Bogus Alternatives

More 1. Public transport offers a number of departure times within a given interval if one isn't ready in time or forgets something and must return, a remedy that doesn't inconvenience a group of friends or colleagues, and if one crashes in public transport, a whole neighbourhood or company isn't disabled by grief. Environmentally car-pooling is less efficient on all counts. If fuel becomes very expensive many who are fetishistically attached to the car and have ideological prejudices against public transport will adopt car pooling as a soft option; but it would quickly lose popularity and will never reduce the number of cars substantially because it's too big an inconvenience. Reserving freeway lanes for multi-occupant cars does little but sell more inflatable dolls.

Car Addiction

More 1. Health actually requires a person to not always be placid and calm; anger stimulates the immune system and arousal and excitement restore other body systems like circulation and nerves. Cars are dangerous and require one be a bit aroused; in people who already have more than sufficient arousal this triggers road rage; but this same stimulus allows those whose physical systems are more frail to keep their wits about them. Without this challenge "to spark them up" some, particularly older ex-drivers, can rapidly deteriorate into senility, accident proneness or inactivity. Those most at risk are the "cool", "reasonable", "under-excitable" people, who used to be called "phlegmatic", some of which have the clinically subnormal arousal levels common among daredevils and thrill-seekers.

More 2. Poetically we can think of a car ban as the demobilization of the armies of industry from their war on nature. In a sense this is literally true; the whole American Economy, not just the Ford factories, became dedicated to mass production and heavy industry for war equipment during World War 1. They sold to ready buyers in France and England and this inflated American ideas of normal economic yield on investment. It was the attempt to keep this economy going after WW1 on belief (credit) alone, buy now pay later schemes, denying its war basis and imagining it was some sanctimonious virtue of the American character, which so drained the US economy of credibility and led to the great crash of October 1929 and the succeeding Great Depression. Its overseas clients had been bankrupted by war, markets had declined, new enterprises had no returns, new investments had no value. Right wing America kept attempting to retain wartime levels of heavy industry even during the depression and the Roosevelt administration wasted resources subsidizing highway construction to keep the car industry viable; but the depression only ended when Hitler rearmed Germany, with lots of help from American automotive interests, and started another war. The car industry, and consumer economy, has remained a war economy, making weapons and selling them for its needs to a succession of despotic third world governments, notably Saudi Arabia, and waging war on natural resources like fish and timber and destroying the natural environment. While most military have learnt the trick of demobilization, private industry and common greed have yet to understand it.

Car Culture

More 1. In American and Australian cities 40% of total city areas are devoted to cars in parking roads or garaging, 50% of new subdivision developments. Many new large buildings like hotels and conference centres have virtually no pedestrian access, only a drive up entrance.

More 2. The greatest beneficiaries, and advocates, of urban sprawl are the real estate industry, who make fortunes and drain the resources of the lower middle class in debts and mortgages by the simple practice of buying paddocks on the urban fringe and selling them as house-plots. This scam has been the quick path to riches and "respectability" since the age of Greek and Roman colonisations more than 2000 years ago, all it requires is a capital sum and the right connections for timely notice of forthcoming land zoning changes, usually these come from within the bureaucrats or politicians of local, city or state governments who control zoning laws. The infrastructure that adds value and makes it profitable is often provided by the local government at public expense, often for a kickback. In the 20thC this occasional windfall has turned into a perpetual cash cow. Car traffic keeps reducing the habitability of inner cities and devouring urban interspace, and the consequent sprawl suburbs yield the real estate milieu a huge dividend. In the USA real estate money and agents are the second most organized and vocal pro-car lobby. They stand to gain much less from the infill development consequent on a car ban, firstly because most car parks are already owned, either privately or by government, and the development value can be calculated in advance, and roadspace is mostly government owned and governments would get the benefit.

More 3. The dangers the car presents are denied by car culture, Hollywood heroes in movies with cars supplied free or with additional payment by car companies for the advertising value can run and gambol anywhere they like in crowded city streets; the cars slide, screech, stop and run into each other if they cross a busy road, none ever is laid up in hospital and rehab centres for months, weeping and whining more pathetically than a baby as they learn how to walk again on prosthetics after having their knees and lower legs shattered. In the movies only guns kill, in reality cars kill more often.

More 4. In intellectual circles the car culture will claim that the car has nothing to do with urban sprawl. This garners a supportive group from the airhead right whose only interest is in adopting opinions which confound logic and common sense in order to be "provocative" or "distinctive" and fashionably "counter-intuitive" to yield social frisson. If land speculators fund them, they claim that urban sprawl is a good thing.

More 5. Motorsport is largely vicarious; most people know they can't, shouldn't or couldn't afford to drive like race drivers. It's aggressive domination of street circuits would need be curtailed but otherwise it could persist merely as another sport whose behaviour is restricted to a dedicated space, without damaging an urban car ban; nobody rides horses in the streets anymore, yet the races persist.

More 6.The global car manufacturing industry has made itself a movable feast, it typically gains influence over regional governments by investment and employment, then uses that influence to pressure for inflated road development and the degradation of public transport while it runs its capital into the ground before moving on to the next city, usually spending about 15-20 years per step. This leaves a path of habituated and capitally committed market cities in their wake. If this has not been a deliberate policy of car companies it's been a remarkably systematic invisible hand. But the market argument is plausible if not convincing that they simply see lower levels of car ownership, hence a larger potential local market, in cities with decent public transport and without a car industry. It's just as likely it is a systematic conspiracy, a more sophisticated descendant of the intentional conspiracy that destroyed America's rail and trolley systems.

