Streetwise Professor

December 16, 2021

You’ll Travel the Road to Serfdom on Public Transport–Oh Joy!

Filed under: China,History,Politics — cpirrong @ 6:57 pm

The private automobile has been the greatest liberating invention in history. Before the automobile, individual horizons extended a few miles for most. With the privately-owned car, billions of people have been able to travel where they want when they want. It has made it possible to separate considerably the workplace from the living place. It has expanded the range of stores and restaurants and service suppliers available to people. It has made travel–sometimes at a whim–possible in ways it was not possible before its widespread use.

So of course the world’s “elites” hate the automobile. Because they hate personal freedom.

A couple of data points.

First, consider this from the UK: “Car Ownership Could End in Massive Overhaul of UK Roads.”

A few excerpts (but read the whole thing):

GOVERNMENT transport ministers have backed calls to end private ownership of vehicles in a major overhaul.

She said the country needed to move away from its “20th-century thinking centred around private vehicle ownership”.

She added it was “staggering” almost two-thirds of trips were conducted by lone drivers.

How dare those proles weight the benefits and costs of going where and when they want alone vs. coordinating with others!

The Government has repeatedly stressed the need to switch from a reliance on cars to other forms of transport.

Oh, if the government says so . . . Better not disagree with our betters, given how remarkably competent governments are!

They said this was one of the “biggest opportunities” to switch short car journeys to cycling and walking.

In the rain? In the snow? When it’s 90 degrees? When its 20 degrees? At night? If you are elderly or infirm? If you’ve worked all day and really don’t want to walk 3 fucking miles? If you are going to the grocery store to pick up a week’s groceries for a family of 4?

I could go on.

Supposedly new technology will allow various forms of ride sharing.

Have they heard of Uber? Lyft?

People have always had the option to ride share. They typically choose otherwise. For obvious reasons. They have more options now. And again, they typically choose otherwise.

One wonders if these people actually live in the real world.

They also tout public transport. Which has been the hobby horse of the control freaks since forever, and with few exceptions driven by urban density and legacy investments has been a massive financial black hole. Further, although sitting in traffic is often a bad experience, being tied to public transport and exposed to the crowding, crime and assorted lunatics that it entails, not to mention the lack of flexibility, is quite often far worse than driving bumper-to-bumper. Which is why people choose not to use it, and why it is a financial black hole.

Again, let people choose. But no–that’s not the elite way! We’re too stupid to choose. We choose wrong.

Another data point:

“The Government is Your Next Car Passenger.”

Section 24220 of the [“infrastructure” law], titled Advanced Impaired Driving Technology, directs the secretary of transportation to issue a rule within three years requiring advanced impaired driving technology in all new vehicles, although the rule may be delayed if the technology is not ready for implementation. Automakers have up to three years after the rule is issued to comply.

Now, as written (though vaguely) this technology will be limited to detecting/monitoring “impaired driving.” Potentially laudable. But this is the camel’s nose under the tent. The future possibilities are endless. Speed control: all cars in Europe after 2022 must be fitted with speed limiters. Driving is bad for the climate, right? So driving must be limited directly or indirectly, and governments are hot to do that. One proposal in the US is impose a mileage tax. A system that can monitor if you’re buzzed can certainly count how many miles you drive, sober or drunk, send the results to the IRS or whomever, so that you can be charged accordingly. Or maybe you’ll get a mileage ration, and your friendly government sensor will shut down your vehicle when you’ve reached it.

Again the common theme here is that governments do not like the autonomy that private automobiles provide and are moving to impose, inch by inch, limitations on that autonomy. Leftists have always hated the automobile. They’ve always loved public transport. The former gives you freedom. The latter gives them control.

Guess which one they want, and will do anything to achieve?

And it’s not just automobiles. The elite–including the private jet elite–hates airline travel that lets the proles visit family or have a holiday at a pleasant location. Whether through carbon taxes or carbon credit pricing they will squeeze mass air travel like a python.

The main characteristic of serfdom was that people were tied to the land. Serfs moved or traveled at the sufferance of their lords, who almost never granted it. Restrictions on personal mobility whether by car or plane are not quite so draconian, but they rhyme. You will travel the road to serfdom on public transport.

Right now these restrictions are but specks on the horizon. But that is no reason whatsoever to discount them. They are part of a broader agenda, and the mere existence of that agenda and the conviction–and power–of those who advance it makes these restrictions a very, very real possibility.

Whether you want to call them leftists, or progressives, or globalists, or transnational progressives, etc., the “elites” in and out of government (e.g., the WEF, people like Bill Gates or George Soros or Jeff Bezos or Larry Fink) are central planners at heart. They are like Adam Smith’s Men of System, who believe (a) they can arrange society, and people in society, like pieces on a chessboard, (b) only they are possessed of the special knowledge and intelligence to do that arranging, (c) their arrangements are completely rational, and crucially (d) you are too ignorant and/or stupid and/or selfish to know what is rational for society and that as a result you make irrational choices. So your choices MUST be sharply constrained, if not taken away altogether.

