Don’t you wish we could power daily life on road rage, frustration, and righteous indignation? If that were possible, the U.S. highway system would be the best investment of all time. As it stands, the unintended consequences (e.g., pollution, habitat fragmentation, discrimination, town wrecking, dependency on unsustainable infrastructure, and the uglification of America) reveal how badly highways miss the mark. What a stupendous misallocation of resources! Fortunately we have some ideas about how to get from point A to point B and provision ourselves without relying on 18-wheelers and endless miles of asphalt. So get your motor runnin’ and head out on the highway for an adventure in transforming the transportation system. For episode notes and more information, please visit our website.

Transcript

Asher Miller

I’m Asher Miller.

Rob Dietz

I’m Rob Dietz.

Jason Bradford

And I’m Jason Bradford. Welcome to Crazy Town where potholes are filled with the E-waste from outdated crypto farms.

Melody Travers

This is producer Melody Travers, in this season of Crazy Town, Jason, Asher, and Rob are exploring the watershed moments in history that have led humanity into the cascading crises we face in the 21st century. Today’s episode is about paving the world with highways and getting locked into a transportation system that has way too many side effects. The watershed moment took place in 1919. At the time, the estimated carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was 303 parts per million, and the global human population was 1.88 billion.

Jason Bradford

Hey, I know you guys are kind of old like me. You’re not as old as me. But can you remember far enough back in time to when you got your driver’s license? And what that felt like what you did?

Rob Dietz

In Atlanta? Yeah, of course. That opened up the city for exploration. Yeah, hey, I was now able to actually do something other than watch 80’s movies and reruns.

Asher Miller

Yeah, living vicariously through my oldest who’s turning 16. And he’s driving us around and he’s about to get his license. I remember getting my license and feeling that freedom.

Jason Bradford

I do. I remember, there’s a place called Skyline Boulevard in the Bay Area, which runs literally on the Ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Yeah. And I used to take my 1978 Volkswagen Rabbit on those roads, and I would just go away for a couple hours and nobody knew where I was, what I was doing.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, we would do that too. Like, my friend said, “Hey, let’s go to Alabama.” And so we did. And, of course, we ended up at an outlet shopping mall.

Jason Bradford

Good.

Asher Miller

It was so worth it.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, yeah. So there’s that incredible sense freedom and adventure and power and all that. And songs come to mind that represent those feelings?

Rob Dietz

Oh, of course. I mean, what’s a road trip without some tunes? And since I was just thinking 80’s, one of my favorite road tripping songs back then was of course, “Life is a Highway” by the great Tom Cochran. And you would almost say that’s a one hit wonder. Except that it got re-recorded for the “Cars” movie by Pixar and became a mega hit.

Asher Miller

It was his one hit.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, never heard of the guy.

Asher Miller

Yeah, I still don’t even know who the hell you’re talking about.

Jason Bradford

But great song. Great. What a riff. This is one of Curtis, my son’s, favorites.

Asher Miller

Really?

Jason Bradford

Oh, yeah. He’s kind of into country music.

Asher Miller

We should have Curtis come in and sing it for us.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. What about you, Asher? Any songs come to mind?

Asher Miller

Yeah, “Highway to Hell.”

Jason Bradford

Oh, that’s a good one. ACDC, baby. Ah, ah, what a riff.

Rob Dietz

I’m gonna take some heat for this. . . Why did that band ever become so popular?

Asher Miller

Why not?

Jason Bradford

What are you talking about? I mean, come on.

Rob Dietz

I don’t know. The screamy voice never did it for me.

Asher Miller

What about the short shorts guy?

Jason Bradford

Yeah.

Rob Dietz

Oh, the guy who wore the Catholic school uniform while he jumps around on stage and plays guitar?

Jason Bradford

Yeah. Well, for me when I think about these songs, I think about Bruce Springsteen. He had a ton of songs that were about the road and the freedom and getting out of town “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and the river where they drive down to the river and “Born to Run” and I mean, just “Thunder Road.”

Asher Miller

I mean, if you look at Americana music of all kinds, the road plays a prominent role in Dylan, you know, blues. I mean, think about it, right? Going down to the crossroads?

Jason Bradford

I know. Escape and sometimes carelessness. And the idea that you’re young and free. And you have these places you can get to second chances, you know. Pick it up from one place, go to another

Rob Dietz.

Oh, it’s utterly built into the culture. I mean, you can go to the movies, too. And think of road trip movies and…

Jason Bradford

Drive-ins! Those were good. I remember those.

Asher Miller

Yeah, yeah. Well, there’s a little dark side to that though, too, right. We’ve locked ourselves a little bit into something there. With our love affair with the road.

Jason Bradford

I know there’s this splendor we have this, these feelings that we have these teenage feelings we have. But yeah, I want to bring us into our watershed moment for this show, which is how did we build this road system? Where did this come from? And not just any road system, but the key road system that we want to talk about is this interstate highway system, the big freeways. And those didn’t just spring out of nowhere. There were people involved, there were ideas, there was inspiration. And let’s go back to the summer of 1919.

Rob Dietz

Oh, that was a good year.

Asher Miller

I thought you were gonna go back to summer 1969.

Jason Bradford

Ah, oh, yeah.

Rob Dietz

Bryan Adams. When he got his first real six string and played it till his fingers bled.

Jason Bradford

Have you guys ever visited covered bridges?

Asher Miller

Of course.

Rob Dietz

Well yeah. It’s kind of a thing in Oregon. These cool little covered bridges -There’s one on the bike path on the Oregon State University campus.

Jason Bradford

You ever drive an 18 wheeler through one?

Rob Dietz

No, can we?

Asher Miller

Through it? I don’t know. I don’t think through.

Rob Dietz

I didn’t even know that was an option.

Jason Bradford

Okay. Well, the reason  I bring that up is because in 1919, Dwight Eisenhower –

Rob Dietz

He drove a semi through a covered bridge?

Rob Dietz

Did they have semis back then?

Jason Bradford

Well, they had these big military vehicles. This is just after World War I, right? And Dwight was upset because he didn’t get to go fight in the war.

Asher Miller

Poor guy.

Rob Dietz

He was too young, or what?

Jason Bradford

I don’t know – they didn’t send his tank troop overseas. But he’s in Maryland, after the war, right outside of D.C. And this project was conceived of taking a military convoy from one end of the country to the other. And the military at that point was trying to figure out and in some ways, understand, can we move troops across this giant nation? And equipment? And of course, this is the early part of the age of motor vehicles. And so for the military, all these companies that you’ve heard of, you know, like General Motors and Ford — DOD, they had built these big vehicles. So these are larger than normal things. And the idea is you can move equipment and trucks and you know, tanks and supplies long distance for military needs. All kinds of logistics.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, like I assume most of the factories are in these East Coast towns, or whatever. So you build these tanks or whatever. And you’re saying that let’s get them out to California.

