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  •  Tip Jar (3.88)
    Front paged on European Tribune.


    Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
    Czeslaw Milosz

    by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 03:37:42 AM PST

    •  On a related topic (SUVs suck): (4.00)
      From yesterday's Detroit Free Press (link):

      SUVs not as safe as thought

      Advantages of their size reduced by risk of rollovers



      BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- Children are no safer riding in SUVs than in passenger cars, largely because the greater risk of rollovers in SUVs cancels out the safety advantages of their size and weight, according to a study.

      Researchers said the findings dispel the bigger-equals-safer myth that has helped fuel the growing popularity of SUVs among families. SUV registrations climbed 250% in the United States between 1995 and 2002.

      "We're not saying they're worse or that they're terrible vehicles. We're challenging the conventional wisdom that everyone assumed they were better," said Dr. Dennis Durbin, a pediatric emergency physician who took part in the study, to be published today in the journal Pediatrics.

      Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
      Czeslaw Milosz

      by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 03:53:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ha i saw that! (none)
        i am glad someone posted it here! HA! I KNEW IT!

        And they make the roads less safe for people like me who drive little Corollas.

        I re-did my website! See how pretty is now.

        by OrangeClouds115 on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:59:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Subsidies for the Rich (4.00)
          Chris is exactly right, the highways are heavily subsidized while the railroads are left with nothing.  Transportation funding in the US is approximately this:

          90%  Highways and roads

          6%  Airports and Air traffic control

          4% for trains, light rail, bike lanes, etc- let the poor ride bicycles!

          I would gladly commute by bicycle if there were safe riding conditions, in the meantime the Prius will have to do.

      •  That's a highly misleading headline (4.00)
        (I know it's not your fault CK - you just posted it!)

        as any thinking person has long known that SUVs are not safe.

        I submit a better headline would be:

        SUVs not as safe as lobotomized Bush-voters believe them to be in their rose-colored glasses, faith-based world

        (OK, that's too long to be a "good" headline - but it's more accurate in any case)

        •  Like always, forgot the link (none)
          An oldie but a goodie, originally published in The New Yorker:

          BIG AND BAD: How the SUV ran over automotive safety

          •  Excellent Gladwell piece. (4.00)
            The killer in the piece is at the end of section 1 after the bit on designing PT Cruisers with Clotaire Rapaille and it speaks to a whole host of cultural FUBARs:
            But that's the puzzle of what has happened to the automobile world: feeling safe has become more important than actually being safe.
            Apply that to claims vs reality on FEMA, foreign policy, Clean Skies or Healthy Forests and the idea of PR Nation really takes hold. Absent authentic choices and understanding how "authentic" is perceived and pinged, off the rack and polyester will do if you beat your chest and sew that poly into stars and stripes shirts. Even the half-assed, half-beligerent side of what it means to be "American" wins absent a decent mythopoetic alternative.

            We use Rapaille's method to find the core of places and brands for clients, remarkably sticky--and seemingly counter-intutive, if you're a wonk or a finance type. (Too hard to quantify for them, not enough numbers, too R-Complex.) Speaking of too smart for their own good and misunderestimating of the shocking power of emotion in the human animal, Democrats need to talk to Rapaille, not Lakoff. He has the key.

        •  not only Bush voters, I'm afraid (none)
          My wife has several well-meaning, D-voting friends who insist that they just feel safer in SUVs, despite the evidence to the contrary. The propaganda has been effective. We have a Prius and are on the waiting list for a second Prius.
      •  But of course, others are less safe. (none)
        An occupant of a compact car hit by an SUV is 4 times as likely to be killed compared to if he is hit by another compact. With pedestrians, the chance of a fatality is a terrifying 12 times higher than with a compact.
      •  Um, this was "news" over a year ago (none)
        It's hardly news that SUVs tip over, that they're more dangerous than cars, and that the auto industry has used their power to fake the tests to let them get away with being unstable and above that, having roofs too weak to stand up to crushing when they do flip. Blogged on this a year and a half ago, when a bunch of similar studies were released in the NYT and elsewhere.

