The human capacity to consider danger and consequences is on the verge of a major makeover. Consideration is what the mind engages in when we decide to actually think. That requires a pause and an act of reflection. It is usually based on an image one has of consequences. The most obvious fear we have is of a nuclear war. If we get past that I have a candidate for the next most dangerous and ominous reality we face.

My candidate is the automobile. That's why I am glad to see the New York Times raising salient questions about the self-Driving car.

Tip of the iceberg

The self-driving vehicle is an occasion to talk about vehicles in general.

That means autos, trucks anything with wheels that requires roads. I am not an economist but I venture to say that we spend scandalously just on roads. We are in the trillions if we merely fix what is out there in the US. I doubt we can do it.

No one figures out the total expenses of vehicle dependence. The story I have pursued since the 1960s has never become news. The cost of owning a car is reckoned at over $700 a month. But this ignores costs of roads and taxes to keep the oil economy afloat, which include credit card wars like Iraq.

Consequences and truth

When I was a kid I used to listen to "Truth and Consequences" on the radio. Ralph Edwards was my household celeb. Today even to consider consequences is deemed a liberal plot, And truth has become a battered badminton bird.

My truth is that Cars and roads are not merely the elephant in the room of the world, They are an elephant that is many times the size of the room. We are just as blind to the consequences of continued reliance on the automobile as we are to the implications of continued nuclear bomb presence on the planet.

People are waking up

I am not saying that we are ignorant. I think most people are capable of knowing that if we limited vehicle ownership to people who had no other way of getting to and from where they need to go, a fraction of today's car driving public would escape any ban on car ownership.

As for the rest of us, cars are necessary only because we accept the premises of how we design and create human settlements.

We do not need cars anymore

Cars and roads and oil do more to make Rex Tillerson and the Kochs rich than they do to enhance life for the rest of us. We have huge, infant developments on the horizon that can completely change the way we build and the way we create communities. But we cannot even discuss them seriously because of the monstrous elephant in the room of the world. Our biggest hope is people waking to actual consequences.