Not imPriussed

Our onerous gasoline gluttony is looming large on many minds.

What should an environmentalis do? What should a patriot do? What should a growing number of desperate Americans do? Buy a Prius!!!

Yes, that plucky little hybrid is the panacea we’ve been waiting for. It gets like 44 miles per gallon! OMG! Once you throw down $25K, a huge robotic car factory will render steel, plastic, nickel, and some other crap into a 2.7ton planet-saving machine, which will in turn get you mad street cred (for being so progressive) and probably change your life forever.

It’s much better for the planet than riding a $150 bicycle or walking (though these are inexpensive & good for health, you might be mistaken for some kind of homeless person). What would people say? “No car? He’s so poor . . .” I’ll let your imagination fill in the details. No, the Prius sends an unequivocal message: that you care about the environment enough to buy a brand-new, slightly more efficient car to save money (and the Earth!) for your 40 mile commute from the vast suburb that supports your home & bright green swath of freshly-mowed grass (does Toyota make hybrid lawnmowers, too?)

<Removes tongue from cheek>

Really, the praise given to the Prius is ludicrous. If people are serious about saving money on gas (which I think is something we can all get behind) or want to support environmentalism, there are better ways than buying a hybrid. Until now (tonight’s price: $3.89/gallon), the cost of gas has not been high enough to ignite real debate. We’ve be bled slowly for quite awhile, but the knife has just been twisted, and those changes we’ve avoided for so long are becoming reality. There’s the expected result of sharply declining SUV sales & rising compact car sales. But it gets better! Homes in the furthest suburbs of large cities are drastically dropping in price. People who live only a few blocks from where they work are finally starting to walk daily, and those with longer commutes are hitting the streets in bicycles (which I’ve noticed right here in my own town).

Similarly, pressure is mounting on business & government to solve economic troubles, with food prices exceeding budgets at record pace. With everyone springing into action, is the price of gas such a bad thing?

Before you answer with a volley of curses, hear me out. The cost of gas is something we have limited control over, but the cost of food is something over which we have virtually no control. In this country, we’re fortunate enough that the price of both of these necessities is at best an inconvenience and at worst a personal-budget crisis. No one has starved on either account (poorer countries are not so fortunate, and violence has already bloomed in the absence of essential nourishment).

This leaves us in a relatively good position: we’re capable of changing lifestyles and adopting new ways of life (with or without a Prius) if the pressure is strong enough to do so. Previously, gas prices were a nuissance, not desperately high. At present, the cost of gas & food has become a threat (possibly the threat) to the people of this planet, not just you or me. Serious change is now required, not recommended.

In our neck of the woods, this may be the beginning the end of suburbia as we know it, with its Walmarts, Tahoes, and chemically perfected lawns.  I say good riddance.

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