Monday, April 27, 2009

Roadkill Diary: Its MADD

Since WW II, if there is one thing that has represented pure freedom in America, particularly among us male baby-boomers, it is the automobile. No other invention has altered the lifestyle of the typical suburbanite American more than has the car. Not even the telephone.

Once our soldiers began returning home, the demographics of America underwent a sea change. The soldiers began taking jobs and/or attending college, and they also sought to marry and start families. They needed places to live, and home builders were happy to oblige. Many former rural farming areas near many of America's cities soon became covered with residential subdivisions, and once the houses started going up, the uniquely Amurrican suburban sprawl was underway in earnest.

Suburban Americans, now living far away from bus routes and subways, had to be able to get back and forth to work, take the kids to and from school, piano lessons and football practice, and buy groceries on the way home. They also needed to be fed and entertained when out and about. Drive-in theaters and burger joints sprouted up all over, and shopping centers right along with them-all brought about by the increasingly wide availability of the now indispensable automobile.

No object, mechanical or otherwise, has aroused our passions quite like that bolted and welded together collection of stamped steel, leather, chrome, gasoline, and oil, that captivated us in our youth, and caused so many of us to take jobs that robbed us of our evenings and weekends, just so we could scrimp, save, and even borrow to buy our very first one.

Our love affair with personal motorized transportation hit a brief snag in the early 1970s, with the advent of the "oil crisis," but once that had passed, our affair resumed essentially unimpeded.

To be sure, those currently around the age of twenty-five or younger do not share the same passion our middle-aged brains still hold for automobiles, and cars are no-longer quite the status symbol they once were, but they still constitute a huge part of what it means to be American.

Sadly, the automobile has come under assault in recent decades, and has been blamed for just about every ill (real or imagined-mostly imagined) that has befallen mankind, as well as the planet.

Now that the Obama administration has effectively engineered a government takeover of the once mighty General Motors, and apparently has its sights set on troubled Chrysler, the American love affair with the automobile, and all of its variants, may about to be forever altered-and not in a good way from the standpoint of personal freedom.

Obama has nominated Chuck Hurley, the current CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to run the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This is not good news for those of us of the driving enthusiast pursuasion, as Mr. Hurley cannot be considered to be, in any way, a "car guy."

Radley Balko over at has the dirt on this guy:

Hurley's pending appointment is bad news for social drinkers, motorists, and anyone interested in freedom of movement and less hassle on the roadways. Hurley is an anti-alcohol zealot, and a longtime proponent of just about any highway regulation that's sold under the guise of public safety. He's a supporter of primary seat belt laws, which allow police to pull motorists over solely for seat belt infractions. In addition to being a questionable use of law enforcement resources (people who don’t wear seat belts aren’t a threat to anyone other than themselves), primary seat belt laws have been criticized for giving police officers the pretext to engage in racial profiling, or to commit asset forfeiture abuse. Hurley has also supported the proliferation of red light cameras, despite studies showing that they're little more than revenue generators for local government, and may actually cause more accidents than they prevent.
You can read Radley Balko's entire article here.

I don't see this boding well for the future of driving freedom in this nation, as it appears the Obama-led government apparently intends to turn us car enthusiasts into roadkill.

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When liberty is taken away by force it can be restored by force. When it is relinquished voluntarily by default it can never be recovered. -Dorothy Thompson