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car control

every year about 30,000 people die in car crashes in the US, give or take a few thousand, which, when you think about it, is a lot of people. we don’t talk about it much. death by car is part of life here. counting the number of non-fatal injuries, i would bet every single family in the US has been touched by motor vehicle violence. and it is violence. children crushed to death, women decapitated, bodies mangled, people bleeding out on the side of a highway. who hasn’t passed a crash at some point and seen white sheets spread over human-shaped lumps? weirdly tho, we almost never talk about it, even tho in terms of pure numbers, it’s comparable to something we talk about quite a lot in this country, which is gun deaths: ~30,000 people a year in the US, give or take a few thousand. and i would guess that if you count injuries caused by internal combustion engine vehicles, cars spread vastly more misery than guns ever could. this being the case, you might (or i might) wonder why the public safety Americans who rally when a child is shot in a school don’t also rally when a child is run over in a cross walk. take up ol’ Ralph Nader’s banner and go after motor vehicles too. their argument is, i think, based on utility. cars have utility to society, guns pretty much don’t. cars are for transportation and nation-building, guns are for fun and hobbies. i need my car, you don’t need your assault rifle. and i’m on board with this, to an extent. almost no one needs an assault rifle, certainly no civilian. but then it kind of raises the question: ok, if the issue is utility, couldn’t we keep internal combustion vehicles that are useful while also making them safe? on the margin, realistically, why does anyone need a car that can go 120mph, and is there ever really a reasonable situation where a civilian would need to drive that fast? why does your car need to go from 0-60mph in ~5 seconds? why does the same licensing apply to people driving Honda Civics and people driving  Ford F-550 trucks? why do we let children drive what is essentially deadly industrial machinery? and now with GPS and smart everything, why doesn’t every new car come with a governor that limits its speed within school zones and city limits? why not use software to record driving habits and mandate driver education for reckless and aggressive drivers? why aren’t traffic and speed cameras completely ubiquitous? essentially, given the social cost of cars (worse than guns, remember, and i haven’t even started on climate change), why aren’t we clamoring to make cars and the driving thereof as boring as absolutely possible? keep the utility, eliminate all the sexy race car nonsense, make driving a car as thrilling as running a washing machine. to save lives, remember. to save the thousands and thousands of people literally crushed to death every year. why don’t we do that? well i have a theory, and it’s the same reason real gun control will never happen: it would restrict the Right to Buy Cool Shit Even If It Kills People, the most uniquely American Right. enshrined in the 20th century, the Right to Buy Cool Shit Even If It Kills People is stronger than the 2nd Amendment, stronger than any law or civil liability. Under this Right, we’ve grown accustomed to the absolute fucking carnage wrought by the motor vehicle, so it’s no surprise we also appear comfortable with the absolute fucking carnage wrought by the civilian firearm. imho, there is a straight line between the two. now we all have high-capacity glocks for the same reason we all have cars that can go 100mph for no practical reason, which is the feeling of power that comes with exercising one’s Right to Buy Cool Shit Even If It Kills People. this is America baby, this is Capitalism. it’s not that we can’t stop it, it’s that we won’t.