FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Drive, He Said

 

I’ve been walking from my home to work at the University of Vermont for about seven years now, yet everyday I am still somewhat amazed at the number of cars which pass me carrying but one person. I mean, what’s wrong with car-pooling?

In a state that people come to get away from the concretization of their environment, the practice of driving solo ensures that Vermont will someday look like the worst parts of Los Angeles, New Jersey or Maryland unless something is done to address this problem.

Yet, whenever it is suggested that tax monies be used to improve the public transportation systems in the state, screams of protest erupt from virtually every segment of the population. A case in point is a recently de-funded commuter train that is ran about fifteen miles between the small town of Charlotte and Burlington at a proposed construction cost of around $11 million. During its existence and construction, this train was lampooned, lambasted and let to fester for at least six years while the traffic problem on Vermont State Route 7 (which runs parallel to the track) worsened.

Meanwhile, roads are widened and circular highways that would run through fragile wetlands edge closer to approval despite the clear knowledge that such projects destroy Vermont’s greatest attribute–its natural beauty.

Why is it that people who are fleeing the asphalt wastelands to the south of Vermont are repeating the lifestyle patterns of their previous environs? Is there such a lack of consciousness amongst us that we can not see the almost certain results of our desire to make it easier for our ozone-depleting, water polluting vehicles to get from here to there? What is it about public transportation that Americans don’t like? Why are tax dollars earmarked for mass transit projects considered waste while other tax dollars spent on highway construction and maintenance are considered a reasonable price to pay?

Somehow, in the period following World War II, US citizens were convinced that their individuality and freedom were tied inextricably to the possession of one of Detroit’s metal monsters. True freedom, we are told, exists behind the wheel of a motor vehicle and not on a bus, subway train or streetcar with the rest of the teeming masses.

Today, this phenomenon is most obvious (in my mind, anyhow) in the current advertising campaign for Dodge vehicles. Not only are we told that our freedom to be depends on the purchase of an automobile, but if we truly want to take advantage of our freedom and be really different, than we should buy a Dodge vehicle because Dodge is “different.” If we do this, of course, we would be no different than the other several million people who have done the exact same thing, but that part of the message isn’t presented.

Nor is that part of the car ownership process that puts you in debt for the rest of the time you own a car mentioned, nor is there a mention of the amount of environmental damage your car will produce nor the fact that the primary reason the Pentagon exists is to fight to keep control of the world’s oil, just so we can continue down our self-induced path of destruction.

All this being said, my son was quite happy when he finally got his driver’s license and was able to drive. Which means, I guess, that it doesn’t matter who you are, the desire to have a car in our fair country has been translated into a need.

Heck, the great beat inspiration and driver Neal Cassady identified his freedom with those four tires rolling under him and if the appeal of NASCAR isn’t related to the freedom and power one feels when driving fast (even vicariously), what is it related to? Whether or not it’s a real need or a false one is a tough question (Even I wish I owned one occasionally, especially since I’ve lived in Vermont, where even the Greyhounds rarely run.) and one whose answer depends on who and where you are, I suppose. I remain convinced, however, that they’ll probably be the death of us all one way or the other.

RON JACOBS lives in Vermont. He can be reached at:rjacobs@uvm.edu

Keep CounterPunch Alive:
Make a Tax–Deductible Donation Today Online!

home / subscribe / about us / books / archives / search / links / RON JACOBS

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
David Yearsley
Smoke on the Water: Jazz in San Francisco
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail