373 Does saying something make it true?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

NPR reports that, "Studies show that teenagers are driving less, getting their licenses later, and waiting longer to purchase their first new car."

Can't argue with that, can we? Those are facts.

Then they add, "NPR's Sonari Glinton recently hit the streets to find out why, and discovered not having a car or not being able to afford one, has become a lot more common."

Oka-a-a-ay. Still facts. And they mean....?

But then comes this headline? "Cars In America: Is The Love Story Over?"


How did they reach that conclusion?

Look at what they said in the very next paragraph, quoting from Michelle Maynard, who oversees the website "CurbingCars.com."

"Many states have now changed teen driving laws, so you have to spend a certain amount of time in the car with a parent," Maynard says. "And people just shrug and say, 'You know what, I don't need to get a license right now.'"

How does any of that even come close to proving that Americans no long care about owning or driving a car?

Would we be far from wrong if we said it seems more likely that more kids live in cities these days, where cars are not only not needed, but can be a downright pain in the neck?

Would we be far from wrong if we said it looks more like state laws that delay getting a license, are another part of the puzzle?

Would we be far from wrong if we said it looks more like things like emissions testing, which does nothing but create a useless, inconvenient, time and money-wasting ripoff are a part of the problem?

Back to the original question: Just because someone in a television newsroom thinks up a good lead-off line for a news item, does that make it true?


Pat Randall 3 years, 3 months ago

No. And they don't need a new car or any car if they don't pay for it. Arizona did have a law that a kid with a drivers permit, issued at 15 1/2 yrs. could drive with any adult driver with a license. Then it was changed to any driver with a license. Bad move.

Kids now days want a new flashy vehicle. Our son's first one was a 1952 Ford pickup that he had to fix the motor and paint. It was the same age as him. He was born in 1952 for the slow people out there. (: He paid for all of it. Worked and got enough money to finance a new jeep pickup. All my kids worked and bought their own cars, insurance, gas and repairs. Go by the HS and look at the cars the kids here drive. Bet they didn't pay a cent on them and there are no older cars there. I think the kids now days think their parents owe it to them to buy their cars. There are school buses we pay for, they can ride in them.


Bernice Winandy 3 years, 3 months ago

Time Magazine recently ran an article on the subject of teens and driving. They, too, stated that many teens do not want to get driver's licences. They said that parents were willing to take them where ever they wanted to go or they had a friend who was obliging. They also drew a conclusion that addiction to video games might play a role. They feel that the current wave is more laid back.

I am not sure that living in a big city plays much of a role.

I used to take an express bus into downtown Phoenix for my job. I had a car available for my use, I just didn't want to drive it in rush hour traffic into downtown Phoenix. Occasionally, I would have to work late and have to take the local. Many stories about taking the local, but one hit me particularly hard. A woman was on the bus with her son and was so delighted that bus service was being extended to Sunday because they could now visit the museum. It hit me that those who could not afford a car were really tied to their neighborhood. Unless, they were lucky enough to be within walking distance, they could not reach cultural venues, entertainment, etc. The ability to get around inexpensively enables people to widen their vistas. Is that a sound conclusion?


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

"I am not sure that living in a big city plays much of a role."

You gave me a chuckle. Phoenix is not a big city; it's a small town with a lot of people smeared around.

In a big city things are very different. One example will serve to show you what I mean. All the way back in 1953 I visited some friends from CT who had moved to NYC. I met the husband at work at noontime. His floor of the 18 story office building where he worked had the 12:42 to 1:02 lunch period. Eight hundred people came out of six double doors like fire ants coming out of a nest. They covered street, sidewalk, everything. My friend and I went into a place where hot dogs were stacked two feet high and three feet deep in a pyramid. We ate lunch in exactly 11 minutes including standing in line and eating. Back in he went. There were 18 thousand people in that building, so he told me.

Where would they park?

