Why We Can’t Drive Faster. . .

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Almost everything about cars has changed over the past 50 years – except for how fast we’re allowed to drive them.

In 1970, you could legally drive 70-75 MPH on most highways – in cars with drum brakes, without ABS and not even one air bag. There was no Lane Keep Assist or Automated Emergency Braking and the headlights were pitiful things by the standards of the 1990s.

But we can’t legally drive faster today in cars with more technology – and capability – than the race cars of 1970.

What then is the point of all the technology?

Yes, I know. Saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. The accident (and fatality) rate has declined as all this stuff got glued to cars. But surely it’s safer to drive a 2018 model year car faster than 1970s speeds? If it isn’t it sure seems like a lot of bother for not much gain.

The problem, of course, isn’t the cars or the technology or even the speed laws. It is the low and declining quality of the average driver, which is a function of the fact that not much is expected of drivers in terms of skill or judgment. They are expected to Follow The Rules, whatever those rules may be and no matter how silly it may be to follow them in a given context. Think, for example, of the drones – and that’s just the right word – who will not budge at red lights that never change; who will remain in place even after multiple cycling of the light which never gives them the green.

Because it’s The Law.

An image of naked savages prostrating themselves before a grimacing totem pole comes to mind.

Drivers have been habituated and browbeaten into a state of near-paralytic deference to Rules (no matter how silly) hypercaution, torpidity and passivity. They are nearsighted old ladies – by the standards of 1970.

It’s ironic.

The single most important saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety system – the driver – has been all-but-outlawed. The result is a kind of perverse tug-of-war between conflicting elements, the conflict engineered by a government which feigns concern over our well-being but which is really interested in control above all.

In 1970, drivers were in full control. They had complete sovereignty over their cars. No one else was responsible for braking and steering and paying attention – so they did all of those things and because they had to do them, the average driver had no choice about learning how. It was not only expected, it was required.

Assuming you wanted to drive.

By way of analogy, it was like when you were a kid and your friends built a tree house way up high. If you wanted to get up there, you had to summon the gumption – and have the physical skill – to haul yourself, hand-over-foot, up the tree trunk using those sections of 2x4s boys used to nail to tree trunks as makeshift stairs. If you didn’t have the gumption or the skills, you stayed on the ground and didn’t get to smoke cigarettes and look at your buddy’s dad’s stolen Penthouse mags. There was no elevator  to take you up the tree in saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety.

And thank god for that.

Today, every possible technological means is deployed to “assist” the driver – meaning, take him out of the equation in favor of machine-minded control of the car. Which is exactly like using an elevator to take a kid halfway up the tree, then suddenly opening the door and expecting him to climb up the rest way without his ever having acquired the skill or the confidence to do it.

It’s worse than that, actually.

For the example to directly parse, the kid would need to be asleep in the elevator and then suddenly shoved out the door and expected to make it up the tree on his own. Probably, he’ll fall down – or just cling to the trunk and cry.

This is just what occurs when distracted/asleep/incompetent drivers are claxoned back to awareness by technology just in time for them to enjoy the wreck. That Uber driver, for instance, whose automated Volvo ran over the pedestrian. He wasn’t driving – nor expected to. The law still nominally requires the driver to drive but that is a relic of 1970, like the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of probable cause-free searches.

In every way but the outright explicit, the driver is encouraged not to drive. To rely on technology. To play with technology.

Anything but drive the car.

Which is why we aren’t allowed to drive faster than we were back in 1970. It wouldn’t be saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe . . . given the Down Syndromian behind-the-wheel capabilities of the typical driver of 2018. Who meatsacks behind the wheel of a car with not only more power but much more braking power and handling prowess than the race car driver of 1970 enjoyed.

Such a waste. On par with celibate supermodels and alcohol-free beer.

If drivers had kept pace with technology – which they would have, absent 50 years of conditioning them not to drive and especially not to become good at driving – the average driver could drive a 2018 model car at 90-100 MPH or even faster more safely than a 1970 driver on the same highway could at 70-75.

But – warning, politically incorrect  term is about to be set loose – retardation is the byword of our times. Technology not only supplants intelligence, it gimps intelligence Ability is  discouraged. The exercise of individual judgment – particularly when it runs counter to the rules is viciously punished.

It’s the reason why record high percentages of teens and young adults don’t even have driver’s licenses – and many say they have no interest in getting one. Understandable. Driving has become meatsacking. There’s not much fun in it.

Like being elevator’d up to the treehouse – and forget the cigs and dirty magazines.

. . .

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  1. I Feel The Safest, Going Fast in My Classic, since you can feel the engine churn and the road at your beck and call. American muscle Cars are where it’s at.

  2. Yes, it comes across as a perverse Monty Python skit. Or maybe a Franz Kafka story would be more accurate. The better solution than dumbing down everyone would be to insist that those too unfit to drive be required to take a Uber. Or a bus. But instead, the control-freak political class decides that if there’s one person that can’t drive 75 with skill, then no one can.