        In other breaking news, graft and cronyism is found in the Senate and there's war in Persia...

        "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

        by bellatrys on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:43:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  news (none)
          back in 2000.

          But good for others who didn't know it.

          How exciting it would be if everyone had all the same information at exactly the same time.

          If I had a nickel for every president who lied the country into war.... Oh, wait....

          by deep6 on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 09:11:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  It's not just the roll-overs. (none)
        It's also the crash-throughs and fly-overs of guard rails. Bridge and cliff railings are designed to keep cars on the road, but SUVs with their higher weight and higher center of gravity frequently crash right through or over, and end up in rivers and lakes and ravines. I once sat for several hours on the 520 floating bridge in Seattle because a woman in an SUV had somehow navigated over the 3-foot guard wall and into Lake Washington. She drowned.

        -4.88, -7.64 | Hey Congress, keep your hands off my Analog Hole!

        by peacemonger on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 10:16:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The driving experience is the product of gov't (4.00)
      Something I've long thought is that we are at heart a consumerist culture, and we justify all expenditures on what products or services we get in return. The more visible and immersive those are, the more willing we are to spend large sums.

      And what is the most visible product the gov't provides us? The driving experience. That's what we see coming from them, most of us (only a minority sees social security checkes, medicare payments, food stamps, etc.). And that's the product we can judge them on. If they don't provide us a good enough driving experience, we want a refund.

      What was the very first thing Ahnult did when he took over as governator? He abolished the new vehicle tax that the state desperately needed to pay for schooling. Of course he would do so. And Bloomberg set up a special 311 hotline marketed as the place to report potholes. Exactly.

      If we want to compete as a party in this consumerist country, showing we will improve the American driving experience is a great way to do it. Right now I think the rethugs could position "they want to take away your SUV" just like "they want to take away your guns." Ahnult, of course, drives a hummer.

      How to find an accomodation between the urban prius driver and the midwestern swing voter in a smog belching pickup is the key. This is why gas prices are so hot a political topic too. Consumers aren't particularly concerned with the future; what can they buy now to gratify them. This is also the power of pork, in the form of new roads and bridges and lanes.

      I think this diary takes those insights a lot farther and I appreciate that. Thanks Chris.

      The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

      by peeder on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:34:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  National Health Care (4.00)
        And what is the most visible product the gov't provides us? The driving experience.
        I wonder if you haven't just hit the nail on the head there for why Europe tends to be far more liberal than the US? After all, the most visible experience of government I think we get is the quality of our healthcare.
        •  Outstanding observation (none)
          And I wonder if that dynamic is why the rethugs are so threatened by the concept of national heathcare?

          Maybe it's not money for the corporate cronies. Maybe it's actually that demonstrating that gov't can be good for you, have a worthwhile product to offer, would devastate their entire ideology.

          The dark at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming age.

          by peeder on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:16:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well, an interesting take... (none)
      I COMPLETELY disagree. I own a car and I'm about this || much to the right of socialism.

      To paraphrase Lincoln:

      The country will only go as far to the right as the democrats let it.

      •  I'm (4.00)
        about as liberal as they get too, and I drive to work every day.  

        But only because the growth of the city has been directed by the policies of the last 30 years such that there is no sensible urban grid with secondaries for bike riders, but rather a tangling mass of major streets that are too chaotic, dirty and potholed to ride on safely, connecting isolated neighborhoods.

        Otherwise, my workplace is a mere 8 mile ride from my house.  Imagine how healthy I'd be if I could bike that.

