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Live from the studio

John Batchelor

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You can have your future; I don’t want it

FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017, file photo, a Chrysler Pacifica hybrid outfitted with Waymo's suite of sensors and radar is shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Waymo is testing vehicles on public roads with only an employee in the back seat. The testing started Oct. 19 with an automated Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Ariz. It’s a major step toward vehicles driving themselves without human backups on public roads. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Do you want to be a person or a package?

America is making a tremendous series of mistakes that will absolutely turn around to haunt the country in the future. I want no part of the society being created and will fight it, rather than retreat to a lovely, mountain home to laugh like some weird Grinch, as people figure out what they have done to themselves; I fight this only because I am a father and want my daughter to live in some semblance of freedom. You may anticipate a political rant here about health care, taxes, the right to self-defense or the like, but no one is changing anyone’s mind on those topics–it is our destiny to be in a state of cold, civil war over such policies, lest we right size political parties to what they are: private groups vying for power–rather, this note is about something much more disconcerting: what people do not see when they think of the so called “self-driving cars.”

The future of cars, we are told, is vehicles as a service: the complete Uberization of mobility. You click an app or call out to Alexa and you get a ride. The problem is, the cars will not be self-driving, they will be government-driven. This is not a prediction, it is an absolute fact; I know this and you can, too, if you consult the announced future crony capitalists and government are now openly discussing: banning cars you drive yourself. This is not about benign rules like speed limits, which are arguably about safety, it is about one of the literal pillars of freedom: going where you want to go, when and how you choose.

It is astonishing to me that people are willing to be treated like packages and that’s what you will be in the government-driven car world. In that future, with your freedom to drive your own car gobbled up by big donors to big government, bureaucrats and their diktats will decide when you go, how you go, with how many people you must travel; their orders will be in the software, you will have no way out unless you hack it. Want to go hiking in the mountains or take a drive down the Coast? Great! Government will let you know when enough people want to make the same trip so that you can all go along–saving the earth, dontcha know? Want to live in a rural zone, enjoy space, fresh air, well water, hunting, fishing and raise some livestock and food? Great. That will cost you whatever amount of money the rulers find will keep only the very richest people, the 0.1%, from having the “luxury” of living in the country. Want to live away from where you work, to avoid the massive crime problems in Seattle, perhaps? Great. The government will charge you extortion rates until people are blackmailed back into the ten square miles where the urbanists — most of them dripping with statist tendencies–“know” we should all live.

These destructions of freedom will not happen instantly–the tyrannical nudgers of society who abhor our personal freedoms are champions of gradualism, but it will absolutely occur unless people reemphasize the right to travel about as a human right and quite literally refuse to give up the cars you drive. What seems like freedom — the great Uberization frees you from buying a destructive asset and frees up space for other items — is a trap and one into which I refuse to blindly walk.

 

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