#.oudqtctub

    range is less than 238 miles: My response would be I could live with 100 miles for almost all of my driving, and rent for the rest. That might get hairy around Thanksgiving when there are rental shortages, I admit. I really like the idea of not having to go to a gas station.

    Cannonballing coast-to-coast in a Tesla 90D: Alex Roy sets a new record
    Autopilot did most of the driving, covering 2,877 miles in 55 hours.

    http://arstechnica.com/cars/2016/09/cannonballing-coast-to-coast-in-a-tesla-90d-alex-roy-sets-a-new-record/

    Tesla hits tree at high speed and explodes.
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2113043/tesla-car-explodes-in-horror-smash-after-hitting-tree-causing-several-fires-so-intense-firefighters-couldnt-save-trapped-passengers/

  7. Read the comments section on this article and see the monsters bare their teeth:

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1107058_what-will-vw-do-with-tdi-diesel-buyback-cars-its-not-what-you-think

    Such morons, wanting to destroy cars rather than let them be used in some 3rd world hellhole they would never have to deign to visit. The environmental impact of having to receive and ship these cars is bad enough, they want to force early retirement to encourage yet more waste.

    It is beyond deplorable.

    Good news, everyone: VW is going to try to resell these cars, causing a price-killing glut!
    Cheap “modified/crippled” diesels that get half the fuel economy and require a top-up of horse piss at every oil change!

  8. Onkle: “CO2 is a problem! Ach himmel!”

    Sane People: “Then why have you cut down all the trees which convert CO2 to oxygen, and replaced them with cement jungles and endless seas of parking lots and condos?”

    Onkle: “Just pay more taxes and travel less, comrade, and it will be fine!”

  9. The Sonic is actually an interesting little budget car if bought second hand out of warranty. Resale values are in the toilet, so you can get a reasonable 1.4 Sonic, replace the valve cover (which they almost always need), and save a crap ton of money over any EV of any type, and in fact, most IC cars. Keep the transmission fluid fresh and the plastics rotated out (most coolant fittings and hoses) and the car is capable of serious mileage. Seen several in the 150k range running fine.

    Probably 10k out the door for a decent 2 year old turbo Sonic is possible shopping around.

    • They tried to give me one at the rental car place. I walked out to it, laughed, and walked back in and got an SUV. I’m sure it’s a decent car, but holy shit is it small!

    • Sonic an economy car? It’ll cost ya $1000 to replace that timing belt…. $1800 to replace the exhaust manifold/catalytic converter (all-in-one assembly) -and I’ve heard of them going in less than 40K miles…. All the little cheap plastic parts on the engine, may make the car economical to buy,but not to keep (at least one of those little plastic parts, when it wears, unnoticed, will cause the need to replace that $1800 manifold/cat.)

      No such thing as an economy car anymore…unless you’re r4eferring to the stealership’s economy….

      • just had some experience with cheap plastic parts the other day. replacing the gas tank on a friend’s winter beater ’02 tracker, all the (cheap plastic) evap crap on top of the tank was toast and replacement parts were scarce and expensive. ended up capping the extra holes and venting the gas cap instead.
        bailing wire and duct tape for the win…

  10. “Compare this to gasoline, where a tank puncture becomes a superfund site at best and a deadly long-burning fire at worst.”
    your point is valid but your statement is exagaggerated. tank and line leaks happen all the time and unless the station management decides to ignore the alarms (yes, this happens sometimes) the spill is usually minimal. the worst leaker I have seen was for ~2500 gallons due to the management being stupid and ingnoring the veeder root alarm. either way the leak must be repaired but they added to the expense with inventory loss, investigative/cleanup costs and fines from the state DNR.
    remediation techniques vary but I have yet to see one turn into a superfund site.
    for the end user, one clue that a station has a leakage problem is that the pumps will be slow (not talking diesel islands in the winter either). if you stop pumping for 10-15 seconds and then it still pumps slow, be suspicious.

  11. This is what happens when the politburo makes engineering decisions. The decree is that wind and solar power are the future, despite the fact that it is impossible to get 24/7/365 reliability out of them, something we’ve all decided is a good thing when it comes to utilities. So they get backed up with natural gas turbines, which can come online in seconds, as opposed to a nuclear or coal power plant, which take hours and sometimes days to come online. BTW, the only reason for nuclear power not being able to “load follow” is because the current plants were designed for baseload. Nuclear powered navy vessels load follow all the time, by design.

