Cars are the worst, man. I don’t think there’s a greater symbol of the failure of the American Dream than a car.
They’ve been sold to us as emblematic of freedom: go wherever you want, whenever you want, and have complete control over it. But is being forced to have a car to get places really freeing? What’s freeing about a car? What’s freeing about having to risk an accident every morning, having to get tags renewed, having to pump gas with mercurial prices or having to pay just to be able to leave your car somewhere?
It’s the crystallization of consumerism and waste. We really don’t need cars at all. They’re an inefficient use of resources and an inefficient way to move large masses of people around. The electric cars everyone’s raving about don’t really fix the issue either; we’re still expending a massive amount of resources to manufacture them and using up energy to keep them running.
We actually solved the issue of cars a long time ago. Literally just trains and buses. That’s all anyone really needs. We could build the entire infrastructure of cities around public transport, and you wouldn’t even miss having a car. You could get other stuff done while in transit instead of having to focus on not getting run into by some dude trying to play Tetris on his phone while driving.
But somehow, the automobile industry has managed to essentially monopolize transportation, selling us that cars are wonderful, really. But they cost you to buy them, to maintain them, to use them, to do anything with them. They require you to work to get where you need to go, they call upon everyone to participate in pure waste.
Cities have been ruined by being designed around trying to accommodate large amounts of cars. In doing so, we fail to create a safe place for pedestrians, cyclists, or anyone not in a car to navigate. And it’s just ugly, we put things so far away from each other and there’s just so much empty space for no reason.
We don’t even need to completely eliminate cars to fix this. We just need infrastructure and investment into good public transport nationwide. It’s not like it’s a gigantic change to your way of life either: instead of getting in a car and having to drive yourself somewhere, you can just catch a train or a bus and get to the same place without the stress of being behind the wheel. Being on rails is basically the same as driving in a straight line on the highway anyway, except easier because all you do is sit there.
But instead of doing that, we get something like Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop, a public underground tunnel-transportation system (okay, sounds good) that has people getting into a Tesla. Wait, what? Why? You’ve already built the tunnel dude, just put some rails and a train in there. Literally, just build a subway system.
This is the most brazen example of the failure that is car-based infrastructure. We have the perfect place to have a train, it’s literally been built, you just need the actual train. And instead, we have an automobile manufacturer using it to show off their cars instead.
It’s not just the way we move people, it’s so much of what’s been deeply ingrained into America that’s wasteful. It’s all the empty rundown houses we could be revitalizing, while the wealthy build their third or fourth gigantic McMansion. Furthermore, it’s the utter inaccessibility of quality and affordable healthcare, how many pharmaceutical companies charge for drugs that only cost a few dollars in other countries. It’s our sham of a democracy that puts on a big song-and-dance routine of pitting two parties against each other when they’re both being paid off by the same huge companies and fighting over the same issues they’ve been shouting about since the last century.
The American lifestyle we’ve been sold is inherently unsustainable. We’re wasting resources. We’re wasting time. We’re wasting what’s left of our atmosphere. But for anything to get better, deeply systemic and infrastructural changes have to be made. People that genuinely want America to be a better place to live need to be put in office.