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re: Big and Fancy, More Pickups Displace Cars

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  • Crystal Waters
    ... This reminded me of when my boyfriend was trying to buy a new truck this past spring. He is a carpenter and needs a truck for equipment, hauling lumber,
    Message 1 of 8 , Aug 1 6:10 AM
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      On Friday, August 1, 2003, at 05:26 AM, CarFree@yahoogroups.com wrote:

      > Big pickups, which can cost $40,000 and up, are the most dangerous
      > vehicles on
      > the road for people riding in other vehicles ? much more dangerous
      > than large
      > sport utility vehicles, according to federal crash statistics. The
      > average
      > pickup uses more gasoline than the average S.U.V. and therefore
      > produces more
      > gases that contribute to global warming. Pickups, along with sport
      > utilities,
      > are also the industry's most profitable vehicles, and they get more
      > profitable
      > as they get larger and more luxurious.
      >
      > Once utilitarian vehicles used exclusively for work, pickup trucks are
      > getting
      > bigger, roomier, more powerful and showier in almost every way.
      > Passenger cabs
      > with two rows of seats, once a minority, are the norm.

      This reminded me of when my boyfriend was trying to buy a new truck
      this past spring. He is a carpenter and needs a truck for equipment,
      hauling lumber, etc. He also has a small budget, and wanted a compact
      truck, which he's always had. So our goal was to find a 2-wheel drive
      standard transmission compact truck (better mileage), without air
      conditioning, no fancy schmancy anything (not even a cassette player),
      a bench seat (no need for buckets, plus, where would the dog sit?). He
      considered an extended cab on some brands because he's so tall, and in
      some models simply needed the room so he could drive without hitting
      his head.

      It took us a couple of months to find a plain truck, even with internet
      searches in a 5 state radius. Here in Vermont there is an occasional
      excuse for 4WD vehicles due to weather or occupation, but now it seems
      ALL compact trucks (and other vehicles) have it plus all the fancy
      things mentioned in the article, and we would get quizzical looks when
      we wanted 2WD. No leather? no, we don't want leather. Air conditioning?
      no, we can open the windows. No CD? no? No automatic transmission? We
      just want a plain old truck, please.

      Finally we found one that fit his specifications by accident behind the
      building of one dealer. I guess there's no incentive to sell a more
      fuel efficient, simple truck for $10,000 when most people will pay well
      over $23,000 for a compact truck with all the fancy fixin's. People are
      convinced they need all the stuff, and more and more things are
      becoming "standard" (although one Toyota dealer told us bumpers weren't
      standard on their trucks, and he would give us a 'deal' on some...
      huh?).

      Thanks for sharing the article,
      Crystal

      c r y s t a l w a t e r s
      crystal@...
      http://www.girlbike.com
    • RIIN GILL
      I always wonder what sort of fantasy these truck owners are entertaining these days. Before, I got it. People would buy a pickup truck so they could have
      Message 2 of 8 , Aug 1 6:43 AM
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        I always wonder what sort of fantasy these truck owners are entertaining
        these days. Before, I got it. People would buy a pickup truck so they
        could have fantasies of themselves as cowboys or lumberjacks or something,
        some sort of rugged outdoorsy macho occupation that might have a
        conceivable use for a pickup truck. They'd drive the truck and fantasize
        on their way to work at their office job. Fancy themselves rugged and
        outdoorsy. Heh. Yeah.

        Now that they've got a shiny new pickup (have to wash it every week, ya
        know. Can't have a speck of dust on it. I bet the cowboys and
        lumberjacks are laughing themselves silly over that one) with leather
        seats, air conditioning, chrome, etc., what are they imagining themselves
        to be?

