The work-to-reward ratio has been in steady decline for decades, but may have shifted decisively and perhaps irreversibly since the bottom fell out in 2008. It’s bad enough (but still tolerable) when they take 35 percent of your income, but the remainder is sufficient to provide for the necessities plus some extras. When you can still comfortably indulge occasionally. But what happens when your income drops by a third or more – and they’re still taking 35 percent? Or more? And when the cost of necessities – gas, for example – has doubled during the same time?
All of a sudden, you find you’re working harder and longer for less. You notice there’s not time for much outside of work. Mainly, you’d just like to get some sleep – and now sweat the cost of groceries. Indulgences are a memory. Your stuff has become a burden(rant on that here).
I added it up recently.
I own two trucks (both older, the newest a 2002 model) and five motorcycles (the newest a 2003 model). Even so, I am still paying about $60 a year each to maintain “registration.” That’s $420 annually. Add in yearly state “safety” inspections ($15 each) plus the rancid “personal property” tax my state levies (ranges from $70 per on the low end to $150 on the high end) and I’m easily hemorrhaging $1,000 a year just to maintain the fiction that I “own” my vehicles.
Mind that this does not include insurance – which (legally) I am just as obliged to pay, though my money is filched for the benefit of a private mafia as opposed to the public one. If you include the cost to maintain insurance – and my costs are relatively low because I’m a married, middle-aged guy with a “clean” driving record, who owns older, paid-for vehicles and thus I can still choose a minimum-coverage/liability-only policy – the “cost to own” figure easily doubles.
Now, factor in the cost of gasoline – which has doubled. And motor oil and so on.
Owning – that is, being allowed temporary and conditional use of – a vehicle has become a pricey proposition.
And more than just that – it’s a hassle.
Is it any wonder more and more people – especially young people – are beginning to abandon ship? In researching my pending book about the end of America’s love affair with the car, I found a very interesting statistic: An all-time record high percentage of people in the 18-35 bracket have never had a driver’s license. Many of them, when asked, state that they have no desire to ever get one. They’d rather walk, or bicycle or use public (government) transportation.
Kids approaching 16 in prior times pined for the day when they could get their driver’s license – and their first car – almost as much as they ached to lose their virginity. It was a rite of passage – and much more importantly, it was about fun.
And the reason why is obvious.
They – TPTB – have systematically sucked the fun out of driving with their ridiculous laws and over-the-top punishments (see for example my recent piece about “reckless” driving). Their fees and taxes and mandates and so on have imposed stultifying costs that have made owning a car a 3,200 pound albatross of debt and expense that smarter people are beginning to realize just ain’t worth it.
You’ve probably heard about Agenda 21 – the U.N. blueprint for consolidating the proletariat (that’s us) into urban “cores” where we can be more easily handled. The first critical step toward that end is getting us out of our cars and the best way to do that is to get us to loathe our cars. To make us sick and tired of driving, period. This method is infinitely more effective than passing laws directly forbidding us to to drive. The subtler route is to pass laws telling us that driving at reasonable velocities is “speeding” – and subject us to constant harassment by cops and endless mulcting by insurance mafiosi. Tell us we must wear seatbelts – and that we have to spend 5-10 minutes before every trip (even if it’s just a 5 minute trip to the store down the road) strapping not just our infants but our five-year-olds into Hannibal Lecter-esque “safety” seats . . . that we’ll be taxed by mile, with government (and insurance bed buddies) tracking us all the way… it begins to grind.
Acquiring a license has become torturous – a Byzantine ordeal that, of course, has very little to do with learning how to control a car and a lot to do with learning that one must obey, obey, obey. Teens may not drive after dark, or with other teens in the car. Which pretty much makes driving pointless.
Or rather, not much fun.
Which is exactly the point.
A week ago I wrote about a fellow car journalist who got jail time for the High Crime of driving 93 MPH in a new Camaro ZL1 (see here). What the hell is the point of owning a car like the Camaro ZL1 if you are not allowed to drive it faster than 80 MPH anywhere (in my state) without incurring a possible jail sentence? It’s like being a young, good-looking guy who’s allowed to go to a party with lots of good-looking young girls around… but told he risks huge fines and even a stay at Hotel Graybar if he does more than talk with any of them.
“Frustrating” doesn’t begin to cover it.
It’s brilliant, this indirect death by a thousand cuts. What people like the infamous Cass Sunstein, one of Obama’s string-pullers, call nudging (see here). That is, using negative incentives – offers you can’t refuse – to push the cattle (that’s us) in the desired direction. To get us out of our cars, for instance – and into “public” (government) transportation.
Not by illegalizing cars or driving, per se.
But but making it miserable and exorbitantly expensive to own a car and to drive. After a certain point, most of us will give up our keys voluntarily . . . eagerly.
Throw it in the Woods?
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