Rant and Rave

Rant and Rave

The Demon Speed Limit

A Guest Rant by Lee Estes, Attorney

Dear Wackos,

I felt it was about time for me to speak up on behalf of all speed-loving red-blooded Americans. No, I don't mean amphetamines. I mean high-speed driving. A truly American art form. I know Europeans practically invented formula one racing, but speed in Europe is limited to the well-heeled. In America speed is truly democratic. Everyone can drive fast. And until 1974 everyone did. But then the government paid off the Arab states to deprive us of oil so the feds would have an excuse to shove the 55 mph speed limit down our four-barrel Holly carburetors.

So why am I telling you two? That should be obvious. Along with all of the other questionable "information" and "advice" dispensed on your show, you are also the NUMBER ONE national whiners about speed. HOW MANY times have I had to sit and listen to you wring your hands when some poor schmuck who, in the mistaken belief you will help him, mentions his automotive problem is more prevalent at higher speeds, and instead of being helped has to listen to you proselytize about demon speed. 1 A hundred years ago you two would be complaining about rum or prostitution or some other positive human good. But today, with the government having destroyed just about everything else that is fun, you two liberals have decided to pick on speed.

The real question is, Why this presidential campaign? Merely being liberals is probably sufficient. Alternatively, this may be your way of ingratiating yourselves with NPR and its generally liberal agenda. Of course, you have announced your tandem run for the presidency. Your tirade against vehicular speed could be nothing more than the typical politician's trick of manufacturing an issue. Regardless of why, I think you two have overplayed your hand this time.

Speed limits are in the news. And the question is how much higher they will go and when. 2 For once, common sense seems to be prevailing in this country. I would like you to consider the following points during the great upcoming speed limit debate that will sweep the country. In fact, if you jump on board and make this part of your presidential campaign, your victory will be assured.

Rule of the Dumbest Guy

This is one of the great guiding principles of human civilization. It appears in many forms and guises. Its application to the subject of speed limits should be obvious. Even to a couple of wackos like you two. Since a speed limit is intended for the "common good," 3 it must be set at such a speed that even the WORST driver (i.e., the dumbest guy) can safely negotiate the highway. Even if he's driving a 1963 Dodge Dart. 4 By definition almost ALL of us are not the WORST driver on the road. Therefore it is absurd, ridiculous, immoral, and unconstitutional to expect the rest of us to crawl on our mechanical bellies at speeds so slow anyone over the age of 18 will expire from advanced age before even the shortest trip can be completed.

Speed Limits Are Advisory Only

Traveling better than 30,000 miles per year, mostly in Michigan and none of it anywhere near the posted speed limit, I have made a startling discovery! Speed limits, at least in Michigan, are strictly advisory! They don't mean a damn thing. I discovered this through numerous occasions while traveling well in excess of the posted limit and being observed in flagrante delicto by a trooper who did NOTHING. It didn't take me too long to figure this out. We can drive whatever speed we want. This can mean only one thing: Our "boys in blue," "Michigan's finest," etc., know perfectly well speed limits are an act against humanity. They don't drive at the speed limit, so why should they expect us to! But that doesn't keep them from trying to fool us.

The posted limit is merely a suggestion. Suggested by the state police. Suggested, based on the Rule of the Dumbest Guy. Let's face it, police officers know how to drive fast. Faster than their recommended speed limits. They just put those ridiculously low numbers up to try and slow us down so they have all the fun of going fast. Don't fall for it. The speed limit is advisory only and you do not have to obey it.

Let us consider:

Stupid Arguments in Favor of Speed Limits

High speeds are dangerous.

HOGWASH! Driving as fast as possible makes me feel good. It's probably the only time I'm awake when I actually feel good. Maybe it's the endorphins. I don't know. But I do know I feel focused when traveling at triple-digit speeds. The degree of control over a car necessary to do this requires some degree of skill, and knowing I can do that makes me want more. It certainly gives me a well-deserved feeling of superiority over all those '63 Dodge Dart drivers I keep running off the road.

BALDERDASH! Why would high speeds be dangerous? First, the only criterion we use for deciding whether a given speed is "high" or not is the posted speed limit. 5 When you grasp this, you will hear the sound of one hand clapping.]. If we take the speed limits off, there will be no basis for saying what is high or low speed. Therefore, since high speed will no longer exist, high speed cannot be dangerous.