        Nothing is more fatal to maidenly delicacy of speech than the run of a good library. -- Robertson Davies

        by kismet on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:51:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  HAH!!! (none)
          I only live 11 miles from my place of work, however there is simply no way I can bike it, without putting life and limb in danger!!!!
          •  I rode my bike to a job for about a year (none)
            and after the 3rd time of almost getting hit by a car I gave up. We only owned 1 car and I had hoped we would not need another. Too bad it is not safe to be healthy. Some drivers are oblivious to what is going on outside of the car. Example - nose pickers, like they are invisible!
            •  I would ride a bike too... (none)
              But I live in a town that consists of about 20 miles of 8-lane, 45 mph highway, surrounded by suburban sprawl (read: strip malls) almost uninterrupted over its whole length, with heavy traffic at all but the deadest hours of night. No accomodation for bikers or pedestrians whatsoever (it's basically cross at your own risk). So I drive about 4 or 5 miles to work each day. And what do you know, I do in fact live in a red state... although my congressional district is one of three heavily gerrymandered, safely Democrat districts out of 11 in the state.

              There are plenty of bad drivers out there, but to be fair, while I was living in Boston I saw more than my share of bad bikers, too. If you ride a bike, and you want to share the road with cars, then you need to follow the same traffic laws as cars. In other words, just because you're in a car doesn't mean red lights and stop signs don't apply to you. Especially in a big city with lots of pedestrian traffic. I can't count the number of times I almost got run over while trying to cross the street on foot by bikers who ran red lights.  

              •  You are right about some bikers thinking that (none)
                traffic laws do not apply to them. I was not one of those. I rode the back streets and neighborhoods to avoid the busy streets and still I was vulnerable.
              •  PS (none)
                not suggesting you were one of these, just saying, since I have seen so many bikers lacking even a rudimentary grasp of bike safety, that if a biker finds himself in frequent near-misses with traffic or pedestrians, he should examine who is truly at fault.

                That being said, I agree it's a shame there aren't more bike-friendly paths in suburban areas with growing populations but short-sighted and poorly planned development.

          •  And you know what? (4.00)
            Every time you drive your car to work, you're putting your life and limbs in danger. Every time you drive your small car alongside those mosterous hulking SUVs that have a propencity to roll over or jump over barriers, you're putting your life in danger.

            I think this is exactly one of the points of this artical. We've spent so much time inside our mettle boxes that they've distorted our view of reality. In reality, driving is quite dangerous. But it's much easier to see how bad our roads are out on a bicycle then inside our cut off from the world little steal boxes.

            I'm not saying you should ride your bike. It's quite likely you live in an area where it's imposible to go to work without crossing/using an insterstate or freeway. But you chose to live there. I'm sure you think it's perfectly acceptable to live in a place were you must use a car. But while some people pick where they live based on a good school district for their kids, or on low polution or on proximity to a cultural center, some people chose where to live based on the fact that they don't have to be dependant on a car.

            if global warming is a moral issue, then Gore has a moral obligation to run for president

            by IAblue on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 12:59:31 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually (none)
              I picked where I live because I thought it was close enough to ride a bike, there are a few hardy souls posting on a bike discussion board who said they lived in my neighborhood and ride bikes to where I work, and I thought it would be a great set up.

              Got here and checked out the true lay of the land and decided I needed my metal shell to keep me safe after all.

              At least my neighborhood has got its greenway now so I can bike to the grocery store, the dance studio I go to, the coffee shop, and the bookstore in my little urban village.  It's a start.

              Nothing is more fatal to maidenly delicacy of speech than the run of a good library. -- Robertson Davies

              by kismet on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 02:34:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm sorry then, (none)
                that I seem to have jumped to the wrong conclusion. I'm also sorry your comute to work plan was foiled; I guess different people have different definitions of how "bikeable" an area is ...

                if global warming is a moral issue, then Gore has a moral obligation to run for president

                by IAblue on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 11:09:34 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Yes (none)
            My husband wants to bike or walk the mere 2 miles to his job. But with the highway and no bike paths or sidewalks, he risks death or injury if he attempts this. We have no public transportation in our area. I love my small town where I can walk to the post office, bank, stores, church, and even some schools and the college. But there are some places we are forced to drive as our small town connects to the rest of the world by an interstate highway..just a mile up the road and that is where most of the businesses are located.

            America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

            by wishingwell on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:32:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  thats the solution (4.00)
          make bike roads alongside car roads - make them with a divide so people CAN bike if they choose to.

          My job is 9 miles a way and suicide if I were to ride instead of drive.

