FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Still Unsafe at Any Speed

by

I certainly admire the life and work of Ralph Nader, for whom I’ve proudly voted several times.  Despite his failure to chain himself to the Supreme Court’s front door in November of 2000, I remain a fan.

Nonetheless, I have to question why Mr. Nader now seems to be resting content with his partial (and half-century-old) victories over the forces promoting the ongoing reign of the private automobile.  As Nader’s magnum opus, Unsafe at Any Speed, intimated, this machine, if relied upon for everyday transportation in sufficient numbers, is simply unsafe and unsustainable at any and every speed.

Reading Nader these days, you wouldn’t know this.  Seizing upon the auto-industrial complex’s own favored measure of so-called “automotive safety” — deaths from crashes per mile driven, a measure that disguises the crucial fact that, in recent decades, people have been driving a lot more miles — Nader seems to think that this topic was all but put to bed by his lobbying for creation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  While failing to mention that Mothers (and Others) Against Drunk Driving certainly deserves its own major, independent share of the progress that’s been made against the unfettered reign of profit (i.e, cars) in the area of personal mobility, Nader lets the impressive scale of that progress paper over the equally impressive costs and dangers that still, and always will, inhere in cars-first transportation.

For example, you know those 1.07 deaths per per 100 million miles driven, that rate of which Nader is apparently so proud?  That rate transported 32,675 residents of the United States to their early graves last year.  (By my math, that’s almost a 9/11’s worth of violent deaths happening every month.  And, as Nader might add, many more maimings and injuries than that.)

But, of course, there is a lot more stupidity that attends the practice of trying to rely on hundreds of millions of 95 percent unused, 3,500-pound heaps of complex materials to facilitate everyday locomotion.  Not least of the built-in dangers is the strong likelihood that, loss leaders like “Electric Vehicles” and hybrid cars notwithstanding, fueling such fleets in any conceivable manner is a planetary impossibility.  Will we manage to avoid over-heating our climate, exhausting our most precious fuel supplies, and letting the attending tensions launch World War Three?

The answers there seem far from clear and comfortable to me.  I know why corporate capitalists don’t want us talking about them.  They can’t live without cars-first transportation.  But, with all due respect, what’s up with Ralph Nader here?

More articles by:

Michael Dawson is the Portland, Oregon-based editor of deathbycar.

February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail