THE BLOG

Ditch the Automobile Altogether

Apr 17, 2009 | Updated May 25, 2011

The debate over whether to save the American auto industry with yet more billions of taxpayers' money is the wrong one. The discussion should be about how to wean America away from the car altogether.

Instead of sinking billions now and probably more billions later in propping up a dying U.S. industry why not use that money to put laid off autoworkers to work building streetcars in American cities and a high-speed, intercity rail network? Why not take those millions of dollars that create sophisticated commercial propaganda all day on television to induce us to buy a car and put it to work reducing greenhouse gases instead?

Let the price of foreign cars increase without American competition, further reducing the number of cars on the road.

It could mean the eventual death of the dispiriting mall culture and the return of retail business to downtown areas, and with it an exodus from the suburbs back to the city.

Hell, the death of the Big Three might even save Detroit.