          Left of center & Out of the closet.

          by leftout on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 08:06:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  A historical precedence (if not an ironic one) (none)
            In the golden age of cycling (~1890), in the cities of the east paved roads were put down for bicycles. As automobiles began to appear, gravel roads were built parallel to the paved bikeways for auto use.

            Oh for the good old days!

        •  Statistically (4.00)
          He's not saying all drivers are republicans (or anti-social bastards), just that driving a car is one of the things more likely to push you towards being a conservative.

          In that respect, it's just like watching cable news, or being a white male. The difference is that driving a car has bad external consequences, from pollution to oil wars, though people who don't drive aren't exactly free of blame for those. (Most of us depend on oil and trucks to transport our food, for example. Then there's flying...)

      •  Agreed (4.00)
        This is a bit over-reaching. One could easily argue that isolation is one of the biggest factors in creating conservatism. Physically isolated people often have to drive a lot more than those in tight-knit communities. Correlation is not causation - a philosphical truth, and a line from my favorite Soul Coughing song.
        •  True... (4.00)
          ...correlation is not causation, and the development of the "car culture" has mulitple causes.

          But I'm sure it has also influenced us in ways we are only dimly aware of.

          For example, imagine how rude we can be to each other when we are behind the wheel--ruder than we would ever allow ourselves to be when face-to-face.

          I also wonder if being able to control our immediate environment (temperature, noise level, musical ambience, etc.) each and every time we isolate ourselves in our "steel cocoons" for a couple of hours per day, has tended to give us both an exaggerated sense of control and a diminished desire to allow others to impact our daily experience. I often even find myself unwilling to allow a radio announcer to control what I'm hearing, and instead habitually pop in a CD to help control my mood myself, even when I can't really think of something I'd rather listen to than what's already on the radio!

          In any case, the only force that will move us back to a truly conservative (i.e., conservationist) approach to transportation is peak oil and higher energy prices. Change will be forced by the dollar, not by legislation or personal choice.

          Of course, the biggest challenge will be making our sprawling suburbs liveable when gas hits $6 to $8 per gallon. Probably some combination of mopeds, bicycles, more bus lines, lots more park & ride depots, and more mini-stores within walking distance of home?

          I sure hope such changes will bring about more sense of community, instead of more irritation and hostility...

          •  Combine carshare w/ transit (none)
            I got very interested in combining car-share programs with transit when I was in a Planning grad program last year (had to take a hiatus for a while).  I was looking specifically at an area comprised of three very small cities that are close together geographically in PA.  Linking them and the surrounding major towns by light rail might be possible if you added carsharing at the terminal ends to let people go that 'last mile' from the station to work and back.  Never got into hard numbers, but if I ever go back to finish that masters, it'd make a fun thesis.    
          •  Seems like the most important reason AND ... (4.00)
            consequence is that we are isolated from our fellow citizens.

            As a result, we are more "head in the sand" about how diverse our communities are - with implications for both the more and less well off. Common social standards as well as mutual respect are weakened. A sense of commonality among people living in the same area evaporates as we are more confined to our silos of home, car, and work.

            In addition, driving is very stressful compared to riding BART where you can read a book or the newspaper, talk with other passengers... I drive less now than before I retired, and am always struck by how stressful rush hour traffic is - something I had not noticed as much before when it was a daily event. If only public transportation were more dependable, more frequent, better synchronized, and more responsive - and it would be if there was more public support. Bus routes in our area are continually cut back and now there is no bus  - that means an easy 20 minute walk down hill to the terminal in the morning, an unpleasant 40 minute walk uphill at the end of the day.

            An interesting article...

        •  Exactly (4.00)
          Urban environments create Democrats because we interact with all sorts of people and mitigate the xenophobia, which may be an inherent human characteristic.
        •  Isolation from education (none)
          is my opinion. Check the distance from educational opportunities.

