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Too Much Traffic—Too Many People?
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October 22, 2010, 05:00 AM
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Once population gets to a certain density, it`s game over—for liberty. I mean, for real-deal, live and let live, do-what-you-want-to (provided you`re not physically harming anyone else) liberty.

You know—what most of the founding fathers (Alexander Hamilton and his proto-Republicans excepted) had in mind.

The best analogy I`ve found is traffic.

You live in a very rural area, let`s say. Very few other cars are on the road. So, when you roll up behind some old geezer doing 33 in a 55, it`s easy to just pass the old dude—and no hard feelings either way. He`s able to trundle along at his pace without cars (and angry drivers) stacking up behind him; you`re free to drive around the old coot and continue at your speed.

No tensions; no problems.

There are very few traffic lights—and when you come to a stop sign, you`re almost always the only car around and it`s just a minor, momentary interruption of your travel.

You can pull right onto the main road from sidestreets, usually—with just a quick glance either way to be sure no one`s coming.

Usually, no one is.

If you need to park, you just pull into a spot.

And there is always an open spot.

In winter, you can usually get where you need to be without too much trouble because there`s no one else causing wrecks that block the road or interfering with your momentum.

Driving is a joy.

Contrast this scenario with the situation that`s become typical in and around every major population zone in the United States circa late 2010:

All it takes is one inept/fearful/reckless driver to gum up the entire works; everyone is stuck behind the old coot up ahead in his `87 Buick doing 33 in a 55—because there`s no way you can pass with all that oncoming traffic plus you`re 12 cars behind the coot anyhow.

And there`s more than just one inept/fearful/reckless driver to deal with now, too.

Itinerant workers—often with no insurance; not infrequently drunk—driving beaten-up old wrecks are a constant peril. Many don`t read English, so traffic signals are a mystery to them.

Huge SmooVees with distracted hausfraus chattering away on their sail fawns blast through red lights, turn into your lane or don`t notice the light has changed green until it`s on the verge of turning red again—just in time for you to get stuck in another cycle of waiting.

You`re thwarted (or threatened) at almost every turn—literally. Get by/past one and there`s another one 20 yards ahead. The conga line of cars barely moves an inch. At every stop sign, there are scores of cars lined up awaiting their turn. Cars are backed up for blocks at traffic lights. Merge lanes are choked. You have to circle every parking lot like a shark, waiting for a spot to come open—and be ready to fight for it.

It takes forever to get anywhere. No one smiles. Everyone`s tense.

Might as well give up and turn on the radio.

Driving has become the equivalent of being a mouse in a Skinner Box. You dread leaving your house.

The same dynamic operates in the political realm.

In a frontier-type, low-density environment, people are independent-minded and self-sufficient. To a great extent they self-police—and are happy. They earn their own keep and expect to be left alone in return.

Because people are not constantly rubbing up against one another, there is much less social friction. People can go around one another. You don`t like your neighbor? Well, you almost never see him anyway and it`s easy to avoid having to deal with him. He goes his way, you go yours.

Resources abound; useful work is easy to get. People are largely free to do what they want, within reasonable bounds—and to enjoy their lives.

This is how America was—I can remember it like it was yesterday. And it`s the reason why America was, for the most part, a great place to live ... until about the late 1960s. At which point the population began to balloon at an almost unimaginable rate.

170 million suddenly—and 40 years is suddenly—became 300-plus million.

An almost doubling of the population it took more than 400 years to achieve in the space of my own short lifetime (I am 44).

Suffocating, omnipresent traffic—formerly an isolated curiosity you experienced on field trips to NYC or LA—was unknown to most Americans when I was a child in the 1970s.

Now it is the rule.

The suburbs were then still pleasant, affordable and peaceful places to live and rear a family.

Now they are disconnected, overpriced—and a torturous drive to and from your place of work.

In the 1970s, one could easily access solitude in the nearby woods, on a forest trail—or local park.

People and cars and noise were not everywhere—yet.

Even air travel was nothing like the hateful, demeaning experience it has become today.

What has changed? What`s the common denominator?

Too many people.

Worse, most of these are not even American people. Deliberate policy changes (the Immigration Act of 1965, specifically) have unleashed upon this land a literal tsunami of humanity—most of it Third World humanity. Is it surprising that America is increasingly coming to resemble a Third World country as a result? With the same horrid pathologies—from a seething (and growing in size) permanent underclass to the despoiling of formerly magnificent natural vistas to the relentless lowering of our political discourse to simple-minded catchphrases and childish images marketed to a junior high-level mindset?

This is an obvious, even elementary consequence of adding tens of millions of Mexican peasants and Central-South American stoop laborers, Somalis, Pakistanis and Afghanis—the whole polyglot stew.

But we aren`t allowed to notice this—unless of course we "celebrate" it.

Though why such ought to be celebrated is something that`s not easy to understand. By every measure save perhaps the profusion of electronic gadgets, Americans are miserable today (note the near-ubiquity of anti-depression meds, the pathological over-eating/obesity and nihilistic consumerism) whereas they were mostly pretty happy in the not-so-distant past.

Yet it is still in our power to halt the bum`s rush toward the Third World future our "leaders" are laying the groundwork for. We have it in our power to say, "enough".

We do not need more people.

We certainly do not need more people from the Third World.

And if we can just get a handle on this mess, maybe one day going for a Sunday drive will be enjoyable again.

Eric Peters (email him is a refugee from The Washington Times, where he worked as an editorial writer and columnist during the 1990s. He is currently a freelance car journalist and runs ericpetersautos.com. He is the author of Automotive Atrocities and his next book, Road Hogs, will be published this fall.