CARMAGEDDON!!!! ó the near-apocalpytic closure of a stretch of freeway in Los Angeles ó has come and gone. I survived, although I did have to eat several of my own toes in order to do so.
There was indeed a ridiculous amount of breathless local coverage of Carmageddon throughout the weekend ó it was more burdensome than the actual closure. (I will say in LAís defense that this was a total shutdown of a ten-mile stretch of one of the busiest freeways in the world. In a number of cities and towns in this great land of ours, ten miles of freeway would be pretty much the whole town.) Now come the inevitable recriminations about the hype and hysteria that attended the run-up to the non-event, such as this one from Russ Baker.
There is, however, a rather gratifying lesson to be learned from this complete absence of disaster. In fact, itís so gratifying that no one will ever speak of it.
Government (boo!!! hiss!!!) went out of its way to inform the citizenry what it was doing, and made the citizens participants in solving the problem. Government did what the citizens could not do for themselves - i.e. the work of improving the freeway ó and gave the citizens the means to deal with the larger problem ó i.e. not causing traffic jams ó as they saw fit. Whereupon everyone seems to have made any number of personal decisions with the common good in mind.
Okay, so maybe thatís a little grandiose. Maybe they didnít have the common good in mind ó maybe they just didnít want to be stuck in traffic. So, Galt-like, they selfishly stayed off the freeways altogether. Even if you put that spin on it, youíre still left with individuals acting in concert with an awareness of a larger community.
And they did this in Los Angeles!
Thatís kind of how itís supposed to work, isnít it? Thatís not apocalyptic, but Iíd call that a pretty big deal.
Of course, the last thing we want people to realize in this country is that weíre all in this together, and that sometimes we can solve our problems simply by keeping that in mind. So weíll make fun of Los Angeles for a few more days, and then move on to round-the-clock coverage of the next missing white girl...
[Ed. note: for details on the Streaker of 405, please apply here.]