More 7. Ex-politicians remain members of public transport users associations (even though they never use it and contributed nothing but hot air to public transport while in office) and use their status to pay their dues for past motor industry political donations by being staunch defenders of the existing abysmal levels of service against both further degradation and any improvement. They write into association newsletters and officers to repress any anti-car tendencies that emerge in these organizations, putting them in their proper place of aspiring only to complement the real people in their cars, particularly at critical moments as billions are being funnelled into new roads.

More 8 - On the political front there are a number of groups, notably British automobile association, who use the sympathies of the existing media hegemony to object and raise email and phone-call storms against any media that mentions anything slightly negative about cars, demanding the media station somehow find them equal time between the car ads, car chase movies and the formula one coverage for them to vent their "oppressed and under- represented" counter opinion.

Car Pollution

More 1 - To claim, as some of the technological optimists and more benighted "green capitalists" do, that any industry can be completely clean and green, i.e. create no pollution, is not only equally absurd but (in physics) logically the identical claim as to have created the perpetual motion machine, to have eliminated all entropy. The latter claim was the favourite delusion and piece of charlatanry of the latter 19th century, just as the former claim was the favourite delusion and fraudulence of the latter 20th. All industry will create its own pollution. This is not to say that efficiency, hence cleanliness, cannot be improved.

Cars and The Law

More 1. Alfred Sloan (President, CEO or Chairman of General Motors 1923-1956) is the greatest villain of this story. With annual style changes, breakable design and saturation advertising his General Motors instituted modern "planned obsolescence" (using a high turnover business model devised for groceries on what should be durable products) and thus launched this newest and most noxious form of consumerism, which now dominates the entire global capitalist economy because governments have been too complicit to ban it, which makes hypocrisy of all capitalist statements about environmental responsibility or solving global warming, for it doubles energy demand, drains the world's resources, wastes everyone's labour, time and life force, by making all remanufacture, retransport and repurchase the same damned thing over and over again. It is now most evident in furniture and electronics; but has also undermined the legitimacy of media copyright with "new format" propagation since the advent of CDs in the 1980s. Thus Sloan was one of the principle architects of our junkheap society with its mountains of waste and pollution, he had a key role in creating throwaway culture that is now, in about its third generation, destroying life on Earth. As part of this cancerous market expansion plan he founded the conspiracy which included most American automobile interests: Firestone Rubber, Standard Oil, Phillips Petroleum and Mack Trucks using the front company "National City Lines" to buy most of the urban tram and trolley car systems across the USA, degrade their service and close them down; thus increasing the demand for the conspirators' busses, cars, tyres and petrol by eliminating alternatives. This continued, even while under investigation, over a period of 30 years. The conspirators were prosecuted by the US Justice Department and eventually convicted, but prosecution took so long because the conspirators were wealthy and protected by politicians, probably by Roosevelt himself, making the penalty for their eventual conviction a trifling fine. This was a small cost as on top of war profits, the strategy of holding every US citizen captive unless they bought a car while all urban public transport was being degraded and even rural customers were being trapped by changes in rural population distribution due to cars, had resulted in GM being the biggest private corporation with the biggest moneys in human history. This in turn had caused the capitalist acolyte classes to imitate and emulate the company and the man, GM set the standards that the entire generation of American capitalism followed; including subversion of public transport. Also the political protection they received educated the conspirators so in their subsequent postwar global campaign to destroy public transport they didn't bother with front companies but went straight to seducing politicians and car culture proselytising of state transport departments.

More 2. RATIONALE OF CARS AS ECONOMIC STIMULANTS - Capitalist economists theorized that the 1930's Depression was caused by wealthy people hoarding money instead of lending it out. This theory is still accepted, even though it is mostly delusional nonsense; it is at best a secondary exacerbating effect and ignores the real economic facts that US affluence had flowed into the country from war manufacture while it stayed out of World War 1 and sold to both sides, and this became a style to which the USA became accustomed, they dedicated their economy to heavy industry, planes, cars, trucks, making things that with war's end there was no market for as the world was flooded with war surplus and all the previous client countries were so mired in debt as to be effectively bankrupt. Rather than the depression being caused by wealth being hoarded; wealth expectations had radically exceeded the total amount that existed. The poverty of the depression was caused by the wantonness and wastage of the 20s, by squandering real wealth speculating on empty stocks, it was just cargo cult behaviour writ large.
In the 1930s the Roosevelt Administration realized cars were are such a large ongoing expense it was thought that the continual reinvestment they required would counter this hoarding mentality and stimulate new economic activity. This is important to note - government started subsiding cars as a macro-economic decision believing it would thereby permanently inflate consumption, bolster an otherwise dying capitalism, stave off socialism, and recover from, and prevent a recurrence of, the Great Depression. Like all neo-liberal economics the theory didn't really work, new wealth to afford things still never appears out of thin air, drops as manna from heaven, serendipitously materializes as Divine Providence nor flows out of perpetual motion machines or financial accounting or trading schemes; simply expecting wealth to grow at a compound interest rate is still a form of insanity. US capitalism didn't recover till it became "the arsenal of Democracy" in WW2 when US "wealth" flowed in from stripping the British Empires reserves. If one is small minded enough one can claim that consumer capitalist growth economics works somewhat, provided one ignores that a) the further enrichment of the rich means the further impoverishment of the poor and there is perennially no market for new production and purchasing power is kept alive by lending money that can never be repaid and b) the inflated production and consumption has to be substantiated from something, which has mostly been from impoverishing the Third World and killing the natural environment. Postwar U.S. wealth has flowed from a series lunges from one windfall or killing to the next, Lend Lease Debts, useless development loans, weapons-purchase loans to Third World despots, weapons sales to oil rich Arab nations, criminal kleptocrats fleeing to the US with their loot, the latest influx being from the entire Eastern European bloc but mainly Russia. Capitalism needed a natural frontier, some source of wealth from outside known totalised areas, and after the World War had totalised the World, honest, brutal, robust capitalism as a system died in 1929, and good riddance; but an economic system to replace it, one appropriate to a totalised world has yet to be devised or instituted.

