Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"When You Drive an SUV, You Drive with Osama"

Last night, I went to get gas. It cost me $31 to fill up my tank. Now, this isn't the dent in my wallet that it could be since I own a Volkwagen Jetta with a diesel engine that gets about 38mpg. I also take the bus to work, which means, I don't fill up that much. So, if it cost me $30 to fill my small car, you have to wonder how much it cost for those poor suckers who own an SUV.

Andrew Sullivan has a worthy post about how SUVs and their big thirst for oil can acutally fuel terrorism. his jumping off point is a worthy column by Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria about how rising oil prices don't only hurt the American economy, but also can fuel policies that can end up hurting the US. Zakaria notes:



"Over the last three decades, Islamic extremism and violence have been funded from two countries, Saudi Arabia and Iran, not coincidentally the world's first and second largest oil exporters. Both countries are now awash in money and, no matter what the controls, some of this cash is surely getting to unsavory groups and individuals."


He notes how petrodollars has cursed Russia's burgeoning democracy and also fueling Hugo Chavez's militant anti-American movement in North America. Zakaria makes the case that without the oil Russian President Vladamir Putin wouldn't be placing a straglehold on democracy and Chavez would not be the benevolent revoluntionary he styles himself to be.

What's the answer? We need to go on diet:

"It's true that there is no silver bullet that will entirely solve America's energy problem, but there is one that goes a long way: more-efficient cars. If American cars averaged 40 miles per gallon, we would soon reduce consumption by 2 million to 3 million barrels of oil a day. That could translate into a sustained price drop of more than $20 a barrel. And getting cars to be that efficient is easy. For the most powerful study that explains how, read "Winning the Oil Endgame" by energy expert Amory Lovins (or go to oilendgame.com). I would start by raising fuel-efficiency standards, providing incentives for hybrids and making gasoline somewhat more expensive (yes, that means raising taxes). Of course, the energy bill recently passed by Congress does none of these things."



No, they didn't. Congress and the President are still in the clutches of Big Oil as well as the Big Three auto manufactuerers who don't want to see a tightening of the fuel standards.

Sullivan basically repeats what Zakaria says, but better. Oh, how Mr. Sullivan loathes SUVs:

"My anti-SUV ire always goes up in the summer, when I see these vast, bloated symbols of excess bulldozing down the narrow streets of Provincetown, pushing every bicyclist, pedestrian or small child out of their way. My only solace is thinking of how many of these SUV owners are pouring money away to keep their mobile homes on the road. Pity that same money goes to finance Islamist terror. And please don't give me all this guff about how I don't have a car (hey, I'm not indirectly donating to al Qaeda), having to take kids here, there and everywhere, with all their stuff and the dogs and suburbs and soccer practices and on and on. All of this took place before SUVs; kids were just packed into back seats and trunks were stuffed full if necessary. Parents coped. Kids thrived. If all else failed, people could even have less stuff. Imagine that: less stuff. As readers know, I'd gladly put a dollar of extra tax on gas, insist on higher fuel standards for cars, make SUVs comply with the fuel standards of other cars and put a tax on SUVs on top pf all that. We are in a war. As far as I'm concerned, those people driving SUVs are aiding and abetting the enemy, and helping to finance the terrorists that want to kill us all. I'm well aware that the notion that the Bush administration has any interest in energy independence or taxing gas or deterring SUVs is about as likely as their demanding subsidies for sex-changes, but I might as well vent. We can always stigmatize these SUV-terror-enablers. How about bumper-stickers for non-SUVs that simply say: my car doesn't subsidize Saudi terror. Would that help?"



People are lulled to believe that SUVs are safer than smaller cars and so seem willing to pay a huge amount to fuel these monsters to go to the store or the local Starbucks. Nevermind that cars are way more safer than they were thirty years ago. (As I've said before, my car has eight airbags.) The President talks a good talk about sticking it to the terrorists before they get us, so...how about weening America off its oil habit? If these countries lose their biggest customer, watch them change their tune. They don't do anything now because we're hooked. We need more and more oil and they are there to supply it to us.

America needs to really become more independent from oil and conserve more. But don't expect it to happen now. The President won't do it and most of the GOP thinks that drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Range will solve all our problems.

I think it's time for the American public to demand change. Tom Friedman suggested pushing for disinvestment of companies like GM that produces the mammoth HUmmer and I agree. We also need to persuade our family and friends from buying these machines. States need to consider taxing gas guzzlers and giving incentives to cars that conserve such as hybrids.

This is not just some tree-hugging environmental issue. This is about national security. If you want to see America safe and secure, do your part and forget about waiting for Washington.

Update: Jeremy at Charging RINO has a great companion piece on this topic relating to the White House's new fuel efficiency standards.

2 Comments:

At 10:09 PM, Blogger Sean said...

sullivan is from the UK, and rides a bike. he has always had issues with SUV's. so what?
the argument that by increasing milage standards, the price would drop $20, is false. China is adding 650,000 new cars to their roads each year; that does not include India. Those cars are horrible on milage. China also subsidizes their fuel, so the people do not pay market price.

 
At 8:49 PM, Blogger FightforJustice said...

Americans drive millions more vehicles than Chinese. Ours are also larger and heavier.

 

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