Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Excuse the Price of Gas

Today our Commander in Chief stood among the chirping birds in the Rose Garden and announced that if it weren't for that stinky ol' Congress blocking oil drilling in the Arctic Wilderness, gas prices wouldn't be so high.

Now, that's a gas. George must think we're all as dumb as a bag of hammers. I wonder what it is that bugs the GOP and some of these Corpora-crats about not getting their grimy hands on the last bit of the undeveloped wild. Why don't they just go to Africa and shoot elephants instead?

As my daughter and I were running an errand I stopped to fill up my tank, to the tune of $42 and change. That's mild by some standards, because I don't drive a ten-person SUV. I drive a five passenger midsize wagon that gets so-so mileage, about 26 to the gallon if I drive smart and keep that needle between 1 and 2 rpms; I choose not to take the highway to work so it makes for a fairly smooth ride.

But some people do drive enormous SUVs that they don't need. I'm not talking about these 4-H or Brady Bunch families with six kids, livestock, and/or pets. I'm talking about the folks I sometimes see tooling about in my litte Burg -- two parents, maybe two kids, a little baseball equipment, and one big Hummer.

Y'all out there driving solo in those big-ass, low-efficiency cars , listen up: Gas prices are high because you are driving up demand. Oh, don't give me that. I see you out there, every damn day, riding in those pretend trucks on your way to work, just you and nobody else. It's not like you drive the speed limit, either. So when they finally crack open the Alaska wilderness and haul away the last polar bear carcass, pat yourself on the back.

Tonight at Target I found a unique and clever retailer coup: The Re-Tote. Now, I've actually taken my Target bags back to Target so they can be reused, but this is way better. The Target Re-Tote is a big sturdy recycled bag of fun. It's enormous, carried all the items we needed, and it's colorful! What's more, you can help make one if you send your Target bags in. A company called TerraCycle is buddying up with Target and Newsweek to collect your used Tar-jay bags and turn them into this cool and capacious bag. If you take the cover off the April 14 edition of Newsweek, it folds into a pre-paid envelope in which you stuff your used plastic Target bags and send them into TerraCycle; your reward is one of these spiffy totes! I love mine.

Today a United States judge in California ruled that the Bush Administration has 16 days to decide whether to list polar bears on the endangered species list. There is due cause because the polar bear's habitat is eroding, er, melting at a pretty brisk pace, thanks to global warming. Of course, if they hurry and open the Arctic to drilling, that problem will take care of itself. And Shrubya can have himself a nice polar bear rug back at his dude ranch where he'll spend the rest of his life convinced that he's a smart guy and did his country a great service.

This morning on my speed-limited way to work, I was enjoying this tune from Pete Rowan and the Nashville Bluegrass Band. There are a few guys whose voices I really do find stunningly distinctive, and Pete Rowan's is one of them. This is one is on my list of most beautiful songs; it's full of sadness and regret and shame about some of the other bad choices Americans have made, leaders have made. If we kind of globally removed our heads from our self-important asses to think about the consequences of just a quarter of our actions, an eighth, even, what might the world be like?

Trail of Tears


At May 01, 2008 1:53 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

That Bush proposed drilling in the Arctic again is no surprise. That NO mention was made of conservation is more troubling. But the more I look at this, the more I think this man is simply a reflection of the American people who did, after all, elect him, twice.

Bush says there’s no magic wand he can wave to help gas prices. What about CAFÉ standards? Why not demand that within 5 years every automobile has to get 50mpg? I do not believe that this is impossible technologically. Of course, every time mpg is even mentioned, the oil companies have a seizure. They want no part of conservation. Why would they?

Car companies also fight these standards, usually arguing that it’s too expensive to increase mileage. I think this is a specious argument. Car companies have had no trouble investing money on technology like dual climate control, heated seats, head-up displays, beverage coolers, in-dash hard drives, push-button starting, headrest DVD players, navigation systems, steering wheel controls, color changing paint, light sensitive mirrors, sophisticated sound systems, rain sensing wipers, mood lighting (Ford Focus), voice command systems, etc. None of these things have any impact on the basic functioning of the car but they were all worthy of millions of dollars of product development. Why? Because they’re sexy. They’re gadgets. And Americans love nothing more than gadgets or any features that make them feel wealthy. Any crumb you can toss to the middle class to make them feel rich will be an instant hit. Improved gas mileage? Not so much.

Still, you might say that today Americans are ready to embrace higher mileage cars. I see little evidence of that. Sure, some minority have traded in SUVs for cars, some people are buying hybrids. But these are the people who quit smoking when it hit $2 a pack. The hard core smokers are still smoking and I see no shortage of SUVs or muscle cars on my way to work each day. Americans see cars as an extension of themselves. They don’t want a smaller, more economical car that might make a difference in the world. They want a car that says, “I’m cool” or “I’m successful.” This is the American creed. Even if you don’t have money, it’s better to go into debt to make it look like you do. Living a thrifty middle-class existence is looked down upon in today’s America.

So I think President Bush is really a reflection of the average American. While he’s a complete ignoramus, I’m not going to beat up on the guy anymore. He is what he is and we put him there. And Americans, for all their big talk about being eco-friendly or wanting government to do something to save us money, won’t do anything to change themselves, particularly if it means looking less cool, less successful, buying less, eating less, wasting less or in any way having to do anything different. We deserve everything we get.

At May 01, 2008 2:50 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

I love that TerraCycle link, and MrB will love it too.

The car companies suck, but they are giving people what they want - so people suck too.

The majority of people need to start caring about their impact. Not sure that is happening yet.

At May 02, 2008 7:11 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

SHITfire, you mean I could have had color-changing PAINT?


Seriously though, you are both right. At the end of the day, it's all about "The Great Me". I should probably soon do away with the romantic notion that at some point, people will wake the hell up and make better choices for the sake of humanity. I don't really believe in converting them, but I try to set an example.

I told someone recently that for a long while I allowed myself to be the round peg shoving myself into a square hole. I just don't care about fashion, or what's cool, unless it's cool on a different kind of level. It makes for a kind of in-between existence, but I'm too old to kiss up to societal norms and pretend to be someone else the way I did for the first half of my adult life. Screw it. Gimme the ugly fuel-efficient car (as Doc knows, I think a Prius is a cute car and I'm about 85% sure there's one in my future), the unplugged music, and my silly reusable bags. Twice in the last week I walked to a store to get something. A kid on my street could not get her pretty little head around that. She said, "But won't you be tired?"

Just call me the weird old lady in the 'hood.

At May 02, 2008 7:21 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

PS (being the PollyAnna that I am)
The other day on my way home, right here out east on Richmond Road, I saw a Toyota Highlander HYBRID. Now, I know that is not a car that necessarily gets better mileage; it's what I call a "conscience car" because it's got a higher emission standard but no immediate "kickback" to the driver. So, there are folks who make choices that emanate from a different place. Maybe there IS hope.

Ok, somebody smack me.



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