What do RiotACT readers think of the apparently increasing numbers of second-hand cars parked jauntily for sale on the verges of Canberra intersections?
On the one hand, one could say ‘live and let live’, it’s no skin off my nose. One might also be quietly cheered at the thought of used car salesmen (who have an uncanny way of conforming to their sleazy type) gnashing their nicotine-stained teeth at the lost trade. It’s also a bit of a stretch to argue that these daggy clusters of dejected vehicles are an eyesore – blighting Canberra’s hundreds of kilometres of windswept, bitumen-scored, 80 km/hr no-man’s-land.
On the other hand, one could see this as the thin end of a wedge of civic irresponsibility – one that widens to make acceptable all kinds of behaviours that impose real public costs, while giving private benefit and convenience.
Of course, most of us probably commit the occasional selfish act that gives us marginal individual benefit at the expense of the common good – speeding when we’re late, dropping our Woollies docket in the carpark etc. But it’s the brazen visual prominence of these informal used car yards, announcing a creeping lowering of standards of civic responsibility in a city, that is distinctive. When several sellers opportunistically gravitate together, forming a mini-Melrose Drive of four or five cars, they tacitly endorse and normalise the practice, multiplying its demonstrative effect. According to this view, casually parking a car for sale on the verge is not too far from furtively dumping boot-loads of household waste outside charity bins.
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Is this just liberal hand-wringing? (‘What about the children?’) I’d appreciate comments.