ROWRBAZZLE! 6 So what if high speeds are dangerous? Who wants to live forever, anyway? Especially if I have to do it driving the double nickel while ensconced in a Yugo for all eternity. No thanks. Give me a 200 mph wheeled bullet and a bridge abutment every time. Where's Achilles when we need him? 7 Hasn't anyone ever heard of live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse? Now there's an honest philosophy of life. I grew up in the sixties. In Detroit. Cruising Woodward Ave. and Bloody Telegraph, two streets well deserving of their reputations. If you couldn't move fast you were run over. Talk about improving the breed. Today most people are more worried about the number of cup holders in their econo-box than the horsepower. Or the quarter-mile time. WHERE ARE OUR PRIORITIES!?

Lower speed limits save gas.

Who CARES!? What's the point of saving gas? Denying ourselves the right to burn every gallon we want just means some future generation will use it. I say, better us than them. The sooner we burn ALL the gasoline, the sooner someone will have to take responsibility and produce an alternative fuel that is truly ecologically friendly. Let's face it, gasoline exhaust and the atmosphere don't mix. The sooner we burn up all available gasoline, the better. And what better way to burn gas than by going as fast as possible when our vehicles have their lowest fuel efficiency?

Great Arguments Against Speed Limits

This is America. The land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE.

Well, that just about says it all. There are few things more "American" than cars. There is nothing more "American" than fast cars. What the hell is the purpose of being free and brave if you don't take advantage of these opportunities? Like anything else--"use it or lose it" Taking the speed limits off (at least on the Interstates) would be a great opportunity for everyone to exercise their all-American freedoms. Maybe if people started feeling more FREE and more BRAVE we would see other changes as well. I predict that if speed limits were banned, the rate of voter turnout in off-year elections would at least double. Illiteracy would be eliminated. 8 All crime would be eliminated.

Nobody obeys the damn things, anyway!

The logic of this argument couldn't be more perfect. Why do we make illegal what we all want to do? What sense does this make? Is this some kind of Freudian 9guilt trip in which we put ourselves through a catharsis of driving absurdly slow just to prove we're not as bad as we already know we are? This is too nuts even for characters like you two.

The proof of this argument lies in a Department of Transportation study performed at the expense of the American taxpayer. 10 As reported in Motorcyclist magazine, the DOT performed a simple study of the influence of posted speed limits on real-world behavior. What did a million or so taxpayer dollars find? Simply that there is little correlation between the posted limit and how fast people drive. People drive at the speed they feel most comfortable. During the study DOT measured actual speeds on a stretch of road. Then they raised, lowered and finally removed the speed limit signs all together. In each test the average speed remained the same!

What Should We Do Now?

All speed limits, at least on the interstates should be removed. Police officers currently being used for traffic enforcement should be reassigned to more useful tasks. Arresting criminals would be a good start. And, as Americans, we should all start breathing a little deeper and remembering what it means to take our own lives into our own hands and be responsible for ourselves. Instead of the government coddling most of us now depend on.

Removing the speed limit is not a license to maim and kill other citizens. No one has that right, and no one is suggesting we should have it. I am suggesting that speed limits are simply one more unnecessary intrusion into private lives by the government. Specifically, a government that thinks it knows how to live YOUR life better than YOU do!

Overall, I would give your show a 9.5 because it's got a good beat and is easy to dance to.


Lee Estes Attorney

P.S. I happen to know the real Attorney Cheatham you two always malign. If you want to meet him I can arrange it. No kidding.

1 How's that for a sentence.
2 Raising the speed limit is an acceptable stop gap measure before total removal.
3 A true nonsequitur if ever there was one.
4This is, admittedly, redundant, since what else would the dumbest guy drive.?
5This is heavy stuff Zen Master. When you grasp this you will hear the sound of one hand clapping.
6Pronounced rowr-bazzle. A guttural sound intended to express one's outrage at all the bone-heads and cretins whose whining constantly suck the life out of you.
7I know he's dead. That's the point. If he wasn't dead, we wouldn't remember him anyway.
8At least the crime of "excessive speed" with all those messy points.
10Who else?

[ Back to the Rant and Rave Archive ]