Car Neutrality

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SCENE: Dayton, Ohio – 1904. A group of protesters – young activists from Snofe Lakes, California – chant slogans in front of the Leach and Bitwell Auto Company; “Keep The Roads Democratic!”, “What do we want? Road Neutrality. When do we want it? Now!” and “Cars are a Public Utility”. After a few moments, Arthur LIBRELLE climbs up on the soapbox.

LIBRELLE: What we seek is highway neutrality. We demand that the government treat cars and roads as the public utility they truly are. That way, in thirty years, your children will be able to buy a car like this (LIBRELLE points to a 1904 Leach and Bitwell roadster – a two seater with a hand-crank starter that is basically a glorified go-kart with a two cylinder engine and a couple of chairs which lists at $5,000 – which is about $200,000 2017 dollars) – and their children, and their children’s children, as long as California is the capitol fo the horseless carriage industry. Nobody will be able, using just more money, to buy a better car!

(Hezekiah MERG chimes in): But if you treat the budding auto industry like a utility, there’ll be no impetus for someone like, say, Henry Ford or Louis Chevrolet, to respond to the market demand and build a cars that, before long, will be every big as good as the specimen you see here, for a fraction of the price.

LIBRELLE: (Scoffing as the young people from Snofe Lakes laugh uproariously) Oh, it is to laugh! The idea that people from Detroit will ever build cars, or that technology will ever surpass what we see in front of us! No, indeed; let us regulate cars and roads like utilities, that they may ever be as successful as the crown jewel of Los Angeles’s transportation system, our streetcars!

(The crowd erupts)_.