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Monday, April 13, 2009

You Say Car Payment, I Say Tax

Among the complete and utter failures of former President George Bush was his concept of promoting a “society of ownership,” whatever that means. I know what he and the neo-conservative imbeciles who came up with the idea mean by it. It is simply another way for them to discredit the role government can play in our lives. One thing those people always seem to forget is that in a democracy we, the people, are the government. Of course, this wasn’t very true in during the Bush years as he ran roughshod over the American people. I suppose that private ownership is a good thing for certain necessities, but to carry the idea of privatization to the neo-con extreme is just silly—either silly or an outright lie propagated against a lot of very gullible U.S. citizens.

There are many features of a well-run society that must be purchased collectively. I would argue that health care is one of those things. I defy anyone to point to a society with a functioning health care system that is private. Look at the list of the world’s 25 top countries with regards to health care and they are all state-sponsored. Today I want to talk about public transportation. What most Americans don’t seem to understand is that much of the industrialized world has really good public transportation. I wonder how much the average person spends on their private automobile. Whenever people complain about high taxes in the United States I wonder if they consider their car to be a tax? If you have no other choice but to drive a car to effect all of your daily chores, then your car isn’t an option—just like taxes. I don’t have a car, I don’t want one, and—more importantly—I don’t really need one.

Just this weekend I visited some friends in the countryside south of Valencia. I was able to take the metro from a station that is about a 15 minute walking distance from my house for a 37 minute ride to a station near where they live. The ride cost me about 1€. For an individual, there is no way that you can beat public transportation when it comes to price, and for convenience driving isn’t even close. Valencia is currently expanding its metro system to include the port area in the network. The metro also services the surrounding areas of the city, like this area south of town. Valencia also has a great network of bike paths in and around the city. How many American cities can say that?

Conservatives in America would have you believe that things like good health care for everyone, public transportation, and bike trails are all part of some crazy pipe dream invented by left-wing hippies. I live in that pipe dream, it’s called Europe. I would just like for conservatives to point to the paradise of free enterprise and ownership that they would like to build. Perhaps you can find it in an Ayn Rand novel but I can’t stomach her writing so I could never live there.

For those of you who haven’t heard, the latest craze in conservative circles is to declare yourself a libertarian. After all, just about all of the high conservative ideas have proved to be failures, so why not step away and call yourself something else? Evidently, Ayn Rand novels have been flying off the shelves as desperate conservatives look for guidance in the pages of novels written for well-to-do 17 year old East coast girls. I read her stuff when I was about 17 and it made me want to puke. In the world of her novels it seems that you are either some sort of creative genius or you are just rolling little balls of shit. I pretty much knew when I read her stuff that I was no creative genius which left option number 2. Fortunately for me there was option number 3 which was to dismiss her novels as completely stupid which flattered people who thought they could file themselves under option number 1. It’s incredible to me that adults hold up her views as being some sort of valid option for humanity.