Tuesday, 27 October 2009


I was thinking about choice earlier today. In a discussion in the Politics and Society module someone said, "Having a car is a necessity." I've heard this phrase often and I've even said it (with regards to living in LA), but really, air, water, food -- those are necessities. On a list of true necessities, I don't think car makes the top 100.

Even in LA where public transport is underdeveloped and having a car makes getting from point A to point B much easier, having a car is not a necessity. People say it all the time, but it downplays or ignores the choices that people and society make and other available options.

In LA, one might considered it necessary to have a car if one lives in a remote location that's not within walking or bike-able range of public transport and has a long commute to work. But there were choices made which caused this set of circumstances which one might argue necessitate a car--for example, to live remotely, to work far from home, for the city not to invest in public transport. One might say that having a car is the most attractive (financially, time-wise, comfort-wise) option given one's circumstances, but it's never true that it's necessary to one's being. In the case of someone who owns a car and has good access to public transport, living and working along a well-serviced route, but thinks the buses are overcrowded, smelly, too slow or what have you, maybe it's just easier to drive a car to work every day, paying for the car, its maintenance, licensing and registration fees, parking permits and insurance than it is to make an effort to tolerate other human beings or try to change the system.

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