    Alertness is (or should be) a requirement for controlling a motor vehicle on roads. Stupor is an acceptable state for someone that’s riding a bus. There’s no need to reverse these.

    Now, for something completely different…I’m going back to watching the Ministry of Silly Walks.

  3. My son and I continue to work on that 1966 Plymouth Fury in hopes that we can make it a “cruiser”…we can LEGALLY restore it “as is””, and provided everything works, it will pass the “S-a-a-a-a-f-t-e-e” inspection that California requires in order to certify that a junked vehicle is road worthy again. Right now, would be almost a formality. But suppose the next “Gub-Ner” gets a bug up his hiney (which likely would be Gavin Newsome, and any moron that’d let the lovely Kimberly Giulfolye get away, IMO, is an utter dumbass) about letting old “gas guzzlers” or “gross polluters” retake the highways of “Cali(porn)ia”. There are several ways our local “Dummycrats” could make any restored old vehicle into nothing but a “Trailer Queen”…either extend the smog laws to them, which now that ’66 is exempt from, or required S-a-a-a-f-t-e-e-e upgrades like conversion to anti-lock brakes (we are going to change the front drums to disks, but that’s our own assessment as to what further ‘engineering’ we intend to incorporate for OUR purposes)…or…just simply direct the “inspectors” that NO more “old clunkers” will be re-certified for public road and highway use, and defy the various stiffed owners to take legal action.
    I don’t really foresee that this will happen, but if, for example, some bureau-rat with nothing better to do is surfing the Net and finds out FB page, especially once we post the proposed hood ornament with the “Ugly Kid Joe” giving the ‘bird’, she might take umbrage to our ‘attitude’ and decide to (mis) her office to stick it to us. Who can say.

  4. Eric,
    I’ll stay out if the fray on speed limits, but I agree that the driver skill level has seriously declined generationally. I learned to drive on an old ford falcon 3 on the tree, drove an old Dodge manual 3 speed wagon, a 4 speed manual bug for years and had a couple of 5 speed manual Rangers that were great trucks. I have a CDL and learned to drive truck in the classic old Crown open cab fire apparatus that were 5 speed manuals where you had to match RPM to road speed to even get it into gear, whether upshifting or downshifting, otherwise there was the danger of the truck running away downhill. Now, most of the individuals coming into the fire service that I saw, many with college degrees, couldn’t even drive standard shift, and most of the class A fire apparatus are automatics. As a side note, I almost got hit by a Somali driver in an old beater yesterday when he failed to yield at a green light when I was making a right and he made a left. Be careful out there.
    Aloha, Vic

    • Hi Vic,

      This is pravda (truth) in re the general decline in driver ability – which is all the more frustrating for those who can still drive competently. We’re compelled to abide by laws which presume functional retardation behind the wheel.

      It is exactly like being told I can’t run 5 miles on a hot day because it’s not “safe” for the average person to do so.

  5. As a general rule I frown on converting a noun into a verb as a way to avoid recasting a sentence, but, meatsacks, meatsacking? I’m all in.

  6. Everything I see, from speed limits, education, taxes, economics, saaaaaaaaafety, entertainment, regulations is all about power. The few holding all the power over the many who are powerless. There has been a program in place for over a century to keep us poor, keep us stupid and keep us divided. Wealth is power. Knowledge is power. There is power in numbers. Those in control of the levers of power have been very successful at keeping us running on a treadmill for all we’re worth just to make ends meet. They’ve been very good at keeping us in a soporific narcotic stupor and dumbing us down, as individuals and as a culture, to the lowest common denominator. They’ve been very good at keeping us at each other’s throat instead of recognizing the real threat which is the man behind the curtain pulling the levers of power. All this crap, all this technology, everything you see every day is all just part of a grand design to take the power out of your hands and put it in the hands of the man behind the curtain.

    • Well-said, Grizzly… couldn’t have said it better.

      This – the whole business – is not about saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. It is about control, using saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety as the pretext.

  7. Faster!
    It not just a matter of having more cars on the streets. — Also the drivers are getting worse:

    In the good old days the car drivers were a qualified segment of the population. Now practically anyone does drive a car.

    • Hi Virtanen,

      This is true – about drivers having gotten worse. But they will continue to get even worse if they are not allowed to get better. Via the exercise of judgment and the development of skill. Dumbed-down traffic laws operate at cross purposes to that goal!