Rob Dietz

So this was this was like an experiment, or whatever? Like a test that they were trying to undertake?

Jason Bradford

Yeah.

Asher Miller

So wait, was he was in the military at the time?

Jason Bradford

Yeah, he was sort of a mid level officer on this, I guess Tank Battalion or whatever.

Asher Miller

It’s okay.

Jason Bradford

I don’t know. Anyway, he’s excited. He gets to do this. So they leave on July 7, good time of year, right? Not really rainy or anything like that. Good weather, long days. How many days you think it takes them to get across the country? They’re trying to go to San Francisco.

Asher Miller

I’ve made that drive – You could do that in three days.

Rob Dietz

Oh, you could do that in two if you’re really pushing it.

Asher Miller

Fucking maniac here. What are you talking about?

Rob Dietz

But you’ve given us some clues. This is a long, long –

Asher Miller

I’m gonna say it’s two weeks.

Rob Dietz

Okay, so I have an experience. I’ve biked across the country.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. How long did it take?

Rob Dietz

We did a longer route than I think what they probably did, because we were circuitous about it. But we probably went about 60 miles a day on average. And I think, you know, there were times where we’d do 80 miles a day, or if you had a good tailwind, you could do over 100. But the whole trip was 100 days. But that was with a lot of days off because we were looking around. So I would think you could do that in like 40 days.

Jason Bradford

Okay. Okay, that’s all pretty reasonable.

Asher Miller

40 days in 1919 .

Rob Dietz

With a bike. So the convoy should have been probably quite a bit faster than that.

Jason Bradford

It took them 62 days.

Asher Miller

Really?

Jason Bradford

And the reason I brought up the covered bridge because one of the problems is they ran into all these places where they couldn’t cross because it was a covered bridge. They had to find ways to get around and it slowed everybody down. And they had to have a scout. They had to have  these guys on motorcycles who had to ride ahead and try to scout and then come back and say, “Okay, I think we can make it if we go right.”

Asher Miller

And these are all dirt roads, I’m assuming.

Jason Bradford

It was all dirt from basically Illinois to Nevada.

Rob Dietz

So do you got any stats? Like how fast were they averaging?

Jason Bradford

They were averaging six miles an hour.

Rob Dietz

Well, yeah. So that’s not very fast jogging speed, you know. It’s a little faster than walking speed.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, no, it was incredible.

Rob Dietz

A quick pace of walking, you can get four miles per hour.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, it was a hazardous journey. I mean, they had about almost 300 people and 21 people didn’t finish the trip because they got hurt or whatever.

Asher Miller

So we’ve gone downhill in terms of like our endurance and stamina. Because we’ve talked before about Louis and Clark, right? Those guys didn’t have any fucking trucks. Every one of them made it.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. We got the stats on that. They were averaging 22 miles per hour, Louis and Clark.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. So but this made an impression on young Eisenhower. Yeah. Where, gosh, this was tough. This took us a long time. It was logistically difficult. It was dangerous. So you know, if Red Dawn is going down.

Asher Miller

Another 80’s reference. Sorry, listeners. Sorry about that.

Rob Dietz

So, the cool thing here though, is, you know, you’ve got the watershed moment is this cross country journey, but I think there’s a second watershed moment.

Jason Bradford

This is usual in this series. We’ve got watershed moment take two.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. So you know, everybody knows Eisenhower as the commander of the allied forces in World War II. So obviously, whatever he did after that trip, he impressed the brass over in the Pentagon.

Jason Bradford

You’ve got to be careful. You’re gonna upset MacArthur if you don’t explain that he was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, not the Pacific.

Rob Dietz

Okay. Okay. Okay. Sorry.

Asher Miller

Yeah, there was a definite ego thing.

Jason Bradford

They didn’t like each other.

Asher Miller

And then he actually got elected president.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. And maybe that’s a third watershed moment. Getting elected president. But the second watershed moment is he’s over there in Europe. And he goes to Germany, of course. And what does he see there? He sees the autobahn. And he’s like, “Ah, this is way better than what I was thinking of.”

Asher Miller

Talk about a highway to hell.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Well, and he was drooling over this thing. Like this is what we need in America.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, that’s amazing to think that the autobahn was built prior to World War II. And it was apparently incredible. And I’ve been on the Autobahn, so yes, yeah. And it is it is pretty fast.

Rob Dietz

Where have you not been Jason? I mean, really.

Jason Bradford

There’s a lot of places I’ve never been. I’ve never been in Antarctica.

Asher Miller

So um, it’s kind of crazy how fast people go. Oh, yeah. And if you stay in the left lane, you know, Americans have this habit of kind of nonchalantly staying in whatever the fucking lane they’re in. Sorry I’m swearing so much so today.

Rob Dietz

No you’re not.

Asher Miller

And if you try to pull that on the autobahn, you’ve got people on your ass with the lights on.

Jason Bradford

I was in a Saab 900 Turbo. And I was passing a Yugo or something because this is right after Eastern Europe got integrated. And East Germans were driving on the autobahn. But they had these little like tin cars. They had like five guys in it.

Jason Bradford

They’d go 36 miles per hour.

Jason Bradford

And so they’re on the autobahn. And I come up at 100 mph behind these cars going about 55. It’s like a Sammy Hagar nightmare. And I’m like going into the left lane. And the next thing I know, some green Mercedes sedan is going 140, and lights are flashing on me. I’m like, “What the hell? I’m going 100.”

Rob Dietz

Yeah, it’s ridiculous. Well, so we got Eisenhower being shaped up by the lack of progress getting across the U.S. and by the amazing ability to just roll smoothly all over the autobahn like Jason in a Saab. And then, like you said, Asher, he gets elected president. So why don’t you tell us what happens next?

Jason Bradford

Well, so he’s elected president in late ’52. He takes command of the U.S. as Supreme U.S. commander in 1953. And this idea of having a better highway system, the U.S. had been around a while, they kicked around the idea, but no one had really pulled things together. But Ike has got it, right? He’s gonna push this. He’s motivated. And so it leads it to the passage in 1956 of the Federal Aid Highway Act. And the plan got sold because it was gonna connect all the cities in America that were over 50,000 in population. So politicians everywhere now had a stake in this.

Rob Dietz

Is that — was that a big city back then? Like Corvallis is over 50,000.

Jason Bradford

It was significant.

Rob Dietz

We could have an interstate.

Jason Bradford

We could have had an interstate.

Asher Miller

I don’t think it’s too late, man. Why don’t we go petition for it?

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Do we have to exhume Eisenhower’s body to make that happen?