    All that natural gas we’re (or at least I’m) sitting on could be funneled into transportation. Most towns have at least one CNG station, and it’s not all that difficult to retrofit automobile engines to run on the stuff. Many city busses run on CNG and they don’t seem to have any problems with limited range. Yes, you still don’t get the range of gasoline, but it’s much better than electric vehicles, and they are refilled (a relatively fast process), not recharged (a very slow process). There was a lot of FUD spread when CNG was proposed “It will explode!” and that really held back building the distribution system. Fact is, if there would be a puncture of a CNG tank, most of the gas would dissipate fairly quickly. Compare this to gasoline, where a tank puncture becomes a superfund site at best and a deadly long-burning fire at worst.

    Of course, using less oil means that there are fewer petrodollars circulating, and fewer T bills sold to the Middle East, and politicians don’t get spending money. Not to mention lots of chastising the middle classes for having lives that are better thanks to abundant energy. Guilt and self-flagellation are big sellers, just ask any Jewish (or my Protestant wanna-be) mother. Or their sullen teen children.

    • We talk about all these alternative or optional fuel systems as if there is a need for them. That is the problem. Gasoline works perfectly well and there is no need for any of the other systems. Yes possibly in severely congested cities where air quality is a problem, but those are not the norm.

      No one is road tripping in these tiny cars so range doesn’t matter. I drive 6 miles to work, my 1996 f-150 uses barely any fuel in a month. I have absolutely no need for an electric car.

      Now if gas was $10-12 a gallon…

        • The thing with these tiny cars is who would want to drive them far? So you are talking city driving mostly, maybe 10,000 miles a year, 10 years, 100,000 miles. If your gas car gets 30mpg average it means that gas would have to be $5.70 a gallon to offset the $19,000 added cost of the electric car.

          These things need to be much, much cheaper and gas much more expensive. Don’t worry, if gas hits $5.70 a gallon we’ll have more to worry about that electric cars. There won’t be any food to buy.

          • My wife has a ’95 Cutlass with what seems like many times the room(and certainly way more comfy)than her sisters Scion B. The Cutlass gets 26 at 75 and the Scion gets 25 with it’s tiny tires and buzzy engine and hard ride.

            If they’d simply turn engines down instead of every year giving them more HP they’d get much better fuel mileage. There comes a point when you have to pay for that power. It’s been a really long time since I had a race and nowdays simply speeding by very much is a very limiting factor in your continued driving. It’s tough to speed like I used to, by 20 mph or so and now that speed limits are set mainly at 75 in states like Tx. that 20 mph I drove is now legal and even 5 more rarely gets anyone stopped.

            Now let’s speak of well-made turbo diesels of less size and the increase we COULD be seeing.

        • eric, you say “The price of gas would need to double or triple before the Bolt – before any pure electric car – even begins to make economic sense.” But don’t you get that surcharge on you ‘lectric bill when fuel gets expensive? I do…..and it ain’t fun even though I get cheap electricity…..comparatively.

          And that “up to 238 miles” was really done, real world mileage. Hauled that bad boy to the top of Pike’s Peak and let ‘er rip to the bottom, repeated 19 times.

          • Right on, 8Man! They ain’t installing these stupid “smart meters” everywhere just for the hell of it. Some places already, you don’t dare use your A/C during certain hours or on entire certain days, or it triples you electric bill — Forget about waiting half an hour or even a few hours for the ‘lectric car to charge. Once they get going with this time-based “peak” electric crap, after half the population have bought into expensive electric cars, they’ll only be able to charge their car in the middle of the night, or on certain days, or incurr a penalty on their electric bill that’ll make $5.70/gal gas seem like a real bargain!

      • True, but I’m posting under the assumption that global warming climate change carbon pollution is a problem that must be addressed by something other than plants (which seem to be pretty happy with the additional CO2, at least judging by the bumper crops in grains lately).

        Personally, I’d like to see more fuel options, especially domestically produced. I believe the best way to end the shenanigans in the middle east is to not do business with it. Note, I didn’t say the government needs to impose sanctions, just that if I’m going to spend a dollar I’d rather spend it somewhere else. Luckily most of our oil comes from the western hemisphere, but unfortuately our government has intertwined our currency with the global oil trade for their own purposes and oil companies like treating all oil the same, even though there are major differences in different area’s crude stock.

        • Eric G. The thing is that if CO2 is actually a problem, there are solutions to fix it that have nothing to do with the fuel we burn. Look at Joel Salatin and pasture based beef. If we simply converted all the farms growing grains for beef, to beef farms the carbon “problem” goes away. That doesn’t involve government power and no one gets rich off it so you never hear those ideas.

          • Todd,

            This Joel Salatin has piqued my interest. Thanks. I never liked the idea that my steak was fed chickenshit and enough antibiotics to cure the crew of an aircraft carrier of the clap.

