Sunday, December 21, 2014

Something to Think About

When you want to think about the stranglehold corporations have on the US economy and her government, ponder this chain of events:

1) In 1896, Henry Ford develops his first automobile engine, the quadricycle, designed to run primarily on ethanol.

1) In 1897, Rudolph Diesel wins a patent in Germany (he was not the first, but he appears to have been the fastest to the office) for the eponymous Diesel engine, designed to run on peanut and other biologic oils. He demonstrated this engine at the 1900 Paris Exposition, winning a prize for the most important innovation at that fair.

2) In 1898, a Russian firm, Branobel, secures a patent to produce a diesel engine that will run on unrefined crude oil.

3) In 1899, Krupp and Sulzer acquire the license to manufacture Diesel's engines, and begin introducing transport vehicles from cargo ships and submarines, to trains and trucks via sublicensees.

4) In 1908, Henry Ford introduces the Model T. It originally used an advanced quadricycle engine.

5) In 1913, Rudolph Diesel dies under very mysterious circumstances while sailing across the English Channel. His body is recovered days later by fishermen. He exhibited, according to witnesses, no signs of undue stress or depression, altho the last entry in his diary was a drawing of a cross.

6) One year later, Standard Oil unveils a petroleum-based diesel fuel and begins immediately mass producing it in response to demand created by World War I and the enormous vehicles that had to be moved around. That same year, the "Free Alcohol" bill, passed by Congress in 1906, is amended, encouraging the development of ethanol-based engines.

7) From 1893 forward, John D Rockefeller, the head honcho of Standard Oil, donates $350,000 to the Anti-Saloon League to help get Prohibition passed, thus prevented the manufacture of ethanol. The first Diesel-type engines were designed in 1892 (remember, Rudy was not the first, just the fastest to the patent office). Standard Oil, breaking with industry tradition, does not dump gasoline into rivers after refining crude oil. He uses it to power his machinery. He understands that it's almost pure profit.

8) The Volstead Act is passed by Congress, along with what will be the Eighteenth Amendment creating Prohibition, on October 28, 1919. Prohibition is ratified on January 16, 1920, an astoundingly quick turnaround. All mass production of alcohol, including the non-potable ethanol, ceases in the United States.

9) Henry Ford removes the ethanol (and kerosene) components from his car engines in the 1932 model year by introducing the V8 Flathead engine. 

10) Prohibition is repealed on December 5, 1933. The Eighteenth Amendment is the only Amendment repealed entirely in the Constitution.

What two names leap off the page at you, time and again? Would you call this a timeline of fuel or of a feud?