Asher Miller

I’m sure we can get it. Lots of people want to throw money at –

Jason Bradford

We can deep fake it. One of the big things was that, you know, it was sold as a reasonable cost. $12 billion. It was sold to be done in a reasonable timeframe. By 1972. And 30 year bonds were sold to pay for it. And it was backed by the federal gas tax. So they didn’t have to spend current dollars. They had to basically, you know, raise money through bonds, and the tax from gasoline sales would pay that back.

Asher Miller

And it would take like 20 years or something.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I wasn’t going to take too long.

Rob Dietz

Well, and that’s a brilliant political strategy. You know, it’s like everybody wants it. Just like everybody wants a military base in their district.

Jason Bradford

Right, exactly.

Rob Dietz

And everybody wants a Superfund site in their district.

Jason Bradford

And the federal government deal was, the state departments of transportation would still kind of run the shows, but 90% of the costs of construction would be paid for by the federal government.  And you had to have standards. So what they did is a standardized things. It had to be a four lane freeway at least, and a freeway, you know, meaning that you’ve got separation of lanes and no at-grade crossings. So this leads to the size. Everything’s got to be pretty darn big. Wide lanes, shoulders, 14 foot clearances when you’re going under underpasses, you know. And so it takes a little longer. Instead of finishing in 1972, it finishes in 1992.

Asher Miller

Just a little longer.

Rob Dietz

I bet you most of those folks that were planning this thought we’d be flying around in Jetson cars by ’92.

Asher Miller

Yeah, it’s true. Why did they think that this was a good investment? We’re gonna be flying around.

Jason Bradford

Totally.

Asher Miller

I just want to back up for a second. So the federal government was basically paying for all of this, right? So that must have incentivized kind of local states or local communities. You’d be like, yeah, build, build, build. They didn’t have to pay for it.

Jason Bradford

If you build it, they will come.

Jason Bradford

Yes. And it led to a lot of overbuilding, of course, too. Because well, the traffic really doesn’t justify a four lane freeway, but you’re paying 90% of it. Let’s go for it. I’ve seen this in action where I was living in rural California. They put in these giant freeways where it’s like, why?

Rob Dietz

I saw it in Atlanta with these monstrosities. There was one called Spaghetti Junction. That was just like, you know, it seemed like there were about 37 highways crossing each other at this one spot. It kind of became legendary.

Jason Bradford

There’s some great aerial images of this kind of stuff in various cities. But anyway, it does give you – it ended up being the largest public works program in American history. Ended up costing more than the $12 billion. It ended up costing $129 billion.

Jason Bradford

446,876 miles for sort of the original build, 16,000 exits and entrances, and about 55,000 bridges and overpasses.

Asher Miller

So this is a bigger project more spending than like the dams that we’re undertaking and those public works programs.

Jason Bradford

Well, I just have in my notes here as the largest public works program.

Asher Miller

No, I’m just trying to think of it by scale.

Jason Bradford

By scale it’s big. They had to figure out – they did all these tests for like, how thick does the concrete need to be? How far apart does the rebar need to be?

Rob Dietz

But think about how much  even some of the other . . . Like, how much paint did they use to make lane markers or how there’s little reflectors that they put on.

Jason Bradford

The roadside signs. Everything had to be standardized so that no matter where you were in the country, you understood what was going on.

Asher Miller

It’s a good thing that we had a lot of prison labor to make all those those signs on the cheap. That probably kept the cost down a little bit. Well, it wasn’t just the spending. It wasn’t like a one time allocation of spending. Right? You don’t only have to do this once.

Jason Bradford

No, you’ve gotta keep going.

Asher Miller

As everyone knows, there is always highway improvement projects happening everywhere. Life gets better. Everyone’s favorite thing is dealing with those projects that are happening. I think we’re spending now something like, well, between the federal government. . . I know the federal government really spent the money to build out the highways in the first place. When you look at spending for roads now, highways and roads and stuff like that, it’s federal, state and local government. But we spent about what? Like $200 billion a year. Maintenance, maybe building some more stuff. But a lot of it’s really maintenance expenses on that.

Rob Dietz

That’s more than what the whole build out cost was. Per year. Like we’ve now saddled ourselves with these horrible costs.

Jason Bradford

And these are inflation adjusted numbers, I just want people understand. So if you were to take that 129 billion, that’d be more like it’d be more like half a trillion today.

Asher Miller

But if you think about inflation adjusted, I mean, we spend more than 100% more now than we did in the late 70’s, for example. So, even when you adjust for inflation, we’re spending more money. It’s a lot. And if you think about it in a context of like, where we’re spending money, you know, the big budgets that we have for federal transportation spending. About 41% of it, like in 2021, 41% of like our federal budget for transportation in infrastructure went to highways. And 32% was spent on air travel. So 70 something percent. So if you want to get a sense of context, rail and mass  transit, 19%.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. And you know, one of the reasons why the cost of maintenance is so high is because compared to the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, when the thing was largely built out, the amount of trucking going on now is so much greater. And these heavy trucks really wear on the infrastructure.

Rob Dietz

Well, and all those covered bridges they smash along the way too.

Jason Bradford

You’ve gotta keep rebuilding those.

Asher Miller

That’s the part I don’t understand. They keep rebuilding these covered bridges. Well, it’s job creation.

Jason Bradford

Yeah.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. I appreciate the statistical digging that that you’ve presented here, but I always get drawn to the kind of weird stuff here. I mean, you talked about the, you called it the Federal Aid Highway Act that started this build out. But do you guys know that the actual name of the highway system originally? It had an official name, which was the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways?

Jason Bradford

Yes. That’s right.

Asher Miller

That’s an acronym. Geez.

Jason Bradford

Every once awhile you can go to one of the stop, what do they call them? The rest stops. And there’ll be some placard that explains all this. And Dwight’s, Ike’s, picture is there.

Rob Dietz

It’s amazing to me because you can think like, Okay, if you’re acting like a hammer, you see everything as a nail, you know, that kind of thing. So it’s like Eisenhower’s this military guy. And he sees everything in the light of national defense. So you know, the whole idea for him for the interstate was we got to make ourselves be able to safely move around all this heavy equipment, missiles and tanks and troops and trucks. And so it’s like, I guess it’s an unused defense system.

Jason Bradford

You know, well, Cold War too, right? They’re all nervous.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And I think it’s something that you brought up, Jason about standardizing things. That required a standardization that would allow for this heavy, heavy machinery to travel on it. You know, high overpasses or bridges or whatever.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, you could transport missiles standing straight up.

Asher Miller

Right in the air. Exactly.

Jason Bradford

Launched from the semi.

Rob Dietz

Do you know when we first hit on the idea of looking at the watershed moments and highways, I thought about this, quote/unquote “fact” that I knew, which is that the highway system was built so that like every five miles there would be an ability to land a jet airplane on it.

Jason Bradford

Nice.

