Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Time to replace our bumperstickers

Replace this:

With this:

1 comment:

  1. I like the scheme you are purposing better than the proposed bail out, it is quite a bite more clever than what Washington is purposing. However, it is a stop gap that does not address the fundamental issues.

    The issues that need to be addressed are:
    * Cost control in the US automotive industry regarding labor.
    * Cost control in the US automotive industry regarding executive and investor compensation.
    * Long term sustainable transportation solutions. Each person having their own 2000+ pound vehicle is not energy efficient regardless of type of fuel used.

    The first two issues require massive reform to how we go about organizing our labor and financial markets. This will happen over time but is very difficult to understand for most people who are focused the paradigm of quarterly earnings and GDP type figures because these kind of figures do not account for externalities. The long view is required to build fluid, dynamic financial and labor markets. This will be understood over time as countries that adopt the long view paradigm become relatively more successful. It is the difference of strategy versus tactics.

    Sustainable transportation solutions are much easier to conceptualize. It requires moving people and freight in the most energy and cost efficient manner possible. It means that people live closer to where they work and an elimination of urban sprawl. It means that most people have smaller vehicles: smart cars or motorcycles or bikes. And it means a higher availability of affordable transit: more taxis, buses, light rails and trains.

    ACR says: "1 in 10 Americans makes all or part of their income due to the automobile industry."

    I don't know if that is accurate, but if it is, that is an inordinate amount of people to be making their livings off just a slice of the transportation industry. If you add up all the "person miles" associated with automotive transit (1 person mile is 1 person moving 1 mile) and divide it by the total expenditure on automotive related costs you have the number of $ it costs to move 1 person 1 mile in automobiles. If you compare that to all the other forms of transit's per $ cost you will find that automobiles are completely inefficient cost-wise. And that does not even include the negative external consequences of driving (emissions, high rates of fatality, etc.) The one positive external consequence I can think of associated with automobiles is the sense of freedom one gets. Although, it does not compare to the sense of freedom one gets on a motorcycle or by taking taxis in an urban area so you don't have to worry about parking. Or the physical fitness benefits of a bicycle. Or the social benefits of mass transit. As a civilization automobiles are just not the future, sorry to say.

    All of these things require taking the long view which is not popular but it is the mature way of thinking. Sure, we all want new cars but not at the expense of our children's economic future.


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