Friday, August 19, 2005

Consumerism in America

In the Urinal Sentinel today on the editorial page, a one Derrick Jackson from the Boston Globe writes a piece about the evolving culture in America. (Side note: What's with all of these guest editorialist in the Urinal Sentinel? Does anyone in Milwaukee have an opinion. To whom it may concern at the Urinal Sentinel: I would be glad to voice my opinions weekly in your fine publication and be paid for it, and I reside in Milwaukee.) Mr. Jackson discusses the war in Iraq and the evolving consumer culture of America, trying to relate the two somehow. I would like to discuss his opinion on the bigger is better theory that we live by in this country, I don't have the energy the go into the banter of the Iraqi war.

Jackson basically states that in the last four or so decades numbers reflecting the oil/gas consumption in the US and the need to move farther away from cities into "exubia" (as he affectionately calls it).

To start, what is wrong with people driving SUVs? Why can't we drive these road hogging behemoth vehicles? I believe that the one of the basic beliefs of this country is the freedom of choice. Or, freedom, period. If I want to drive a big friggin' semi 'rig to work down Bluemound Rd. going 25 mph at 4500 rpms towing 10,000 lbs of fish guts, that's my choice. I will also be stuck with a ridiculous gas bill, but if I can afford it, why not? I'm not saying that I don't believe in moderation, but I won't be caught attacking one of the freedoms this nation promises to all of it's citizens. (For the record, I drive a '97 War Wagon* - Ed.) The tie that I think Jackson is trying to make here is that we are in Iraq to secure our interests in oil, not to eradicate terrorist and evil tyrants whom are menaces to the world. (incidentally, we get the majority of our oil from Saudi Arabia...) Bottom line is that gas prices aren't going up because people in this country drive gas guzzlin' SUVs everywhere, it's because gasoline and oil are in more demand. Basic economics people. You see, crude oil, a raw material, is very scarce. When demand for said scarce resource increases, so does the price. The fact of the matter is that recently Mexico, China, and Africa have become world players. Because these countries are growing and becoming more civilized, demand for crude oil as a raw material and gasoline have increased in these countries, world demand has increased. Keep in mind that not many new refineries have been made lately (none in the US in twenty years), and can only produce so much gasoline for the new world market. In addition, I believe that inflation is starting to finally play a part in gasoline pricing. It has been cheap for a very long time.

Second, what's wrong with people moving to "exurbia," or an outlying area? Why can't we build bigger houses on larger parcels of land if we want? Had it occurred to Jackson that maybe people like the peace and quiet the countryside offers? Had it occurred to Jackson that maybe people like the safety that "exurbia" offers? I know Jackson writes for a newspaper, but has he read one lately. I don't quite have a running count year to date, but I am willing to bet pretty big coin that there are more murders year to date in urban areas than there are in "exurbia." Who cares if people want bigger homes? Do I sense a hint of jealousy? Where do you live Mr. Jackson? How big is your family? Is your house 983 square feet big like in 1970, or is it bigger? How trivial to discuss the size of people's houses and to question their motives in moving farther away from the city. Again, it's a guaranteed constitutional right, a freedom if you will in this country.

Bottom line, I believe that certainly modesty and living within one's means and virtues that more people need to consider when deciding their lifestyles. But, to question the very basic rights this country has to offer is ridiculous, and un - American.

*See small, tiny, compact car - Ed.


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