Rob Dietz

And that turns out to be a complete falsehood.

Asher Miller

Yeah, I think what it actually is is that it wasn’t for jet airplanes, it was UFOs.

Rob Dietz

Right. Yeah. Total conspiracy theory. But like, we did an episode on susceptibility to conspiracy theories. And I was totally taken in by it. Well, of course, yeah. It’s Dwight Eisenhower. Let’s land planes all over the place. No, but there’s some other cool things, too, that I was not aware of the whole numbering system. Maybe this shows how unobservant I am. But did you guys know that odd numbers are north-south highways, and even numbers are east-west?

Asher Miller

Yeah, I actually didn’t know that. You know how you can tell? Because anytime I rode on one of these curves a little bit in another direction, the number changes. You haven’t noticed that?

Rob Dietz

I have not. I don’t know where have you been driving? Okay, and I got one  little quiz item for you guys. Okay? The widest highway in the world is in the United States. I’ll give you two quizzes. One, how many lanes? Two, what city?

Jason Bradford

Okay, it’s in a city. Oh my gosh.

Asher Miller

LA?

Rob Dietz

Okay, you’ve got LA, Asher. How many lanes, you’ve got to pick a number.

Asher Miller

Do you mean on one side or both?

Rob Dietz

The whole number of lanes in this block.

Asher Miller

Paved both directions?

Rob Dietz

Yeah.

Asher Miller

I’m gonna say 16.

Rob Dietz

Okay, Jason?

Jason Bradford

Okay. I’m gonna go for Dallas. And 14.

Rob Dietz

Ah, you killing me? See. You were so close to beating, Asher. Neither of you are right on the city. It’s Houston. So close, Jason. You’re in the right state. Texas.

Jason Bradford

I know. They do big in Texas.

Rob Dietz

It’s called the Katy highway. And I think it’s like interstate probably plus some access roads on the side. But you needed to up his lane guess. It’s 26 lanes.

Jason Bradford

No. I gotta get a look at this. I gotta look this up afterwards on Google.

Rob Dietz

I totally invite you.

Asher Miller

I’m sure there are lots of deer trying to cross that.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. It’s like a game of Frogger.

Jason Bradford

I was trying to be reasonable. Never be reasonable.

Asher Miller

Well, can we talk about why we’re even talking about this? Like, what are some of the consequences?

Jason Bradford

Nothing. Nothing.

Asher Miller

Oh, there’s no downside.

Jason Bradford

We’re good.

Rob Dietz

Okay, well, you guys know I’ve got the Environmental Studies background. So can I just jump in real quick with a laundry list of environmental consequences.

Jason Bradford

Okay, depress me fast.

Asher Miller

It’s gonna be just one I think.

Jason Bradford

You’ve got a minute.

Rob Dietz

Okay, here we go. So, you know, you’ve got to first mine all that oil and materials for all the infrastructure and the fuel that you need to run around on highways. That of course tears up the land and has all kinds of issues that go with that. Then you need all the materials and the energy for maintaining the highways and plus all of the energy that goes into maintaining this huge private fleet of vehicles.

Jason Bradford

Yep, yeah, good.

Rob Dietz

Okay, let’s let’s talk emissions here for a second. You know, you get the local pollution, the nitrous oxides, ground level ozone. I mean, you know.

Asher Miller

All my favorite stuff.

Jason Bradford

Smells good.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Good. I mean, I think you picked LA, Asher because of the legendary LA smog, right? I mean, that’s all from driving and highways.

Asher Miller

I miss it so.

Jason Bradford

We did a lot of this in a car episode, by the way. We talked about this before. So yeah, we’re repeating ourselves. Sure. Go ahead.

Rob Dietz

Right. But long term emissions of course, climate change. You know, you’re putting tons of CO2 up into the atmosphere. Let’s talk about water pollution. It’s not something you would necessarily expect but you get all this runoff coming from the highway.

Jason Bradford

Even the tires. There’s like chemicals in the tires that are screwing up fish.

Rob Dietz

Well, yeah, you’ve got the pollutants that are  getting in the streams, but you also have the quantity of water. Because when you pave a surface, it becomes impervious and the water just goes flying off into the stream. You get all this erosion.

Asher Miller

And it’s a good thing we don’t need more freshwater, you know,

Rob Dietz

Yeah, no reason to protect and keep that stuff. Right. And then my favorite from the conservation biology side of things is habitat disruptions. I mean, you already mentioned a deer trend. They can be significant barriers. But probably even more important is the way that highways and roads fragment habitat.

Jason Bradford

It’s a big deal, honestly.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. It’s mean, this kind of fragmentation and habitat loss, that’s, the leading cause of species extinction.

Jason Bradford

Well, one of the things that I think about is the dependency now we have on roads because it wasn’t always like that. Prior to the build out of these, this incredible road system ribbons of concrete, we had more energy efficient rail systems in the U.S. Both for long distance and for like this within city kind of trolley ways.

Asher Miller

Yeah. We even had rail those connecting towns to each other in Sonoma County, where I used to live in Northern California. It used to be a small gauge rail track that connected Santa Rosa to Sebastopol. It’s now a bike path. But there was rail connecting all of these little towns. Like nine towns.

Asher Miller

Marin county, too was like that. Yeah.

Asher Miller

And that all disappeared. Bye. Bye.

Jason Bradford

I know. It’s awful.

Rob Dietz

Were you allowed to take a hand car out on those lines and take a hand car between towns?

Asher Miller

I don’t know. They got rid it before I was there.

Rob Dietz

I’ve always wanted to try one of those. It seems like such an ancient technology.

Jason Bradford

So even with bikes, they have a bike that pedals the hand cars now.

Rob Dietz

Really?

Jason Bradford

Yeah.

Rob Dietz

Sounds awesome.

Jason Bradford

Well, you know, this infrastructure has locked us into an oil dependency. We’ve got like 5% of the population, or what do we consume? Somewhere between 20% and 25% of global oil supplies?

Asher Miller

Yeah. You mean in the United States?

Jason Bradford

In the United States, yeah. And we’ve got this built environment now that’s just dependent upon personal automobiles.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And I mean, if you think about that dependency, you know, we set out to hear people crowing about the U.S. being energy independent, how much we’re producing. But, you know, we are really dependent upon sources of oil from other parts of the world as well. And we’ve seen what that’s done on a geopolitical basis, right? I mean, you don’t have to look too far in the past to see the connection between geopolitics and oil dependence.

Rob Dietz

One, I think, you can see some some kind of hidden feedback loops at work too. Because this dependency of being locked into cars and highways and fuel has also led to this separation of our spaces where we live and where we work and where we shop. Because you could get around so easily, you know, just jump in the car. And so now you just drive off to get everything you need. But it’s really caused some problems because a lot of people have to work in the city, but they can’t necessarily afford to live there. So now they’re, whatever, I was gonna say 30 minutes’ drive outside of town, that’s probably optimistic in a lot of places especially with traffic. So people are spending their lives in cars now.

