From lovely Canterbury, England, news trickles out that city council devised plans to ban driving between neighbourhoods. “A radical vision drawn up by council bosses to tackle congestion in Canterbury will see the city split into five separate zones – with residents banned from driving directly between each.” Instead they’ll have to trek out to a “new bypass – essentially a much larger outer ring-road – before re-entering their chosen zone.” Though of course if you just didn’t have a car, well, it wouldn’t be an inconvenience now would it? You’ll own nothing. But you won’t be happy. Indeed the Telegraph warns that this crazy scheme, still in place this spring “will cost the Conservatives the next election, party rebels have warned.” Yes, you read that right, so to speak. It’s not some loony left Labour or Green council. The political “right” has drunk the green Kool-Aid too: “Tory-run Canterbury city council is proposing to stop people driving directly from one area of the city to another from 2045, by creating five zones to ease congestion and urging more people to walk and cycle.”
We note in passing that there was a time when leftists were quite concerned about big government with unchecked powers and pervasive surveillance. Those days have apparently been terminated, as “Motorists will be unable to make simple journeys across the city, and will face fines enforced using number-plate recognition cameras if they break the authority's proposed rules.” And the potential for a radical transformation of how we shabby peasants live is virtually unlimited, especially with so-called conservatives as much a part of the revolt of the elites as their radical political colleagues.
For instance, predictably, “short, direct journeys across the city – whether to supermarkets, retail parks or GP surgeries – will be prohibited, in a bid to encourage residents to walk, cycle or use public transport.” And sure, granny would love to bike to the grocery store or to that long-delayed operation, or jog home with the dwindling sack of victuals she can afford given energy prices. Fortified, probably, with a snack of bug paste.
There are those who think the way to get people to walk instead of drive is to make getting about on foot more convenient. Even some who subscribe to “nudge” theory which is basically social engineering on the moral cheap. But when it turns out that people have pretty much figured out how to walk, and when, and it’s hard to improve on it, what such policies normally come down to is making driving less convenient while the old “ankle express” works the way it always did, so your life just becomes more difficult and you get patronized for it into the bargain.
It’s logical, at least on the theory that because renewable energy is now so cheap, we must price gasoline out of reach and ban natural gas so regular dopes don’t keep using them instead of saving money on solar, wind and geothermal. But if we’re using number-recognition plates on cars, why not add face-recognition cameras and reduce your social score if you don’t walk fast enough, cycle often enough and so on.
How is it possible that instead of vigorous debate between parties on such policies, and on climate change generally, there’s an ill-tempered quarrel brewing between the political establishment and the common people, with the elite gathering at COP conferences and Davos to sample delicacies (and in the case of Canada’s COP27 delegation, drink like fish apparently) while prescribing a diet of worms for the rest of us?
Well, as J. Budziszewski wrote recently:
“most people have not yet caught up with the facts about our new elites. The Occupy Wall Street protesters a decade ago couldn’t have been more oblivious to the state of affairs they thought they were protesting, because Wall Street is already occupied. So are the other centers of power, such as Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. Social revolutionaries aren’t found in fields and factories any more, but in mansions, town houses, and executive suites. You can’t imagine Mao Zedong in a three-piece suit and wearing Prada? Never mind. Just picture Mark Zuckerberg in a Che Guevara tee…. these are the glory days of smugness and self-admiration.”
In a paradox worthy of note, Budziszewski adds that nowadays:
“those who wish to pat themselves on the back no longer have to make a choice. In times gone by, the vain and the proud could either glory in self-serving power and privilege, or parade their supposed courage for upsetting the bad old status quo – never both. But now they are the very same people.”
So if Canterbury really does impose this ban you can bet that, just as John Kerry and Justin Trudeau have kept their private jet travel, city council limousines will be exempt.