          A society of sheep must beget in time a government of wolves. Bertrand de Jouvenel

          by Little Red Hen on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 09:41:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes and No (none)
            If you mean distance from academic institutions, probably not a factor as some of us live in small towns with a college or in less urban University towns with quite a large Republican population.
            If you mean distance from educational experiences or cultural experiences..that is another matter, that is where you may have a point. But most of my life in PA, I have lived in some conservative or moderately conservative areas and almost all had a college in the area, if not several.

            America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand-Harry S. Truman

            by wishingwell on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:35:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Heh (4.00)
      I don't really think the thrust of Monbiot's article was that cars cause Republicanism, though it's certainly a catchy diary headline.

      I think the majority of people use cars as a matter of convenience, and really don't consider the political implications. There is definitely a correlation between those who love the idea of having large, gas-guzzling cars and Republicanism, though.

      It's a sort of hyperbolic individualism, making them feel 'manly.' It's the same reason that they like owning lots of guns - there's no real use for them, they know they're probably quite dangerous, but 'prissy' people disapprove of them, so...

      This ties into every facet of Republican thinking, even on issues like the death penalty. It's a kind of false machismo, an idiotic individualism which operates by emphasising the worse aspects of the pack.

      I guess it gives them a sense of identity.

      A conservative understands the price of everything, but the value of nothing.

      by Mephistopheles on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:52:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  SUVs make them feel more "manly" (4.00)
        Apparently this extends to the vast number of women  that drive SUVs as well.  SUV creates equality of opportunity in road bullying.
        •  Oh, I've got a choice example (none)
          There's this one shiny green SUV, always comes out of the north from the direction of Lake Norman whenever I encounter her (the driver is a large AA woman). She drives fast, dangerously aggressive -- and I've had two occasions where she's about trampled my clearly inferior sedan into the pavement.

          How do I know it's the same woman?

          She has a vanity plate. She's not terribly concerned about someone calling her in.


          On the other hand, I haven't seen her 'round in quite some time. :)

          Never let being humane get in the way of being human. And vice-versa.

          by cskendrick on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:19:26 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  And Nascar dads. (4.00)

          Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
          Czeslaw Milosz

          by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:50:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I guess you haven't lived in the Northeast (4.00)
      Outside of the major metropolises - and really, you only get decent public transit in Boston proper, for New England - there isn't any. Believe me, I've been carless in one of the larger cities outside Boston in the Greater Boston area, for months on end, and wore out the soles of my boots to the core, after my bike was stolen, because to find connections at the necessary times and places is harder than hens' teeth. (There's a lot of the Northeast where you can't bike, either - where it's safer to play in traffic on foot, because that's what you're doing. Particularly in winter, when the marginal road shoulder disappears.)

      Not because we wouldn't use it, but because we don't have the state funding and clout to fight the auto industry's holding of the high ground after having successfully destroyed the nation's passenger rail and conservative congresscritters having fought it tooth and claw as a mark of their "fiscal responsibility" all those decades ago.

      After brutal uphill battle, we finally got one small passenger rail spur extended running Maine-to-Boston - and it got many times the expected traffic the first year and has just keept on increasing in popularity.

      Of course, I'd have to drive 45 minutes, 1/4 of the way across the state, to get to the nearest platform...

      The fight goes on, to bring it to the larger cities, fiercely opposed by those in New England who want the money to keep going to the roads - which are a massive industry and keep the pockets lined of all sorts of folks in the construction business and political realm. Corruption and government go hand-in-hand, and we've been doing it up here in New England longer than any of the rest of you! Maybe by the end of the decade, we'll have regular rail service.

      Of course, that won't do anything about the fact that the local transit is non-existent, the bus lines run as if managed by Basil Fawlty, with no regard for nor interaction with local needs, but money thrown away on stupid, massive PR campaigns instead of fixing the systemic problems (and again, no interest in finding out what really works, because then how could you funnel money to your consultant buddies?) and moreover, that most of New England is so wooded, remote, and rural that there's no way a European-style web of rail is going to happen - even though a hundred years ago we did have it, and the old railbeds and some of the platforms are still there, camouflaged by the debris of years.

