Problem: Money

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From the book: A Revolutionary Solution

CHAPTER IV



MONEY: GOOD ROOT SYSTEM FOR LOTS OF EVIL STUFF!



We have discussed how money has perpetrated inequality of humans throughout history. We have seen how money is the reason for so much that is going wrong in our world today. Religious texts all teach the ills of the love of money, hoarding, wealth, etc., and for good reason. If you look at the problems affecting the world, especially human society, you will find money is at the heart of the issue more often than not. The little stuff, like Pyrex® glass pans breaking so much easier now than the older more durably made pans by the same brand1, to much larger problems, like 11% of our fellow humans who are starving2. Today. Right now. I know you might not make the connection, so let's take a look at the 'why' – it really does come down to money. For issues like quality in products, it is pretty straightforward. If you make a product a little more cheaply – i.e. less manufacturing costs by reducing quality, the manufacturer not only saves a little on the cost of each piece but also on quicker return sales, as the inferior product fails (and ends up in a landfill) faster. Does this make sense, building a cheaper/inferior product that fails quicker? No, unless you are the manufacturer trying to make more money. But what if there were no monetary incentives to make an inferior product? It would likely not happen, as the sole motivation for creating an inferior product is gone. Unfortunately, our current monetized society is ignoring the only true wealth we have – our environment, our planet. When we produce inferior products in order to increase monetary profits, the environment suffers twice as more raw material are ultimately used, and more garbage ends up in our landfills. Tell that to the makers of Pyrex®! But what about issues like global starvation? Drawing correlation between money's existence and global starvation numbers is a bit more difficult. Why are so many of our fellow humans starving? Is there a shortage of food? No! We currently produce enough food to feed the entire population and then some. In fact, we currently produce enough food to feed 10 billion people, a full 33% more people than currently inhabit the earth3. We not only produce an overabundance of food, but have resources to continue feeding our population growth for years to come. What we lack primarily is the necessary infrastructure, and in many cases the proper permission needed to get food to the large populations of starving humans, among other things4. The worst humanitarian crisis that exists in late 2018 is in Yemen. "Widespread starvation threatens 13 million more. War and famine, along with economic collapse and the worst cholera outbreak in modern history, have driven the country to its knees."5

As I write, the Saudi 'Crown Prince' has so far refused a short cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to reach the starving and dying Yemenis people. The US and UK have so far refused to stop sending fuel and arms to the Saudis. Unfortunately, fixing the issues with infrastructure and 'permission' from those who rule won't completely solve the problem of starvation or food insecurity. There are fellow humans starving in every single city in the world, cities with lots of infrastructure, lots of available food, and lots of food being wasted. There is no 'ruler' preventing the food from getting to the people. A full "43 percent of American households cannot afford a budget that allows for rent, food, health care, transportation and cell phone service"6. So why does this continue? Money. Food is not driven by true supply and demand. If it were we would not have this issue. Instead, like most everything else, it is driven by the demand of those who can pay (money!) If I can afford it, I can eat pretty much what I want, as much as I want, whenever I want. Without money I can not. If the Somali government bids on 3000 tons of soy, but is outbid by Sweden, Sweden get the soy, no matter the need disparity.

Why do we have money in the first place, since it causes so much suffering in our world? Money was originally created to fix and streamline trade issues. Suppose I build teapots, but need food, shelter, clothing and healthcare. Money is the 'common' trade quotient – I can trade teapots for money, and money for food, shelter, clothing and healthcare. This makes perfect sense, and we can all surely agree the creation of a common measuring stick of value was a logical step in our evolution. Yet today money causes and facilitates a great number of problems in society. Without money, none of these issues would exist:

