Thursday, May 24, 2007

To hell with cars

Hi-dee-ho, neighbors!

Have you filled up yer tank lately? I haven't, but I have been following a little bit of "news." On Monday, ran an interesting story on the rising gas prices. I took the liberty of extracting a few quotes, so I could, of course, make fun of the logic behind them.

"Needing gas ranks third behind needing to breathe and needing to eat," economics professor Patrick Welch of St. Louis University told the St. Louis Times-Dispatch this month. "It's a demand for a necessity, not for a luxury." Economics professor, eh? Well, I guess on the surface this surmise might be true of most Americans. But, come on ... really .. a need? Consuming (combusting) gasoline inhibits humans' abilities to breathe and to eat (thanks to pollution). I think Darwin (not to mention a few fundamental schools of psychology) might have a slightly different take on the opinion. It is sad, truly sad that the "need" for gasoline is ranked (by apparent experts) as a biological requirement for survival in our culture. I would argue as well that the majority of Americans' automobile usage is, indeed, a luxury.

"It is time for Congress and the administration to do their part to help alleviate the pain consumers are feeling at the pump," Mark Cooper, the Consumer Federation of America's director of research, said in recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. The average U.S. consumer is spending $1,000 more each year on gas than five years ago, according to the CFA. Hey, Congress, check out investment in alternative transportation -- truly effective mass transit, incentives for bicycling, more effective city planning so people will wise up and live nearer their workplaces. Retro solutions for adapting cars (i.e. hybrid tax credits) are like Band-aids on amputated limbs. Wake up, dipshits. It's not a problem of "alleviating pain at the pump," it's an issue of solving a problem that spans decades -- we should never have been allowed to develop our horrible dependence on oil for everyday, individual transportation needs.

And, proof that Democrats (too) are fucking idiots concerning this topic:

"Oil companies today are enjoying record profits, and while they could use those profits to invest in more production capacity, instead they use the money to buy back shares in the markets," Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., said at a recent hearing. I agree, Rep. Conyers that oil companies are finding ways to work this situation to their advantage. However, the problem goes beyond combatting capitalism. People, including you lawmakers, need to wake up and begin formulating balanced syllogisms.

"In April . . . crude oil was $7 a barrel cheaper than last year (but) gas prices were almost 50 cents a gallon higher," Rep. Bart Stupak, another Michigan Democrat, said at the same hearing. "Clearly there's more at play than simply the world crude oil market." Stupak has introduced a bill that would make oil and gas price gouging a federal crime. Let's take it a step further and see some laws that make overconsumption of gasoline a federal crime. This is proof of an inherent flaw in free-market capitalism -- as long as there is demand, matched with any available supply, it is regarded as not only right but obligatory to satisfy that demand. Clearly what is needed is a paradigm shift. We aren't dealing here with a simple matter of miserly suppliers creating price gouging -- we are looking at a very limited supply (and oil companies know it). Consumers, however, are programmed to believe that their rights to demand supply are above all other pragmatic considerations such as sustainability and the environment. Why are so many lawmakers afraid to broach this issue?

Everyday on my commute to and from work (via bicycle), I think about the hundreds of poor suckers I see driving cars. With all my capacity for empathy, I genuinely feel for them. It must really suck to feel stuck, to have no options, to essentially be operating like a caged rat. Why feel this way, though? Why wait for a bureaucracy driven by special interests to create a solution for you? Exercise some good ol' fashioned American individuality and find your own way out of your problem. Give up your car. That, my friends, is quite possibly one of the most patriotic actions one may execute in such troubled times.

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