Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's a Hummer, That's a Bummer

I guess we all got the memo... the one about boycotting ExxonMobil. This is from Woody Hastings via Buzzflash:
Driving down the cost of gasoline is not really going to help us overall, what would help would be finding alternatives and adjusting lifestyle choices.
"The American Way of Life", the White-Picket-Fence, 2.2 children and a dog in suburbia, "the American Dream", that's just not realistic.
And it's not very good for individuals or society.
And it's really not good for Earth.
In the sixties, when gas and cigarettes were 25cents, Europe was paying $2/gal. All over America, suburbia sprawled out along the lines laid out by Eisenhower's Inter-state Highway System. We built bigger and faster variations of our pre-war cars, without any thought of efficiency. Europe produced new concepts in Automotive design that delivered excellent performance, handling and efficiency, partially in response to the cost pressure of fuel.
During the "Oil Embargo" in '73, Americans were faced with rationing for the first time in a generation. The price of fuel ratcheted up and stuck. The American Automotive industry buried it's head in the sand and set up PR campaigns, rather than build the new efficient machines that we needed, they continued to produce hulking, smoking monsters that sucked down gas and spewed lead laced petrochemical smoke, marketed with slogans like "Buy American".
Industry goaded a segment of the American public up in arms against "A-Rabs" for jacking up the oil (it was actually Arab-American Oil companies, but you know, details) and then, and here it gets weird, against the Japanese for creating a solution: more efficient cars.
The 70s saw the pollution controls and safety issues brought forward, some of the clumsiest regulatory legislation you could imagine. Detroit, once again, stonewalled rather than facing the challenge, the Japanese and European firms stepped up and met the design criteria and the market rewarded them. The 80s saw our once leading car companies produce some of the most lamentable vehicles in history.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, Oil stayed stable for the most part, with the pressure off, Detroit went back to building big hulking monsters that get pathetic, single digit fuel economy ratings.
Along the way, Congress has subsidized Sprawl in a thousand different ways, while finding creative ways of strangling what's left of our rail system. For most people, living in suburbia is not possible without a (car or two).
Oil underlies all of our activities and all of our food, oil will eventually run out, we can adjust incrementally as prices rise, or we can cope with the crash when supplies get scarce. That is if the Sea Level doesn't rise twenty feet in the next twenty years.
For me, I already boycott ExxonMobil and Texaco. These guys are bastards from way back. Citgo gets my dollar every chance I can. Chavez is putting some of that money to good use.
Rather than rallying for lower gas prices, we need to call for windfall profits taxes.
Lee Raymond just announced his retirement from ExxonMobil with a $480Million severance package! After a record breaking $13Billion quarterly profit! While the price of gas climbed 50cents/gallon. (Read Krugman this week for the real reason the Raymond ought to be reviled)
But none of this is going to improve with oil executives in the Whitehouse.

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