  8. like all lost liberties, the liberty to drive has been abridged by small steps until it is as it exists today. what started as a fuel economy measure was morphed into the safety wolf. where motorists were simply being wasteful they were were instead being pasted as public hazards. this happened overnight. the way to return the sanity is to correctly classify the speeder as a ‘fuel waster’ and remove the points for being unsafe from the drivers record and eliminate the up-charge in insurance premiums that attends that. you will find that when the cops lose their moral crutch of claiming safety they will have little interest in playing eco-warrior. most of ’em anyway. there will always be some D-bag fraction of them that buys their own hyper zoot-capri radar gun and goes out to protect the women folk.

    i propose that we have issued a ballot proposition on calif that removes the speed limits on the modern freeway and removes the driving record points for others where the charge is not for speeds above 95-100

    • Hi Mike,

      I’ll raise you two!

      First, it really isn’t anyone else’s business how much fuel you use – since you’re the one paying the bill. If someone wishes to drive a 12 MPG truck, fine. On the same principle that we’re still free – for the moment – to buy a triple cheeseburger rather than a chicken breast sandwich – if that is our preference and we’re paying for it.

      Second, why should mere “speeding” – a totally arbitrary construct based on someone else’s estimation of what the average driver can “safely” handle – be subject to any form of punishment at all?

      This sounds crazy, perhaps, at first blush. But think about the principle at issue. It is the idea of either holding people accountable for the objective harm they actually cause (morally unassailable) or punishing them on the basis of an assertion that they might harm someone (a morally dubious proposition and also a dangerous one, because if that becomes the standard for enforcement – for punishment – than we get where we are today, with punishment meted out for all kinds of things that involved no harm to anyone.)

      • prior restraint anyone?

        i drive a 94 f150 as one of the fleet and get 12-14 mpg. i can drive it all over at the speed limit and am DUMPING emissions and BLOWING through gallons. the “wastrel” in a civic at 70 gets the ticket

        • and let’s remember that the modern freeway in LA was engineered for speeds well in excess of the 55 we endured. how many people were bilked of insurance increases simply for doing 65 and how many dollars were extracted as fines and hours wasted in traffic “school”. shame on us for not calling bullshit on that when it was imposed…and now we are seen as malcontents by those unable to call things by their true name

      • “First, it really isn’t anyone else’s business how much fuel you use – since you’re the one paying the bill. If someone wishes to drive a 12 MPG truck, fine. On the same principle that we’re still free – for the moment – to buy a triple cheeseburger rather than a chicken breast sandwich – if that is our preference and we’re paying for it.”

        You got that right. You see, according to Cocteau’s plan… I’m the enemy. Because I like to think, I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech, the freedom of choice. I’m the kind of guy who likes to sit in a greasy spoon and wonder – “Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of BBQ ribs with the side order of gravy fries?” I want high cholesterol. I wanna eat bacon and butter and BUCKETS of cheese, okay? I wanna smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in the non-smoking section. I wanna run through the streets naked with green Jell-O all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might feel the need to, okay, pal? I’ve SEEN the future. Do you know what it is? It’s a 47-year-old virgin sitting around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake, singing “I’m an Oscar Mayer Wiener.” You live up top, you live Cocteau’s way: what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. Your other choice: come down here… and maybe starve to death.

    • Hi Tony,

      I’ll go all the way: There should be no speed limits. Speed advisories are fine. But subjecting people to punishment merely because they drove faster than an arbitrary number posted on a sign – absent any harm caused – seems to me to be unjust on the face of it.

      Most people support this, however – and it’s exactly why we have a system built on criminalization of non-crime; one based on arresting and caging people not for any harm they have caused but because they “might.” In fact, because some rule has not been heeded.

      It’s like being 7 years old again and having to deal with hall monitors.

      • Disagreed: Most people don’t like the criminalization of the arbitrary limit, because they drive that way themselves. The trouble is, they are too weak and selfish to permit for others that which they claim for themselves — that, plus the Dunning-Kruger effect that leads everyone to think he’s better than average, leads to all the caterwauling and cowering over *saaaafety*.

        I’ll just stick this in here: this is all due to the feminization of American politics. With that, and with women in charge, only the worst case scenario are ever considered, never the actual likelihood; safety becomes an end in itself, never something to observe whilst pursuing an actual task. The below link is nearly twelve years old, but worse all the time.

        • Hi Brother John,

          Yes, I’ll buy that. I agree. The saaaaaaaaaaaaafety cult is fundamentally the result of the feminization of society, which is a function of feminine ascendance.

          Men are biologically wired to be risk-takers while women are just as biologically wired to be risk-averse. This is not a hard and fast rule; not all rattlesnakes are aggressive, either.

          But most are.

          • One very simple indication of how abhorrent freedom (and the idea of free markets) is to the female mind is the fact that almost NO women post here – or on any other libertarian website or blog. Heck, just look at LRC; male contributors of content there outnumber females by what must be a ratio of at least 50 to 1. The idea of freedom and the attendant responsibility for consequences that one must take as a result of exercising one’s freedom is repulsive to women and their entitlement mindset.

            • Hi Liberranter,

              Yes. Unfortunately. This is a tough one for us – for Libertarians. In principle, we have to respect each human being’s individuality; their merits as an individual, without faulting them for things which seem to be general failings of their Model Number (so to speak).

