Kazman: Automobility vs. Central Planning

“Unfortunately for central planners around the world, there’s nothing worse than a technology that lets people go where they want to, when they want to.”

Below is Sam Kazman’s letter in today’s Wall Street Journal.

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Cheap Gasoline and Human Rights

The notion of $2.50 gasoline would not only be a “veritable policy revolution” domestically (“Newt Is Right About Gas Prices” by Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Business World, March 10), it would be a gutsy display of American exceptionalism for the rest of the world. This is not because Americans are divinely entitled to federally subsidized fuel (they’re not), but because they do have a right to gas prices that aren’t artificially jacked up by government drilling restrictions and taxes.

Americans aren’t the only ones. As booming car ownership in India and China demonstrates, automobility satisfies some pretty basic human needs and desires. Unfortunately for central planners around the world, there’s nothing worse than a technology that lets people go where they want to, when they want to. For an American leader of whatever party to take the lead in shedding gasoline’s sin-product status would be downright revolutionary.

In the early 1800s, as railroads spread across Britain, the Duke of Wellington supposedly sneered that trains would “only encourage the common people to move about needlessly.” Aristocrats could always move about; only when the rest of us were able to do so did this become a so-called problem. A decade ago our aristocrats looked down on SUVs; today they look down on affordable gas. Either way, their attitudes toward mobility are no different than the Duke’s views two centuries ago, and no less backward.

Sam Kazman

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington

4 thoughts on “Kazman: Automobility vs. Central Planning”

  1. People like Priscilla are clueless. Unfortunately there are many of them out there. And they are all hypocrites because even if they don’t own cars, they use plenty of subways, buses, and other forms of “artificial” transportation. So don’t go telling me I can’t own a car if I’m willing to pay for it. My car has given me more freedom than Priscilla can even begin to imagine.

  2. Bless your heart Pricilla, you really have no idea do you?

    Ignoring for a moment the very young, the elderly, and the infirm that would literally be stuck in one spot, just how far have you carried 25 lbs in a hurry? Do you know how much 25 lbs is? Can you carry 25 lbs for a mile in under an hour? 15 lbs? How much can you carry of any weight 25 miles away today?

    If you had even an inkling of productive human powered transportation you might suggest a bicycle or tricycle, but “shoes?” Do you truly only want the strong and fit to be able to get 10 miles away from home in a day’s travel? Talk about being enslaved.

  3. The technology that allows people to go where they want, when they want–without being enslaved to expensive gas, insurance, and car repairs–is SHOES. Re-learning how to use our feet is real liberation.

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