Saturday, February 03, 2007

It's Not Just Your Car, It's Your Freedom

In a recent article by Vasko Kohlmayer on the American Thinker web site called "The West Alone" we are treated to a lesson we should all know intuitively. He describes the situation the West finds itself in and how we are alone as the only successful culture still standing in the 21st century. And yet instead of a celebration of our unqualified greatness Mr. Kohlmayer observes:

Perhaps at no point in history has a major civilization been vilified more virulently than the West is today. Castigated and denounced from without and within, it has been blamed for nearly every problem there is...

It would be difficult to think of a greater paradox than the existence of such sentiments toward a civilization that has done so much for the good of the human race. Gratitude rather than condemnation would be a far more appropriate attitude for the numerous gifts the West has bestowed on mankind. Many could be mentioned, but let us for now focus on one which truly staggers the mind - the gift of the modern world.

Whether it be democracy, capitalism, the car, the airplane, electricity, the computer, the gas stove, the hypodermic needle, the microwave, the internet, the television, the wristwatch, the flush toilet, the mobile phone or communication satellites - all this plus nearly all that is encompassed by the term ‘modern' has been brought into being by the West.

Indeed the very same people who decry the rape and pillage of the world by Western man through the megaphone of the media and popular culture have been enriched by the system of democracy, freedom and high technology the West has developed.

Perhaps the one thing most responsible for the acsendancy of the West is under the greatest assault - the car, our personal transportation. When General Motors ran an ad campaign a decade ago that declared It's Not Just Your Car, It's Your Freedom no truer words have ever been spoken. Ladies and Gentleman your freedom is under attack.

The car is said to be responsible for all the great tragedies facing the modern world. From global warming to urban sprawl. From terrorism to oil wars. From the rape of the land to the filth in the sky. It is claimed that the car costs the world too much. Plain and simple your freedom is killing Mother Earth.

Wait it is not as bad as all that. In a January 28th piece in the Washington Post messengers Ted Balaker and Sam Staley clear up 5 Myths About Suburbia and Our Car-Happy Culture.

Starting with myth one they put to rest the outright falsehoods we have been brainwashed into believing :

1.Americans are addicted to driving.

Actually, Americans aren't addicted to their cars any more than office workers are addicted to their computers. Both items are merely tools that allow people to accomplish tasks faster and more conveniently. The New York metropolitan area is home to the nation's most extensive transit system, yet even there it takes transit riders about twice as long as drivers to get to work...

Some claim that Europeans have developed an enlightened alternative. Americans return from London and Paris and tell their friends that everyone gets around by transit. But tourists tend to confine themselves to the central cities. Europeans may enjoy top-notch transit and endure gasoline that costs $5 per gallon, but in fact they don't drive much less than we do. In the United States, automobiles account for about 88 percent of travel. In Europe, the figure is about 78 percent. And Europeans are gaining on us.

The key factor that affects driving habits isn't population density, public transit availability, gasoline taxes or even different attitudes. It's wealth. Europe and the United States are relatively wealthy, but American incomes are 15 to 40 percent higher than those in Western Europe. And as nations such as China and India become wealthier, the portion of their populations that drive cars will grow...

The other four myths are skewered with enough logic and fact that make you want to get behind the wheel and drive for the sake of driving. The one myth that truly floored me was the myth that we are paving over America and that soon there will be only the dreary concrete jungle of the Megalopolis. The fact is only 5.4 % of American land is developed according to the US Census Bureau. They descibed developed as 30 people per square mile. In an urban area many thousands can live in a square mile.

We should certainly work hard as a society to develop more efficient and technologically advanced cars. We should try to reduce pollution and be mindful of the effect of sprawl. But we should do so with the mind that cars are one of the crowning glories of Western Civilization.

And remember: It's Not Just Your Car, It IS Your Freedom!



Anonymous said...

What about increasing mileage standards? Developing more efficient and technologically advanced cars, reducing pollution, et. al., isn't that what liberal environmentalists have been saying for years? If I'm Detroit, I certainly want the country to think that cars = freedom, and that Ford, GMC, etc. = America. Quotas on Japanese imports in the 80's certainly didn't do us any favors. It set the country's automakers up to get creamed by Tokyo years later, when they're unsustainable business practices were forced to compete with companies that had long term vision.