More 3. It is well known that during World War 2 GM had a huge output of military vehicles, trucks, tanks, armoured cars. It is less well known that they built vehicles for Nazi Germany, via their subsidiary Opel, as also did Ford via Ford-Werke (note 1). Hitler personally intervened to prevent these companies being nationalized by the Nazis, instead he had them managed by "Custodians of Enemy Assets" who saved the profits and paid GM and Ford when the war ended (Profits Uber Alles, note 2). Henry Ford and Howard Sloan liked Hitler for autobahns and military orders during the depression, and IBM's Thomas J. Watson liked him for his stocktaking interest in peoples lives thus requiring a lot of census tabulating machines and early computers; all expressed admiration, sometimes taking awards from Hitler, Ford even shared Hitler's antisemitism. Hitler, in turn liked Ford and Sloan for facilitating his rapid rearmament and liked Watson and IBM for helping him and the Gestapo solve the clerical problems of totalitarian control of a large population, making Jew roundups less expensive and more efficient. The active service these fellow travellers rendered Hitler was by paralysing American and Western government opposition to Nazism and allowing it time to rearm and grow. Hitler and the leaders of American capitalism were bound in a club of mutual admiration between totalitarian capitalists, they shared the ideology of belonging to an inherently privileged authoritarian minority (Industrialists and Managers in America, "Dynamic Minority" in Fascism, "Fuehrers" tr. Leaders, in Nazism) and regarded their fellow humans as property whose only justification of existence was to work at their whim, extend their advantage, increase their wealth or fulfills their will, this was the antipolitical corporate philosophy millions of members of the human community, less evil, less prepared, less wealthy and less equipped, sacrificed their lives to stop from taking over the world; but one increasingly renascent in modern capitalism.
American leaders of industry IBM, GM, GE, Ford etc, built modern America, and it has remained, in spirit and in practice, totalitarian capitalist to this day, evident in its ideological refusal to build a proper welfare state (the rest of the developed world knows State provision is the only effective welfare system, because there is hundreds of years evidence of the failure of private and church welfare); but instead insists on inefficient neo-feudal corporate employer health insurance, retirement pensions, and religious welfare, which plays into the hands of religious terrorists in the USA itself and throughout the world. Their worldview is that of a warmonger and troublemaker, one can rationally believe that they encourage religious terrorism to give themselves a "enemy" to weaponize against. Capitalists inventing a boogeyman isn't a new thing; generally speaking American and British capitalists, particularly the automotive industries who gained most from rearmament, sponsored and protected the rise of European Fascism in the 1920s-30s, becoming blatant in 1936 when they gave the Spanish right wing coup forces free communication facilities and fuel, while blockading the same resources for the elected leftist government, and allowing Germany and Italy, whose troops were already fighting on the fascist side, to police the sham one sided "non-intervention" naval arms blockade along sections of the Spanish coast. The Spanish Civil War was the testing ground for Nazi weapons and military doctrine so in effect Western capitalists started the war that would end their depression doldrums and make their fortunes in arms contracts, yet which they could came out of seeming to be on the right side.

More 4. The interests who were sued in the Tokyo Respiratory Illness case were: Tokyo City Government, the National Government, a public highway corporation and the car manufacturers: Toyota, Mazda, & Mitsubishi Motor Corporations, Nissan, Nissan Diesel Motor Companies, Hino Motors and Isuzu Motors Limited.

More 5. Sir Robert Risson is a minor hero of this story; he stood against the tide of G.M. manipulated destruction of public transport. He'd commanded military engineer units during WW2 and was immune to future shock and the whizbang technobabble and urgings of GM's crewcut MBA pseudo-technocrats whose seductively inflated projections had snowballed all other administrations into dumbfounded compliance; their attempts to blind him with science marvels, spreadsheets and selective statistics didn't mystify or cause him to lose confidence in his own common sense or logic; it appears that no-one else in the world retained the same composure. Risson knew technology's capacities from the hard school of war and importantly, its limitations, he knew the logistical inferiority and expense of bulk road supply over rail. He treated their "special consultant advice" with the disregard it deserved (it was and remains a mish mash of fabricated manipulative half-truths and inflated avaricious nonsense summing to complete bullshit). Risson managed to save Melbourne's trams; but even then it was a major fight and he only succeeded because he was a conservative war hero of some of Australia's key WW2 campaigns, Tobruk, El Alamein and New Guinea, effectively an unimpeachable model of popular respect in a post war country, and this thwarted the scurrilous personal attack mode which was the standard form of argument of his opponents. The method of attack most favoured by the hysterical right is always to use the conjurors trick of misdirection, distract the attention, attack their opponents not on the policies in dispute but on some side issue, their favourites being something sexual, standing on trivial ceremony or inflating operatic affections as with J.E. Hoover and or murderous prosecution of non-adherence to some absolutist fanatical abstraction like nationalism, so long as its object can't speak for itself, as with Joe McCarthy. Criminal regimes have used these methods since time immemorial because the best defence is a good offence when the alternative is trying to defend the indefensible. The car culture case was very little better than the standard exploitative iniquity; possessed most of the standard flaws, it was: mendacious, haughty, venal, avaricious, ignorant, corrupt and inequitably privileged and was covered in the usual way with brutal inflexibility, non explanation or defence of decisions, and prurient sexual innuendo or accusations against critics. All of these means were ineffective with Risson; even then the car lobby repeatedly tried to have him sacked, always citing some other reason than his advocacy of public transport of course. He did not prove amenable to bribes nor publicity bullying, he fought the propaganda war blow for blow with television advertisements in favour of trams. He only argued within the conservative limits of the time, to maintain the trams to limit the need for road expenditure and prevent the city clogging with congestion, as a complement of the car system; nevertheless his fight provides an example of car culture will to destroy public transport. In terms of strategy and policy he exemplifies several points and object lessons for opponents of the car culture to heed: first - how firm and stoic and resolved the stance need be to have any effect; second - to maintain unabashed and unapologetic statement of objective facts in the face of mass hysterics, obfuscation and denial; third - to hold on to trust in the ultimate sense of enough of the community to go with the wisest policy if they are well enough informed; fourth - to appeal to people's intelligence instead of just their insecurities and need to conform or think themselves up with fashion or trend; fifth - to not shy from outright defiance both of venal influence in ostensible public opinion (where one side has been drowned out by corporate wealth controlled broadcast media) and craven political spinelessness; all these are, in my experience, essential characteristics that opponents of the car system need practice in order to be effective.