  • Religion gone wrong – $54 million aircraft needed by a televangelist because his other three private aircraft don't have the range to travel anywhere in the world on a single flight7.
  • Rhinoceros becoming extinct for profit (money!) "At the beginning of the 20th century, an estimated one million black rhinoceroses from four different subspecies roamed the savannas of Africa. By 2001 that number had dropped to about 2,300 black rhinos and just three subspecies." That according to a November 2013 article by John R. Platt, Scientific American8. He goes on to say that "It is a story of greed, indifference, hope and despair." With the final nail in the rhino's coffin beginning "in the early 1950s, when Mao Zedong promoted so-called traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a tool for unifying the country..." which promoted the use of "powdered rhino horn, which was said to cure everything from fevers to cancer... That's when poachers descended on Africa." Here we see not only money and greed as a cause, but also countries/politicians. Apparently Mao did not personally believe in TCM, and did not adhere to its constructs, but instead promoted it purely for political (power, money) reasons9.
  • Politics – when you are one of the people crafting new laws, money flows easily to you, and corruption ensues! Unfortunately, politicians who are not influenced by money in some fashion are a rarity in our world and are likely fairly new to their jobs. It is not fair that people who the public have deemed good decision-makers to represent them are required to then endure countless attacks of influence from all sides, often tied to money. This is an unfair burden placed upon politicians, but it is a reality in all society where money exists. In even the most progressive societies all of the rules and laws designed to help prevent such influence and burden do too little in the end to stem the flow of influential money into the pockets of politicians. The river of money will just find another path, make another channel around those rules and regulations on its way to the ocean of politicians.
  • Fast buck for fast food – fast food restaurants do not operate because they want to help people eat healthy food. Fast food hamburgers, fried chicken, crispy fried burritos and the like are hardly healthy. What they do typically have in common is a large amount of fat. The combination of foods high in fats, salt and sugars are what bring people back through the door time and time again. These fast food empires feed people a hazardous diet for quick money. In effect, we are paying them to slowly poison our bodies. Instead, when money is removed from the equation there is no reason not to offer just what will bring them back through the door, but what is truly healthy for them in the long run. When a healthy diet truly has no monetary barriers, a win/win/win ensues.
  • Gambling/get rich/Ponzi/pyramid schemes – Can you imagine any of these without a monetary system? About five years ago I played Monopoly for the first time in many, many years. I remember it from my childhood as being a fun game, and one that I was good at due to my attentiveness and solid mathematics skills. What I didn't remember, but quickly realized in my most recent game was how much the game reflected so many of the ills of society. Everyone started out with a level playing field, but through luck and ruthless tactics I was soon the owner of the few nice houses on some prime real estate. In short order, I was decimating the funds of my parents, whom I was playing with. I was so absolutely disgusted seeing my parents at the doorstep to the poor house, especially at my own hands, I became quite depressed with the situation and quit playing. But does this really equate with gambling, Ponzi schemes and the like? Absolutely. It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Without money, it stays all fun and games!
  • Thieves – typically only steal items of (monetary) value they can sell (for money). This is not to say that the new neighbor won't try to steal your bride's heart. But with all of their basic needs taken care of, there is little other reason to lock your doors.
  • Telemarketers – the bane of many a quiet evening at home. Mine has been interrupted repeatedly by telemarketing calls on my home phone (land line), and even my cell phone. These unfortunate souls are likely earning at best minimum wage, working long hours in a job they hate, and listening to people yell and hang up on them most of the time. The bosses don't care, though, as it is just a numbers game. Even if you're only getting a 2% positive response that is 2% you can count on, time and again. So ninety-eight people say no but two say yes to whatever hijinks, scam, or overpriced product or service they are selling*(this is just an example of the ROI for telemarketers). Without money in the equation, telemarketers cease to have any reason for being.
  • Pop-up ads – with no reason to try to sell anyone a product or service (especially one they don't actually want), the only useful pop-up ads will be public service announcements, unfortunately very likely to be a warning of impending danger of extreme weather.
  • Junk mail – as with all marketing and sales material, junk mail disappears (at least the forms commonly seen today.)
  • Checkout lines – it is possible that checkout lines will still exist in some form or fashion, possibly to ensure nobody is hoarding or taking more than they need. Adding up the monetary total and making a payment won't be part of that process.
  • Loan sharks – I cannot believe there are many more gratifying results than seeing all loan sharks put out of business due to a global lack of need, when money is removed from global equations.
  • Corporations as we know them today – money and greed driven organizations that, even with the best of intentions, are usually looking out for their interests and that of their shareholders above everything else – will cease to exist. Instead, their best assets including product and service development, design, production, environmental standards and supply-chain will all be leveraged in everyone's best interest.
  • Lobbyist will lack the highly lucrative monetary rewards and tools of their trade (bribery) to sway politicians, who will also find their jobs extinct.
  • Insurance, banks, stock market, hedge funds, financial advisors – Those who work in these industries and anyone dealing in investments, and all those who support these industries will need to find something more meaningful and productive to do with their lives.
  • Marketing, sales, and advertising – which was one of my two primary careers and to which I devoted 20 years of my life, will also be relegated to history books. All of these hard-working, talented individuals will be free to embark on a career that helps themselves and their neighbors.
  • Security guards will likely have nothing left to secure or guard. Without people facing urgent need for food and shelter for themselves and their families, the driving forces behind most theft disappears. Mental health, pride in one's job and stronger communities will all help to reduce these crimes further into history.
  • Pollution (caused by manufacture of inferior/unneeded products) will be reduced exponentially. Currently companies come up with an idea, mass produce a product, and "take it to market" in hopes of selling large volumes and making lots of money, regardless of the product's actual usefulness, quality, or need. They are only interested in perceived need, perceived value, and their ability to sell lots and lots of product and make lots and lots of money. Instead, products will be produced when the need is presented, and after exploring all of the best options to produce a product of the highest quality. Instead of being influenced by money to produce inferior and unneeded products, we will be influenced by protecting our planet and helping our communities, producing the highest quality product (which lasts longer and/or works better), thereby reducing pollution.
  • Fear of litigation – and the potential monetary loss of pursuing justice has too often prevented people from doing the right thing. Just the other day I saw what seems to be an all too familiar story: a gentlemen riding his bicycle was involved in a major accident, and was on the sidewalk bleeding with people walking by for some time before anyone actually stopped to see if he needed help. Personally, I have a harder time wrapping my head around this then wrapping my head around the world with no countries or monetary systems. But, alas, fear of "getting involved", which translates to fear of litigation, scares people all too often from trying to help and do the right thing. This is just one minor example of the countless ways this happens all over the earth, every single day. How much harm is caused by having money in the equation every single day just from fear of litigation? Need another example to illustrate the significant impact fear of litigation has on our health? An 83-year-old man fell down on a sidewalk in Fuzhou City, China, and lay there until he died, with people standing around him but nobody offering any assistance10.
  • Trade wars – ('Hey, your country isn't spending as much on our country's exports as we are spending on yours!') Another great outcome from removing national segregation (countries) from the equation will be the disappearance of all of the economic acrobatics that go along with it, including trade wars, monetary markets, sanctions and embargoes.
  • Accumulation of wealth – people becoming powerful based solely on their monetary stockpile, instead of their common sense, morality or intelligence – i.e. political influence, 'buying' public servants' votes, swaying elections with PACs, influence of local zoning laws to benefit self/friends, etc....
  • Hard choices – choose only one: food/health/heat in the winter. Lack of (monetary) resources causes severe choices that in turn cause stress, poor health, poor quality of life, death.... Which one (and only one) would you choose when faced with the reality of having enough money for only one?
  • Death by poverty – how many people are found dead and frozen each year when faced with the choice above? The New York Health Department says "30% of hypothermia victims die after becoming exposed to frigid temperatures while indoors."11 How many more from starvation12? From curable disease and injury?
  • And many more....



