Ijaw Dictionary Online

How Automobiles Work


Let me turn now to the automobile
industry, a topic we return to often because so much of the last century of
American history has been shaped around the private automobile. Let’s begin this
way: the private car is the largest single cause of air pollution in our
society. What comes out of the tailpipe of that car is what pollutes our air
more than anything else. The automobile is the largest killer of Americans, in
car accidents. [It’s] way more deadly than Wars or any other cause. And I won’t even go
into the injuries that it causes. And I won’t even go into the use of fossil
fuel and the use of all kinds of resources to make all these cars. But it
was always a most inefficient way to move people, or to move produce, or to
move anything, the private car. It would have been much cheaper, per person per
mile of transport, to have a really good rail system, a really good street railway
system, a really good bus system. And we know exactly how more efficient it would
be because most other countries in the world rely on those systems more than we
do here. And that’s not because Americans are peculiar, it’s because the private
automobile, producing something that would sit in your garage, or your
driveway, or somewhere, most of the time and only be used occasionally, costing
you a fortune to fuel it, to insure it, and to buy it in the first place,
this was profitable for car companies. And that’s why we have that system. It’s
even famous that the car companies used their profits early in the 40s and 50s
to get rid of street railways, to hamstring politicians so they wouldn’t
fund the railroads the way they once had so that the railway could be a
competition. No, we have the private car because it was profitable, even though it
was wasteful of resources and deadly. But now that the capitalist system in the
United States is in hard times (well, you may not have noticed that if you’re in
the top 5% but for the rest of us…) all of that has to stop. That’s why we
have car sharing now. We’re gonna call it a nice name because
it’s crazy to have the car sitting in the driveway. It’s much more efficient to
share them. Even more efficient it would be, to have public transportation. But we
would have to defeat the profit-driven private car companies beyond what we
have done so far to get to anything like a rational way to not waste resources in
moving people and objects around our society.

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