      And that's close to Boston - go up to the deep woods of Maine, or the wilds of the Berkshires - or those insane hills in Vermont! - and I don't think you even ever had that. It went from horse-and-buggy to Model T, or rather from ox-carts to pickup trucks, although there are still folks out in the mountains who use pulling hitches, for various reasons, partly that you can get draft animals up and down hills no engine will ever handle.

      Most New Englanders commute a minimum of 20 minutes, one way. And that's the average of people like me, who can walk, in a pinch, the mile to work (and I've done it in -3F, btw - and I've done 5 miles, too) as well as those who want to live in the demi-countryside, but still hold a high-paying job in the City, and commute upwards of an hour to Boston or Woburn or even the Seacoast.

      Nor are Northeasterners immune from stupidity - drive to or around Boston in a normal car these past 8-9 years, and you'll find yourself dwarfed by Explorers and Suburbans and giant F-150s, like a zebra in a herd of elephants. Some of them even drive the F-150s with afterburners or whatever they are, so they burn 2x the normal amount of gas, get less mileage than a Hummer - and you'll see a good few of those in New England, too - because it's macho and they like the horsepower - even if it's taking up a huge chunk of their paycheck - and a pressman's paycheck is hefty, far heftier than a mere typesetter or digital prepress  worker like me.

      Trying to change it is like pushing Sisyphus' rock uphill - and there's not yet the clear-and-present  motivation of gas prices equalling those of Europe, although there was a mass dumping of SUVs the weekend after Katrina, according to the local used car sales insiders - in favor of hybrids. And more and more brave souls are driving Vespa-clones on the road even in the winter, except when the weather is prohibitive - trying very hard to make them primary vehicles. But it's not happening fast, and there's tremendous obstacles from the establishment.  

      There's nothing worse than assumption-based analysis, free of facts. Post hoc ergo propter hoc is something they teach in Logic 101 - I suggest you familiarize yourself with the principles of critical thinking and then of sociological research.

      "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

      by bellatrys on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:40:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I lived in a little town in the White Mountains (4.00)
        for a couple of years and didn't have a car for much of that time. I walked to work, biked to the store, and caught a ride with friends when I wanted to go climbing.

        So I know exactly where you're coming from. It is not only possible, but wonderful to be in New England sans car. I can still hear that snow squeeking under my heels. ;<)

        Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
        Czeslaw Milosz

        by Chris Kulczycki on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 08:04:42 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  snow squeaking under your boots (none)
          is my third favorite sound in the whole world.

          right behind wind in the trees and waves crashing on the ocean shore.

          we auditorily inclined people are weird like that--with lists of favorite sounds.

          it's hard to be an auditory person in a visual world, but there are so many wonderful ambient sounds to enjoy!

          Politics is like driving. To go backward, put it in R. To go forward, put it in D. IMPEACH

          by TrueBlueMajority on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 01:32:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Vermont (none)
        Well, after living in mass-transit-able central cities for decades, I moved to Vermont. There is some mass transit here (small, free buses at least in southern Vermont to get people from town to town). But hey, we drive now. What with Vermont being the most proportionately rural state population in the nation, Vermonters drive an embarassing number of miles per capita. However, Vermonters also, despite often-icy roads, have about the lowest accident rate and cheapest car insurance in the nation.

        We're also far from being a Red state, as the world knows. Even the Republicans we have here are the decent, liberal type. So if this isn't the exception that proves the rule, the hypothesis is refuted by Vermont.

        Maybe it's driving in ugly places, on crowded roads, that leads to Republicanism? Nah, there are rural Red states with great beauty too.

    •  Why cars make us one thing or another (none)
      Do I agree?

      I think many points raised are valid. Yes, riding around in a glass box with nothing but payola driven musical drivel and right wing blather has got to hurt a person. I think that the rise of public radio shows this. Also witness the problems with automotive technologies: pollution, obsolescence, costs both personal and public. I think everybody knows about those.