Asher Miller

I mean, I love it. I would do that every day if I could.

Rob Dietz

There’s nothing more fun and gentle than sitting in a long line of traffic while the guy behind you is ramming up your tail and everybody’s shouting at each other. Yeah, relaxing, relaxing.

Asher Miller

It’s so relaxing. I love it. Yeah, I think you alluded to this a little bit earlier, Jason, the fact that we built this highway system, and we’ve designed it a certain way to allow for large vehicles to be on it, right? Paved the way, no pun intended, for the trucking industry to become really our primary means of transporting goods.

Jason Bradford

It’s our lifeline.

Asher Miller

And think about this. I mean, we have many more passenger vehicles. And we’ve talked about this before, how insane it is that all of us – not all of us, but there are people sitting in a car by themselves stuck in traffic to get someplace.

Rob Dietz

Or like when you want to go buy 20 pounds of groceries, you got to get there in a 3,000 pound vehicle.

Jason Bradford

That’s a nice light vehicle. Congratulations.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I know. That’s like a Honda Civic.

Asher Miller

So we’re all doing that. There are a lot of passenger vehicles out there. But, in fact, most of what is being transported on roads are goods. And, you know, we did this book called, “Our Renewable Future” a few years ago. And we’re sort of looking at how we currently use energy. And we’re looking at the transport sector. And one of the stats that really blew me away is that we transport something like 135 times the amount of weight in goods every year as the total weight of all Americans. And you know how skinny we are?

Rob Dietz

Yeah, that’s a pretty weird stat. I’m trying to wrap my head around that.

Asher Miller

It’s a lot. And the point is, that is a lot. There may be a lot of people on roads, but there is a lot of stuff that we are transporting, and we are dependent upon that stuff.

Rob Dietz

Well, some of that stuff we’re dependent on.

Asher Miller

Some it of, but there’s a lot of essential things that get transported on roads.

Rob Dietz

Sure. Foods, medicines, but I was just thinking of like

Asher Miller

And my big ass screen TV, dude. Come on.

Rob Dietz

Well, I was thinking about those aisles in the Walmart or the Walgreens or any other wall store that has like the plastic bouncy balls and the rubber dog shit and the fake throw up.

Asher Miller

Hey, your non-essential is someone else’s essential.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, yeah.

Asher Miller

But what happens when there are diesel shortages? Like there’s an issue with diesel prices or something like that? Like, we’re vulnerable in a way that I think people are maybe able to recognize a little bit more right now because of what we’re dealing with. But that’s a huge vulnerability. Dependence there.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. You can see, you know, halfway around the world, Russia invades Ukraine, oil and gas prices go up. And yeah, we’re suddenly affected.

Jason Bradford

Yeah. So the other thing that I think is interesting to bring up about the history of what happened here is that you think about the timing of this. 1956, they start building. This is all going on during the Civil Rights era. And all these Supreme Court laws are passed. The supreme court upholds things that say you can’t have segregation and you can’t keep certain people from living in your area. There were  literally laws that said, “This is the area of town that white people can live, and this is the area of town that black people can live, and they can’t live together.” Those were laws in many places. Those were broken down. Those were destroyed by the Civil Rights Movement and the courts. But smart politicians…

Rob Dietz

Well, let’s not call them smart.

Jason Bradford

How about, wiley, cagey.

Asher Miller

Racist.

Rob Dietz

Jackass politicians.

Jason Bradford

Sorry about that. Bad, bad word choice.

Rob Dietz

Because I think I know where you’re going with this.

Jason Bradford

Evil doer. cleverness. Okay.

Asher Miller

Cunning.

Jason Bradford

Cunning.

Rob Dietz

As soon as you said politician, we knew something was up.

Jason Bradford

Well, they would basically say, “Let’s use these highway funds that will allow us to build this giant four lane concrete, basically wall barrier.” So we’re talking about, mountain lions and deer having a tough time crossing. Well so do those other people.

Rob Dietz

Oh, so basically like going to use highways as walls and then have Mexico pay for it?

Jason Bradford

But what they first did is they used eminent domain today to mostly go through African American neighborhoods, but on the edge of the white neighborhoods so that the African American homes would be wiped out and the road would then keep the rest of that community away from the white community. And this happened in town after town after town. There’s an enormous number of stories. I mean, Birmingham, Alabama, I just give you a specific, they had a racial zoning ordinance where 11th Avenue served at this boundary between the College Hills neighborhood, which was white, and black neighborhoods to the north. And this law was struck down. The College Hills residents were so upset. And they were petitioning to the city commissioners. And they said, “We’ll figure something out.” And so they basically just put the freeway right in that border. And so it precisely mirrors what their zoning had been. Although they had to get rid of that zoning law. So that happened all over the country. And there were. . . Oh, my gosh, just so many, so many homes were destroyed. 475,000 households, and more than a million people were displaced by the building of the highways.

Asher Miller

Just by being able to use them.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, it’s actually have you ever on foot tried to cross an interstate?

Jason Bradford

No, you’re not supposed to.

Rob Dietz

I know you’re not supposed to. I’ve done it.

Jason Bradford

You have?

Rob Dietz

I’ve done it.

Jason Bradford

How old were you?

Rob Dietz

At the time – Well, I’ve done it as an adult and a child actually. And I remember as a child, it had one of those dividers in Middleton we had to get over to. But it’s formidable. I mean, they are wide. And it’s tough. I mean, it’s a true barrier is all I’m trying to say.

Asher Miller

Yeah, the highway system, the road system, all the ring roads and the interstates going through major cities. I mean, all this stuff also decimated a lot of farmland. You talk to Jason about people being dispossessed from their homes, and it being used as a tool of segregation, right. But it also decimated farmland, decimated rural communities, or communities that had been maybe on previous roads systems, but then a highway goes through.

Jason Bradford

Right. Like these little state highways that go through the downtown Main Street.

Asher Miller

Isn’t that the movie, “Cars 2?” Wasn’t that about this town? Whatever, one of those. You know, it was about this town that got left behind. And that really hurt a lot of communities. It’s also done something I think that may be more subtle, but just like you’re talking about the uniformity with the highways, around the highways became sort of this uniformity of fast food restaurants, gas stations. And you create the system where there’s like this cookie cutter, ubiquitous, kind of really disgusting, the ugly….

Jason Bradford

Yeah, it’s hideous.

Asher Miller

And the uglification of America, you know.

Rob Dietz

It’s sad to say, but if you picture in your mind a Dunkin Donuts next to an Exxon station, it kind of says Americana in some ways.

