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Saturday, 2 August 2003

Costs of Car ownership

What they didn't tell you in Drivers Ed

the actual cost of ownership is, of course, exceedingly high. you have to buy gas, pay bridge toll, pay insurance, waste years of your life in transit and stuck in traffic, while making your life shorter breathing the extremely nasty diesel fumes which contain large amounts of particulate matter and dioxin, while your limbs fall asleep and your mind is warped by clear channel radio and bill boards along the ugly and polluting freeways, which run through poor neighborhoods, poisoning the residents and also poisoning the central valley, where the smog eventually blows, causing astronomically high asthma rates and causing toxic pollution to gather on the crops growing there and thus also poison our food supply, whether organically grown or not. Biodiesel is a bit better, but not 100% and meanwhile your car is still using up oil, still made of plastic, still kicking up tiny rubber particles from your tires, still causing gigantic tire disposal problems and lots and lots of really nasty air pollution from tire disposal sites that caught fire in CA three years ago and are still burning and it's extremely likely that you and I both have been transported by at least a few of the tires on fire out there and all of these costs are hidden, but you pay later when your life is shortened and your quality of life is diminished and people you like get cancer and die or get killed when SUVs roll over on them or are hit by pickup trucks while crossing the street and thus they never play bass again. and when outcomes of decisions are statistically predictable, it shoudl not be called an accident when a city delays putting in a traffic light (expensive and paid for by taxes not on gasoline) and then somebody gets killed crossing the street, that's not an accident. When the auto industry knows that making cars that can comfortably sail along at 80 miles and hour will lead to more speeding, more traffic fatalities, and more gas usage and polltuon, causing higher asthma rates and cancer, these deaths and illnesses are not accidents. When gigantic speeding cars require huige amounts of fuel and we launch agressive wars in oil-producing countries and soldiers and civillians get killed, this is not an accident. When people see this and become angry and start placing bombs around where we live and work, this is not an accident, but a direct and predictable consequence of the decisions we make and our society makes and part of the cost of owning a motor vehicle.

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