              And yet, it is pretty evident that – as you note – the majority of women instinctively incline toward saaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety and security, and are thus vulnerable as pawns for the coercive collectivists to use against us.

              I have been mulling over (for purposes of a book idea I have) what might be done to address this issue without subjecting women – as a class – to any infringements of their rights for the sake of ours.

              • That’s true about women and their driving, although actually, the way they drive is entirely more risky than what many of us do on the highways. I have had more close calls when I have attempted to drive at the posted speed limit than if I ignore the limits and drive where it feels safe and comfortable. In the state I live, I can run 90-100 mph down the interstate and be entirely safe.

                • Hi Swamp,

                  I read somewhere that men have an inherently more developed sense of spatial relationships than women. This accounts for a lot of it. Then factor in that men – in general – are less risk-averse, which you need to be to operate on the edge.

                  Look at motorsports. They powers that be are desperate for “star” female drivers but the best they’ve been able to come up with are mediocre ones like Danica Patrick. They made all kinds of Wow over her, but if she had been a man, probably no one would even know his name.

      • No speed limits on the highway between towns is good.

        I’m not so sure about in town. Do you really want people driving 60mph down residential streets?

        • Hi Tall,

          I realize this is a tough one to accept – at first – but, consider:

          Would most people drive 60 MPH down residential streets? And even if they did, what would be the problem if they did it without harming anyone?

          We return to the either/or.

          Either we accept the idea that punishing people in the absence of harm caused – on the basis of an assertion by someone that harm “might” result – is morally legitimate. In which case, effectively no limits on the controls/punishments which can be imposed, since anyone can assert (and anything “might”) happen.

          Or we accept the possibility of harm but refrain from punishing people unless harm is actually caused.

          It’s an important distinction – and principle.

          In my view, it should be an ironclad requirement for any criminal proceeding that a victim be produced. If no victim can be produced, then there is no crime, by definition.

          Also, there should be no such thing as “infractions” and “violations” – i.e., affronts to statutes. Either a crime has been committed – or not.

          • Well, that truck driver up in Canada apparently thought he was smart enough to run stop signs on rural highways without harming anyone.

            Most of the time it worked out okay ….

            • Hi Tall,

              Yes, but the point is: Punish/hold people accountable for the harms they cause. Not the harms someone thinks they might cause.

              Once you accept the “might” standard, it inevitably degrades from things which have some reasonableness to them – such as not driving 60 through an active school zone – to absurdities such as punishing people for driving 35 through the same zone when school is closed and no kids are around. Etc.

              It’s a question of accepting risk for the sake of liberty or attempting to stamp out all risk and accept being controlled and micromanaged at every turn. Which would you rather?

              As an aside: When people are expected to use judgment and be responsible, they tend to be both of those things. When, on the other hand, they are treated as presumptive imbeciles, they tend to behave exactly that way.

              Was the country a more livable place, with more responsible people, 50 years ago?

              Or today?

              • People 50 years ago were taught to respect others and get along (most of them at least). Now practically everyone is all about ME ME ME ME including the folks who think that everyone else on a crowded highway who are already going a little over the speed limit should just get the hell out of the way so HE can drive even faster.

                We had essentially no rural speed limits in Montana just a few years ago, until some idiot argued that it was “reasonable and prudent” for HIM to drive 120mph on a winding two lane road where slow ag equipment is commonly moved along the highway. So the MT supreme court ruled that we had to have numerical limits or no limits at all. So a good thing got ruined for everyone.

                I dunno – I’m all for freedom in every way possible, but it seems we need some sort of common conventions for sharing public roads?

                • Hi Tall,

                  Americans aren’t taught to yield to faster-moving traffic; to anticipate the need to yield by constantly scanning the rearview to be aware of overtaking traffic before it has to slow because there’s a car in its way. On the German Autobahn, people reflexively do this. It works superbly. Extremely fast-moving traffic (e.g., cars traveling 130-plus) co-exist with traffic moping along at 60.

                  It could work just as well here.

                  But our system continues to dumb down everything for the sake of the least common denominator… which gets more “least” with every passing year on account of that!

                  The core functional problem with enforceable speed limits (as opposed to advisory signs) is that they are necessarily one-size-fits-all and do not take into account the fact that driver ability/skill varies hugely. Why should a driver who can safely (as evidenced by his not wrecking/losing control) operate at X speed be compelled to drive 20 MPH slower – on account of the lack of skill of a Clover?

                  The core moral problem with enforceable speed limits is – as discussed – they arbitrarily punish people for an action that, as such, hasn’t harmed anyone but merely affronted a statute. No one should be punished for not having caused harm, on the basis of an assertion that he “might” have.

                  Last summer, I got a ticket for 74 in a 55. I should have just taken off. A pure bullshit example of revenue collection.

