It Is Time For The End of the Automobile

Each year in the United States, there is an increased conversation about the role guns play in our society, and further discussion about what should be done to prevent gun violence. I started trying to look at the issue through the eyes of those that oppose guns and gun violence, and I found a much larger problem that is being totally ignored - the automobile.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the year 2007, I wanted to have a look into some of the statistics surrounding this issue. According to the CDC, there were 2,423,712 deaths in the United States in 2007. There were 31,224 firearm-related deaths; 17,352 of them were due to suicide, and the other 12,632 were homicide. 18,361 deaths were attributed to "Assault (homicide)." That would tell me that the overwhelming majority of homicides were committed with a firearm, almost 70%. But in 2007, there were 42,031 deaths attributed to Motor Vehicle Accidents. This really piqued my attention.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/NCHS/data/nvsr/nvsr58/nvsr58_19.pdf

Having been an over-the-road truck driver for 15 years, and having driven over 1 million miles in my career in that time, I have seen many preventable accidents on the highway. There is a conversation taking place about it, but it does not match the fervor of the gun violence issue. Again, while studying this issue, I really wanted to try and look at the issue through the eyes of those that oppose guns. In order to do that, I feel it is necessary to consider all of the view points found in common with gun opponents. Most people would say that opponents of gun ownership tend to lean toward the 'Liberal' or 'Left' side of the political paradigm. I find that to be reasonable. Most of those on the Left have views in favor of gun control. They also tend to favor legislation that increases the role of government in the financial sector, including public works projects, as well as legislation to combat climate change. As an individual, I generally hold a view opposite theirs concerning these issues, but I'm trying my best to consider how they view these things and the principles behind their beliefs.

There is no doubt that guns and gun ownership have a significant affect on our society. Some argue that guns are good, citing statistics claiming that gun ownership actually reduces violent crime as individuals are able to protect themselves from a criminal intent on doing them harm. Others will argue that there is really no 'need' for gun ownership in a society where government-provided police protection is available to combat crime. The logic seems fairly simple - no guns = no gun crime. I will leave my personal view out for the sake of this argument.

The Automobile -

Since Henry Ford revolutionized the auto industry with the assembly line nearly a century ago, society has boomed. I think it is fair to say that the ability to move freely about can be characterized as one of the leading factors of that growth, but has it come at too high a price? Over 40,000 deaths on the highways each year is staggering, but we must also consider the environmental impact made by the automobile. If it is true that dire consequences lie ahead from carbon emissions, it seems that the impact of automobiles may dwarf the societal impact of guns on our world. A simple calculation of automobile-related deaths, environmental impact, consumption and depletion of fossil fuels, foreign policy implications, and long-term impact on the economy would show that it may be time for the end of the automobile.

Most people on the 'Liberal' side of these arguments would hold the view that public transportation and electric vehicles are part of the answer to our problem. They also hold the common belief that public works and government programs are the best avenue to protect the poor from economic struggles. So here, using their own arguments, I pose a solution to the problem.

1) By 2015, we end all production and importation of automobiles. Existing cars and pickup trucks can be bought by the government through a "buy-back" program and recycled. Existing auto manufacturing labor contracts can be modified so that the same labor pool can handle the disassembly and recycling of the automobiles. This would be a boon for the steel industry.

2)This same labor group can also be tasked to manufacture clean-burning, environmentally-friendly public transportation such as natural gas burning and electric busses to be used in;

3) a massive new Federal local bus route and train structure to carry citizens about their daily routines.

4) Since there will be no more individual automobiles, the existing highway network will be unclogged immediately. Transit times for bus and train would be minuscule compared to rush hour in its current state.

If we were to take this bold step, we could reduce carbon emission by 90%, cut nearly 30,000 highway deaths, and with the implementation of the new bus and train transit system, we could add jobs and infrastructure to the economy like we have never seen before. It is the ultimate in public works projects.

I know some on the right will make the claim that this infringes on a natural right of individuals to own and operate cars, but I think everyone would agree that it is beyond time to address a world for future generations that is clean and free of pollution. I am convinced. This is how we should proceed.

Epilogue

See how ridiculous that sounds? My new favorite quote is "You may not live what you profess, but you will uncontrollably live what you believe." If one truly believed in this climate change hogwash, they would not just be remaking the automobile, they would be eliminating it. There would be no more individual transportation, only public mass transit. Here's where you run into the problem - you - the 'Liberal' - don't want to lose your car just like I don't want to lose my gun or my car. Before you get up on that high horse, you better understand all the consequences of riding him the full distance.

Posted on August 13, 2012 .