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ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

11-01-2007

Laurence Inman on the four-wheeled killers we take for granted - even tough they're slaughtering our kids and destroying the planet. Hmmm, I think I'll walk,

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.

No doubt there were plenty of disgruntled murmurings at the time about damage to the economy, loss of jobs and infringement of freedom of choice, especially from the people who made huge fortunes from slavery, safe and comfortable in their big country houses.

Still, all that's over and the spineless ninny we have as a Prime Minister has apologised for it all.

Society moves on. What was once thought acceptable, (burning people at the stake, for instance, because they were Catholics) is now unthinkable.

Only a hundred years ago you would have been laughed at if you had suggested that women should be allowed to vote.

All times have their evils and follies, things which later generations look back upon and think: How could they possibly have tolerated that ?What will people in the future see as ours ?

The answer is obvious: cars.

Apart from the noise and pollution and astronomical expense involved in accommodating them, one statistic stands out - those who drive them kill ten people a day.

We like to disown our responsibility by calling these killings accidents, just as we prefer to think of ‘dangerous roads,' ‘accident black-spots' and ‘fast stretches.' As if it's the road's fault!

There is no such thing as a road accident. They are always due to inattention or blind stupidity.

Look at that figure again: ten people a day. That's a jumbo jet-load every month. If they were dying in planes there'd be groundings, sackings, enquiries galore. And hidden in this figure is another, even more sinister one.

Every year 100 children are slaughtered by idiots in cars while they are walking on the pavement! That's right. Every three of four days a moron murders a child.

Imagine how much time and effort would be spent trying to catch a serial-killer who was doing that. And what's our reaction ? We just shrug your shoulders and say: ‘It's one of those things. What can you do ?'

We have constructed a society around the idea that we should all have free access to car transport and we are now finding that it can't work.

We can't keep building more and more roads to accommodate more and more cars, just as a football club can't keep issuing more and more season tickets to punters if there areno more seats available.

Everyone knows this, but we do nothing. Most shameful of all, our ‘leaders' know this and refuse to act. Blair admitted as much only yesterday, saying that no politician would ever demand limitations on air or road travel. And still he grinned!

He knows that Murdoch and the editor of the Daily Mail won't let anyone do what's required. He knows that voters will always say: Yes, I know we're ruining everything, but I want the freedom to drive over to see my Mom every week. I know it's only a mile and I could cycle, but choice is more important.

Well, we've chosen, and once again, we've chosen wrong.

In the long history of Evolution, the most successful species are those which have adapted to what the environment has thrown at them. The problem-solvers will inherit the earth.

In the relatively tiny moment we've been on the earth we have managed to create all our own problems and we are not coping well. We can't even cope with our own stupidity.

We can't co-operate, even to deal with this fairly straightforward difficulty. ‘I'll do something when you do!' It's what you expect to hear in a primary school playground.

Southern Europe is expected to be too hot to live in by 2050. The ice is disappearing and most coastal areas will be submerged. Terrible wars have to be fought over the last few drops of oil.

And none of this is regarded as more important than the ‘freedom' of Americans to drive their four times fours half a mile to the local Lardburger joint.

We don't deserve to survive. Best let the cockroaches have a go.

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