Saturday, January 02, 2010

Bill Maher on why we should declare a War on Cars

I've long been an opponent of cars, which kill more people worldwide than terrorism ever will. In America alone, 40,000 people die from car crashes, and the number is over 200,000 in China. When my mother tells me not to run at night, I tell her not to drive at night. Whatever you can think of that's unsafe, short of smoking or an addiction to heroin or crack cocaine, it's likely safer than driving a car.

The answer, of course, is not to ban cars, but maybe some of the pointless hysteria directed at terrorism should be directed at cars. To date, America has spent close to $1 trillion in Iraq. Just imagine how that money could have been spent turning driving a car into an unbearable nuisance. Before getting in your car, it would be swept for electronics of any sort that might cause distraction. You would have to provide evidence that you are not too fatigued, and would continue to provide such proof at designated government checkpoints.

Some sort of automatic trigger would be developed, possibly by American defense contractors, if conversation levels reached a decibel that was deemed too distracting. Many people would be placed on a do-not-drive list, far more than are even remotely necessary.

The logical conclusion, instead, is to recognize that people die all the time. In industrialized countries, about 1% of the population dies every year. Like the blatantly false 1-in-9 statistic used by breast cancer charities, that doesn't mean three people on my Facebook friends list are going to die this year. Most people who die are old. But, a reality is that the processes of living by nature produce deaths.

Leonard Mlodinow, in his book The Drunkard's Walk, describes how the California state lottery ensures not only that one person will win a large sum of money, but that another will die in a car accident due to the sheer number of people who drive to buy tickets. State lotteries, then, probably kill more people in the United States than terrorists.

I don't advocate the abolition of airport security and concerns about terrorism, not to mention random crime, which is extremely rare but a constant fear for many. But, many of the extraneous procedures currently being undertaken at airports are superfluous. Aside from scanning luggage for sharp, obviously dangerous objects and explosives, as well as securing the cockpit door to prevent a hijacking, nothing more needs to be done. Well, seat belts that can't be unlocked would erase the possibility that the person sitting next to you won't strangle you to death, which remains a possibility.


Jennifer said...

If I could "like" everything about this post, I would. I don't often agree with you so completely. :)

Simon said...

I've never thought about it that way.
Way to think for me Adeel!
My parents don't own a car, though it's more for budget reasons, it makes me feel good that I'm not living with the East Coast version of terrorists.