        ***********************************************************
        Riin Gill
        Interlibrary Loan 734-615-6168
        Taubman Medical Library fax 734-763-1473
        University of Michigan
        ***********************************************************
        If you were riding your bike, you'd be having fun by now.
      • greenjeans43606
        What s also interesting (and discouraging) about the behemoth SUV / monster pick-up craze is that it s having a trickle-down effect on many other people. I
        Message 3 of 8 , Aug 1 7:18 AM
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          What's also interesting (and discouraging) about the behemoth SUV /
          monster pick-up craze is that it's having a "trickle-down" effect on
          many other people. I read an article a few months back (sorry,
          don't have the URL) about how people who drive regular sedans feel
          intimidated by all the pick-ups/SUVs on the road. Their solution?
          Buy hopped-up sedans that have over 250 horsepower, etc. so they can
          compete with the big boys. All of which continues to add to our oil
          dependence....

          Are any of you familiar with the game Prisoners Dilemma? I remember
          playing it as part of a political science course in college, and I
          see the exact same principle at work here. In P.D., the players
          (or "prisoners," if you will) have two options: Cooperate or
          Compete. No one knows what the others have chosen until they've
          written down their choice beforehand. Anyway, if everyone chooses
          to cooperate, everyone wins a little. If everyone chooses to
          compete (or not cooperate), everyone loses a little. But if some
          cooperate and some compete, the ones who chose to compete gain big
          and the ones who chose to cooperate lose big.

          The same thing is at work with the politics of vehicles on the
          road. Those who choose the big SUVs and pick-ups gain safety
          advantages over everyone else. On the next round, those who chose
          the less safe sedans are choosing "not to cooperate" this time
          around, will act in their own rational self-interest out of fear,
          and buy hopped-up sedans instead. The result? Even though everyone
          has acted in their own self-interest, the roads are now more
          perilous for everyone.

          As a final thought, I don't think you can underestimate the
          psychological influence that fear has on people, especially here in
          the USA. We seem to live in fear of everything around here: fear of
          death, fear of failure, fear of government, fear of terrorism, fear
          of germs, fear of people who are "different"....and now fear has
          taken over our roads. All of which makes convincing people to use
          alternative forms of transport all the more difficult. Then again,
          sometimes I just shrug and figure these are crazy times we're living
          in.

          Cheers,
          Greenjeans
        • Lenard Segnitz
          I d also like to throw in the notion of The Commons . Any Europeans on the list would understand what I m talking about. It started out that a community
          Message 4 of 8 , Aug 1 9:14 AM
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            I'd also like to throw in the notion of "The Commons". Any Europeans on the list would understand what I'm talking about. It started out that a community could share a common piece of land to graze their sheep/cattle/wombats. It is everyone's responsibility to not overuse the commons. One commoner gets the short-sighted idea that he could double his flock and get double the economic benefit at no cost to him. His neighbour thinks the same thing and soon everyone is overusing the commons.



            For the longer version: http://dieoff.org/page95.htm <http://dieoff.org/page95.htm>



            Now equate "The Commons" with "The Road System" and "Economic Benefit" with "Sense of Security" and "Mobility". Now the SUV driver is the commoner who has doubled his flock because no one told him he couldn't. And the other "commoners" feel they need SUVs too just to regain their "sense of security". The commons gets overuse-gridlocked traffic jams.



            Now shine a light into that gloom. There are efforts underway to "reclaim the commons". The one we are familiar with is "street reclamation"-farmers markets, traffic calmed street, pedestrian malls. In a seemingly unrelated way "intellectual commons" in computers are being reclaimed by the Open Source movement (Linux the most famous example).



            For the story on Open Source read "Cathedral and the Bazaar": http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue3_3/raymond/index.html <http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue3_3/raymond/index.html>



            We can win if we just believe. Even in the face of SUVs, the oil wars and North American hyper-mobility we can reclaim the commons.





