The Buffalo-Bill-in-a-K-Mart-suit at left is the eminent Randal O’Toole, a “senior policy scholar” specializing in transportation issues at the unintentionally hilarious Cato Institute.
Cato, you might know, is the “think tank” and lobbying group that says its mission “is to increase the understanding of public policies based on the principles of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace,” all while endorsing virtually every corporate capitalist scheme that comes down the pike, despite the blatant, active, intentional, and intractable incompatibility of actually existing capitalism with small government, free markets, individual liberty, and/or peace.
In any event, one such scheme that Cato insists is somehow a product of limited government, free markets, individual liberty, and peace, rather than lavishly orchestrated Big Business insistence and coercion, is the United States’ cars-first transportation order. Just ask Senior Scholar O’Toole, who states that “the automobile…is accessible to almost every family in the nation and provides unparalleled access to better housing, low-cost consumer goods, a choice-driven affordable life, and freedom.”
According to O’Toole, who earned his Senior Scholar in Transportation status at Cato by studying the highly relevant disciplines of forestry and economics, the main problem with our cars-first system is not its radically wasteful, patently unsustainable, war-encouraging energy requirements, but merely traffic congestion (itself allegedly caused by poor public policies rather than the mechanical and spatial logistics of cars-first travel).
The answer to that, our one and only transportation crisis, in the analysis of O’Toole? Shift money away from public transportation projects and into “adaptive cruise control” and eventual perfection of the “completely automated vehicle.” Robot cars, in other words, will save the world.
Among other things, Cato apparently now pays O’Toole to travel the country and implant his melange of fantasies and lies into tea-baggers meeting at suburban country clubs.
If we survive capitalism’s implosion, our grandchildren will want to study this remarkable stuff as evidence of how utterly batshit crazy our society was driven by its ruling class’s self-flattering, reality-denying ideology. It’s entirely as deluded as anything Nero or Montezuma or Louis XIV ever imagined, and far more dangerous, given the stakes involved, which are now planetary in scale.