                  I submit the “common convention” you mention be harm caused. Hold the people who cause harm fully responsible for their actions. But it’s very dangerous – to liberty – to go with the lesser standard of might cause harm – in someone’s opinion. Because anyone can have an opinion – and anyone might cause harm doing almost anything – opening the door for Clovers to control/restrict and micromanage everything.

                • I’m not sure what the Autobahn has to do with residential streets, since I already agreed with you about open highways.

                  • Hi Tall,

                    There’s a presumption in your argument that if there aren’t speed limits, most people will drive recklessly. This presumes disregard for their own safety as well as indifference to the safety of others. I submit that most people will drive within their limits out of self-interest as much as concern for the safety of others. A few will behave irresponsibly, of course. But laws never prevented that.

                    Hold the irresponsible fully accountable for their actions when their actions result in harm caused. But don’t punish people who’ve not caused harm on the basis that they drove faster than you’re comfortable with. Because someone else may not be comfortable with the speed you’re comfortable with – and so on. We end up with a Clover State in which people’s feelings and opinions become actionable, the basis for punishing people who’ve harmed no one.

                    I agree with Jefferson who said he’d prefer risk and liberty over safety and tyranny (or words to that effect).

                    PS: I am persuaded by the argument that when you expect people to exercise judgment – as opposed to conditioning them to mindlessly Obey The Law – you get aware, intelligent, judicious and responsible people.

                    • See. eric….you just don’t get it. If murder wasn’t illegal, somebody would chop your head off, like right now, probably.

                      If heroin wasn’t illegal, you’d be a junkie right now.

                      If high flow faucets weren’t illegal you would have done already drowned in the shower.

                      Sheesh. Don’t you even get it?

                    • Amen, Ed!

                      Of course, I don’t object to laws which are moral – which criminalize the deliberate abuse of another person; the destruction or taking by theft or fraud of his property; the use of violence or its threat to victimize a person materially/physically/sexually, etc.

                      But those are the only laws which ought to exist.

                      Rules governing voluntary interactions between private parties are another matter; these can be whatever the parties agree to among themselves. For example, I ought to be able – as the owner of my property – to postulate a rule that visitors not smoke in my home. But I do not force you to come in – an you are free to go at any time.

                      This sort of thing passes over the Clover mind,I realize!

      • There is a thing called the “basic speed law”, which means that you don’t drive faster than the conditions REASONABLY permit. Of course, if “reason” is in the interpretation of your local donut-scarfer…

        • Hi Doug,

          Yup – and “reasonable” when it comes to speed is essentially just one person’s opinion vs. another’s. I think it’s entirely reasonable to drive 75-80 on the secondary highway I drive everyday (posted 55). But the state defines that as “reckless” driving.

          Objectively speaking, how so?

          Especially relative to the person who is half-blind, gimped by arthritis and was a poor driver when they were healthy….. but they’re doing the speeeeeeeeeeeeeed limit. They’re more likely to wreck at 55 than I am at 70… yet I get crucified…..

  9. Other parts of the world (mainly Asia in my experience) have ridiculous speed limits, but are not infested with speed cameras and police interceptors on their freeways, giving people some opportunity to drive at a reasonably high speed. Also, if you do happen to get pulled over, you are not in fear for your life.

    • Morning, Escher!

      In the space of about 25 years, China appears to have become more free in everyday terms than America is today. Both are authoritarian states, of course. But I think the average Chinese is less molested at every turn by a busybody government.

      It is becoming farcical here to speak of “our freedom.” Yet – like the citizens of Oceania in 1984 – the average person still spouts such idiocies. And is sincere. Waves the stupid flag as if it were the shroud of Jesus. That depresses me more than anything else. That they aren’t sullen and resentful, champing at the bit to strike back.

      • Hey Eric / Escher, man its ironic what I grew up being told about commie russia and china is pretty much norm in the west now…. and stories i hear from chinese / russian friends and colleagues…. well they seem to get capitalism properly….

        Re driving…. Asia is in my experience still one of the best places to drive…. despite what they tell you, once you get over the fears drilled into you in the west, you realise how good it is…. you will have crappy cars, unreliable, roads falling apart, shit you cant imagine…. but you can drive how you want, as fast as you want…. when you want….

        • The problem for driving in places like China was always described to me as one of insurance scams and corrupt government employees. Well we call them insurance scams here but there the victim has to pay. So someone does a swoop and squat or similar and the resulting collision results in a demand for payment and the the scammers’ cop friend(s) show up and its pay or else.

      • I said that 10 years ago if current trends persist, that China will at one point be as “free” as the USA and the USA will one day be as free as China. It appears to be getting closer.

        • Hi Swamp,

          I think the average Chinese enjoys more everyday freedom than the average American does. I am pretty sure the average Chinese is free to smoke, eat what he likes and ride his motorcycle without a helmet. China is authoritarian, but it’s still a manly country. America is an effeminate authoritarian country.

