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Plus you didn't even want a car

22 Feb 2023 | News Roundup

As we noted last week, a major weakness in governments’ plans to require a certain and ever-growing share of cars sold to be EVs, other than the bit where they explode, is that people might just not buy them because they don’t really get people where they want to go. So in a classic case of pleading in the alternative, while the green transition means no sacrifice of lifestyle, quite the reverse, more and better jobs and cooler gadgets, just in case it doesn’t and actually spells deprivation and penury, The Economist rushes to assure us that actually people don’t want cars anyway. At least not cool young people. Of whom they found several.

Adah, for instance, is fed up with people asking when she’ll get a driver’s licence. She admits that cars are convenient but “has spent a quarter of her life arguing against the car-centric planning of her city”. And that spans the period from age 12 to age 16 so obviously she’s fixed in her views, as we all were by that age, and will never change our minds, compromise with reality, sell out, and get behind the wheel. Mind you, she:

“admits her life would be easier if she had access to a car—she would spend less time on buses, and could drive to the coast with her friends. But she hates the idea that she should have to. ‘Why in our society is our identity so tied to car use?’ she asks. ‘If I choose to comply and get my driver’s licence it would be like giving in.’”

You go girl! Or, more accurately, don’t go, except on foot. And the voice of youth is heard throughout the land:

“Getting a driving licence was once a nearly universal rite of passage into adulthood. Now it is something that a growing minority of young people either ignore or actively oppose, into their 20s and beyond. That, in turn, is starting to create more support for anti-car policies being passed in cities around the world.”

Except before you know it, you’re 34 and loading kids and hockey gear into a minivan. But we digress.

No. We don’t. As even that item admits:

“On the surface, the love affair with the personal automobile continues unabated into this century. The number of drivers on the world’s roads continues to rise almost everywhere. The distance driven by American motorists hit a new peak last year, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration.”

But these are mere facts, flimsy gossamer before the power of experts who say. Or if you can’t even find them, activists. And sure enough, “Campaigners detect a sea change.” And journalists help them, pointing out that a smaller proportion of young people now have licences than once did.

Yeah, and jobs, we retort. They live with their parents and are failing to launch. Not really a boast though they try to make it sound like one:

“No one is entirely sure why young adults are proving resistant to the charms of owning a set of wheels. The growth of the internet is one obvious possibility – the more you can shop online, or stream films at home, the less need there is to drive into town. One British report, led by Dr Kiron Chatterjee at the University of the West of England, and published in 2018, fingered a rise in insecure or poorly paid jobs, a decline in home ownership, and a tendency to spend longer in education.”

Which would never do. So “Other reasons seem more cultural. One big motivator, at least for the most committed, is worries about climate change.”

Yeah. That’s the ticket. They don’t even want cars. And as Jesse Kline just wrote in the National Post, while taking commendable aim at those who succumb to conspiracy theories on the matter, many cities are making driving as miserable as possible including through “traffic filters” so youth won’t still want cars even if, in fact, they still do.

In any case, as The Economist admits in a separate item, green energy really is more expensive. (And thus the Canada Infrastructure Bank, run by a former McKinsey partner at a bargain-basement $600,000 annual salary, is chucking hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars into the wind to try to build EV charging stations private enterprise won’t touch, with repayment periods as long as 30 years because it’s so lucrative.) But luckily the youth of today spurn materialism so long as they have lots of cool stuff.

So go ahead, Big Green Brother. Ban the wretched things. We will never grow up and want one, so we’re calling on politicians to go ahead and make driving a giant pain in the neck while retaining their own chauffeured limousines. We want the world and we want it now, on foot, man. Even if “Political opposition could put the brakes on the growth of anti-car policies.” What? Dang.

P.S. In Western Standard Cory Morgan argues that the personal automobile was enormously important in empowering ordinary people, including workers and consumers, “and authoritarians now want to take that empowerment away.” Which does also seem to contribute to the enthusiasm for shoving us out of cars we like and onto public transit.

7 comments on “Plus you didn't even want a car”

  1. The impression I get from listening to greens and socialists is that they want people to be crammed into as small a space as possible. Everyone should live in densely packed, high-rise cities and the land in between should either be farmland or primal wilderness, preferably the latter since farming upsets the balance of Nature. Discouraging automobiles is part and parcel of this. Their reasoning seems to come down to control - people should be firmly controlled for their own good, with the unspoken assumption that those doing the controling are one and the same as those advocating it. Da, tovarishch!

  2. The road to serfdom is now clogged with freshly minted Eloi pedestrians leaving behind the evils of industrialization and prosperity.

  3. P.S.: So disappointing to see CDN descend into conspiracy theories about the secret ulterior motives of authoritarians. No, this denigrating of the personal automobile isn't at all about control; it is all about saving the planet. Totally.

  4. My son, living with me with his girl. Both work hard and are saving for their home. They have two cars that they realize they absolutely need. They have two dogs, (yes not happy) they spend more money on the the dogs than I spend on my missus. (No don't ask) They want children. They also may want solar panels on their future house, not to save the world but to save money. Of course buying them means you are paying in advance for your electricity.
    But anyway, my young ones are not "green" by any stretch of the imagination. They waste food in thousand f
    of dollars per year. (No we do not cook for them)

  5. In the UK sadly a lot of young people cannot afford the cost of the driving instructions and all the exams never mind buying and running a vehicle.

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