For your own good, you know.

Note: most of these people admire China.

It’s all about control, in other words. And if you have been paying attention–hell, if you’ve been sentient–for the past two years you will realize that the push to control you is omnipresent. COVID–or more exactly, the responses to COVID–should give you all the evidence that you need. Most policies, whether it be lockdowns, or masks, or mandated “vaccinations” of dubious efficacy and largely unknown risk profiles, or vaccine passports, and on and on and on, make little if any sense as health measures: at the very least they are not backed by evidence that even remotely matches the fervor with which they are imposed and advocated.

But they do make perfect sense if you conjecture that the real objective is to expand and cement the control of the “elites” over vast swathes of your life. Everything in the last two years has been about depriving you of choice, and giving control of your life to bureaucrats and politicians and the plutocrats who exercise undue influence over them.

That is why these emerging threats to your personal mobility, and the autonomy that provides, need to be taken deadly seriously. They are just one piece of a far broader assault on liberty and autonomy, and a campaign intended to make you just another brick in the wall.

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  1. Thanks for this article, professor! I wanted to ask you about different topic. Did you read the article about Reconstruction by Helen Andrews in The American Conservative? It has received huge amount of criticism. You are the person with great knowledge of American history and I’d like to know your opinion about this article.

    Comment by mmt — December 17, 2021 @ 3:35 am

  2. It’s not just private motoring. I’m surprised the issue of privacy has not featured more in the resistance.
    Every time you get a swab for a PCR test the swab picks up your DNA as well as any virus.
    So nearly everyone could be on a database somewhere, government or private company makes little difference.
    What will they do with this information? Not that I’m paranoid or nuffink.

    Comment by philip — December 17, 2021 @ 9:23 pm

  3. “Before the automobile, individual horizons extended a few miles for most.” I suspect this argument is overdone, but let that pass. Your central point seems sound to me.

    For nearly 30 years we both got around locally almost entirely by bike – easy in a temperate climate. The car was for transporting the whole family or for visiting the supermarket. But now we are neither of us fit enough to cycle. We need our car.

    When young I tried relying on public transport (bus) to get to work. I gave up after a week and bought a motorbike. Again, easy in a temperate climate.

    My mother was handicapped: her life would have been a misery without a car. In an earlier era I suppose she might have ridden – needing a bit of pasture, ideally, and a bit of meadow, and a stable. And someone to look after the horse.

    Really, all this anti-car zealotry is bonkers.

    Comment by dearieme — December 18, 2021 @ 11:23 am

  4. It sorta worked in the UK once, at least in not too rural areas. When I were a lad we used to go on holiday by train & bus as my dad never learned to drive. The local station was a hive of activity in the 50s with trains to everywhere in the North of England. Now it’s just a sad island platform on the slow line from Manchester to Leeds. Where I live now there is one bus a day to nowhere useful.

    But that would never work today. The appalling thing is that Conservative government ministers would even give it a second thought. The Climate Terror To Come is now very deeply embedded in the consciousness of people who should be a bit better at critical thinking.

    Comment by Tractor Gent — December 18, 2021 @ 3:06 pm

  5. @mmt. No. I wasn’t aware of it. I will track it down, read, and revert.

    Comment by cpirrong — December 20, 2021 @ 1:18 pm

  6. A very different road — one that might ultimately lead to unquenchable freedom:

    Alcubierre drive has gone from an interesting theory (1994) to a distinct possibility (2021). One step at a time.

    Comment by Pat Frank — December 20, 2021 @ 1:33 pm

  7. @cpirrong Thanks! It would be great to know your opinion!

    Comment by mmt — December 20, 2021 @ 3:16 pm

  8. It’ not just autos. Stay with this, you will find it hard to believe. Suppose you lived in a nation which:

    A: Requires each person to get written permission before leaving their country. Violation of this regulation would result in $10,000 fines and up to 1 YEAR in national prison.

    B: ALL travel within 30 miles of major cities requires electronic tagging and tracking by national authorities, 24/7/365. Failure to perform again results in $10,000 fine and year in jail.

    C: Travel within segments of training areas are prohibited. Oh, the fine for that one can be $25,000 and 2 years in national prison.

    D: Prior to taking a trip, one must call and discuss the trip with a proxy of the national govt. Must give the registration number of the transportation, and must obtain ALL relevant information to take the trip before leaving home.

    Where is the North Korean place you ask? Well, right here in good ole USA. If one is a private pilot these days, and wants to use the National Airspace System, all these unnecessary and idiotic violations of privacy exist right now, today. I’ve been a pilot for more than 40 years, and the tracking, tracing, tagging, and general invasion of personal privacy has gotten way out of hand. How do they get away with it? We are a very small, and not very vocal minority. But – make no mistake, it will be the pattern for locking down personal auto transportation in the future. If the courts allow the fedguv to do this to private fliers, there’s nothing out there to stop them from the same thing for ground traffic.

    Comment by doc — December 20, 2021 @ 9:14 pm

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