I want to thank Oregonian Randal O’Toole for his persistent, exhaustive research into the benefits brought about by the car, land use policies, and fall out of government policies. O’Toole is the head of the Thoreau Institute and part of the American Dream Coalition. He’s an avid biker, a realist, and NOT a car hata.
Here’s a bullet point paper by the American Dream Coalition (thanks to Matt Wingard for bringing my attention to this).
HOW AUTOMOBILES MADE AMERICA
By Randal O’Toole
The automobile has been widely criticized for its social costs, including accidents, pollution, and changes to urban form. But few of the critics consider the many benefits that the auto has produced for the average American. This new paper from the American Dream Coalition fills that gap, showing that the automobile has played a large or dominant role in:
Increasing personal incomes by seven times;
Increasing personal mobility by six to eight times’
Increasing home ownership rates by nearly 50%
Reducing the cost of consumer goods and increasing the variety of such goods by up to 100 times or more;
Enabling the civil rights and women’s liberation movements;
Making outdoor sports and numerous other recreational and social opportunities available to the average person;
Reforesting 80 million acres of deforested horse pasture lands and converting 40 million acres of other pastures to higher value croplands;
Providing rapid access to fire and other emergency services and swift escape from natural disasters.
Because of these benefits, it is reasonable to call the mass produced automobile the greatest invention in the 230 years since the American republic was founded. Those who seek to reduce the amount of driving people do by imposing disincentives to the auto or allowing traffic congestion to increase risk killing, or at least limiting, the automotive goose that laid the golden egg of American prosperity.