  10. Eric, reading your articles makes one realise how many joys we had as kids are no longer there…. like treehouses…. dont think they even do them anymore…. and even if they try here the council tries to pull them down because they are not safe enough… Then nudie mags….. last I heard playboy doesnt even have naked pictures in it anymore because its not PC enough or something……… and now driving….

    • Morning, Nasir!

      Yes. Those of us born in time to experience the world – and the U.S. – before it became analogous to the Evil Enterprise in the alternate universe – remember that better world and it is why we are so depressed by the current one. This means – roughly – everyone older than the oldest Millennials, who were born in the early ’90s. The younger Millennials and everyone since have no memories of a world different than this one. For them, America has always been a “homeland” with a TSA and Neidermeyer-style bullet-headed cops everywhere.

      I re-watched No Country for Old Men the other day. It was set in 1980. Toward the end, the hitman gets into a car wreck and is sitting on the sidewalk with a broken arm. A couple of boys approach him on bikes to see whether he’s ok. They are not wearing helmets for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. And their mom isn’t hovering over them. No minivan taking them to some got-damned over-organized/scripted group activity – buckled in for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. They’re out and about, free – on their own. That’s how it was back then. It was like that for me. Probably for you, too. For anyone who was a kid back then, before it all turned to shit.

      • I think deep down inside more and more people are realising that there something wrong, but are so lost they cant seem put their finger on what…..

        Dont know if you’re a netflix guy, but one of the main charms of one of their biggest hits, Stranger Things is it presents childhood at a time so different from today…. This show seems to be liked by everyone, even those who they least thought it would appeal to…. You cant imagine today kids cycling around town on their own, walking through the woods, along train tracks, tree houses…….

        • Amen, Nasir!

          I lived Stranger Things… well, the parts without the creepy scientists and portals to other dimensions. The kids riding around like that, exploring the woods, etc. – it was me and my friends. That was normal life in the ’70s and ’80s, all gone now.

          We were let loose to roam and play with our friends unsupervised before we were 10. We were told, “be home for supper” – and that was it. It was great being a kid back then!

          But today . . .

          My friends who have kids… it’s so depressing. The kids are miserable, and so are the parents. Neither have lives of their own. The parents go everywhere with the the kids and the kids are never allowed to go anywhere or do anything on their own.

          This is true even of “kids” who are 16-17 years old. They no longer get driver’s licenses and freedom at 16. They can’t drive with their friends, alone, until they are 18! They are still being driven around by their parents at an age we (my generation and yours) would have found suffocating. So they sit home and play computer games.

          I weep for them.

          • Yet the increase in the suicide rate is due to bullying. Bullshit! It is due to boredom and the tedium of the suffocating parents you mention.

            To me, even though I was always picked last, 5 of us playing baseball or football on our vacant lot was fun. Little League and Babe Ruth League…. horrible. And it was primarily the parents who made it that way. My dad and all the others who hoped even a doofus like me would play for ….. (fill in their favorite team).

            Our rule after supper was “Come in when the street lights come on.” Other than that, we were on our own. Today a parent who allows that might have his/her kids taken away.

            We did stuff (lots of stuff) as kids that could have snuffed us out in an instant. Even before we got our driver’s licenses. Doubled down after that. But we had a hell of a ride (and none of us died!) How could that be?

            • Because I don’t have kids nobody wants to pay attention to me on this subject. Even though I went through childhood and remember the experience very well.

              Bullying absolutely plays a role. But it is -one- variable and a variable that is made worse by the adults as you mentioned. The authorities that run the schools and their zero tolerance policies and the like.

              Bullying is a feature of the government school systems and is encouraged and protected. But with the punish all who fight policy the bullied kids are in a place of hopelessness. Can’t fight back without being punished severely. Just sit there and take it. Day after day.

              But that’s been like that since the 1980s. So there are more variables. The kids are drugged for instance. Don’t fit the model behavior of an obedient girl? Well…..

              As to Eric’s point, even leaving a 13 year old home alone is illegal now under Illinois law. Probably a good thing I don’t have kids I would end up in prison by expecting them to go out and play somewhere.

              30ish and younger are aghast by films from the 70s and before where kids are just out and about on their own.

              A big problem today too is that neighborhoods aren’t what they used to be. Kids were usually somewhere that an adult was close by. The adults knew each other.

              • “The adults knew each other.”

                And each had the understanding that they could take whatever steps were necessary to keep us little bastards in line.

                I know I would have been a prime candidate for Ritalin. Instead, essentially every teacher I had encouraged individuality with some pretty wide tolerances. But I understood that a single word, “Alfred!” was enough to tell me I had reached their limit. I suspect nearly every one also was a teacher because he loved the job. And, God help them, they liked kids. They surely didn’t do it for the big salary. (Kind of parallels the cop thing, doesn’t it.)