It turns out, for example, approximately 22% of the current workforce in the USA are working in jobs like these and others which will all become obsolete when the world does away with money completely. All of those jobs, all of that labor/work force is now available to help tackle the real needs of society, not least of which is easing the burden of an overworked workforce. Over 20% of the world's population are either starving/malnourished or shelter insecure, making it all but impossible for them to be productive members of society. Not because they don't want to, not because they want to be a burden to others - because they are physically unable to attempt 'employment' or other methods of self-sufficiencies such as farming, fishing or hunting. With added workforce productivity from the former 'money workers' and 'military workforce' of the world's population, who are now able to work on more important jobs like feeding, clothing, and housing those in need we can then feed, clothing, and shelter those in need. With their needs taken care of, we create an even larger workforce. Adding in the additional >20% of the world's population who were previously underserved, but now able to become productive members of society we could add as much as 40% to the world's productive working population. In addition, removing unnecessary and unneeded manufacture and distribution of underperforming, unnecessary, poorly made and cheaply designed products will have the effect of lowering the overall labor needs. On top of that are all of the extra layers of management & oversight, and conflicting objectives of multiple involved parties, leading to more and more waste showing up as unnecessary 'jobs' which often lead to very poor job satisfaction. In an excerpt from Bullshit Jobs by David Graebner, Simon and Schuster, 2018, Daily Kos writer 'Meteor Blades' provides an example demonstrating how a German military subcontractor describes his job13:
"Let's say a soldier moves to an office two rooms down the hall. Instead of carrying his computer over, he fills out a form. The IT subcontractor reads and approves it and forwards it to the logistics firm. The logistics firm approves the move and requests personnel from us. I get an email to travel to the barracks. The barracks are up to three hundred miles away from my home, so I rent a car. I drive to the barracks, fill out a form, unhook the computer, load it into a box, and seal the box. A guy from the logistics firm carries the box to the new office. There, I unseal the box, fill out another form, hook up the computer, get a few signatures, drive back home, send a letter with the paperwork, and then I get paid."