More 1. Solving Collisions. "Intelligent traffic systems" have "big brother" possibilities as some remove autonomous control from the vehicle to a central power, once effected the central power controls where the car goes, with sinister or bureauchaotic possibilities; better to retain autonomous vehicles, as few and as well driven as possible. In a car ban context the bus system of public transport cuts vehicle numbers to 1/10, HPVs, recumbent cycles, are inherently lighter, slower and less inertial than cars, doing less damage in collision and posing less threat to walkers, the same with limited power motorcycles. The greatest inertia is in the human body riding such appliances so this encourages caution even regarding walkers, minimizing the brutality of mobility culture. Trains and trams are 10 times safer than cars, and safer than buses as autonomy is limited and a system governs traffic. Couriers, carriers and taxi drivers are professional drivers with some other duties, their training could be improved, and their numbers swelled by those who like driving and believe they drive well, their income would improve a bit. Tradespeople are semi professional drivers, and such services might be improved by using telephones to have parts spot delivered and call in further expertise, reducing their vehicle size and return trips.

More 2 This discouragement isn't from explicit fear of cars, not the "quaking fear" as car culture advocates would inevitably try to caricature the idea, it's more a simple increase in stress required by each stroll, watching for cars, every 20 steps in suburbs where driveways cross footpaths, waiting at curbs or lights, taking indirect and squared off routes when ones destination perhaps lies in a close diagonal, this is added on to the age old risks of walking, watching ones step for a irregular surface avoiding bumping ones head on the trees or poles rubbish bins or seats or signs or garbage that overhang or impinge on the path, which millennia of instincts negotiate fairly easily on their own admittedly, but become hazards as one watches for the greater hazard of cars, all culminating in a sense that "walking is a drag" an increasing disinclination to undertake the exercise, which would decline were the activity more pleasant and less stressful.

More 3. Junkfood diets play a role in obesity, but the greatest cause is losing the habit of unfettered exercise in ordinary daily activities, and car traffic is the cause of this. Mobility culture promotes junkfood, the hours per day spent driving could be devoted to slow healthy food preparation.


More 1. There is a quote by a famous American Millionaire, which I read once but have been unable to find again (I'm still searching, any info regarding the quote or person would be welcome). It spells out the three aspects of the American formula for wealth generation, which is something like - to become wealthy you must:

More 2. Despite the smooth tones of Amory Lovins and Natural Capitalism, (none of whose ideas are bad in themselves) achieving zero environmental production impact, replicating the efficiency of billions of years of evolution in the human production process that's only a few thousand years old, isn't going to happen this millennia, most natural capitalism improvements are achieved via changing the distribution and utilization process, which is actually non-capitalist as service industries are labour, not capital, intensive. Capitalism is based on massive production concentration to achieve economies of scale followed by wide, (it prefers global) distribution and, just as importantly for capitalist economies, protracted storage by consumers of infrequently used devices (to prevent their multiple or reuse impairing the new device market,) and the immediate junking of all unused or consumed objects.

More 3. Fast food, disposable razors and tissues, all manner of disposable objects, sometimes have other rationales but essentially are designed for a mobility culture, to be purchased and used on the spot and their packaging thrown away. Consumerist distribution systems also increase consumption, mainly through packaging, the capitalist system usually packages at production, increasing transportation volumes, this can save some product wastage, particularly of food, but at a packaging and transport cost and a restriction on quantities a consumer may purchase.

More 4. Because feminism did have the impact, intentional or not, of splitting the nuclear family into 2 separately consuming units, consumerist dominance partially accounts for feminism's tolerated success when all other reform movements of the latter half of the 20th century, communalism, cooperatives, environmentalism, indigenous rights etc. have faced such trenchant, protracted, legal and violent prejudice and repression, where every issue requires public demonstration and police confrontation to make any progress at all.

More 5. This isolation is supported by a lot of legislative wrinkles, one in Victoria prevents individuals forming formal legally recognized associations for the purpose of leasing residential property, a device that would have saved much trauma in share, what has been called "hippy" households, consequently large housing co-ops don't exist, only "tenants rights" advocacy groups.

More 6. It can be hoped that the "positive, institution building" qualities of the coming generations could formally institute some institutional minimization of consumerist pressure, instead of maximising it as current institutions do, and institutions offering legal recognition and protection for pooled property governance as much as current laws do private property would also help the poor of the world raise their living standards.

More 7. It wouldn't replace the on-line auction houses or trading post newspapers, but trust would be a more calculable quality, and useful junk unfit for market, or in too small quantities to justify market costs, particularly timber, containers, furniture and garden surpluses etc., could be exchanged, saving environment because global capitalism would likely require such goods to be transported from the other end of the world.