He not only didn't own a car; he didn't know anyone who owned one. There were subways running underground and busses running above, plus taxis, of course.

Hateful way to live? You bet! But that's life in any genuine city. It is the way we will all live if we don't do something about the worst pollution this planet suffers from — people!

Meanwhile, back to the subject: You can expect the mainstream media to keep beating the "Oh, people don't care about cars anymore" drum all the time. It's all part of a program to quit building single family homes and shove us all into condos and apartments. Did anyone, for example, notice the name of the website that the woman making comments came from?


Does that hint that she may be speaking from a given viewpoint? Could it be that she is trying to create a self-fullfilling prophecy?

As for the stats, since a lot of Americans are stuffed into large cities, the stats don't mean a thing. Take the big cities out of the numbers and Americans still enjoy the freedom and individuality of the automobile.

Anybody ever ride a subway? I have, many times. I could hardly wait to get away from them.

Anybody remember what the name of the UN program pushing all this is? I've forgotten.


Pat Randall 3 years, 3 months ago

I went to visit my sister in Calif. many years ago when B.A.R.T was new and a friend of ours insisted I ride into San Francisco in it. It goes underground, and I think water very fast with no operator. I was terrified all the way, about 15 miles I think. I pleaded to take a taxi back to my sisters house but no, I had to ride the d--- thing back. You could not pay me enough money to get in it again. I will keep my car. I won't even ride with a lot of my friends, kids, or grandkids.


don evans 3 years, 3 months ago

But just think of all the great social engineering aspects of mass public transit. Why people of different cultures, ethnicity, and life styles have to mingle. You can travel to their neighborhood and they to yours. I can just hear the positive intellectual discussions taking place during the ride time. You know, like, "can you give me some money". Or maybe, "your money or your life". What a wonderful experience to sit next to someone who hasn't bathed for a month by choice, or smells like a brewery. The ones that are passed out are fun to sit next to as you can catch up on your reading. So many positive reasons to give up your automobile.


Bernice Winandy 3 years, 3 months ago

Don, we are privileged insofar as we have been blessed with sufficient funds to own a car and can enjoy all the freedom a car gives us. However, there are some who are less fortunate and must depend on public transportation. I am pleased that public transportation is available for those who need it. I used it when I was working. It was nice to read a book on the way to and from work rather than fight rush hour traffic.


Bernice Winandy 3 years, 3 months ago

With regard to the question on this string. Saying something does not necessarily make it true. Unfortunately, there are many who upon hearing something repeat it as true.


Rex Hinshaw 3 years, 3 months ago

Tom, It is called " Agenda 21". Those of us that enjoy our rural lifestyle should pay particular attention.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

"Unfortunately, there are many who upon hearing something repeat it as true."

Bernice, you hit the nail right on the head! That's why we see these articles. People read them and swallow propaganda whole, thinking that it is true. That's the real danger.


Thanks! I'd forgotten the name of the %$#@! thing. I would advise anyone who doesn't know what it is to just go go Google, enter Wiki Agenda 21, and go to a neutral reference to read about it. It's one thing for someone to — say — write about how much "better" the earth would be if everyone used as little space as possible, but it is a VERY different thing when governments begin adopting such things as a policy.


While I agree with Bernice that it is a good thing, even a necessary one, for people who are stuck in a large city to have some way of getting around beyond their own block, I have lived in a big city, not in these days of increased crime, but back in a day when no one locked his front door, even in the city, and even back then the subways were dirty, filthy, crime filled, dangerous places to be. As far as I am concerned the only safe way to run something like that is to spend whatever it takes to put a cop on every subway platform and one in every car. Short of that they are too dangerous.

As for some of the other crap that goes on? I won't even talk about it; we have enough problems to worry about without prying the lid off that cesspool.

