Osorio on Free Trade and Mobility

In two articles out today, I tackle the ever-expanding array of environmental and labor provisions attached to trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries — with co-author Gabriel Sahlgren, in The American Spectator — and the environmental hysteria that has greeted the unveiling of the Indian-manufactured Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car at $2,500 — in TCSDaily.

Further on the Nano — the Indian business website domain-b.com, which I cite in the TCS article, offers yet another response to critics of the Nano who claim that more cars on the road will mean more accidents. Author Kiron Kasbekar says that what matters is the driving environment, both physical and legal:

Zipping in and out of lanes as if a city road is a Formula One track is considered fine — it doesn’t matter if others on the road are inconvenienced or endangered. There are too many drivers in India who think the law is meant to be broken, who are never arrested.

The environment changes attitudes. You will find non-resident Indians returning to India after living in America, Europe or the Gulf, where they have steered clear of violating traffic rules, who think nothing of flouting the law on Indian roads. They know they can get away with it.

One reason drivers can get away with dangerously bad driving is official corruption, which has another endangering effect on motorists in general.

And there is one major factor that is the direct or indirect cause of most accidents — and that is bad roads. But bad roads do not just happen; they are made.

The dangerous, cracked and cratered roads are the result of corruption and self-serving collusion between road building contractors and municipal and state authorities. The culprits are never caught.

Hopefully more motorists will lead to less public tolerance of bad roads. Cheaper cars may yet empower people beyond giving them greater mobility.