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The absurd primacy of the automobile in American life

  • nxylas (230 posts)
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    The absurd primacy of the automobile in American life

    From The Atlantic magazine:

    Considering the constant fatalities, rampant pollution, and exorbitant costs of ownership, there is no better word to characterize the car’s dominance than insane.

    The car is the star. That’s been true for well over a century—unrivaled staying power for an industrial-age, pistons-and-brute-force machine in an era so dominated by silicon and software. Cars conquered the daily culture of American life back when top hats and child labor were in vogue, and well ahead of such other innovations as radio, plastic, refrigerators, the electrical grid, and women’s suffrage.

    A big part of why they’ve stuck around is that they are the epitome of convenience. That’s the allure and the promise that’s kept drivers hooked, dating all the way back to the versatile, do-everything Ford Model T. Convenience (some might call it freedom) is not a selling point to be easily dismissed—this trusty conveyance, always there, always ready, on no schedule but its owner’s. Buses can’t do that. Trains can’t do that. Even Uber makes riders wait.

    But convenience, along with American history, culture, rituals, and man-machine affection, hide the true cost and nature of cars. And what is that nature? Simply this: In almost every way imaginable, the car, as it is deployed and used today, is insane.

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    Herman4747, Spanishprof27, xynthee and 4 othersBanned, tk2kewl, KarenS, RufusTFirefly like this

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