I will tell you one story that may make your day though. A woman who worked in a NYC ticket booth in a subway got tired of seeing inner city kids putting their mouths on the coins slots in the turnstiles and sucking tokens back out. One day while the platform was empty she went out and put superglue on one of them. My! My! Was that kid surprised! And yes, she was charged with a misdemeanor, but she said it was worth it. :-)

(PS: Quit laughing, Pat, You'll damage your pacemaker.)


Bernice Winandy 3 years, 3 months ago

Now, Tom, is your story true about people being able to suck tokens out of the coin slots? When I lived in Chicago, I took the el into the Loop. I never felt any danger. Then, of course, I was always travelling in rush hour.

However, when I was taking a night class at Loyola downtown campus, I always drove. I remember a woman and I really felt sorry for her who had to take the el. And of all places she had to take it into south Chicago. I always said a prayer for her. She luckily never had any problems.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago


Story is absolutely true. Just for the halibut I'll research it and put up a separate string when I can.

I've ridden the el in Chicago. Just once though. I went through Chicago on my way to Truax Field Wisconsin to pick up a prisoner, and had to kill eight hours in Chicago on the way back to Texas.

I arrived early in the morning at Truax. The Air Force desk sergeant brought the guy out. I cuffed him, signed for him, and I and my aide, a young airman, were just about to leave for the train station in town for a roughly 900 mile trip to Wichita Falls, Texas. The desk sergeant stopped me and asked, "Do you know about this clown?"

"They just told me he was a deserter and to go get him and bring him back."

"They didn't tell you that he has tried committing suicide several times?"

Oh boy! Just what I needed, a three day trip on a train, with two stopovers, one in Chicago and one in St. Louis — and the entertainment provided by a nut!

And as if he could hardly wait to confirm it, the prisoner turned toward me in the van on the way to the train station, looked at my 45, and told me, "There's no way you're getting me to Texas. I'm going to kill both you and your buddy. You're going to have to give me a knife or a fork or something so I can eat — something I can use. And I'll use it."

Happy days! I am five foot eight and at that moment weighed just 132 pounds. Of course, I was a drill instructor, I could lift that much over my head with one arm, and could run until I got bored with it. And the kid with me, while rather soft looking — and unarmed, of course — was another pair of hands. But a nut who comes right out and says he's going to kill you? Hey! Takes the fun out of special duty!

I thought it over on the way to Chicago, where we had to change trains and had an eight hour layover. Eying the character quietly I made a judgment. I decided that he was scared to death and didn't want to face the disgrace of his court martial, was desperate to get out of the mess he had gotten himself into, and would do most anything he could to do it — except something that took guts.


I did the natural thing. I let him see that there are worse things than a court martial.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

After all, a drill instructor is supposed to train people, right? So I dreamt up a little off-the-cuff training exercise.

Remember, I was a NYC kid. I knew a lot about how the police operate in a large city.

You need to know something to understand how a prisoner chase, which is what we called this, works. The entire cost is borne by the person who has committed the crime. Our tickets, our meals, my pay, my aide's pay, everything, came out of him.

So on the way down to Chicago we went into the dining car, where I did the ordering. I ordered steaks for me and my aide. The clown got mashed potatoes. I told him if he wanted to eat them he could use his bare hands, still cuffed, sitting across the way from us. I also pointed out that if he moved one speck too fast I would take my 45 and brain him with it.

His eyes about the size of sewer covers he listened. As he ate his mashed potatoes — no gravy — he eyed those steaks. Rather thoughtfully, I felt.

Then, in Chicago, I walked the clown to the police station nearest the train station, knowing that would be one of the toughest parts of town. I signed the clown over to the desk sergeant. Then I explained what he had said, smiled, and said, "You know something, sarge, being an old New York City kid, I have an odd feeling that you folks here in the station just might have some way of softening my man up. That true."

A big burly, blond haired Pole named Jankowski, the desk sergeant grinned from ear to ear. "I think we can handle that."


