As we all know, the dominance of cars in America's transportation system has been promoted by decades of state decisions to facilitate car transportation, often at the expense of other modes. I don't think there was any particular conspiracy -- it just made sense* given the socio-economic conditions after WWII. The problems with our car-centric culture started to become apparent in the 1970's, but by then powerful vested interests (both the car industry and car-commuters) made it hard to change course.
Anyway, we've reached the point where access to a car is practically considered a civil right -- at least for the middle class (as always, the lower classes get to bear the costs without reaping the benefits). So with this perspective, I was interested in proposition 33 on CA's ballot this fall. This proposition changes the rules regarding auto-insurance fees, by allowing companies to consider a new customer's history of coverage when setting rates. My libertarian impulse says "sure, let the markets decide", and when I look at the arguments against the measure I see that they are based on the idea that the right to drive is too important to be left to market forces. However, this initiative does not seem to simplify regulations in any general manner, so it gets no libertarian points, and I'll have to vote against it on the grounds that I am opposed to micromanagement of government by referenda.
Still, I wanted to check if this proposition might actually amount to an abandonment of car culture by the state of California. Since it is supposedly being promoted by the car insurance industry, it would not make sense for it to be designed in a way that discouraged new drivers from getting behind the wheel. When I looked at the details, I saw that it has an explicit clause to assure that middle-class spawn develop into the next generation of drivers:
(4) Children residing with a parent shall be provided a discount for continuous coverage based upon the parent’s eligibility for a continuous coverage discount.
So yeah, this is just a way to milk adults who temporarily give up driving for one reason or another.
I'm especially bothered by this notion that children gain legally enshrined economic rights based on the economic status of their parents. First it was Obama's health insurance coverage up to 26, and then this. It seems like this should be unconstitutional. As always, the state says "screw the poor".
*Clarification: it made sense to the ruling class...