Jason Bradford

I mean, the critic James Howard Kunstler wrote the book “The Geography of Nowhere,” right? Yeah, it’s just awful stuff.

Asher Miller

And another thing too I would want to mention is that, and you talked about this a little bit, Rob, is just that, initially there was a kind of like white flight dynamic that happened of people leaving cities and heading to suburbia. Which, obviously, the highway system supported, right? You have a dynamic now, where sort of, I don’t know if it’s a complete and full reversal of that. But there are many people, as we talked about, who can’t afford to live now close to cities where maybe the work is, and they are forced to live in communities further and further and further away. And so this dependence, you know, on the highway system, and on the fuels, it really hits hardest on people who have the least disposable income, right? So you see this dependence on these systems and on the price of oil and gas really, really hitting those hardest who can afford it the least right?

Rob Dietz

Well, you know, we’ve just run through an enormous number of of consequences, and the kind of things that the build out of the highway system, and how it’s led us into the Crazy Town that we all live in today, but we’re sort of like coming to the party a little late, I’m afraid. Because there was this critic named Lewis Mumford. You guys know him? I’m not talking about The Amazing Mumford the magician.

Asher Miller

Was he in Mumford and Sons?

Rob Dietz

Not talking about him either. What would you call that like the Simon and Garfunkel of new British folk scene or something? I don’t know. Anyway, Lewis Mumford was the social critic who, soon after the Federal Highways Act was passed, he’s got this quote I’m gonna read to you guys. He says, “The most charitable thing to assume about this action is that they hadn’t the faintest notion of what they were doing. Within the next 15 years, they will doubtless find out. By that time, it will be too late to correct all the damage to our cities and our countryside, not least to the efficient organization of industry and transportation that this ill-conceived and preposterously unbalanced program will have wrought.”

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I mean, Think about it as they thought they were building efficiency, but they weren’t. They were destroying efficiency.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, I mean, he saw it coming. Right? Unbelievable. And I think he’s getting to kind of a big point about unintended consequences, which maybe a lot of the things that have led us into Crazy Town that we’ve been discussing in this season on watershed moments have these unintended consequences. But in the early stages of this federal highway program, and this build out of roads in America, probably most people felt like this great win-win where you’ve got the politician saying, “Okay, money for my district,” and you’ve got local people saying, “Oh, build out and modernization.”

Asher Miller

I mean, think about the vision. Let’s connect every community that’s 50,000 people or more. That sounds wonderful.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I know.

Asher Miller

That’s like Facebook. Let’s just connect people. What could go wrong?

Rob Dietz

Yeah. I mean, almost nobody could see these systemic problems coming up. And I really think we need to emphasize one of these, which is kind of the most important and the scariest unintended consequence. And you’ve been kind of bringing it up a little bit here and there, both of you guys. It’s the extent to which we are locked into, essentially an unworkable infrastructure here in the United States.

Jason Bradford

I used to love that, you know, we went to Venezuela, asking them to send us more oil recently, and Saudi Arabia, begging them to turn on the taps, but they’re not so happy with us, because  we’ve been kind of getting on their case for killing a journalist. And so it’s just absurd, isn’t it? When the price of oil and gas goes up and we freak out and just start asking  the folks that we’ve presumably been upset about –

Rob Dietz

I mean, the official response is do anything you can to bring the prices back down. I mean, you mentioned begging our so called allies to open the taps. But we’ve also seen states putting a hiatus on the gasoline tax. We’ve seen the Biden administration talk about opening up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, just so you can flood some supply into the market. You’ve got people rallying around the ideas of getting fracking and tar sands development going again, turning Alberta, Canada back into a petro state.

Jason Bradford

I mean, they already are and it’s not like that shut down. It’s just that people assume you can just always do more. We can always just like drill more, always frack more, and have no idea what it takes. It’s like a water tap you can turn on.

Rob Dietz

That’s like the proof of how locked in we are. Here’s a moment where you can make a pivot to renewable energy or try something different. But no, we’re just going to keep the prices low. Asher, I feel like there’s steam coming off of your head. I feel like you have some anger around this issue.

Asher Miller

I have anger about it. I  also just have a lot of consternation, because I’m pissed. And if you’ve seen . . . You could go back, people do this all the time. You know, they do these retrospectives on presidents, going back to Nixon, talking about getting off of our dependence on fossil fuels. Every single fucking president, Democrat, Republican doesn’t matter. They all talk about the need to do that.

Rob Dietz

Retro Trump did not talk about the need to do that.

Asher Miller

That’s true. Let’s give him credit. Clean, beautiful coal. That is true. I guess the one thing you could say is at least he’s not a hypocrite now. He was straight about it. But you’ve had people for decades and decades and decades and decades recognize that this is a vulnerability of ours. Right? And we’re locked in. And frankly, there isn’t a simple solution. Right? We’re in a situation right now, because of the investments we made, not least of which is this highway system, right? And all the changes that end up creating in terms of our built environment, where people live, how we provision ourselves with food and other goods that we need. We built this fucking system that that’s cost us trillions and trillions of dollars. Who knows how many hydrocarbons burned and other resources, displacing people, displacing nature, all this shit, right? And we are stuck in a place now where the things that we would need to do to transition ourselves away from that is a fundamental systemic structural infrastructural transformation, right? And to do something like that, at this day and age, which we know we need to do for a number of reasons. Climate being not the least of them. But so is the fact that we’re dependent upon fossil fuels. And anything that happens in the market, a war that happens that involves a Petro state or the simple fact that you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel with  the cheap and easy stuff. So anything that we do that’s really substantive that’s going to get to the heart of that would require a transformation of all of these things, right? It’s just not about suddenly driving a fucking EV car on the highway. Where do you think the material comes from to –

Jason Bradford

Build the highway

Asher Miller

To pave the roads.

Asher Miller

Hey, we can make roads out of solar panels.

Asher Miller

Okay, we talked about that. All the stuff that goes into these cars, the plastic and the steel and everything. I mean, we’ve looked and done this analysis. It’s all dependent upon these resources. But we’re now in a situation where we’re going to say, “Okay, we kind of get off this shit, right?” We don’t have a ton of time to do it because of climate. We don’t have a time ton of time to do it because of depletion. And if we did it substantively, it will require sacrifice, dramatic change, or really impact people. And guess what? That ain’t gonna fly.

Rob Dietz

Well, the kicker is that I agree with you, we need to be on a massive program of shared sacrifice and devotion to that transformation. But you can see how psychologically invested the public is in the status quo and in the burning of gasoline.

Asher Miller

But they’re not just psychologically invested, they are materially invested. You can’t just say to people, especially people who are living at the margins, right? More and more Americans are living at the margins. To save them, guess what? Tighten your belt, we’re going to basically let prices go up, or whatever we’re going to do, we’re going to make these kinds of sacrifices. It’s gonna hit those people really hard.