Eco-Critical Infrastructure

More 1. There is a cheaper option to creating a whole separate emergency services. This is to rename, re-equip, retrain, reorientate and extend the automatic range of duties of existing defence forces while integrating their command, logistics and operations with civil emergency services. However much military tradition and right wing opinion that aspires exclusively to being elite high performance fighting forces would oppose this. This opinion is pathological and wrong. Constant involvement in meaningful and unpredictable ordinary operations in responding to emergencies, fighting fires, floods, landslides and earthquakes, and escorting famine relief convoys and medical teams in disaster zones, instead of so many stage managed war-games from the last war, would better hone the forces' logistic and deployment capacity, (which is half a battle anyway, and the absence of which in the field is the greatest sap on even the highest and most elitist morale). Also it would improve the military capacity to fight low level guerilla campaigns and manage areas with large distressed or panicked civil and refugee populations, the actual war-zones they will experience in this crowded century, without massacring and losing the confidence of civilians and thus losing the moral and hence the intelligence battle, which is another quarter of the battle. Some exclusively firefight battalions could be retained.

Freedom of the Road

More 1. Christianity's success can be attributed to fortuitous timing, right in the early years of the Pax Romana, this was the first time in human history that a widespread audience could be addressed by non military person coming in peace, prior one would have to come as supplicant or conqueror, and Christian evangelists best made use of this new opportunity for dispersal. Modern western attitudes imagining that freedom of the road is an innate right spring from centuries of most only knowing the past by means of Scripture, reading about people who could take this travel for granted, and consequently taking it as "natural" themselves. But the Christians hadn't done anything to create these opportunities and, with the fall of Rome, it took them a thousand years to learn how to re-establish anything like them.

More 2. It vanished with the fall of Rome, in the European Dark Ages one day a week, market day, was the "market peace" where the kings whole army would patrol the roads and enforce penalties, one wasn't forbidden to travel on other days, but most thought better of it. The Roman roads got overgrown and crumbled to ruins during the dark ages, creating the, outdated even in its time, image we have of ancient travel, walkers, wagons and horseback travellers moving along shady forest tracks; before that, major wagons, intercity horsedrawn buses, and a regular mail service had traversed full scale highways.

More 3. Three forces would close roads to all but the shrewdest negotiating traders who would pay tribute and give service to the predators. The first force would be barbarian bands, of which modern motorcycle gangs and South African carjackers provide an inkling. The second would be towns and locales, civilised in themselves, gating roads at first for security, then as a revenue source by charging tolls, a tendency already evident, especially in the USA, bespeaking the increasing weakness of the US state. This was the primary reason that Roman roads fell into disuse. The third, sometimes in the form of the two previous, would be local warlords who would rob and kidnap travellers for ransom, sale or service, in the military or as slaves, as already happens regularly in the weaker states of the world.

More 4. "Freedom of travel" is literally a product of "civil"ization, of belonging and adhering to the mores of an overriding civil authority, surrendering absolute freedom of action in exchange for this service provided by the collectivized imperial state and, as such, is wholly subordinate to the collective well-being (weal) and wholly within the justified purview of that state to revoke or conditionalise should it impair that weal.

More 5. Even the mythos that most feeds the "freedom of the road" ideology, the red-neck American individualism based on the "wild west", was in fact opened by these social contract operations, safety in numbers was the wagon trains' "freedom" and many found the group circumscriptions of individual action oppressive, some even went off alone providing the Indian's earliest source of supplies and guns, and the wagon trains ultimate security was reliant on regular troops, British, then US, then the US cavalry. Rugged individual autonomy attitudes are dead stupid in the anarchic "real world". Their protestations about their "individual freedoms and rights", have no more moral weight than the tantrums of ignorant spoilt children, and are hardly worth consideration. Modern expressions of the freedom of the road mythos, Jack Kerouac's "On The Road", occurred during the Democrat President Harry Truman's incumbency, where he was systematically increasing the "imperial" power of the US federal government over local authorities, and Kerouac ended his life as a fanatical and reactionary US patriot, drawing down the security of the overriding state power that secured his wanderings from local interference.

Global Dangers

More 1. No large organization can persist without income, the nation state's revenue base is in chronic decline from non-taxpaying transnational economic domination (e.g. Rupert Murdoch & News Limited.

More 2. This was the conclusion of the worst case scenario, the "overshoot and collapse" global model envisioned in the Club of Rome commissioned report, "The Limits to Growth" in 1972. A lot of nitpicking has gone on proclaiming to discredit it; but no alternate model of the same scope has been propounded, and humanity's behaviour has largely followed the dynamics described in it and the model is still substantially valid. The scientific community has recently begun a project of similar scope, a report called Tracking the Ecological Overshoot of the Human Economy (Wakernagle et al) has used more comprehensive data than the Club of Rome team, and concluded that currently humanity is consuming 140% of Earth's sustainable yield. Thus sustainability would require about 30% reduction in resource consumption. They confirm, in dryer language, that the Biosphere is being killed off, that the "overshoot" predicted by Limits to Growth is well and truly underway (since the 1980's). Unlike the limits to growth, they do not try to predict the moment of collapse; but it is the inevitable outcome of such a dynamic (as any company spending more than it earns eventually collapses). They confirm that the rate of overshoot is increasing. I'd suggest that only the most starry-eyed would date the collapse beyond the end of this century.

Landspace Economics

Mobility Culture

Nature of Ban

Fuel Crisis Economics

More 1. OPEC oilfield capital has degraded during two low priced decades and needs hektobillion dollar reinvestment to meet future demand, which will require higher oil prices. If the price is forced down breakdowns and leaking pipelines will also raise prices through market competition for reduced supply. Natural production decline begins at latest during the period 2010-2020. Extracting states will be destabilised by dwindling wealth prospects, nationalist and terrorist forces will ally with more farsighted malcontents in the ruling elites and will start to affect oil supply, pipelines are vulnerable and may be sabotaged, the alternative of using truck transport or imposing US military occupation on the Gulf States is also expensive. In a piece of poetic justice, the newly exploited oilfields, placed as they are at climatically and geographically remote localities such as deep sea oil rigs, will be most disrupted by the climatic disruptions of global warming. Any way one views it, petrol prices or subsidies will rise, and the age of cheap oil is over.

