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Re: Burns:: Friday Fanaticism

Oh great. The new editor doesn't comprehend the fact that the world's biggest exporter of goods--nearly a trillion

bleeping dollars a year worth of Stuff--is going to burn more dinosaurs than hand-to-mouth countries.

The point is not that we are using resources, but that are wasting resources not used in the production of those goods. You can get from A to B in a vehicle that gets 40mpg or 12mpg, and many Americans consistently choose the latter, mostly due to the influence of our media. Much of our entertainment programming depicts people who constantly have the latest, greatest and biggest, regardless of its usefulness or their supposed income level. Couple this with the constant bombardment of the same message by advertising wherever we turn, and it is no surprise that Americans are materialistic to the point of the absurd. This does need to change, for a number of reasons, both internal and foreign.

1. Our involvement in the Middle East, including our support for the destabilizing regional policies of the Israeli government, is partially based in our desire to maintain some semblance of control over the availability of oil supplies. This will not change so long as we are dependant upon oil for energy. It is this involvement that caused us to be a target for the fundamentalists to begin with. I am not convinced, however, that if we were to pull out now, we would be at all less of a target. The vast majority of the population of the planet lives well below what we would consider extreme poverty, although when applied to a foreign country, we like to call it subsistence. Is it any surprise that people who cannot make ends meet and who don't posess or experience a single 'luxury' throughout the whole of their lives express anger and resentment at the tiny fraction of people who control the vast majority of the world's wealth and live in excessively overabundant luxury, to the point of being able to burn expensive and vital petroleum products unnecessarily? How many people don't have electricity due to the cost of petroleum while we burn it in our SUV's?

2. Within our own borders are large numbers of people who are far from wealthy. once again, a small fraction of the population in question is frivolously using resources that could be used for the betterment of many. Socialist, ideas, I know, but necessary.

3. This is becoming a nation of debt, which just gives corporations more power over the people. There was a time when Americans had savings. Now, many Americans carry 5 and 6 figures of high interest debt, above and beyond the cost of their home. Many people don't have enough savings to survive even one or two months without income (at least, not without resorting to their credit cards). This is incredibly unhealthy, both for the individuals involved and for the economy. It is Americans' savings which wind up being used for investment by financial institutions, which is the thing that makes the world economy prosper. Is it really necessary to go into 20 or 30 THOUSAND dollars of debt to purchase a vehicle that could be replaced with one that most people could afford to pay cash for? Does a truck factory employ more people than a car factory? I doubt it. That means that the thousands of extra dollars spent on a large suv COULD be spent on other products that would keep folks (hopefully Americans, at a decent wage) or invested into our economy in more traditional ways, like actual investments. Since when is trickle down economics through consumer spending the only way to inject money into the economy? These arguments about American consumer spending habits always seem to frame the debate as one in which those doing the spending are the only ones keeping American's employed.

Sure, as Americans, we have the RIGHT to do as we please, regardless of the consequences, but that doesn't make it moral to do so. I have every right to dislike people who I believe are behaving immorally, and I believe that is all JB is doing here. You might have a boat that eats gas, but I'll wager that when you use that boat, you use it to its maximum, carrying several passengers and using whatever speed and power it is capable of. Same goes for the m/c we all ride. Sure, we could ride a more efficient machine, but at least we use our machines at something approaching its intended use. That is a far cry from driving a huge, heavy vehicle that seats 11 and is a danger to everyone else around you, BY YOURSELF! That is wasteful and gluttonous, and quite frankly, should be punished.

Why not apply the same rules as apply to tractor/trailer rigs to all vehicles that seat more than 5. That would get the minivans and large SUV's over in the right lane where they belong, and get the drivers thinking about alternative means of transport when not carrying passengers. Why not crank up the insurance premiums on such vehicles to sky high amounts. Why not tax them for the significantly higher amount of wear and tear they surely cause to the raodways that you and I pay for. Then, just provide tax breaks for farmers and others who have legitimate use of SUV's to compensate for the added cost of ownership.

Remember, it is OUR country, and we CAN make them do whatever we want them to do, so long as we can garner enough support. Of course, the fact that the auto lobby has billions of dollars at its disposal makes it nearly impossible to pass legislation not supported by industry, but perhaps that is more reason for campaign finance reform. In the meantime, I will continue to give people I know who drive excessively large vehicles a hard time, and I will be happy to do so.

Let the flames begin...
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