01: zzhostinfo: From Veeduber@aol.com  Tue Oct 24 15:01:35 1995
02: Date: Tue, 24 Oct 1995 15:58:45 -0400
03: From: Veeduber@aol.com
04: Subject: The Forever Car (or Bus)

07:                   The Forever Car
09: A recent thread (Methyl Hydrate) about fueling your car with
10: alcohol to squeak by an emissions test touched on the morality of
11: violating the spirit of a law intended to provide a healthier
12: environment.  The comments circled the mountain but failed to
13: climb it.  The real question has to do with the fact that
14: transportation is a necessity of modern-day life and the role
15: government plays in supporting that collective need.  But before
16: we can appreciate the 'morality' of something as arcane as
17: gasoline versus alcohol we need to understand the fundamental
18: basis for governments, for without that understanding the
19: question of morality with regard to observing a rule imposed by
20: government can have no foundation.
22: Governments don't form themselves, they are formed by people in
23: order to gain some advantage, usually to enhance their welfare by
24: forming a group large enough to accomplish collectively what they
25: can not achieve on an individual basis, such as defending their
26: homes.  The paradox of government is that the individual must
27: always give up certain personal freedoms in order to enjoy the
28: collective benefits.
30: The sad thing about governments is that in every single case,
31: government formed by the people eventually becomes so large
32: it begins to prey upon the people who created it.  Instead of
33: being the servant of the people, it becomes their adversary.  Our
34: founding fathers recognized this flaw and tried to insure against
35: it by stressing certain 'inalienable' rights, all of which have
36: been abridged by our government whenever it feels threatened.  
38: The fact remains that we can not earn our livings nor enjoy our
39: 'inalienable' rights without access to transportation, it is a
40: collective need.  In recognition of that fact we have used
41: governmental powers to foster transportation, from the earliest
42: canals to the latest space flights.  Public transportation was
43: very much a part of the overall plan, up until the end of World
44: War II.
46: When I was a boy the light-rail system of southern California was
47: one of the finest in the world.  You could travel by streetcar
48: from Riverside, California to Newport Beach, a distance of nearly
49: a hundred miles for about seventy cents and every metropolitan
50: area enjoyed the use of a similar system.  The corruption that
51: lead to the demise of that magnificent rail car systems is a
52: matter of public record and serves as an object lesson for anyone
53: foolish enough to trust an elected official.  Or the morality of
54: large corporations.  Even more chilling is that having
55: successfully raped the southern California light rail system, the
56: same corporations and agencies repeated the process all across
57: the country.  Government and industry acted in concert to destroy
58: an invaluable public asset, replacing it with a few buses and the
59: concept of 'personal' transportation.  Their motive was greed.
60: Public outcry lead to investigations and even a few trials in
61: which corporations and government officials were found guilty of
62: a variety of crimes.  Their typical punishment was a warning, the
63: maximum fine $5,000.  What was good for General Motors was good
64: for America.  And to hell with the Americans.
66: In the nearly two generations since that time the public has been
67: carefully trained to respond to the Pavlovian need for 'personal'
68: transportation, squeezed into a succession of smaller and smaller
69: boxes-on-wheels, brainwashed into believing they are doing the
70: right thing.  Today, the average American driver is firmly
71: convinced that miles-per-gallon is the major factor in the cost
72: of getting from here to there.
74: It's all bullshit.  Very carefully thought-out bullshit.
76: Personal transportation is a luxury, the cost rapidly approaching
77: one dollar per mile.  The major portion of that cost is spent
78: buying your box-on-wheels, financing the money used to buy it,
79: for insurance, licensing fees and other taxes.  Fuel, oil, tires
80: and maintenance makes up only about eight percent of the cost of
81: personal transportation.  Miles per gallon -- and emission
82: standards -- are a bureaucratic joke.
84: Why are the costs so high?  Partly to justify the mega-agencies
85: who have 'rediscovered' the need for public transportation, who
86: can only justify their billion-dollar budgets by comparison with
87: the cost of personal transportation.  ("See?  Three bucks to ride
88: the BART is cheaper than driving your own car!  Are we great or
89: what!")  The unfaithful stewards who have screwed the American
90: public for so many years are haunted by the thought of old
91: Volkswagens that cost only pennies per mile to run and seem to
92: last forever, or by anyone bright enough to keep their car for
93: five or ten years.  Fortunately for them, most Americans aren't
94: very bright and our concept of history involves what we had for
95: breakfast.
97: The dollar-per-mile cost of personal transportation is nothing
98: more than a monstrous scam.  Car manufacturers, banks, insurance
99: companies and the legions of politicians they have bribed are all
100: parties to this scam.  And you are the scam-ee.  (Okay, it wasn't
101: a bribe it was a 'political contribution.'   If you're addicted
102: to a diet of bullshit perhaps calling it chocolate pudding will
103: make it taste better.)
105: Want to guess what happens if you drop out of the dollar-per-mile
106: cycle?  What happens if you keep your vehicle longer than three
107: or four years?  Economic disaster, at least for the current crop
108: of bean-counters.  According to Consumer's Union, people who
109: drove the same car for ten years or more realized a 'hidden'
110: income large enough to buy a new home.  In the 'worst' case their
111: hidden income was large enough to buy a new home and put two kids
112: through college.  This news did not play well in Detroit.  Or
113: Washington.
115: John Muir of "...Compleate Idiot" fame awakened me to the Forever
116: Car theme more than twenty-five years ago.  The intervening
117: quarter-century has seen no change in the personal transportation
118: scam or the fundamental ignorance of our society.  Nor in the
119: arguments such things engender.  Most discussions about the
120: benefits of keeping a car forever are quickly side-tracked by
121: bean-counters who attack the figures, show them to be fallacious
122: in a particular case and plaster that conclusion across the
123: entire argument.  The deeper implications are never discussed and
124: the typical car owner, bombarded with a constant barrage of slick
125: propaganda, chooses the easy way out:  they buy a new car every
126: few years and dive back into the tube.
128: Want cleaner air?  Get rid of the cars.  Emission standards are
129: akin to trying to cure cancer with aspirin.  Want to drive for a
130: penny a mile, own a nice home and put your kids through college?
131: Keep your car forever.
133: Now, did someone mention morality?
135: -Bob