Why Can't Government Get You Out of Your Car?

No matter what alternatives it can think of, the Obama Administration remains baffled why most Americans are still attached to their cars, says Fred Barnes.

Barnes writes:

"For most Americans-make that most of mankind-the car is an instrument of mobility, flexibility, and speed. Yet officials in Washington, transportation experts, state and local functionaries, planners, and transit officials are puzzled why their efforts to lure people from their cars continue to fail...

The simple fact is most people prefer to travel by car because it's convenient, which mass transit rarely is. They can go from place to place directly, choosing their own route and schedule. They can do so day and night. They can stop as frequently as they wish for any reason (do errands, drop off kids, etc.). This phenomenon has a name: freedom."

Full Story: The Way We Drive Now



Poor excuse for rational perspective on transit

This Fox news editor, Fred Barnes, decries public transit throughout the entire article yet doesn't offer even one of alternatives to reduce congestion in our urban areas.

This is an easy one

Government can't get me out of my car, because government is getting me into my car.

Maybe because it's not really trying?

I think the giant hand of government present in subsidizing car travel through highway funding, car-oriented zoning and numerous other projects that basically force one to drive a car is orders of magnitude greater than the tiny hand of government compelling one not to drive. I guess actions speak louder than words in this case.

Plus the typical response of the anti-car hand of government is simply to try to punish drivers for their "evil" ways (mainly through higher taxes/fees... the "if driving cost more less people would do it argument", which is true, but simply punishes the poor for past government plans gone awry)... not the greatest message (cause we all know that the money won't go anywhere but into the pockets of the largest campaign contributors).

Start focusing on eliminating the subsidies that encourage driving, and then start focusing on eliminating the barriers to effective public transit and people will figure this stuff out... just go to any developing third world country and notice how easy it is to get around by taxi, jitney, or tricycle or a whole host of other small vehicles that allow the average person to get along without owning a car in a cost effective manner.

Barnes and auto subsidies

Barnes talks about the money spent on transit over the past 25 years, ignoring the much larger sums spent on roads, parking lots, and other "free" car infrastructure.

Even less honestly, he talks about DEMAND for more roads, without mentioning price. (There is no such thing as absolute demand, there is demand at a given price.) If he is proposing that all new roads be financed through user charges, then great, otherwise, he is just advocating more car-subsidies.

Cars may look like freedom to Barnes; some of us think having more choices is an increase in freedom.

Just another attack on cities and California

So, both George Will and Fred Barnes bending over and doing their east coast, right-wing masters' bidding this week.

Mass-transit is now a Commie plot.

Suburbs, especially eastern, southern suburbs don't need mass-transit.
Suburbs, vote Republican.

Cities, especially Cal-ee-forn-yuh, cities desperately need mas-transit.
Cities, especially Cal-ee-forn-yuh cities, don't vote Republican.

Get it yet?

California needs mass-transit/HSR, not for any pie-in-the-sky environmental reason but for pure economic, job creation reasons.

California is reaching a state of gridlock due to nothing but geographical constraints.

Most people, it seems, are too stupid to understand that. And right-wing pundits try to make the most of that stupidity and paint California's embracing of mass-transit, HSR, bikes, etc. out to be some Libuhrall plot against American freedom.

It's a good way to deprive California--the state that sends more money, by far, to the federal government than any other state, the state that underwrites welfare queen states such as Texas and Alaska, the state that IS the economy of the United States--what it needs to maintain its status as the economic engine of the United States of America and to attempt to transfer the trade, jobs and wealth eastward and suburb-ward.

And eastern, allegedly liberal media orifices, sensing how much a transfer of wealth eastward would help them, go right along with that supposedly conservative agenda, bad-mouthing California and cities all the doo-dah-day.

Nothing but self-serving economic regionalism wrapped up in a Tea Flag.

Having only one option: "freedom".

This phenomenon has a name: freedom.

We are fortunate that the polluters and controllers of our fate are so predictable. Saying the reason so many Murricans drive is because they love "freedom" is the standard parrot phrase from some quarters. You know it is coming. You know they have nothing else. Yet we wait for it, wait for the little chuckle it will give us. But the car is entrenched in our society. 6.00/gal gas won't change people who see no reason to change.

Now if only someone can figure out how to turn back the clock 40 years and start making transit happen in the U.S...



Michael Lewyn's picture

a more detailed response to Barnes

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