            -----Original Message-----
            From: greenjeans43606 [mailto:slwirz777@...]
            Sent: Friday, August 01, 2003 7:18 AM
            To: CarFree@yahoogroups.com
            Subject: Re: [CF] re: Big and Fancy, More Pickups Displace Cars



            What's also interesting (and discouraging) about the behemoth SUV /
            monster pick-up craze is that it's having a "trickle-down" effect on
            many other people. I read an article a few months back (sorry,
            don't have the URL) about how people who drive regular sedans feel
            intimidated by all the pick-ups/SUVs on the road. Their solution?
            Buy hopped-up sedans that have over 250 horsepower, etc. so they can
            compete with the big boys. All of which continues to add to our oil
            dependence....

            Are any of you familiar with the game Prisoners Dilemma? I remember
            playing it as part of a political science course in college, and I
            see the exact same principle at work here. In P.D., the players
            (or "prisoners," if you will) have two options: Cooperate or
            Compete. No one knows what the others have chosen until they've
            written down their choice beforehand. Anyway, if everyone chooses
            to cooperate, everyone wins a little. If everyone chooses to
            compete (or not cooperate), everyone loses a little. But if some
            cooperate and some compete, the ones who chose to compete gain big
            and the ones who chose to cooperate lose big.

            The same thing is at work with the politics of vehicles on the
            road. Those who choose the big SUVs and pick-ups gain safety
            advantages over everyone else. On the next round, those who chose
            the less safe sedans are choosing "not to cooperate" this time
            around, will act in their own rational self-interest out of fear,
            and buy hopped-up sedans instead. The result? Even though everyone
            has acted in their own self-interest, the roads are now more
            perilous for everyone.

            As a final thought, I don't think you can underestimate the
            psychological influence that fear has on people, especially here in
            the USA. We seem to live in fear of everything around here: fear of
            death, fear of failure, fear of government, fear of terrorism, fear
            of germs, fear of people who are "different"....and now fear has
            taken over our roads. All of which makes convincing people to use
            alternative forms of transport all the more difficult. Then again,
            sometimes I just shrug and figure these are crazy times we're living
            in.

            Cheers,
            Greenjeans








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          • De Clarke
            ... on the list would understand what I m talking about. It started out that a community could share a common piece of land to graze their
            Message 5 of 8 , Aug 3 1:11 AM
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              Lenard Segnitz (lsegnitz@...) wrote:

              > I'd also like to throw in the notion of "The Commons". Any Europeans
              on the list would understand what I'm talking about. It started out
              that a community could share a common piece of land to graze their
              sheep/cattle/wombats. It is everyone's responsibility to not overuse
              the commons. One commoner gets the short-sighted idea that he could
              double his flock and get double the economic benefit at no cost to him.
              His neighbour thinks the same thing and soon everyone is overusing
              the commons.

              yup!

              "Smart for one -- Dumb for all." arms races of all kinds.

              See also David Bollier's book _Silent Theft: The Private Plunder of
              our Common Wealth_.

              reviewed here
              http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/5620

              if you can't find the book, some of its content is summarised in 3
              essays he published also at the tompaine site

              1.
              http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/6016
              2.
              http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/6017
              3.
              http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/6143

              it's a thread I lost a long time ago and have not rediscovered, but
              during the original Enclosures (the enclosures of common land by
              wealthy landowners in the 1600s, which remain the model for enclosures
              of all kinds of commons to this day) many pamphlets were commissioned
              justifying and excusing this brutal dislocation of family and village
              life. many of these pamphlets used the excuse that a "commons" is
              inevitably mismanaged because the process referred to above (escalating
              selfishness) is inherent in human nature. only private ownership, said
              the learned pamphleteers who were commissioned by the wealthy men who
              were kicking the peasants off their traditional common land, would ensure
              the proper care (and maximum productivity) of the land.