Rob Dietz

Yeah. Well, I mean, think about it. It was at the International Energy Agency, after prices started going up, when Russia invaded Ukraine, they came up with a 10 point plan which is sort of loaded with what you think of as fairly straightforward. Okay, yeah, that’s a good way to use less gas. So they have things like reduce highway speed limits, work from home, go car free on Sundays. And you know, that’s three of the 10. But there’s more like that. And I can think of some people I know who would be like, you know, they’re telling me to go car free on Sundays, I’m going to drive twice as far just to spite them.

Asher Miller

We couldn’t even get consensus on wearing masks or getting vaccinated, right? To think that we’re going to get consensus on, “On this day, you can’t drive your car,” or whatever it is. And that’s even if people can afford to do some of this stuff. And this is why when you hear proposals, Biden administration putting out proposals to address climate change, you know. When it comes to the transportation system, it’s all about electric vehicle charging stations. Because we can’t imagine, and we can’t actually make an investment in a system that’s completely different.

Jason Bradford

We need a system that does not require this high amount of fossil fuel inputs at every stage of production, extraction, reformation, distribution, storage, processing, consumption, disposal.

Rob Dietz

How many nouns can you put in a row here?

Jason Bradford

Every single frickin’ step of almost everything? We touch all 835 pounds of stuff per person, or 835 times?

Asher Miller

Yeah, yeah, 835 times.

Rob Dietz

That’s for a one pound person.

Jason Bradford

I weigh myself and then multiply eight. That’s how much stuff is being – all of it is touched by fossil fuels. So if you say, the price of fossil fuels go up, just multiply that price of that one input across all the steps in the economy, which are completely dependent upon it. So we need to do something different. Something maybe the opposite.

Rob Dietz

Let’s see if we can fuel things on righteous anger and frustration. Hey, in our ongoing shameless attempt to get more reviews out on iTunes, this is a part where we share a particularly good review. You guys want to hear it?

Jason Bradford

Please.

Asher Miller

Sure.

Rob Dietz

Okay. This is from Chaka Harta from about a year ago. That’s a great name. Chaka Harta says, “Smart topical discussion with information about staying sane in our current era. Science, politics, psychology, business, government, and a healthy amount of irreverent humor throughout. Most importantly, the hosts seem to really know their stuff from working in the trenches on these issues for years.”

Jason Bradford

She didn’t cover aliens.

Rob Dietz

That’s true.  We did have aliens in the list of topics. But I like the whole idea of working in the trenches. I’ve never seen either of you in a trench.

Asher Miller

Well, Jason’s always wearing mud boots.

Jason Bradford

I do have a lot of mud boots and I get out in the field and it’s muddy. I dug a trench when I was in high school one time. I had a temporary job.

Rob Dietz

I think you send other people into the trenches when necessary. You’re like one of these evil congressional guys.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I’m not gonna go fight. Well, that’s really sweet, though. Thank you. I’m glad somebody likes our podcast.

Rob Dietz

Yes, thank you, Chaka Harta, for that wonderful review. And please, if you like this show, get anything out of it, maybe a laugh here and there. Go over to iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts and drop us a review. It helps other people find it.

Asher Miller

Yep, thanks.

George  Costanza

Every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be.

Jerry Seinfeld

If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

Asher Miller

Okay, so when we’re talking about doing the opposite of the National Highway Act, right? The highway system that we built. You know, I immediately think of what we would do at sort of federal policy. At the highest levels, right? What would we do there? And dithering around and the way that we are with trying to like transition our highway system or transportation system is not anywhere near enough. So, here some bold ideas. People are begging the fossil fuel companies to drill more now. And they don’t want to do it in the United States after having spent a decade fracking away with all the consequences of that.

Jason Bradford

And not being profitable.

Asher Miller

And losing money. And now they’re making money because oil prices have gone up and you can’t convince them to drill. So fuck those guys. Let’s nationalize the industry. I mean, I know that sounds crazy, but we bailed out the auto industry 12 years ago, whatever it was, you know, 13 years ago. And stop it. Let’s take control. This is not an issue that can be solved by the whim of the market.

Jason Bradford

And I know the biggest oil companies in the world are nationalized already. So what is the advantage of nationalizing?

Asher Miller

Because we can direct. We can actually say, these are the goals. Another goal for these companies is to make money. So our goal could be, let’s use the energy that we have available to us. If we have to use fossil fuels, which we acknowledge we do. We cannot go cold turkey overnight. Let’s use them to support a transition that’s a just transition, a sustainable transition to something else.

Jason Bradford

So you’re making corporate decisions. Instead of based upon how do we make as much profit, you’re saying, this is a key input to the industrial civilization. And we need to wean ourselves off it steadily, progressively, as quickly as we can,

Asher Miller

Invest these resources where they need to go.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, for a common good

Asher Miller

And along those lines, you know, again, trying to think what would we do that was the opposite? We might have to think about rationing energy consumption.

Jason Bradford

Right, because if you’re ratcheting down fossil fuel production, then you have to ratchet down demand or prices are gonna spike and then the poorest won’t have any access to it.

Rob Dietz

Plus climate is pushing this too. We should have had a ration in place quite a long time ago.

Asher Miller

And I don’t know if we talked about tradable energy quotas on this podcast before, but tradable energy quotas is something that we at PCI have written about and spoken about. You know, we can put that in the show notes for folks. So that’s one way of trying to do it that is more equitable. But a way of basically saying we have to ration and limit, but be very mindful.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, in season two we had a whole episode on rationing, which was our least popular episode of all time.

Rob Dietz

Nobody wants to hear it.

Asher Miller

Shocker. Yeah. Well, hell Jeff Bezos is going out into space and harvesting the moon because he can’t stand the thought of rationing.

Rob Dietz

Well, one of the things that you got to think about in doing the opposite is what the highway system undid, which as you top the program off today, Jason talked about how the rail system got decimated. And so, one of the things we also need to do at the probably higher levels of government federal state is to revive these other transportation networks, rail canals and even . . .

Asher Miller

Rickshaws.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, I mean they’re great. I love rickshaws.

Rob Dietz

Well, I was gonna say, you can’t haul nearly as much cargo, but I love the bike infrastructure too. And something I’ve actually noticed a lot around Portland lately, the city where I live, is that it’s like we hold the roads sacred. Keep the road open and free flowing, but the bike pas thare getting taken over and they’re littered and they’re sort of like falling into disrepair and the train station is a mess. These should be the parts of the infrastructure that we emphasize. And let’s start de-emphasizing the roads and the cars. And in fact, you mentioned a couple of seconds ago, Asher, but like, bailing out car companies. Next time they’re facing bankruptcy, can we just let them slide off into the sunset and call it quits?