Our society values work. We expect a job to serve a purpose and to have a larger meaning. For workers who have internalized this value system, there is little that is more demoralizing than waking up five days a week to perform a task that one believes is a waste of time. This is just one example of the waste that happens every day, in countless jobs across the world. Further down the article it states Britons, asked in a 2015 survey whether they believed their job made a "meaningful contribution to the world," a full 37 percent believed it did not. Another poll conducted more recently found 40 percent of Dutch workers believe their job had no good reason to exist. These are not just jobs people are dissatisfied with, but jobs people feel have no reason to exist and contribute nothing to society. With all of the savings above we will in effect have a work-force nearly doubled in size overnight*. This number will continue to grow as well, with the increasing pervasiveness of the robot work force that has been invading manufacturing for many years. With no private ownership of robotics, they will increasingly be put to the best use – taking on the 'rote' activities like the ones that cause repetitive stress injuries to humans, back injuries from lifting heavy objects, etc... This in turn will save on medical (staff and product) resources. What this all means is after a fairly short time most people working will see their work needs shortened. More time off, more time available for hobbies and vacations. What this means for humanity is a sharp decrease in waste – in human energy wasted on goals that have no real meaning or products that don't help anyone. It also means a sharp increase in productive activities, like slowing/stopping climate change, attending to the needs of ALL humans, bettering all of our lives, or working together to cure illness, maybe even curing cancer. Fixing our diets will go a long way. In fact, 'One study on melanoma has been published in the peer-reviewed literature that shows convincing evidence that cancer progression is substantially halted with [a plant-based] diet'4. (* FOOT-NOTE: "Overnight" is a euphemism, as it will likely be a few years. It will likely seem like it almost happened overnight, though.) We all know that money alone does not bring happiness. In fact, studies have shown again and again that once basic needs are met such as food, shelter, clothing and healthcare (and these 'basic needs' really are the right of every fellow human on our planet), having more expendable monetary resources make no difference in a person's happiness. In fact, if you have any friends or relatives who are not only wealthy, but would also speak with you truthfully, you would likely find that having a lot of money is in fact a burden. Countless hours of managing, tracking, worrying about... the list goes on. Viewed in this light, it makes no sense to burden the population of the world with money – having too little, or too much. Money is not a gift to our society. Instead, money is a big part of the problem, as we have demonstrated. Can we cure the addicts – those whose lust of money has overtaken their rational thinking? "...of all the things one might be addicted to, nothing tops the greed-laden pursuit of wealth in its audacity, manipulativeness, and gross insensitivity to the needs and feelings of others. Not to mention its extreme, short-sighted, irresponsible covetousness. Ask a multi-millionaire or billionaire so afflicted (if you can find one willing to talk to you!), and you'll discover that their "mega-fortune quest" really has no end point. They won't be able to name the definitive "millionth" or "billionth" that, finally, will do it for them. They can't because the means by which they reap their riches has itself become the end."5 The Psychology Today article goes on to say that the dopamine for these addicts comes not from having wealth, but from the chase of the financial opportunity – often to the detriment of most other facets of their lives. And, like other addicts, they feel the need to continue to make larger and larger wins. There is NO AMOUNT OF MONEY at which they feel fulfilled. No amount is ever enough. If money grew on trees, I might be tempted to try some, but its roots are, prophetically, evil! The bible tells its followers 'The love of money is the root of all evil' 6 while the Qur'an directs people to 'relinquish to strive for money'17 while similarly a 'Buddhist novice is required to renounce all his worldly possessions before he is allowed to enter monkhood'18.

