Recent evidence that automobile use is declining in America and that some Americans are making significant -- and in some cases not readily reversible -- changes in their lives because of escalating gas prices should be worrisome signs for those who love liberty.
No device is more in keeping with the American spirit than the automobile. Privately owned cars and trucks allow us to go where we want, when want. They are freedom machines.
Still, some liberals would like to use government to force Americans out of their cars.
They believe in socialized transportation, not free-market transportation.
In a free-market transportation system, a person purchases his own vehicle with his own money, buys his own gas with his own money and can drive his vehicle anywhere there is a road -- and, if he has the right kind of vehicle, some places where there are no roads.
Admittedly, the roads generally are constructed by government, albeit with funds extracted from the earnings and gasoline purchases of drivers.
In a socialist transportation system, the government takes the taxpayers' money and purchases vehicles -- often buses or trains -- for itself or a government-funded agency. Where and when these vehicles go is determined by the government.
In a free-market transportation system, a person travels solely in the company of people with whom he has freely chosen to travel. In a socialist transportation system, a person may be compelled to travel in the company of people he does not know and who could even be a danger to him.
I have no doubt that most Americans who love the freedom of movement they derive from owning and operating a car or truck have recognized efforts by various levels of government to induce them to stop, or limit, their driving and cajole or compel them to leave the free-market transportation system and submit to the socialist transportation system.
Methods governments can use to do this include placing constraints on parking availability, forbidding taxpayers from using certain lanes of the highway (or even certain highways) unless they agree to carpool or ride a bus, and imposing excessive gas taxes or road tolls and using the excess revenue to subsidize money-losing public transit.
Artificially suppressing the oil supply is the most significant method government is using today to move people from a free market transportation system into a socialized transportation system.
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