Asher Miller

So where are you calling for is, let’s de-beautify the roads? Let’s throw our waste in the road but not in the bike lanes.

Rob Dietz

Just think about if accidentally there was a 40 foot barrier that just appeared in the middle of the highway? Would that be so bad?

Asher Miller

Just don’t do it on a foggy day on me.

Jason Bradford

Like I come to this idea that we have 835 times our body weight in stuff moving around. And a lot of that is because we’ve hyper specialized production of something in one location of the world. And we’ve had episodes on this and how much everything gets on shipping containers and transported around the world. And if you want to reduce the transportation intensity, and remove the need for all this infrastructure, then you’ve got to regionalize your production system and make it geared towards local consumption. An example around here, like we used to have a walnut industry in the Willamette Valley. We grew commercial walnuts. But once I-5 corridor gets put in, suddenly, it’s a little bit cheaper to grow walnuts in California. And so they out compete the walnuts from Oregon, and our Walnut industry disappears. But if you kind of had sort of, say trade barriers in the sense of, no, it’s expensive to get anything between here and California because there’s that 40 foot barrier along I-5. Then suddenly, it’s like you’re really focusing on diversifying each region for the array of goods and services that are needed in that region. And so it’s not like you don’t need transportation, but the scale of transportation required then gets downgraded quite a bit. And it’s not trying to go as far, it’s not trying to go through centralized systems for ultra high tech packaging and processing. But then if you look at how much energy is used, not just to produce and distribute, but also to get the final kind of mile, where it’s getting into the home of people, the household level. People are driving forever just to go to the big box stores. Those have to disappear too. And if you’ve ever been in one of these, like your old European cities, where there’s a grocery store on every corner, you understand that it’s the ability to walk outside, go down the street a little ways and buy what you need. And that is that’s such an incredible thing to have.

Jason Bradford

So dealing with that that goes hand in hand with with ideally re-localizing where that stuff came from in the first place, right?

Jason Bradford

Right. You’re cutting out at all these different ends then and so there’s a book actually, “Retrosuburbia” by David Holmgren. It’s a very interesting look at how you would take our current built environment and retrofit it. Of course, most of this is illegal to do like we can’t have retail outlets at the corner of a suburban house right now.

Rob Dietz

The problem is we imagine it like a Walmart is going to drop off the corner as opposed to what you’re talking about. Some, you know, Mom and Pop kind of shop.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, somebody takes the initiative and has a corner grocery on the side of their house.

Asher Miller

And there are actually organizations like the Sustainable Economies Law Center, that work at some of these laws, you know, ordinances and things that are on the books that disincentivize people basically either having their own home production of food or whatever that they could sell, or other ways of provisioning.

Jason Bradford

Yeah, break down all the legal barriers to local livelihoods, provisioning, distribution, sales, etc., and mix it all up again. Like it used to be in the old days.

Asher Miller

Yeah. And I think it’s really key what you said, which is that the whole idea of Retrosuburbia. We have to recognize that there’s a lot of built infrastructure that’s going to remain in a sense what it is, right? And so we have to be very creative in making the most of what we do have.

Rob Dietz

And I want to take this down t almost like a very individualized level or maybe apply for the household. But one of the things that I think you can really do is sort of try to immunize yourself from being so reliant on this infrastructure and this fossil fuel. And I know we’ve talked about, you probably have to have a certain amount of privilege or cushion to be able to do that because some people are locked into these really tough situations. So maybe this isn’t applicable all over the place. But this has been on my mind a lot because of something that happened to me recently with the car that I use in order to be able to get down and hang out with you guys here in Corvallis and record this podcast. So I have this hybrid car, right? It gets about 50 miles of distance on the electric engine. And when the batteries run out of juice, it switches over to the gas engine. So you know, I’m one of these, like, holier than thou hybrid drivers, right? And this valve on the car broke. And so what that caused was an overheating anytime the gas engine was in use. So basically, it became unsafe to drive the car in gas mode. However, the show must go on. So I had to shut up. I had to get down here.

Asher Miller

You hitchhiked?

Rob Dietz

No, I wish. I did take the train one time, which was fun. But what I took to doing was, I would drive the car in electric mode, stop halfway in, recharge it and then drive the other half. Now this car does not have a fast charge. So basically, what this meant was my trip went from being around an hour and a half in time length to being five and a half hours. And it also meant that I drove on much slower roads because I could get farther per electric charge. So I wasn’t on the interstate. And I noticed some real changes. Like one, I enjoyed the slowing of it because I don’t know, it’s just more scenery, Oregon’s beautiful, I was along the Wallenda river.

Rob Dietz

You were listening to life is a highway.

Asher Miller

You walked on the highway.

Rob Dietz

Yeah, But also, I was I guess meditating on it a lot. The slowing down was okay. The only reason it sucks is because everybody else is able to go faster and I’m sort of the only one who’s taking this extra time.

Asher Miller

Relative speed.

Rob Dietz

I think if we all kind of had it a little bit slower and had a little bit more connection with the landscapes that were traversing, you would you would have an improved quality of life. And the time that I came down here by train and bike, that was even more fun. And it actually took me less time than the damn car.

Asher Miller

Well look, I know you’re trying to bring it down to the personal level, I’m going to bring it even more personal level which is, I think if we see the enormity of this issue that we’re facing, there’s only one recourse. Just stop moving.

Jason Bradford

Well that’s the ultimate slowing down,

Rob Dietz

You mean like…  You’re not talking about moving from your house. You’re talking about just staying in one place.

Asher Miller

Yeah don’t move.

Jason Bradford

Don’t move please. Just don’t move. That’s brilliant. Be like a tree.

Asher Miller

Be like a tree

Jason Bradford

If tree can do it, so can we.

Rob Dietz

What if I’m hungry?

Asher Miller

Deal with it.

Jason Bradford

Be a sit-and-wait predator. Be like a snake.

Melody Travers

Thanks for listening. We just gave you a whole bunch of do the opposite ideas so you can take action in your life and community. If that’s too much at this time in your life, do something real simple. Give us a five star rating on Spotify or any other podcast app and hit the share button to let your friends know about Crazy Town.

Jason Bradford

Today’s sponsor is KHWY, the all-highway station. Nothing but songs about the open road, great car sex, being stuck in traffic, drive and drug crash and tow trucks, speedways, jacked up trucks, low riders and for you, they might be giants eco-freak types, even electric cars. KHWY, Rockin’ the American Road since 1956.

Jason Bradford

Oh, baby this town rips the bones from your back. It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap. We gotta get out while we’re young . ‘Cause tramps like us…

Jason Bradford and Rob Dietz

Baby, we were born to run.

Jason Bradford

That sucked.

Asher Miller

Yeah, baby.