Friday, May 11, 2012

Peasants walk

That’s why the world loves cars. Before cars, the rich and royal rode horses or horse drawn carriages. Peasants walked. Peasants were tied to the same plot of land so they didn’t have too far to go anyway. It’s their betters who had places to go.

Cars changed that. A 20 year old beater can do the legal speed limit as well as a new luxury car. They drive on the same roads. Actually, the old Red Neck 4X4 truck can go a lot of places the luxury car can’t.

A man on horse looks down on the peasants walking the ground. It’s not the same in a car. They are pretty much on the same physical level. The expensive car driver may feel superior, but doesn’t have the height advantage of a horse. The psychology is different. In fact, the guy in the big old truck physically looks down on the guy in the luxury car.

One of the big milestones of new immigrants is getting a driver’s license and car. They may not consciously think of it this way, but at some level, they know they aren’t peasants anymore. After all, peasants walk.

Public transportation doesn’t compare, at least not these days. Poor people ride buses. That’s how people think, and to a large extent it’s true. At one time train travel had a certain elegance, but those days are past. Too often public transportation has more in common with cattle cars. Thanks to the TSA, and cramped seats, flying feels more and more like peasant travel.

A person who can fill all their needs without a car has huge financial advantages. They don’t have the car payments, repairs, licenses and fees associated with a car. Their sense of financial well being compensates them somewhat. That is, if it is a choice. If they can’t afford a car, then they just feel poor.

In the modern world, everyone wants a car. The streets of China used to belong to bicycles, but now they belong to cars. They are more prosperous, so they don’t want to travel like peasants anymore.

The psychological pressure for owning a car is huge. I bought my first car at 17. That allowed me a sense of freedom I hadn’t had until then. My parents could be left behind and the car was my space. Better yet, suddenly I was much more attractive to those girls who lived way out in the country. I was somebody -a non peasant.

Now that I’m older, there are times I wish I could get by without a car. Living out here in the woods, that would be hard to do. In the old days, going into town once a month was pretty normal. That would be hard to get used to. At least I’m looking at it on a practical level. I don’t need a car to feel like somebody. My worth is not tied to what I own.

There is one group of non-car owners who’ve avoided peasant status: people who live on boats. It just doesn’t make sense to own a car. They are free to hoist anchor and travel the seven seas. There are rich people on boats, but plenty of people with peasant incomes too. Sure, some measure worth by the length of their boats, but we all know that size isn’t everything. It’s what you do with it.

What makes a peasant a peasant? Being unable to travel far. Being tied to the land. Being looked down upon. Having few choices in life. The boater lives on water. He’s a self contained unit -like a tiny country all his own. That would make him a king. The realm may be small, but he’s the master.

Better to be a pirate than a peasant.



  1. Some very good points made in the above post - thank you sir. My aunt lives in San Diego near the beach (couple of blocks) and still has her car. But she doesn't use it at all - everything she needs and attends is within several blocks. Church, gym, grocery store - everything (well, so far anyway 8^). California gas prices, insurance and regulations are EXPENSIVE. Not to mention the garage she rents to keep it in.

    For her, an expense. She is considering giving it up, the very few places she does occassionally travel to that is too far is serviced by the bus.

    1. It would make perfect sense to give it up. Sometimes the economics break through the cultural norms.

  2. I only go to town about once a week now. Would love to go less and do it by horseback too. Going by horse would sure limit the number of trips as it would probably take a day and a half to make the trip! I'm actualy doing what I can to work my way to becoming a peasant, tied to the land.

  3. To my generation, a car was THE thing to have. It seemed essential for a date. It didn't matter how old or dilapidated it was or how new, it just had to run "most" of the time. It took awhile and I went through a couple of cars, but finally got my dream car, a '57 Chevy convertible.

  4. "Piracy" aside, down here in Texas I NEED a truck if I am to continue living "within the norm". The bus doesn't run early enough for me to go to work, and would still leave me over a mile walk each way even if it did. I need to haul brush, etc. away from my property because I'm not "allowed" to burn it in city limits. I need to haul my perch traps, bait, etc. to the boat and back. Hell, I need to pull the boat! I'd be nothing more than another welfare basket case without my truck. Seems like some folks want me there...

    1. My vehicles work for a living too. I'd like to find away around having one, but the solutions are primative and no fun at all.