Elites Want to Ban Gasoline Cars, Gas Stoves


Urban elites are far more likely than other Americans to oppose gasoline powered cars, SUVs of all types, and gas stoves, according to a survey released last week by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity. The survey defined “elites” as people who have post-graduate degrees, live in households that earn more than $150,000 a year, and live in zip codes with densities of more than 10,000 people per square mile, which is about four times the average urban density in the U.S.

The cities of Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco all average more than 10,000 people per square mile.

Conducted by Scott Rasmussen, the survey found that 72 percent of these elites (and 81 percent of Ivy League elites) favored banning gasoline-powered cars, compared with 24 percent of Americans as a whole. Further, 58 percent of elites favored banning SUVs compared with 16 percent of Americans and 66 percent of Ivy League elites, while 69 percent of elites (and 80 percent of Ivy League elites) favored banning gas stoves compared with 25 percent of all Americans.

The survey estimates that about 1 percent of Americans fall into its definition of “elites” (and half of those were Ivy Leaguers), but this is a very different 1 percent than the 1 percent who earn the highest incomes. About 20 percent of Americans live in households that earn $150,000 or more a year, but most of those either live in low-density neighborhoods or don’t have post-graduate degrees.

What is it about dense cities that causes people to lose empathy for anyone else? I’ve noted before that people who live in suburbs or rural areas love their lives but don’t think that anyone else should live that way if they don’t want to. However, many people who live in dense cities think their lifestyle is so wonderful that everyone else should be forced to live that way as well.

The wording of one question gives a hint of what some of these people are thinking. Asked whether non-essential air travel should be banned, 55 percent of elites and 70 percent of Ivy Leaguers agreed compared with 22 percent of all Americans. Of course, no one thinks that their own air travel is “non-essential,” so they all imagine that others will be most likely to have to give up their travel. In the same way, it is likely that many of these elites already have gas stoves and/or SUVs and so won’t mind if new ones are banned.

The elites also tend to think that Americans have “too much individual freedom.” When asked this question, 47 percent of them agreed (as did 55 percent of Ivy Leaguers) but only 16 percent of Americans as a whole thought we have too much freedom. In contrast, 57 percent of Americans think we suffer from too much government control compared with just 21 percent of the elites and 15 percent of Ivy Leaguers. Of course, no one thinks that they themselves should be controlled; only others.

Read the rest of this piece at The Antiplanner.

Randal O'Toole, the Antiplanner, is a policy analyst with nearly 50 years of experience reviewing transportation and land-use plans and the author of The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future.

Photo: Mai-Linh Doan via Wikimedia under CC 2.0 License.