                I never believed the dropped frog could jump out of boiling water. But I know if you put him in cool water and turn up the heat he won’t realize it until too late. I see it even in my own ’60s vintage kids, and the grandkids are hopelessly “in hot water”.

              • Hi Brent,

                I suppose it’s a good thing I don’t have kids. Because I would be a very dangerous Dad. I would let my kid ride up front, with me – in my lap, even – and turn the steering wheel. Both of us not “buckled up.” I’d let the kid cut the grass at 8 or 9 years old, me not supervising. He could ride his bike without a helmet down to see his friends – except of course his friends would narc him (and me) out and we’d all go to jail that afternoon.


            • Morning, Arylioa!

              Same memories. A few kids played organized team sports; most didn’t. Unlike today when it seems not only is every kid dragooned to some event/game but several. I briefly dated a woman who had a young son and the kid spent literally almost the entirety of each weekend going from one organized game to the next – the mom there the whole time. The kid never had time – or freedom – to just do his own thing. It made my teeth ache.

              We were free as kids. After school, on our own until supper – as you say, until the street lights came on. We hung out with our friends, played pick-up games, rode bikes, did whatever seemed like a good idea. It was completely unscripted and unorganized and if you didn’t want to go down to the pond or play pick-up football you could just ride your bike to wherever you liked.

              I remember riding miles from home on my chopper bike at 10-11 years old. Exploring the world. No helmets for saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety and no parents hovering.

              It was a better, happier world.

          • I often catch myself same thing – hovering over the kids and trying to make everything “safe enough” for them and have to consciously pull myself back. Not so easy to get the wife to do the same.
            Granted that the streets are less safe than when we grew up, but the pendulum doesn’t have to swing to the extreme.
            PS: completely identify with the portrait you painted of growing up in the 70s-80s. We would tramp through tall grass, into the woods, climbed trees, learnt to ride bikes without helmets or knee pads, and did all kinds of “unsafe” things. I remember moving rocks around once and unearthing a nest of scorpions. Parents didn’t bat an eye when I told them – just told me to not go too close to the critters.

          • Stranger things had to be in the 80s – it would just never work today, would be too unimaginable….. I mean imagine a world where parents kids roam around town exploring the world without being picked up by social services and handed over to foster parents. Where kids built fortresses to sit in in the real world instead of just on video games. Imagine a local police officer who genuinely cares about the people of the town over just implementing dictates of the government…. Where kids when they see crazy stuff instead of running away to safe spaces, or putting on social media or reporting to the “authorities” go forward and explore…. Where a kid who did see wacky shit didn’t just get referred to a government mandated and trained shrink who would just pump him full of mind control drugs for the rest of his day……. Now that would be too strange…..

          • Seem like the large majority now for sure. Very sad. My wife is a smart lady and while her friends were all doing the ‘for the kids safety’ crap, I was pushing the other way. Let them get in trouble, let them……….. etc…. She almost always agreed, and the results are very obvious.
            It’s important for the kids to see both sides, or the parents to disagree.

            My kids are now late teens and we are fortunate to have a large property, so it was ‘teaching how to ride dirtbikes’, etc… a lot at my place. Even had many moms say NO WAY. I usually won in the end. It was priceless. The whole ‘quads are safer’ debates were a lot of fun.
            Lately it’s still teaching them, or more like letting them get ‘in trouble’ in the barn. IMO the only way they learn.
            Many of my ‘students’ are now competing on bikes, and this is a whole new avenue to teach reality. Fun. Well hard to do, but fun.

            • BTW, when my boy was around 8-9, I could tell the video game thing was sucking him in. I said hell no, and worked hard at un-sucking him. It worked.

              ps: he is 19 now, and the other day he said “Thank you dad for working so hard at making me who I am, cause I now know I was going the wrong way for sure” Wow!

  11. Eric, we have the same problem in Australia, esp. the big cities. It should take me no more than 30 minutes to get to work in the morning. Often takes 45 minutes. But the drive home is even worse. Longest was 90 minutes. Seem everyone goes clover going home but are anxious to get to work and drive reasonably getting to work. Coming home the opposite. Several times on the FREEWAY, the traffic stops for no reason, especially just before the off ramps. Yes the off ramps. Seems Aussies in their powerful SUVs and motorcars can’t even get off the freeway properly. Then you get past the ramp and it’s open road ahead. Or so you think until you come on the clovers hogging both lanes 20 km below the speed limit. And this is on a freeway that has no scameras, or hidden cops waiting to shoot infringement notices into peoples cars. So this sick phenomenon is not confined to yankeeland. It’s really bad here in Australia, I’ll say even worse. Such powerful vehicles, such slow and sleepy drivers. Probably on their sail fawns looking at the latest insignificant facebook post, whatever that is.

  12. Great article Eric.

    Not only are the drivers absent, but so is any logic or reason to traffic control.

    Why – on God’s green earth – do traffic signals at minor intersections operate 24/7/365?