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

My aide went off to visit his girlfriend (which is why he had volunteered for the duty he told me), I went off to kill the day, and eight hours later we got back to the station. They brought up one very pale looking clown, I cuffed him, signed for a second set of cuffs from the desk sergeant (which were later sent back by the Air Force) and off to the train station we went.

"Holy Christ, Sarge!" The clown said. "Please don't leave me in another place like that!"

"Why not?"

"They took me down to the lowest cellar in the place, about five stories below ground, stripped me bare--s naked, and left me in a cell with nothing in it but a steel cot with nothing on it. Hold mackerel, Sarge! That place was overrun with cockroaches! They tried to eat me! I spent the whole eight hours standing up and stomping on roaches. Millions of them! Please don't leave me in another place like that. If you don't I won't give you the slightest trouble, all the way to Texas."

"I'm sorry, but with what you said in the van I don't have any choice. We have two more stopovers and I have to turn you over to the police in each one."

"Oh, please, Sarge. I'll do anything. I'll be so good I earn angel's wings. Just don't leave me in another place like that. Please!"

Well, I had lied to him. We only had one more stopover, at St. Louis. But I reasoned that he would be a good little boy until we got past the last stopover, then he'd revert to type. So when we got to St. Louis I told him I was going to trust him and take him with us wherever we went, but if he screwed up he was going straight into the nearest police station when we got to Oklahoma City for our second stopover. He swore he'd be an angel straight out of heaven.

And he was.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

I took the prisoner and my aide to a big museum in St. Louis where we saw some very interesting things, including a black powder punt gun with an eight foot long, six inch barrel that took a half pound of black powder and a hundred lead balls and was used to clean a flock of ducks off the surface of a lake — a lousy way to hunt ducks, but a good way to make a living, I guess.

And he ate well, had a good time all the way to Wichita Falls, and even slept nicely double cuffed to one of the bunks in a comfortable private compartment, in which we ate too — all on him, of course. Nice food. We ate well. So did he.

He was a bit miffed when we sailed into Wichita Falls without ever stopping anywhere else, and I suppose at that point he figured out that the reason I had closed the blinds in the compartment wasn't really so that the sun wouldn't "heat up the compartment up so d--m much," but so that he wouldn't realize where he was — no stop at Oklahoma City. However, he took it well enough and we parted friends.

Whatever happened to him I do not know.

I got my extra pay for the trip and kind sorta enjoyed the whole thing.

We had a saying in the Air Force: "It all counts on twenty."

Which it did. Wasn't a bad week, not bad at all.

And I was, after all, an educator, so learning to think on my feet when it came to the next lesson for someone in my charge was just another part of teaching, wasn't it? :-)


Tom Garrett 3 years, 3 months ago

Thanks, Rex. It was as much fun living it as it was writing about it. In fact, more. I have always regretted one thing though. I wish I had looked into what happened to that poor guy. It's like a novel with the last ten pages torn out.

I sometimes think that "Someone" arranged for me to have an interesting life. At times it has seemed that no matter what I started out to do there was always some pre-arrranged challenge.

You what that incident — and a lot of others like it — taught me? I'll give you an analogy because it makes the point much better than trying to explain it.

Suppose the day arrives that our space telescope look deep into outer space, far far away, and discovers some large body coming at us. Suppose that it is a very LARGE body, larger — say — that the earth itself. Can you picture the way people would be running around in circles? Can you pictures the plans to blow it up? The other extreme measures? The shock when the direct action folks realize that if we blow the things up all that will do is break into moon size, or continent size, or 20 miles wide pieces that will still be headed at us?

But what I have always believed is analogous to this: If you have time to think and time enough to act, all that would be needed is a few dozen space-size rockets placed against the side of the thing to provide a gentle push that would turn it off course. And so, by changing its course perhaps one tenth of a degree it would just sail on by, and we'd never even see it.

That has always been my method — a tiny push, just enough to avoid a head-on collision; a bit of insight, a little patience, a tiny push or a slight side-step, and....


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