More 2. The real economy, competent personnel and productive capital, is lacking for large-scale alternative energy production, and a rush of investment will create share inflation, as it has through history with railways, oil companies, skyscrapers, and latterly information technology. Such empty speculative investment creates economic instability, possibly a recession, before it yields substantial productive results, which usually flow only to elites because of general impoverishment. Throwing empty money at a problem usually results in most of it being "stolen".

More 3. Esoteric capitalist knowledge that "the web" provides the best option for transport minimization, and that only web maximised companies will survive the fuel crisis, created a smart money capital flow that triggered the mob stampede of dumb money, the 1990's "new economy" excesses. The smart money was in for transport substitution, but bailed out for the boom profits, and will buy back as dumb money swears off technology stocks. (One of the few examples of markets putting resources in better hands.) The smart money movement was synchronous with, and I think triggered by, one event, the change of mind of a conservative resource industry body, the IEA, probably the only source of energy information the rich investors would credit. In 1998 the OECD's International Energy Agency reversed its predictions regarding oil production, from the technological optimist "virtual unlimited supply" to the prediction of an oil production peak (i.e. start to decline) in 2012; predictions for this peak vary, many converging on 2005. Petrol engine car purchase from 1999 onward is increasingly "dumb money".

Transit to Displace Cars

More 1. Some bus-stops could be retained for the purpose of displaying an electronic map showing the current position and direction of all buses in the area, information that could be easily acquired by transmitting a constant signal from the buses to the mobile telephone network and triangulating for position, or transmitting position ascertained via the global positioning system, this eliminates the stress of waiting in unknowing. However given the cost of cabling this system up and running it these resources might be better spent running a few more buses.

More 2. Industrial action isn't all bad, even for consumers who are inconvenienced, no system or company is perfect and festering discontent affects performance and safety. There is a positive corollary between moderate tolerance of strikes and better safety performance, so even disregarding that strikes are impossible to suppress totally and the despotic and expensive measures involved in attempting such action, this safety valve should be maintained, but not allowed to cripple the whole transit system simultaneously. TDC systems need be built to have some strike tolerance, without encouraging them.


More 1. Though cars are dangerous weapons and can be massed, so can anti-vehicle weapons, and a ram raid can't be called civil or non-violent or not warranting forceful suppression, the greatest danger to implementation would be sympathisers within enforcement agencies.

Real Alternatives

More 1. Moving beltways in CBD. One element of urban transport what will probably come into its own this century is the moving walkway. Currently primitive examples of moving beltways are available in the form of escalators and at airports etc., they are slow, monopaced and clunky. However new materials and innovations are such that by the end of the century one would hope to see urban centres dominated by moving beltways for human beings. Science fiction imaginings of beltway transport were, as usual, both right and wrong, they imagine a series of belts beside each other, each faster or slower which one walked onto and off to change ones speed. The accelerating beltway has now been invented, this consists of a series of thin synthetic belts, each progressively faster that the other, abutting each other so finely the transition is imperceptible, and moving a human being or even wheelchair from a slow walking pace up to any speed (probably a maximum of perhaps 20kph to minimize casualties in any sudden stoppage). Of course one could speed this by walking along the belt. Reliability issues would need be checked, a sudden stop at 20KPH can cause one to fall over as badly as if one fell at a full run, but the survival and injury rate would be better than for being hit by a car moving at the same pace and they would be no more unreliable than escalators. These are point to point transit, small distances would still be conventionally walked, belts could link blocks corner to corner, and the sci fi step-on and off fast belt could traverse the whole city central area at the constant pace of the central fast section of the block length belts, an over/under system requiring one step up or down half a body height depending on which axis one was travelling could have the whole central business district grid traversed with a non stop walkable streetscape. These would only be a couple of metres wide, but would require that the central city streetscape be substantially cleared of car traffic; a prospect only feasible in a ban context.

More 2. Recumbent Cycles. With visibility dangers reduced current bicycles would quickly be replaced by recumbent cycles where one is seated much like as one is in a car or pedal-boat with pedals in front of one. These are stabler in load carrying or towing, faster, they convert human energy more efficiently without straining the back in force transfer, so need less exertion and sweat and short commutes don't require showers and a clothing change, they don't give one a sore backside from prolonged riding and one can travel further and more consistently on them. They are wider than upright cycles, as they are usually arranged in tri or quad cycle configuration, but not much wider than the human body. Most current models have some maintenance problem because of front pedal propulsion for rear wheel drive, needing long complex chains; but nothing that couldn't be configured more efficiently given capital and attention, front wheel drive, drive shafts etc.

Cars and Security

More 1. HIT AND RUN. - Forensic psychology has repeatedly affirmed that those who mistreat and kill animals in their youth grow up to be psychopathic violent adults from whose ranks mass murderers emerge. Apart from indicating the tendency the animal killing is a stepping stone of desensitisation. What then are we to make of a way of life that acculturates almost every adult to the routine killing of cats, dogs, possums, reptiles, birds, in fact anything animate at all that tries to cross their path; paths that increasingly dominate most outdoor space in cities. Could it rightfully be called a psychopathic (sick-mind) culture, and is not hit and run pedestrian killing an extension of the indifference to animal deaths, the constant advice that "it is better to kill it than have an accident avoiding it" constitutes an extremely "slippery slope" of moral hazard and hit and run driving is merely the application of the same principle and habit to humans. The culture creates a normalization cloak for psychopathic malevolence and a laid out excuse path for capricious murders and I think it psychopathic. I have often heard drivers saying how "dangerous" pushbikes are; which is a classic psychopathic reversal of blame, the typical self justification as part of a build up to criminal assault or culpably negligent manslaughter; actually the bike is not dangerous; it is dangerous to ride a bike in car traffic but the danger comes from cars.

