Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Russell Brand versus…Johnny Lydon?

Okay, this is a fun piece.

Invited to contribute to the November issue of Prospect, the UK’s “leading magazine of ideas,” the man who sang “I wanna be anarchy” in 1976 now declares that he is no longer an anarchist: “Anarchy riddles itself with dictatorial policies and doesn’t like to be questioned.” He called Brand a “bumhole” and expressed little patience for his anarchic vision. Urging young people not to vote, Lydon said in an interview to promote his book, “is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard.” When asked if a revolution like Brand’s is possible, Lydon responded,

No, what you’ll get is a rat-pile of infestation, laziness, and eventually you’ll all be evicted. If you don’t contribute or in some way try to reshape the society around you, you’re gonna have no effect, and therefore become ineffectual, ignored, condemned. What [Brand is] preaching there is a lifestyle of cardboard boxes down by the river. He’ll make you all homeless.

Like Michael Moore, who has more houses than Century 21, Brand is “preaching all this from the mansion. Lovely, innit?” His advice to Brand’s constituency? “Get smart, read as much as you can, and find out who’s using you.” Perhaps that last bit suggests that they examine whether they are being used by Brand himself.

Russell Brand and John Lydon are disenchanted with the current state of affairs—as are we all. But Lydon has grown to see that “The older you get, the more you learn, and you have to be able to put yourself in the position of going, ‘Ooh, I was wrong there,’ or ‘There’s room for flexibility.’” Revolution without a workable plan, he now understands, is just spinning your wheels. “I always thought anarchy was a mind game for the middle classes, really. Impractical.”

“Anarchists can’t get anywhere without motorways,” he adds with an impish smile.

Somebody oughta tell these idiots.

Evidently Seattle is experiencing a lot of problems rebuilding a highway that goes through the western edge of the city. Vox acts like it’s very concerned about cost overruns on the highway, but liberals never seem to express concerns about cost overruns on any other kind of government program. The Vox solution to the problem? Don’t rebuild the highway; just replace it with city streets!

When a city tears down an urban freeway, some cars will be diverted to other roads. But many other drivers will respond to the lower capacity in other ways. Some will shift to taking transit to work. Others will shift their commutes earlier or later in the day to avoid periods of peak congestion.  Still others will move closer to downtown, or take jobs that are closer to where they work. So taking out an urban freeway won’t generate as much traffic on other roads as naive projections might suggest.

So a highway isn’t really needed. Or is it? Cars diverted to other streets will only create worse traffic problems on other streets. People shifting their commute times? Many workers don’t have that option. Other workers will move closer to their jobs? That’s not too probable, as the city has a finite space for residences. That’s why people moved to the suburbs in the first place. So for all these spurious reasons, traffic won’t be a problem!

Liberals who call for the demise of highways also call for more spending on bike paths and “light rail.” Bicycle paths are useless, of course, for people who have to go more than a few miles, and unusable even for that for the old and the handicapped. As for “light rail,” I’m not sure why it’s called that, because “light rail” can weigh almost 50 tons, and be very expensive to maintain compared to much cheaper bus service. (I think they like the word “light” because it sounds like you’re traveling on a diet.)

The fact remains that cars are the greatest liberating technology in the field of transportation, and we should support highways.

Which is exactly why “liberals” hate them, of course.

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2 thoughts on “Russell Brand versus…Johnny Lydon?

  1. > Liberals who call for the demise of highways also call for more spending on bike paths and “light rail.”

    Semi trucks look good going down city streets (and bike paths, too!)

  2. Buses are only ‘cheaper’ because they are totally subsidized by other highway users. In other words, by all the automobile drivers. If they had to pay for their own dedicated r.o.w. they would be just as expensive.

    Buses are an inferior form of transportation. Bumpy rough rides with all the problems of highway gridlock.

    All that being said, the government needs to get OUT of the transportation business, or at least see to it that it’s actions do not distort the prices of various modes.

    Here in Parker County, Texas, the Union Pacific Railroad pays property taxes out the nose for it’s single track right of way, while users of Interstate 20 pay NOTHING at all in property taxes for their r.o.w. because it’s government property, you know? How can any free market advocate approve this state of affairs?

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