    Unnecessary wear and tear on brakes and powertrains. Unnecessary fuel consumption. How many hours of otherwise productive time are squandered by drivers (I mean arbitrary rule obeying cattle) waiting on major thoroughfares for exactly nobody to pull out of a minor intersection?

    Since there is no loss of profit to unnecessarily stopping drivers, then this will continue always and everywhere until the end of time.

    Again – “safety” Nazis win. Never mind that you can see ½ mile in every direction. You have to stop for 20 seconds every minute – no matter what.

    It can be depressing. I’ve never been more able to “afford” a new car.

    Here is why I’ll never buy one again:


  13. Sure, out in the middle of Wyoming, legal 80mph feels like sitting still. It wouldn’t really hurt anything to go another 20 mph most of the time. Some do, but at the speed limit I pass more cars than pass me.

    But get down in Colorado, and the RH lane is going maybe fifty because of all the merging traffic, and the LH lane is going 75++++ until everything comes to a screeching halt for some mysterious reason, before starting all over again. Then some guy comes along wanting to drive even faster and blames the long line of people doing 10mph over the speed limit in the left lane. There are simply not enough lanes (only 2 until you get past Longmont) to accommodate the traffic.

    The fuel crisis and 55mph came just a few years after I started driving, so I guess 80mph seems plenty fast enough to me after 20+years of THAT.

    Just a little note: IF you drive our little car 55-65 mph, it gets around 40mpg instead of 28-31. And that’s in the mountains, slowing down and speeding up all the time.

    • Hi Tall!

      HL Mencken said raise the Jolly Roger… my version of that is to run my Kawasaki to 160-plus at least once a week. It gives me the same tingle – almost – that people must have felt 150 years ago when they fed federal “revenoers” to the pigs…

      • That must be pretty tingly on those winding roads of SW Virginny!

        Me, I just go ride my horse on the ranch next door, or go shoot coffee cans out in the coulee behind the house.

    • I lived in California during the early days of the Double Nickel Shuffle…. what a joke. They all were hollering about “wasting fuel”. but the cars I drove ALL got far better fuel ecomony at HIGHER speeds. My Volvos returned 42 mph at a steady 85 mph, all day long all year long. Was forced to do several hundred miles at the double nickel shuffle, it ONLY returned 28 mpg. Had a European Tyle 3 Karmann Ghia, got about 40 at 75 to 80, but slow it down to 55 and it barely returned 30 mpg. Mercedes 220 SE, fitted with the optional but factory Bosch mechanical port fuel injection, the six piston one not the two (two may have worked but I never owned one) would carry me right at 40 miles for every gallon of petrol used, and do that cruising at 80 to 85 miles per hour.too. But creep along at the Double Nickel, and it would only get maybe 29 or 30 miies per gallon.

      Driving the Ghia one time in Northern California, crusing at a stately 70 mph, I got aticket for exceeding the speed limit. I went and talked to the judge.. explained as to how I was doing MY bit to conserve fuel and told him the mileage the thing got at different speeds. He said “yes, I know… my car gets better fuel mileage at 75 than it does at 55. He let the ticket statd, but reduced the fine to sonethng like ten bucks.

      And they call that “justice”, eh?

      • I tried to explain gearing and power/torque curves to clovers numerous times over the past two decades. They don’t get it. Someone told them that aerodynamic drag increases with speed and that’s all they get. The fact that an engine might have better fuel economy above and beyond drag losses due to the speed it is running at they can’t fathom.

        If people were genetically this bad at multivariate problems the saber-tooth tigers and various other creatures would have eaten them all thousands of years ago so it has to be some sort of by-product of social conditioning. Just to survive takes more ability to solve problems than figuring out fuel economy.

  14. The US is a police state now. Americans should be out in the streets with pitchforks and torches, but instead they would rather shut up, cover their ears, and put their heads in the sand.


    • Hi Free,

      Agreed – and about a week from now, they’ll be celebrating their “freedom.” It’s sickening. Like an abused wife defending the guy who beats her.

    • Because it’s just easier to be niiiiiice and think poooositive and accept what we can’t chaaange, we’re soooo much freer than any other nation, just wait and see mister president’ll fix everything and the police won’t shoot us as long as we show them fear, errr kindness/respect

      • Hi Moose,

        Americans have been conditioned to react with disgust when they see the superficialities of Nazism – the swastika, a screeching Fuhrer. But the gist of it, they accept – even cheer.

      • It’s because at some point you have to risk breaking the law and the consequences of open rebellion. Everyone talks a big game here in this forum; but no one is, AFAIK, making a concrete plan to in effect “Shoot Back”!

    • What’s just as weird is that you keeping posting here under different names and linking to that forum. I checked it out. It kind of sucks. I see why you’re promoting it, in hopes of drawing a few sentient beings there to offset the imbeciles you’ve attracted there so far, but I doubt that anything can help a message board that far gone.


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