More 2. THE VOLVO EFFECT. - In the 1970's Swedish carmaker Volvo started building crash survival features into it's cars, many of these involved reinforcing the car's frame so that, instead of collapsing, it would break that of most other cars first, preventing injury to the Volvo driver but usually making the damages and injuries to the other car and driver more serious than they would previously have been. By the 1980's the Volvo had become the car of choice for those who wanted to drive most aggressively and didn't care what damage they did to others. This progression shows how fine a line there is between security and aggression, as anyone who has been in a position to "protect" others and then had them attempt to turn the protection into a weapon for their power and profit will testify. Through time, habit, impunity and desensitisation protection become aggression, security for self becomes violence against others. Volvo drivers got a bad reputation and stigma that endured for about 15 years; but the stigma has largely been forgotten and the ever increasing numbers of SUV's have taken over the mantle of most dangerous vehicles on the road, their popularity showing that the violent doctrine of unilateral security is now normalized and orthodox and the four wheel drive Range-Rover style vehicle is now the main impetus behind the private arms race.

Social Effects

More1. The most equal place for cross street neighbours to meet is in the middle of the road, cross road conversations are too demanding but as the neutral space is uninhabitable interaction must entail one going to the other, thus being outnumbered by members from within the opposite house or incurring a hospitality debt in any sustained interaction. These are stressors on friendship and ultimately there can be no friendship between non-equal's and, moved by inclinations based on the most fundamental and primitive economic insights, people desist. "Middle ground" and "Neutral ground" are essential for social interaction; but in modern cities the middle ground is overrun with cars. The only places outdoor life and neighbourly interaction flourish in modern cities are middle and outer suburban cul de sacs with no through traffic and little local traffic. With narrower roads and less traffic the habitability of the road would not become absolute, but time between interruptions would be increased. Busy wide roads halve the local casual human interaction nodes physically and through the ambient effects of noise reduce them further because people do not go outside if they can help it.

More2. Competition for resources does this in itself, and this can be generated by a variety of conditions from economic depression to population pressure; but inflating the base capital requisites of life exacerbates it.

Space Issues

More 1. Humanity has not yet achieved the sophistication of nature, which can have interspace also as productive space, pastures that can be both crossed and grazed.

Strategy of Ban

More 1. The media campaign has picked up, the hype in advertisements and advertorials is increasing which may indicate some low-level panic. Media personalities would be likely to have no experience at all of opposition to cars, they are typically in upper income brackets and have spent a early career hopping from place to place perhaps with sound or video equipment in journalism, so are ripe to swallow and perpetuate the whole hegemonic line, viewing car sales figures they take that line and interpret many acts of career or social necessity, lacking an established alternative, with the usual phrase that people "love their cars"; some do love their cars of course, some are indifferent to them except to avoid further expense, some loath them.

More 2. Security is the most problematic, increased outdoor life and walking traffic would help, as would the liberation of police resources from averting car traffic carnage; but the desire for security is the motive force of oppression and totalitarianism and a balance would be difficult to maintain. However modern doctrines of mutual security are making some progress in diminishing oppressive security.

More 3. A simple windscreen exemption sticker would of course be forgeable; however the problems for breachers wouldn't end there as finding somewhere to park the car would present a problem in itself, requiring encroachment onto business premises or a flagrant declaration of fraud with residential neighbours aware that the individual has no physical disability. Bogus buses and taxis would eventually be discovered through failure to respond to flag-down. The abuse of genuine trades vehicle privileges would be the most problematic violations, as business cars are abused now; but by penalizing such violations via the trade or business licence would give most tradesmen sufficient pause to prevent substantial abuse. Some of the alternative propositions are, by contrast, ludicrously unpoliceable. Dedicated lanes for multi-occupant cars in California have, according to many apocryphal stories, been cheated by drivers propping a blow up dummy in the passenger seat, fuel or engine specifications require police pull up and inspect every vehicle etc. etc.

Tragedy of the Commons

1. There are many examples. In nature we can take the example of an invasive species such as rabbits in Australia. While there's more grasslands than rabbit colonies the breeding habits of rabbits is rational, they grow and prosper, when the grassland dries up during drought the breeding habits cause a complete destruction of the pasture and most of the rabbits that are born die while the surviving population chews the grass roots and seed, so the pasture never recovers wholly from the drought and the total number of rabbits that the landscape will support drops to a level lower than it would if rabbits bred slower and lived within their means, i.e. it is irrational of the rabbits to breed so fast. In the human sphere we are currently witnessing a number of tragedies of the commons, apart from overpopulation the two most salient at the moment are:
- Overfishing - If wild fish were infinite the logic of putting more and more fishing fleets into the seas (it becoming more common) would yield more and more fish; but fish aren't infinite, so the logic leads to areas being fished out and the total catch declining even as more boats are launched.
- Global Warming - The atmosphere is a commons (an unregulated resource equally accessible to all), which all countries exploit to maximize their separate profit. In a worldview that lacks any real idea of the whole and sees only individual interest posed against other individual interest, it is rational for individual countries to do this; but in terms of the whole it is irrational to do this as it leads to a huge calamity, a general tragedy.

