ALBANY – In the modern world, we cherish our freedom and individuality. And, as
automobile advertisers have long understood, few experiences make us feel more liberated than a fast ride with the top down.
To be modern is to be mobile. Our economy depends on the free and rapid circulation of people and goods, and we have invented transportation technologies to suit our needs. First the railroads moved people and goods at previously unimaginable speeds, while steamships circled the globe. Then, in the twentieth century, airplanes moved us even faster.
For most people, though, mobility means automobiles. Cars freed rural people from their isolation, and they gave city dwellers access to the countryside. The middle classes take their cars for granted, while the world’s poor aspire to car ownership as a token and a tool of advancement.