Without money, the need to produce products or services as inexpensively as possible is moot – quality products that are more durable, healthy, and/or built to better precision for their use have actual value to society, and are ultimately less 'expensive' to produce. Without money, patents for the best design for any given product would be available to anyone for manufacture. This results in better quality products for everyone. Quality matters – what you make, you make for your community – who also provide you quality products and services you require, such as shelter, electricity, food, tools, etc.... Instead of constantly looking for ways to shave a few cents off the cost of each item to maximize profits, everyone's focus and mindset shifts to looking out for ways to make better quality, as well as quantity. Instead of big oil buying and burying a patent for an extremely efficient automobile carburetor (achieving 200mpg in the 1930's 19) because they can make more money if it is not on the market, it would be available to everyone, as the driving force of greed of money would no longer exist. With money off the table, the horrible mess of politics, lobbying, campaigning, and all associated wastefulness is a thing of the past. In truth, the unfortunate fact is that many who desire a political post do so for the purely selfish reasons of greed and power. When we take money off the table, it will only be those who truly want to serve, and who have the right skill set to help make important decisions for the community, who will ultimately serve.

What about the true cost of all of those items which are disused or underutilized? Take a minute right now and look around your home and notice all the items that you do not use, have not used in some time, and have no plans to use for some time in the future. Maybe you have some things in the garage you have been meaning to fix or repair for the last several months, or even years. Perhaps an extra drill, multiple sets of screwdrivers, an old chest of drawers, or snow tires from an old car you have been meaning to sell... Maybe instead you are the type of person who immediately throws away anything that you aren't using anymore, or which is in need of some minor repair, leading to increased pollution in our landfills – literally more 'waste'. Many of us are actually sitting on quite a lot of items that could be readily used by someone who needs them today, except that money is in the way. It takes time to post items for sale, meet people, complete a transaction, and is often not worth the hassle. Unfortunately, when you see value in those items it is difficult to part with them in exchange for nothing. Often these are items you have spent your own money on, so you can identify directly with the value or potential value the item has. If those extra tires spend another five years in your garage, their value is exactly zero during that time. If, instead, you give those tires to someone in need, you are potentially saving lives by offering traction where bald tires once lived. At the very least, you are helping a fellow human in need. What about your lawnmower? It's not like you don't use it and want to get rid of it, but it does seem to spend 99% of its time in disuse. The fact of the matter is, automobiles, lawnmowers, roto-tillers, and similar items that are needed, but not often, spend a lot of time degrading through disuse. Does it really make sense to have more than one lawnmower on your block? It would make much more sense if everyone in your most local community neighborhood were able to share much fewer products. The problem with this is money. Who does that lawnmower belong to? With money out of the equation people are better equipped to make more sustainable decisions by sharing common items with neighbors. Not only are they all saving resources by utilizing fewer products, but one shed storing a common lawnmower wastes much fewer resources than building a shed in everyone's yard. But who puts gas in it? Who fixes the mower when it breaks down? Since 'gas' or whatever is used to propel the mower is not traded in money, it doesn't really matter who fills the can. Whoever empties it can either order more fuel delivered or go pick some up. As for the issue of it needing repair, and who the burden falls on, it falls on either someone in the community who shares the mower and volunteers to keep it up, or it gets taken to a repair shop. There isn't a 'bill' associated with the repair, and transportation will not be an issue. Personal automobiles also face the same issues but we are graced now with technology that can easily solve this problem for all of us, and help save the world from the (in)humanity of past.


