Gas Pump Blues, Part III

May 24, 2008

“I really do believe [a certain U.S. presidential hopeful]…wants to change the U.S. into a third world country. That is pretty much what [the candidate] said the other day when chastising us for using too much energy.”

— Posted by “S. Henderson”, #31
New York Times, “The Caucus” Blog
 May 21, 2008


“The candidate”, as you may have discerned, might have been John McCain or Barack Obama; both have spoken at some length on conservation in their campaigns. But our discussion here is not a political one; so let us rather, for a moment, take a closer look at the reality-challenged “S. Henderson” for possible insights into our own energy future.

This “opinionator” exhibits the kind of pampered, self-absorbed attitude that would have had us all speaking German by now if Americans had brought it to the war effort of the early 1940s. To link responsible energy use only with economic or geopolitical weakness is, ironically, to nurture both kinds of weakness in the land where you live

It is this kind of thinking, at least in part, that has led to our present dilemma.

It would be helpful if we acknowledged the importance of reining in some of our beloved “frontier freedom” impulses that, in their current form, have caused this nation of individuals to routinely jump behind the wheel without giving a single thought to natural-resource consumption.

It would be helpful if we considered planning out, and coordinating with others, how we’d use the car today, instead of hopping into it with every new “gotta go” notion that popped into our heads. If we saw to simple automotive maintenance on a regular basis. If we used the daily mail, or gathered info and paid bills by phone or online—gleefully! In our PJs! With our hair doing the Einstein-Don King Thing, but with no one to pass judgment, save the family dog! Arf!

Over time, we would definitely see a drop in our own gasoline costs if we consciously managed that “frontier-freedom gene” long enough, say, to submit to the carpooling experience when possible. Or if we thought of public transit as an option. Or if we attempted to reduce SUV use where we could. Or if we took fuel economy into account when making our next vehicle purchase. Or if we revisited this whole, like, walking concept, and revived that prehistoric custom for present-day use. It would beat firing up our cars and trucks to haul a two-DVD “director’s cut” from the corner shop and back!

We’d come to experience untold savings on gas if we looked at the larger picture still, and supported public policy that promoted the use of a combination of energy sources for transport and other necessities. If we considered (in time, ’cause this is a biggie) arranging to live closer to work, or working from home if and when we could. If we took a lesson from the Chinese in urban centers, and the British in the countryside, and our own health-crazy compatriots in the Pacific Northwest, and got into bike-riding in a big way. 

Soon enough, we would discover a world of health, social, and environmental benefits to our conservative vehicle use, in addition to the concrete savings that families would generate using these strategies. We’d breathe easier, and this precious land of ours would be able to catch a breath or two itself.

To come out on the other side of this fuel-price nightmare, we need a miracle in the form of nothing less than a comprehensive U.S. culture shift, a miracle that will see us pulling in the same general direction on at least this one essential front.

It is vital that we gather our wits about us, and exercise a degree of control—family by family—during this inevitable transition from budget-busting gasoline addiction to a range of other eventual choices. It is vital to our own pocketbooks, and to the nation itself, if we are to someday regain our top-flight status in a rapidly-morphing world economy. I’d like to think that we are.

What about you?

Fortunately, we happen to live in a land where miracles are not entirely uncommon. 

And this one will begin any time we’re ready—and can prove it.


Travel Safely And Have A Wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

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