Friedman to India: Tax Your Cars to Death
Thomas L. Freidman is at it again. After earning the American auto industry's ire by portraying Detroit automakers as lazy, greedy, foot-dragging Luddites, the New York Times columnist has some advice for aspiring Indian motorists: don't do it. Spooked by the potential environmental impact of a new (if still theoretical) $2500 car, Friedman's urging India to look at wasteful western ways and "leapfrog us, not copy us." Apparently, it's common sense calling. "Just as India went from no phones to 250 million cell phones — skipping costly land lines and ending up with, in many ways, a better and cheaper phone system than we have — it should try the same with mass transit." To that end, Friedman's championing the ideas of Sunita Narain, the "dynamo" who directs New Delhi's Center for Science and Environment: "India can't ban a $2,500 car, but it can tax it like crazy until it has a mass transit system that can give people another cheap mobility option." Friedman tries to recruit our support for his Indian anti-car stance by suggesting that it's one of those win-win deals. "An India that makes itself the leader in both cheap cars and clean mass mobility is an India that will be healthier and wealthier. It will also be an India that gives us cheap answers to big problems." I'm confused. While it's easy (enough) to imagine an Indian mass transit utopia, how exactly would that help us?