2. It's not really a paradox, most of the behaviours have a negative side even in individual behaviour, e.g. one car in isolation will still generate a death zone and air pollution, but as a proportion of the total environment it will be a small proportion and insignificant compared to the benefit the individual gains from mobility. When masses of cars generate death zones (occupy space) and pollution to the point where they slow each other down or cause motion to stop the proportion of the total environment affected by these negatives is higher, eventually reaching the point where, as a whole, the choice of automobiles as transport mode is irrational and not beneficial.

3. Hardin makes much of the fact that solutions do not have to be perfectly fair and just, private property and "market value" being persistent examples; but they are accepted as better than the alternative chaotic free-for-all. However in affairs of state there need be some movement toward fairness as the least fair states are the least stable, people can find the violent chaotic alternative less undesirable if business as usual is too institutionally iniquitous. So for a solution to environmental problems, that has to last indefinitely for sustainability and a long time at least for ecosystem recovery, a fair and just solution is the most optimal. The fair and just solution is all or nothing, everyone benefits if everyone is restrained and everyone suffers if everyone isn't restrained.

4. Authoritarianism is the nature of the state, all states, even those that call themselves democratic, employ authoritarian mechanisms for the simple reason that a law cannot be enforced any other way. To democratically enforce a law basically requires an armed mass uprising every time an infringement occurs, otherwise, one on one, each person has equal claim to be "the people" with equal right to make and enforce the law, and confusion reigns. Uprisings and interminable debate are far too disruptive of life and eventually no-one bothers. Most human populations have been much more pragmatic in their dealings with the problem of evil, and invariably called for someone to "lay down the law" and coerce the uncooperative into restraint. And thus the authoritarian state always reestablishes itself, one law for all enforced by one empowered (legitimate) agency. It's as much an act of specialization of labour as anything else.

5. Democracy, markets, education and experience in themselves have no capacity to solve a tragedy of the commons:
- Democracies fail because usually a majority perceive the disadvantage that would fall upon them as individuals and don't see how they would benefit from the overall improvement. The inability to counteract tragedy-of-the-commons effects is the principle weakness of all democratic, liberal, laissez-faire, libertarian, egalitarian, consensus, socialist and republican philosophy and the reason human society so regularly relapses from conditions of freedom into authoritarian states, and why people acquiescence or (initially at least) enthusiastically support such relapses.
- Markets fail because supply and demand has two variables prices and incomes; their only control method is to price something higher (e.g. a fine for stealing), which in theory means fewer people will do it; but in practice has meant that a group generates by hook or by crook a higher income that can accommodate the price and still perpetuate the activity. This action increases the environmental and social damage and by increasing the advantage, increases the attraction and ultimate emulative propagation of the behaviour, thus it propagates the problem (this is the case with the first world effect on third world behaviour).
- Education fails to solve the problem because upon leaving childhood the individual must adopt the destructive praxes to obtain social parity and thus have the status to be taken seriously in the society, and the alienation of knowledge from action engenders fatalism and disempowerment.
- Experience fails because the experience of a catastrophe does not immediately point one toward a solution, only experience of an alternative would do that, and the individual alternative, individual restraint, yields a worse individual outcome. In a tragedy of the commons condition, all individuals suffer from the individual choices but an individual is powerless to put the situation right.

6. Democratic idealists, Hardin is an example, call for "mutual restraint, mutually imposed", and if this could be achieved it would work; but historically this is the kind of problem at which democratic process has proven inept, for a majority, involved with their own problems, don't see the need or benefit in advance, and only realize it post-facto of the ban, and usually in a longer time frame than a electoral cycle, and the act is often reversed with change of government and benefits never realized. It poses the central problem of society; the relationship of the individual and the mass; without it any authoritarian measures by the state could be done away with (except in war conditions); but the problem always returns in the form "what can we do when a common behaviour is the main problem?", so a state must act in an authoritarian way or allow the tragedy to unfold, either course threatening its legitimacy on one or another grounds. However, a state that can rouse itself to action when a TOC threatens, and largely restrain itself from heavy handed authoritarianism when no TOC is threatening, is effectively the definition of "good government". However democracies largely fail to act, as in the global warming tragedy, facing this failure liberal theorists try to fob it off with "the people get the government they deserve". In more intelligent societies the threat of regulation, of "use freedom responsibly; or lose it" can bring a tragedy down to manageable levels through the generation of cultural customs and conventions, but these are fragile once their violation proves profitable for an individual, also in non-traditional societies the collective memory of the mass consequence fades and traditional taboos are dismissed as if they were founded only on superstition and their adherents derided as old-fashioned.

7. Some believe the authoritarian state only exists to protect peoples from outside enemies by a standing army; this is simply disproved by reference to ancient Egypt, the most advanced and bureaucratic state of the ancient world evolved surrounded by impassable desert without outside enemies for thousands of years. The problem for Egypt was to regulate its own populous so it lived within its means without destroying its survival source, the produce of the Nile valley. The often abused authority of the state could not have evolved without the tacit acceptance of the people, and this acceptance must have been based on something substantial, not just myths, religion or coercion; humanity is consistently neither that stupid nor that cowardly. The state, despite all its faults, was better than the alternative.

Transport Displacement

More 1. Urban planning techniques could do much by systematically emulating an early industrial revolution technique, proximity optimisation; minimization of large transportation interpenetration of residential areas actually improves peoples' ability to get out and about and interact, because for all that cars improve long range access to nodes of human interaction, vehicular traffic obstructs and makes stressful many of the short range nodes which historically and culturally form the bulk of human interaction, while extending the distances between these with wide roads and parking lots; in a ban context infill development could also improve local access to many facilities, sporting, medical social etc., and public transport more efficiently still provide access to the mass events we currently experience.

Written 2000-01-01 Plympton SA Copyright Justin Moore
Last Revised 2009-07-15 JM


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