            Back when KFC was called Kentucky Fried Chicken, you could fit a 6-8 chicken breasts on a standard dinner plate. Now you would be hard pressed to fit four on the same plate without them falling off.

            My sister, a microbiologist, claims that the growth hormones transfer from the livestock to the consumer. And that is why some 10 year olds are running around with D cups. She also thinks that the rise in breast cancer has something to do with the hormones added to our food chain.

            My response to her has always been that I think she is spot on, as it fits perfectly with the government desires. Makes the pedophiles in positions of power happy, and helps to cull the herd when the time comes to collect social security.

            But if Joel Salatin is on to something and he has a simple solution, why is he still alive? He should have been found in Fort Marcy Park after shooting himself in the head twice.

          • Hi Todd,
            A friend gave me a copy of his book “Everything I Want to do is Illegal”. The book is great and he is a remarkable man. It is well worth listening to some of his talks.

            Jeremy

            • Jeremy,

              You say the book is great, but you don’t say it is well worth reading.

              Would the reason be that is is preaching to the choir?

              “Everything I Want to do is Illegal”.

              I learned that when I was 12 and got prescription eye glasses. Tuanortsa (astronaut) was verboten as well as flying for the “root of all evil” with my illegal eyeballs. Professional licensing was well on the way to becoming Occupational licensing. And when I turned 18, the most important goal in my life became staying out of prison.

              Pretty much the case now where Everything I Don’t Want to do is Mandated. The only goal today, seems to be the same one I set on my eighteenth birthday – stay out of prison.

              Yesterday I took a “new and improved” OBDII contraption to my friends house to try and figure out why his car wouldn’t start. After about 45 minutes the only thing I was sure of was that his coolant temperature was 86, so he decides he is just going to sell it, and we take a walk downtown to grab a beer.

              As we’re walking above the “Interstate” or H-1, he notices the sign “sidewalk closed” ahead of us. He gives me the speech about getting a ticket for illegal walking on the “closed” sidewalk so we go back. We cross the street running parallel to the freeway, cross the street we were on, cross back across the street running parallel to the freeway, and continue down the sunny side of the road in 86 degrees.

              Our destination is a block and a half from the Chinatown police station, but even though we are dressed to work on a car (sweat pants, long sleeves), it is safer to walk in the hot sun and avoid the illegal parking ticket and/or having the vehicle stolen or broken into right by the police man station.

              We zigzag around in the shade for a few blocks and get to the intersection a few yards from the place with the beers sitting in a barrel full of ice. Valhall was in sight and it appeared that Odin had blessed us with a safe journey.

              Now sooner than I had taken the first step to cross the street, my friend’s arm goes across my chest (like in the olden days when children rode in the front seat and mom or dad had to stop short) as he says, “Red hand.”

              No cars, cops, or other pedestrians in any direction. “I’ve got to practice obedience since I’m going to be walking all the time.” He then explains that the price of jaywalking tickets has gone up.

              His first was “only” twenty bucks, but mine will start out at $130. His last one was $300 and he lost his driver’s license for a month. His next will be $1,000 and no license for 6 months.

              Is there anything in Joel Salatin’s book that I can’t learn from a simple walk to the beer store?

              I have to go return a couple of books at the library tomorrow. After yesterday’s journey, I was thinking about looking for “The Obedient Pedestrian”, “Legal Walking for Dummies”, or “Staying Fit With Compliant Feet.”

              • Hi Tuanorea,

                “Is there anything in Joel Salatin’s book that I can’t learn from a simple walk to the beer store?”

                You will learn a lot about farming and animal and land stewardship. More importantly, he seems able to reach people with very different core beliefs and, perhaps, make them question the coercive paradigm by showing how it fails them in the areas they most value.

                One story in the book is illustrative. He takes on a young, typically liberal, apprentice. They have been trying to sell poultry in local markets but their methods do not conform to the “best practices” dictates of the food police. They send their poultry out for independent testing and prove that their method produces a “safer” product, by orders of magnitude, than the “correct” method. This matters not a whit to the regulators who insist that they must conform to the “best practice” model.

                So, the food police win and congratulate themselves for keeping “unsafe” food from the market. The young, liberal apprentice is outraged; “how can they do this?”, he says. Joel looks at him and asks,”if you didn’t work for me and you read this story about a farmer trying to sell “unsafe” food to the public, what would you think?” The kid admits that he would have assumed that Salatin was just another greedy and corrupt businessman out for profit at the expense of peoples’ well being. I’m pretty sure that kid’s outlook on the world fundamentally changed that day.

                Jeremy

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