Re: Too Many Cars!

It always seems odd to me tht a nation facing high unemplyment 
would pay to subsidize oil. It's a classic case of changing the 
slope of the "isocost curve" on a multi factor analysis graph 
(labor vs capital) What fuels this capital? Fossil fuels, of 
course. What takes jobs away? Automation fuled by oil,
An oversimplifiction, (complete with economist techno-drivel)but 
food for thought I hope 

David Conner
Center for Rural Studies
207 Morrill Hall, UVM
Burlington, VT 05405
(802) 656-3021
FAX: (802) 656-0776

On 21 Feb 1997, BILL DUESING wrote:

> Living on the Earth, February 21, 1997:  Too Many Cars!
> Last week, Connecticut's Governor John Rowland announced his plan to lower
> gasoline taxes, cut back on commuter rail service, and increase the cost of
> riding buses.  Although the gas tax decrease may be popular with folks who care
> only about the bottom line, anyone who looks at the big picture must be
> appalled.  
> Here in Connecticut, gasoline costs a little more than it does in neighboring
> states, but it's still dirt cheap compared to most of the rest of the world.
> It's also dirt cheap compared to the costs of the tax subsidies it requires and
> the environmental and social degradation it produces.  We taxpayers still pay
> more to defend the Persian Gulf than the oil companies spend to buy oil there.
> Gasoline's low, subsidized price here has allowed automobiles to conquer the
> landscape. Elegant old buildings in cities are torn down to make room for even
> more municipal parking lots and garages.  The beautiful, productive farms and
> forests of Connecticut continue to disappear under the resource-greedy,
> expensive suburban sprawl encouraged by automobiles.  
> Think about the negative impacts that I-95 has had on Connecticut's wonderful
> coastal cities, now divided by an endlessly noisy, noxious wall of movement.
> And this is just the local picture. There is a growing concern about how long
> the world's supply of fossil oil will last, especially as global demand keeps
> increasing.  There is little dispute that the politically complex and volatile
> Middle East will control an increasing share of world oil reserves. And there is
> a very real question about how much of the carbon in that oil we can release as
> carbon dioxide from our exhaust pipes before we create dramatic changes in our
> climate.  Indications are that those changes will not be good for human beings.
> The economic losses from weather-related natural disasters in just the first
> half of the 1990s were twice what they were for all of the 1980s. 
> However, there is a more human dimension to this move toward increased reliance
> upon and subsidies for cars and the decreased availability of public
> transportation.  Cars are fairly easy to deal with if you're well-off, mature,
> married and live in the suburbs.  Just buy a new car with the latest in air
> bags, child safety seats and nearly all the comforts of home.  Outside of the
> cities, insurance rates and car taxes are low. In contrast, for many citizens,
> society's dependence on cars is a problem. In addition to the poor and disabled,
> our children and our parents often have great difficulty getting around in an
> increasingly car-dependent society.  
> Over one quarter of a million cars and trucks were made in the U. S. last week-
> slightly more than the week before.  That's about a million new vehicles rolling
> off the assembly line every month. It's hard to imagine needing more cars when
> the roads are already clogged, the automotive dealers have stock which reach as
> far as the eye can see, and car junk yards still cover the land.   
> The proposed gas-tax decrease means a savings of about one penny for every four
> miles driven.  The total cost of owning and operating a car for those four miles
> runs between one and two dollars.  
> A visionary governor might suggest a large increase rather than a decrease in
> the gasoline tax in order to clean up our air and to protect our future.  The
> new revenue could be used to create a Connecticut that is more
> "transportation-friendly" to disadvantaged groups- a place where teenagers can
> get to work and senior citizens can get to stores and doctors using affordable,
> mass transportation.
> A visionary governor might propose more "bicycle-friendly" road and mass-transit
> policies.  He or she could begin to build a light rail system. 
> Personally, we have many effective options for reducing our gasoline expenses.
> We can drive less, carpool more, work and play at home, move closer to work, buy
> a more efficient car, walk or ride a bicycle.  In Europe, people share car
> ownership.
> Are we all so addicted to oil that we're willing to encourage air pollution,
> future climate change and destruction of both cities and the countryside in
> order to save ourselves one penny every four miles? Are times really so tough
> for people in the world's wealthiest country, with the lowest gasoline prices?
> Think about it!
> This is Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
> (C) 1997, Bill Duesing, Solar Farm Education, P.O. Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491