      But what to do?
      Here we have a situation where automotive and broadcast technologies are being put together to bend the minds of the masses. Here are some technoligical solution to fight the power:

      1. Bluetooth (or a simple audio jack) out of your personal music player (iPod or mp3 player) into your car. Put that together with an Air America podcast from the day before, and the driver is freed of the right wing drivel.

      2. Car buses. What might be the practicality of using a train to combine passenger cars for people with passenger flatbeds for cars? What if an efficient ticketing and scheduling system could be built around it? I would so prefer to ride on a train with my car for cross country travel, with a few amenities. I've heard of such a train from the east coast to Florida. There's certainly no such thing anywhere near where I live.

      3. Shareware kit cars. Cars don't wear out at once. They wear out in pieces. Aside from normal and accidental wear and tear, parts of a car just get old and unfashionable.

      In Africa, they don't sell enough Benzes to justify a mass production facility but they still sell hundreds within a country. These cars get shipped in kits, and assembled locally. If what you pay for you care is 60% health insurance costs, why not just buy a kit car and build it yourself. Yes, I know it's beyond a great many of us, but certainly not beyond the capabilities of all our friends (if we have any). I get asked to fix people's computers all the time. I would love to order a kit car and ask other people to build my car. One good thing that happens when building your own computer or car is that you learn it's interfaces very well. This is good because you learn what kind of RAM or quarter panel it might need later.

      I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the SAE to do this. What we need is an SAE for the people. This could be a private firm who organizes information, settles standards, and does dial a car porn for shareware car builders and other nutjobs.

      4. Stay posted..... This one's so hot I'm not telling right now. (It's mine, for now.) Hopefully, it'll be worth the wait. Aren't you a little curious? Say so. I still won't tell just yet.

      I'd really hate for my 4 pt post to go without a reply. I guess I wouldn't have made it, if I didn't have issues.

    •  is it some vague 'isolationism' (none)
      or is it the correleation between car ownership and net worth?

      I believe in saving money. I believe in having a house. I believe in keeping things clean. I believe in exercising.

      by The Exalted on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 11:38:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is more to this story (4.00)
      Several others mention the subsidies to the auto culture, which are huge by any measure.  But when people only count actual direct money subsidies much is missed.  

      The greatest subsidy of all is the "free" allocation of space to auto use.  Of course space, particularly in cities, isn't free.  The space given over to autos has about the same rentable value as the adjoining commercial space although that rent is not directly monetized. (It is indirectly monetized into suburban land prices, as well as a few other distorted prices.)  It could be monetized directly.  If we charged drivers for their use of the streets many other taxes could be lessened.  The street use charge could be proportioned to car weight, height, and pollution grade, and time of day.  If drivers had to pay the full cost of driving we can be quite certain that people would make different transportation decisions than they do in today's subsidized environment.

      The current system of massive auto subsidy in the US is probably the greatest systematic transfer of wealth in human history.  The net flow of benefits and costs has cities paying suburbanites and poor people paying rich people.  The suburban auto infrastrucure is also probably the greatest mis-allocation of resources in history.  (The economy of the old Soviet Union is the only real competitor for worst allocation.)

      My proposed solution of charging for street space fits within a larger philosophy of charging for all privileges such as driving, the broadcast spectrum, mineral rights, land, and pollution rights.  If Democrats want a real economic agenda I suggest the following: Shift taxes from productive activites onto priviliges of all kinds.  

      Regarding the effect of cars on attitudes I offer my own personal testimony.  I live in a close in neighborhood in Austin, TX and have gone to considerable lengths to organize my life to be as car-free as possible.  I bike or walk to work, but occasionally need to drive.  My experience from going back and forth, from not driving at all for a while, and then having to drive. leads me to believe that the car-centered society is causing people to be much more anti-social and hostile than people would be otherwise.

      Perhaps the oddest experience for me was catching myself, while driving, being pissed off at a bike making me slow down on a street where I often bike myself.  Perhaps I am an oddball case, but I think the structure of our society is creating a lot of the anti-social behavior, which then finds expression in the Republican Party.  

      Geonomist - Charge for privileges; abolish taxes on production.

      by Geonomist on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 12:31:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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