My passenger was your average blue-collar Joe, but more interested in talking than chatting.

"Well, yeah, but I'm not complaining. Gas should be $5 a gallon."

He thinks I'm kidding. He thinks I'm insane. When he just asks why, I tell him. "Dude, we pay less for gas than any industrialized country. That's what it costs in Europe, or Japan. We use a quarter of the world's oil, and are what, 5 percent of the population?"

"Yeah," he says, "but what's the point? Those oil companies make enough as it is, bastards." True.

"Well," I say, "it would force automakers to raise gas mileages, which they could have done years ago, if they weren't so fucking greedy." That's a pet peeve he himself bitches about. "But mainly, that money is needed to rebuild the public transit infrastructure that GM originally destroyed." I'm now back to insane. "Public transit was once easy and convenient—people liked it. So GM bought up streetcar lines everywhere, dismantled them, literally burning them, to make people need cars." I'm upgraded from insane to conspiracy nut. "They say one man can't change the world. But Alfred P. Sloan sure did, even more than his buddy Hitler, when you really think about it. This car culture affects every part of the world, on almost every level, from asthma to accidents. And he created it."