May 10, 2022·edited May 10, 2022Liked by Alex Pareene

I have long argued (mostly to myself) that being a true "Car Guy" means respecting what cars are capable of. Violence, death, ecological destruction as well as their capability for speed, breathtaking design, fun, exhilaration, the perverse satisfaction I get from replacing brake pads myself.. A 2022 F-150 Asshole Edition has none of the latter and all of the former, and it's by design.

Also, I can still Like Cars while wanting to minimize their necessity as much as possible. If cars go away completely I will be sad but I will find another dumb hobby to get into. Trains, even.

Expand full comment
May 10, 2022Liked by Alex Pareene

After being a "normal" American male as a youth (worked to earn the money and had my first car purchased before turning 16, got my license on my 16th birthday), something flipped and I realized how much cars degrade the quality of life when they are a required thing instead of an option. After University, I have always sought to arrange my work to avoid driving commutes, either by living within walking distance (even if lengthy) or on a bus route. As a married couple, this has always allowed us to have one car -- we bought one new in 1985 and sold it in 2000 with under 180,000 miles, and we've had the used car we bought in 2003 ever since, as we are just now approaching 156,000 miles -- most of which my bride racked up during a hellish two years of internship driving up and down I-5 many days a week. That's just a long preamble to say that (a) I wasn't predisposed to hate cars and assumed that each adult needed a car throughout life (b) I have grown to hate cars because they suck unless they are OPTIONAL, meaning that you can participate fully in life without having to own or operate one; and (c) I drive about once a week, and driving so little means being aware of what driving does to your psyche much more than when I drove a lot -- and I think driving is a HUGE cause of our mental health struggles in this country. I think that people who do high-speed freeway driving regularly are constantly eroding their mental health resilience because they are so stressed all the time. The tyranny of auto-dominated culture, where you are second-class citizen if you don't have the physical or financial ability to have a car, is a big part of why people are so alienated from each other in America today. And cars are bankrupting us, both as individuals and as cities/towns. We either cut off the fuel supply to the auto-dominant mindset (the Constitutional provisions that dictate that gas tax revenue can only be spent on highway purposes) or we are going to continue losing the War on Cars. Everything we're doing in trying to create alternatives to auto-domination is less than window dressing because of the gargantuan flow of resources that the auto lobby captured by getting "their" tax dedicated to enlarging their industry. We have to cut off that fuel supply and start taxing car usage as a privilege with use to be discouraged instead of as a social good with usage to be promoted (by dedicated recycling of funding back into increasing the usage of cars). Nothing that even the most brilliant folks -- like StrongTowns.org and "The War on Cars" trio -- is going to matter a damn so long as we allow the fiscal power source of auto domination to continue. We must have a nationwide campaign, state by state, to eliminate the constitutional dedication of gas tax revenue to promoting automobility, and we must then fix all property tax systems to yank out the roadways from taxes imposed on housing and shift those costs onto the gas tax and other road user charges, so that we start having more affordable housing instead of crazy unaffordable housing and crazy cheap driving.

Expand full comment

Moved from Brooklyn to Sydney last year. They do all of the things you mentioned above to make driving safer, and...... it works. People just walk straight out onto elevated crosswalks without looking (which i still think is kinda crazy) knowing drivers will stop for them. The amount of trust people here have in their fellow citizens is pretty amazing.

Expand full comment