What do automobiles and American founding principles have in common?
At a Cato forum Tuesday, P.J. O'Rourke, author of the new book Driving Like Crazy, said well, plenty.
"Cars fulfilled the Americans' founding fathers’ dream and ideal," said O'Rourke. "Of all the truths that we hold to be self evident, of all the unalienable rights with which we are endowed, what is the most important to the American dream? It is right there, front and center…freedom to leave…freedom to get the hell out of town."
Indeed, the American automobile as many have known it is fading fast. After years of government incentives to build certain types of cars, tax credits to buy smaller ones, higher gasoline tax proposals, and the government takeover of General Motors, the cars that so represented American freedom and individualism won't last long, he said.
"Pity the poor American car when Congress and the White House get through with it," he said. "A light-weight vehicle with a small carbon footprint using alternative energy and renewable resources to operate in a sustainable way-- When I was a kid, we called it a Schwinn."
O'Rourke said that going after the automobile is just a way for bureaucrats in Washington to take control over another part of Americans' lives.
"I'm old enough to realize that freedom is always under attack," he said. "This is a never ending struggle."
You can watch his entire speech, or listen in on a Cato special podcast below.
Photo credit: Kelly Anne Creazzo