Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Something has been bothering me lately. Everywhere I go I see SUV after SUV. Every contractor in the city has the biggest pickup truck he can buy (yes "he"). The nineteen year old kid across the street (who already has a kid of his own) drives a fucking Escalade. I just don't get it. Why do these people need to drive these hulking, guzzling, polluting monsters? These people don't tow boats or race-cars. They don't go four wheeling on the weekends. We don't get snow in SF.

"I have three kids and a dog" you might say. Well, that's a lot of mouths to feed. If you spent twenty to thirty thousand dollars less and got a mini-van you could afford to send your kids to a good school in SF. Mini-vans just aren't cool though. It's true. And what's dependence on foreign oil compared to your reputation as a bad-ass outdoors type.

Maybe you go to Tahoe twice a year for snowboarding. You can definitely justify getting 12-15 mpg year round for those two glorious weeks in the powder. If you bought a hybrid, you could use the money you saved on gas to rent an SUV for your Tahoe trips and probably still afford to stay longer or at a nicer place.

"What about those contractors? They need big trucks, and for them it's a business expense. They can deduct it." Well great. They can deduct it. Frankly it doesn't take a four liter v-8 to carry four sheets of drywall and some tools. And just because something is deductable doesn't mean that you should buy the biggest. If you buy a smaller truck, one that's appropriate to the vast majority of your needs, you still get to deduct it. Although the deduction is smaller, you have spent less money out of pocket, that means you come out ahead. Also, your insurance will be less, as will your overall operating cost. That makes good business sense. Shoving all your hard earned money into the gas tank just lowers your margin. Think about it.

Hummers are the worst. What possible purpose could a Hummer serve in a big city except to remind us that there are kids across the ocean, driving real humvees, getting killed by roadside bombs, so that you can afford to gas up your pretend humvee. It's embarrassing. It's disgusting. Every time I see one I wonder "How many dead American soldiers fit in your gas tank?"

That said, I don't drive the most fuel efficient vehicle ever. What's my excuse? Believe me, I think about it every day. I will say that my mileage is nearly double that of the worst offenders. But at a time when we can do so much better, is double enough? I haven't decided yet. I know what the answer will eventually be, but I have a hard time letting go. Like most Americans, I love my car.