Cars and people

Tom Condit tomcondit at
Mon Oct 30 14:54:18 MST 1995

I was glad to see Will Brown's post on "anti-car" demos in the
U.K.  We have regular "Critical Mass" bike rides here in the San
Francisco Bay Area, especially a monthly ride in the San
Francisco financial district which draws hundreds of bicyclists,
and which is normally held during Friday "rush hour".

I've been meaning for some time to put up a query on this list
about tories and automobiles.  When the Republicans took over in
California a few years ago, they immediately embarked on an orgy
of highway-building, while cutting other parts of the state
budget other than those related to putting people in jail.

When I went to the eastern U.S. this summer, I noticed that in
New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, all with new Republican
governors, the same thing was going on, and wondered if it was in
fact a worldwide trend. I meant to ask comrades from Italy, etc.,
if this was going on there as well.

The reason it has struck me is that the Democratic Party is in
this country the traditional party of the state budget.  Through
public works construction, it has drawn the support of real
estate and construction capitalists, and through their employees
captured the labor movement.  Suddenly, it's the Republicans who
are in love with construction!  Moreover, in the new "downsized"
federal budget of Gingrich and Dole, highway construction funds
are increased while every other part of the civil budget (other
than, of course, putting people in jail) has shrunk.

I actually have a sort of explanation for this, based on the
exact science of marxism!  (The exact science of marxism, as we
all know, allows us to interpret all phenomena, even those we
know nothing about.  Its precision, especially in the hands of
the right political committee, is such that all marxist groups in
the world quickly come to identical conclusions on all

The automobile is in many ways the very embodiment of tory
values. It is the individual rather than the collective way of
transporting you.  It is flexible, allowing rapid changes of
direction (too rapid on icy roads, of course) and destination.
You can leave for work five minutes late without worrying about
the train schedule.  You can talk on the phone while driving. 
You can relate to all other drivers, not as other humans in a
common situation, but as competitors.  If you have enough money,
you can use it as a status symbol. Best of all, it allows the
existence of a dispersed and atomized work force.

Of course, this individual free-market solution doesn't work
without public subsidy.  Ye olde limousine doesn't get Mr. Banker
to work without a nice tax-paid highway. Like policemen to
protect his property and soldiers to protect his take, Herr
Finanzier can't get by without the highway department to deliver
him to work.

The liberals, of course, don't share this attitude.  They want a
nice public transportation system which will get other people off
the road so they won't be caught in traffic jams. But they want a
fiscally responsible transport system, financed at the tollbox.

I'm tired and rambling, but you get my drift.


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