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Friday, April 01, 2005

Why Do "Progressives" Hate Cars?

Welcome Dennis Prager listeners!

Why do you think progressives hate cars?

I say: Control, and environmentalism. If we don't have cars, we would have to rely on the state for mass transportation. We would mostly live in clustered communities, with a high population density. We would be easier to "herd" in both the physical and sociological sense if we lived cheek by jowl. The government's costs would be lower, in providing services, and so more services could be provided. Urban communities also use less resources, in terms of oil, steel, rubber, etc.

So stand up for your rights! Buy that extra car you have always wanted, you know, the Miata or the Mustang or the Corvette. Or even a Zimmer, if you so choose.


James said...

So, you're saying that people living in a more efficient way, costing the government less of our tax money to provide the necessary services like roads, utilities, police coverage, etc, and using less products like oil, steel, and rubber that we either have to disrupt the enviromnent in our own country to obtain or buy from questionable regimes across the globe is a bad thing?

The Auto Prophet said...

Yes. The government should be providing fewer services as it is. Too much socialism kills the economy. We are in no danger of running out of rubber, steel, or oil any time soon. Limiting our mobility has serious economic impact, and not just the destruction of the auto industry and all of its subsidiaries.

Look at the European standard of living, compared to ours--it is much lower. 10% unemployment, confiscatory tax levels, socialized medicine. Only the wealthy can move about freely. Here, a working class guy can own a boat, or a cabin in the woods.

James said...

I grew up in England, with plenty of exposure to working class and middle class lifestyles there. Saying that you have to be wealthy to move around in Europe is ludicrous. Working class Brits vacation in France or Spain easily and cheaply, either by driving to the ferry or taking a train or plane. It is much cheaper to fly from Birmingham or Manchester to Rome or Paris than it is from Texas (where I live) to Florida or Vegas.

The truth is, having a more compact and efficient population could save us all money. I'm sure you've seen the figures that point out that the states with denser population (the northeast, Califorina, Illinois, etc) provide more federal tax dollars per capita than are spent on maintaining those states by the federal government. The more sparsely populated states like Montana, Mississippi, etc. recieve more than they pay in. The densely populated regions of the country are subsidizing through taxes the less efficient ways to live. This happens on a smaller scale in individual cities, where the more dense core of the city provides tax revenue that is used to maintain less efficient roads and services for the suburbs of the same city. If the government (from city on up the chain to federal) had to spend less on basic services, we could then have the option of either collecting less taxes (believe it or not, an idea progressives are not opposed to) or providing a better safety net. To get back to your Europe point: A middle class guy in the US may be able afford a boat or vacation home until he or his working spose loses their job and health insurance, then somebody in the family goes into the hospital. Then they lose it all. In Europe, they're much less likely to lose it all, and there are working class and middle class people there with boats or other toys.

Also, just because we may be capable of producing more rubber, oil, steel, etc, doesn't mean it doesn't come without a financial and social price. If we didn't have to buy Middle East oil, we wouldn't be in part of the mess we're in now.

Anonymous said...

Your comments about "Europe's" economy are so generalized it's probably a mistake even to debate them with you. What you say is true of, say, France and Germany. It's not true of Britain or (especially) the Scandinavian countries, whose governments account for around 50% of GDP, but whose economies are growing faster than ours, with lower unemployment rates and higher self-reported levels of overall happiness. They are, in short, high-performance socialist countries. Sorry to burst your bubble there.

That said, I think progressives hate cars because of aesthetic reason. A lot of what progressives love and hate is just aesthetics dressed up as florid social theories. Many far-left liberals think we should still be living in an agrarian, communitarian society wearing hemp sandals and growing rhubarb.

James said...

Those are FAR FAR left people that want to ban all cars. I'm a liberal on many things, but I love my Impreza, and I'd love to trade it for a WRX.

Anonymous said...

Sure. But even many normal lefties view cars as a necessary evil and like to invent spurious boogeymen (like urban "sprawl") that result from cars.

The Angry Engineer said...

Actually, if I want to increase my individual freedom, then it'd be in my best interest to buy something as efficient as possible (since I indeed believe that we're on the verge of resource shortages, what with a couple billion more people attempting to enter the Industrial Age).

Thus, going out and buying something frivilous might be the car-guy way to "flip the bird" to liberals in the short term, but in the longer term, it's going to be a good way to find ourselves under further governmental control.

I just wanted to toss that out there in case someone's interested in a unique view from a slightly-twisted libertarian perspective.

Anonymous said...

I probably can't get inside the head of "progressives" because I still consider myself a conservative (even if I test out as a centrist in online political compass tests).

But, I observe that environmental folks generally divide themselves into the more "back to nature" sort, and the "technology enhanced" sort. I think the second set say they are about a "bright green future." (I think the second group is becoming more common as time goes on.)

I think the "bright green" sort probably do like cars, especially if they are "neat" ... like a Toyota Prius or a Volkswagon TDI running on recycled vegetable oil.

Now, I'm not sure, but I'd guess that they are going to be wary of Mustangs and Corvettes, even when they are "garage queens" with low mileage.

Shrug. My S2000 is becoming a garage queen as I try to drive less, and (within the next year or so) swap the WRX wagon out for a more fuel efficient utility car.

So my centrist attitude is ... go for the V8 (or even V10 Viper), but keep the miles down on that one.

LOL, be a stud and drive an ECHO when you aren't in your Viper ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, BTW on the "look at Europe" thing.

Do you know that surveys show they are happier and suffer much less depression than Americans?

It could really be, "don't worry, drive a smaller car, be happy" ;-)

Eric said...

Speaking as a liberal, and a car nut, I think you over generalize quite a bit. I enjoy the feel of being pressed into the back of my seat under rapid acceleration as much as the staunchest conservative. I like taking Jeeps off-road. I own a full-size van that I use to haul my pack of hounds to various dog-shows. I hate PETA. I see where the gun control people are coming from--but I don't agree with them. I get annoyed when the conservative press (including Car and Driver) tell me that I am _required_ to hate cars. I am not _required_ to do any such thing. I find the conservative ideology of Car and Driver, and the post above, to be a major buzz-kill when I am just trying to read up on my favorite rides. When I am writing about a nominally non-political issue (no issue is completely non-political) such as transportation, I don't expend my energy ranking on conservatives. I don't see why right-wingers feel the need to attack ad hominem a reader who they don't even know--and who they might want as an ally on a particular issue (CAFE standards, mandatory airbags etc.) I came to this site to read about cars and what I got instead was a personal insult. I won't indulge myself to return the favor. I will ask that conservative car enthusiasts _think_ before they intentionally turn-off a significant percentage of the car-nut community.

The Auto Prophet said...

Usually the people who call themselves "progressives" (read: socialists), especially those on the Green Party fringe, are rabidly anti-car.

I am thinking about groups similar to PETA, or Greenpeace, or Earth First. These are the folks I am criticizing. You are clearly not very far left, if you like go to off-roading (destroyer!) and don't mind guns, and you are welcome.

All readers are welcome here. But I reserve the right to mock wingnuts!