              this early propaganda effort struck me as interesting because it seems
              like the kernel of an entire ideology of privatisation, which redefines
              2 things (good stewardship and efficient use) as inextricably linked
              to privatisation. obvious parallels exist in modern enclosure-ideology :-)
              [Microsoft's laughable assertion that its restricting licensing scheme
              and gouging prices are required to ensure the excellence (!???!) of its
              product, for example. hey, it takes millions of programmer-hours to
              produce a really excellent Blue Screen of Death :-) ]

              in terms of real-world results however, much of the land which wealthy
              landlords enclosed, banning traditional small householders from using it
              as they had in centuries past, was then overgrazed and damaged by the
              overproduction (mostly sheep, for wool, to feed the emerging industry
              based on mechanised fabric mills) required to satisfy the greed of the private owner.
              it seems to me that when a village, a clan, or a society "owns" a resource
              in common, there is a motivation to curb the excesses of the least
              responsible user, 'cos he/she is "spoiling it for everyone else."
              but when someone owns anything outright, no one else has much say in
              what he/she does with it, and short-term profiteering is unchecked by
              concerns about reputation, village gossip, unpopularity, scrutiny etc.

              we might also note in passing that the thousands of villagers whose livelihoods
              were destroyed by the Enclosures, became a drifting population of desperate
              and starving beggars who were then easily drafted as cheap labour for the
              burgeoning mill inudstry. waste not, want not. the child labourers of the
              "dark Satanic mills" were the children of people who only a generation or
              two before had been a kind of yeoman peasantry, making an insecure but
              independent living by subsistence agriculture and animal husbandry...

              one wonders whether the Enclosures happened just because the rich men
              wanted the land, or because they knew that an independently subsisting
              peasantry could not be bullied into labouring 15 hours a day in dark,
              stinking, dangerous factories (in which they had invested)?

              anyway, bringing it back to carfreedom :-) it seems pretty clear to me that
              people who drive bigger and bigger SUVs are motivated by, not only fear
              and aggression, but the desire to convert larger and larger chunks of
              the commons into their private mobile living room. it may be a mobile
              Enclosure but it Encloses nonetheless -- "enclosing" people who want to
              walk or bike, for one thing.

              btw, speaking of enclosing more land for car use:

              I am appalled to report that our local Grand Jury, being consulted on
              the transportation plan for the area for the next few years, concluded
              almost unanimously that the most important thing we need to do is ensure
              the faster transit of more cars. one of their suggestions is not only
              to spend a staggering sum widening our local freeway, but (you are all
              sitting down when you read this I hope) to convert our primary E/W
              surface street (lined with businesses, medical centres etc) into a
              "subfreeway" or expressway with higher speeds, lane widening, removal
              of all stop signs etc. I hope the business owners on that corridor
              appear at City Hall with torches and pitchforks to have their say on
              this disgusting suggestion. honestly, it's enough to make a cat weep.
              what was it Riin said -- our culture is mentally ill? yup. in the late,
              degenerative stages of car-psychosis.

              de

              --
              .............................................................................
              :De Clarke, Software Engineer UCO/Lick Observatory, UCSC:
              :Mail: de@... | :
              :Web: www.ucolick.org | Don't Fear the Penguins :
              :1024D/B9C9E76E F892 5F17 8E0A F095 05CD EE8B D169 EDAA B9C9 E76E:
            • Ed Beighe
              ... Unmentioned in the article is the virtually unlimited tax dedution for such work trucks if you own a small business. How lucky for Mr. Lawson! That will
              Message 6 of 8 , Aug 3 1:26 PM
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                From the NYT article:

                > ... The pickup weighs about three tons, empty,
                >
                > "You can use it for work, go home, put the family in it and
                > take off," said Mr. Lawson, who lives in a Chicago suburb
                > and owns a flooring company.

                Unmentioned in the article is the virtually unlimited tax dedution for such
                "work trucks" if you own a small business. How lucky for Mr. Lawson!
                That will only serve to increase the "truck"-to-car ratio.

                See, for example,
                http://kansascity.bizjournals.com/kansascity/stories/2003/07/21/story7.html
                for an explanation.

                Please be sure to write and call your congresspeople and thank them for this
                hefty write-off. It was part of the "Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Act of
                2003" that passed into law this May.
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