The problem of cars is one of costs and benefits (good god I sound like an economist). Right now the costs are hidden (100 deaths per day, parking req's built into zoning laws, single-use zoning, fed funding of freeways...). The benefits are manifold. We now enjoy mobility never before seen in human history, which is benefit enough.
But, in a market where costs and information are not transparent, what happens? Mutation. Now, our trains are a joke. Airlines are good, but costly for fuel, while rarely turning a profit, and amid frustratingly crowded airports. Our cities are sprawling in ways that make ppl nervous. And other consumer options wither up and die.
The point isn't to get rid of cars, but to promote more efficient ways of transporting. That will give us more efficient cities - more mobility, quality of life, etc for the same cost. Or if the peakers are right, maybe similar quality of life, with less fuel.
Getting rid of cars as an academic or political goal is rather futile, and even arrogant (and this coming from a bike guy). And if the neighbor wants to drive an SUV, that's his choice. I'm not comfortable means-testing ppl's needs for cars - that's why I hate the anti-sport ute bashing.
The problem is that this is an environment that has been promoted at the cost of consumer choice, at the cost of consumer financial well-being, and at the cost of civilizan safety. In the long run it has put us over a barrel militarily, and now leaves us in a situation where everybody driving priuses (prii?) really isn't going to change anything.
However, mixed use, mixed transport, neighborhood-oriented cities, do move us in a direction that is more efficient, more organic regarding individual market choices, and more robust regarding international resources. Think of it as diversifying your urban portfolio. Loading up on sprawl may be similar historically to loading up on enron. Or not. Who knows?