On Driving

“I think it should be harder to get a license,” I was saying. “There are too many bad drivers on the road. Driving is a privilege, not a right.”

“That is the legal theory under which our licensing system operates,” Mr. Magundi responded, “but as a moral principle it is completely wrong. You and I are among the fortunate few who live within an easy stroll of public transit. If everyone had that choice, your principle would be sound. But in fact most Americans live in places where it is simply impossible to get to work without a car. As long as our economic system demands that everyone must be gainfully employed; as long as we build suburbs with zoning laws that actually prohibit businesses within walking distance of residences; as long as we refuse to provide transportation for those who cannot or will not drive—while these things are true, driving is a necessary prerequisite to making a living. And making a living is a necessary prerequisite to living at all. If one cannot live without driving, then, morally speaking, driving is a right, not a privilege, and no legal theory can supersede that moral truth.”