Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Automotive Century

For far too many kids, this year's first ride in the family car looks and feels a lot like last year's first ride, and the year before that, and the generation before that. And the generation before that!

Pretty much what you see on the highway today

The automobile of today has changed very little from the automobile of a century ago. Driver in the front left seat. Passenger to his right. A parallel seat behind them. A steering wheel, always circular. Wheels-- always circular, and always four of them. A roof overhead. Pedal controls located on the floor-- accelerator to the right, brakes to the left.

None of this has changed since a century ago. Whether you were driving the Jeffrey Sedan by Nash, or the Hudson Super Six, or even the good old Ford Model T, you were driving essentially the same design, the same structure that folks drive today.

You might point to a variety of features that have changed, like electric ignition, radios, air conditioning, power steering, inflatable tires, changing body styles and designs, engine efficiency, speed, gas mileage, suspension and complete redesign of the power and drive trains. Piffle, I say. Minor cosmetic differences.

Why four wheels? Why not five? Or eight? And why round-- could we not achieve greater efficiencies with oval tires? Why keep the century-old steering wheel design? Why not a computer screen that displays the road ahead and allows the driver to select a path with a mouse or touchscreen interface? And if we have the screen, why would the driver need to face forward-- why not a inward-facing circle of seats, for better conversation among the passengers?

You may say that the current design is still with us precisely because a century of testing and experience tells us that, for instance, round wheels work best. I say, unleash the power of innovation and we will sweep all of that baloney aside. Did I say oval wheels? What about-- square wheels!!

For far too many kids, this year's first day back to school looks and feels a lot like last year's first day back to school. And the year before that. And the generation before that. And the generation before that!   - Betsy DeVos


  1. For every 100,000 people who get into a car in America, about 10 of them will die in accidents this year.

    For every 100,000 kids who enter 1st grade this year, almost 20,000 of them will fail to graduate high school.

    If public education had the successful track record that the automobile does, no one would be trying to change anything.

    1. So, how many students does public education kill per 100,000?

    2. Are you suggesting that the 20,000 did not get the same opportunities as the 80.000?

      So quick to blame the schools without even bothering to ask us why? For every single one of those 20,000 that don’t reach the graduation stage (and be careful here with your statistics) in four years the teachers and counselors in their schools can explain exactly why. Amazing to think that people like you never even seem to wonder why they don’t make it. Bad teaching? Hardly. If that was the case we wouldn’t have an 80% success rate. Go ahead genius and give it a try . . .

      Chronic absenteeism
      Chronic misbehavior
      Mental illness
      Severe cognitive disabilities
      Parental neglect/abuse
      Drug and alcohol abuse
      Generational poverty
      Generational dependence