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The Absurd Primacy of the Automobile in American Life

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Considering the constant fatalities, rampant pollution, and exorbitant costs of ownership, there is no better word to characterize the car’s dominance than insane.

Edward Humes, the Atlantic 

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http://evergreenedigest.org/sites/evergreenedigest.org/files/Edward%20Humes%20%7C%20Door%20to%20Door%20jacket%20illus.jpgApr 12, 2017 | The car is the star. That’s been true for well over a century—unrivaled staying power for an industrial-age, pistons-and-brute-force machine in an era so dominated by silicon and software. Cars conquered the daily culture of American life back when top hats and child labor were in vogue, and well ahead of such other innovations as radio, plastic, refrigerators, the electrical grid, and women’s suffrage.

A big part of why they’ve stuck around is that they are the epitome of convenience. That’s the allure and the promise that’s kept drivers hooked, dating all the way back to the versatile, do-everything Ford Model T. Convenience (some might call it freedom) is not a selling point to be easily dismissed—this trusty conveyance, always there, always ready, on no schedule but its owner’s. Buses can’t do that. Trains can’t do that. Even Uber makes riders wait.

Edward Humes is a writer based in Seal Beach, California. He is the author of Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation.

 

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