Notes:

  1. Veronique Greenwood, "Pyrex Glass Isn't As Shatterproof As It Once Was, Report Finds," Discover, September 13, 2012, http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2012/09/13/pyrex-glass-isnt-as-shatterproof-as-it-once-was-report-finds/.
  2. Leah Samberg, "World hunger increases for the first time in 15 years," USA Today, Oct. 19, 2017, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/10/19/world-hunger-increases-first-time-15-years/779445001/.
  3. Eric Holt-Gimenez, "We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People -- and Still Can't End Hunger: Hunger is caused by poverty and inequality, not scarcity. For the past two decades, the rate of global food production has increased faster than the rate of global population growth," Huffington Post, May 02, 2012, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/world-hunger_b_1463429.
  4. Mary Hoff, "Paul Matteucci: How to Feed 10 Billion," Ensia, January 9, 2013, https://ensia.com/interviews/paul-matteucci-how-to-feed-10-billion/.
  5. Sarah Aziza, "Yemen's Human-Rights Defenders Are Fighting Increasingly Desperate Odds: 'This war will never stop until the international community decides to take action.'" The Nation, November 28, 2018, https://www.thenation.com/article/yemens-human-rights-defenders-are-fighting-increasingly-desperate-odds/.
  6. Walter Einenkel, "About half of America's families cannot afford things like rent and food," Daily Kos, May 18, 2018, https://www.dailykos.com/stories/1765265.
  7. Cleve R. Wootson Jr, "A televangelist wants his followers to pay for a $54 million private jet. It's his fourth plane," The Washington Post, May 29, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/05/29/a-televangelist-wants-his-followers-to-pay-for-a-54-million-private-jet-its-his-fourth-plane/.
  8. John R. Platt, "How the Western Black Rhino Went Extinct: Oh what a difference a century makes. At the beginning of the 20th century, an estimated one million black rhinoceroses from four different subspecies roamed the savannas of Africa," Scientific American, November 13, 2013, https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/how-the-western-black-rhino-went-extinct/.
  9. Alan Levinovitz, "Chairman Mao Invented Traditional Chinese Medicine: Why did the U.S. Senate unwittingly endorse 1950s Chinese Communist Party propaganda?," Slate, Oct 22, 2013, http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/10/traditional_chinese_medicine_origins_mao_invented_it_but_didn_t_believe.html.
  10. Annie Lee, "83-year-old man fell over, passers-by watch him die," ChinaHush, December 31, 2010, http://www.chinahush.com/2010/12/31/83-year-old-man-fell-over-passers-by-watch-him-die/.
  11. Rich Schapiro, "He froze to death inside a multimillion-dollar townhouse — and now the state is investigating," New York Daily News, April 23, 2018, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/manhattan/hypothermia-kills-75-year-old-man-upper-east-side-townhouse-article-1.3949019.
  12. "2018 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics," World Hunger Education Service, Accessed November 18, 2018, https://www.worldhunger.org/world-hunger-and-poverty-facts-and-statistics/.
  13. Meteor Blades, "Open thread for night owls: A big chunk of American workers think their jobs are worthless," Daily Kos, June 12, 2018, https://www.dailykos.com/stories/1771421.
  14. Kathy Freston, "A Cure For Cancer? Eating A Plant-Based Diet: Traditional doctors are so focused on the use of targeted therapies that they refuse to even acknowledge the use of therapies like nutrition and are loathe to even want to do proper research in this area," Huffington Post, November 24, 2009, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-freston/a-cure-for-cancer-eating_b_298282.html.
  15. Leon F Seltzer PhD, "Greed: The Ultimate Addiction: What's the unquenchable thirst for wealth all about?" Psychology Today, October 17, 2012, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evolution-the-self/201210/greed-the-ultimate-addiction.
  16. "1 Timothy 6:10," King James Bible Online, Accessed November 27, 2018, https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/1-Timothy-6-10/.
  17. "Tawhid," Wikipedia, Accessed November 27, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawhid.
  18. Scott Quyen, "Buddhist attitude to Wealth," Buddhistdoor, April 22, 2013, https://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/buddhist-attitude-to-wealth.
  19. "Charles Pogue Carb: the 200-mpg super carburetor," fuel-efficient-vehicles.org, Accessed November 29, 2018, http://fuel-efficient-vehicles.org/energy-news/?page_id=986.