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LGM Podcast: Accounting for the True Costs of Automobiles


For the next installment of “djw interviews authors of recently published scholarly work he thinks is interesting” I talked to Greg Shill, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Iowa, about his new article published in last month’s issue of the New York University Law Review, “Should Law Subsidize Driving?”. It’s not often I recommend reading 82 page law review articles, but this one is well worth your time. If you don’t want to make that kind of commitment, there’s an Atlantic article that touches on some of the themes.

As I mention in the intro, I saw a draft of this paper circulating on twitter around this time last year, and I went and downloaded it, but didn’t read it for quite some time, as I figured I know a lot about this stuff, and much of it would be old news to me. That was an arrogant fear on my part; I learned a great deal even from the sections covering subsidies I thought I was well informed about. The power of this project, in my view, isn’t so much in the answer Shill provides to the titular question, but in assembling all the subsidies for driving embedded in law in one place, so we can see them all together.

We don’t talk about it in the podcast, but if like me you were horrified by Bill de Blasio defending police flat-out running over protesters with their cars, you might turn your attention to section 1.D (pp. 530-535), which discusses with some depressing examples the underappreciated subsidy of “when you kill vulnerable road users with your car, the police and various other officials, along with the press, will join your legal defense team pro bono, working relentlessly to shift the blame from to your victim.”

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