The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

As the price of gasoline continues its upward movement I was listening to a CNBC segment this early morning describing the increase in the number of commuters taking public transportation in California.  Jane Wells, one of the station’s reporters whom I love for her dead-pan delivery and versatility in covering a wide variety of subjects very professionally described her own commute to work.

To get to Universal City from her home she could spend an hour in her car and burn about $13.00 in gasoline or  take public transportation which would take two hours and spend $20.50 for the first part of the trip and then have to transfer to another public conveyance at an additional charge (how much this would cost was not brought out in the clip).

Given these two choices, a four hour round-trip commute at a 60% higher cost or a two hour commute, how do you think most rational people would choose to get to their jobs?  If you said, “fasten your seat belts” I think you’re on to something.

If you remember back to the time when the car companies were coming before Congress hat in hand and asking for funding from the American treasury (and ultimately the American people) so they could stay in business.  There were hearings held both in the House and the Senate.

I remember something that Representative after Representative and Senator after Senator asked the CEO’s of the car companies.  This was the question:  “Did you fly or drive here for this hearing?”  As they pronounced the words of this inquiry they turned to make sure that there was a full face-shot of their newly whitened teeth so that they could go home and tell their constituents how they had “socked it to the car companies.”

This was a stupid question asked by petty people.  It was intended to embarrass and demean and at the same time to be self-aggrandizing.  It was a question that is unworthy of people in whom we show our trust by electing them to govern the land.  It was a question that was asked by people who either can’t do or the math or simply don’t understand it.

Based on their salaries, it would have cost the shareholders of each of the car companies more money if their chief executive had driven and spent an extra two days on the road than by paying for a first class round trip ticket.  That’s the math.  As things turned out, the bailout happened to “work out”.  The Treasury should make a profit when all the dust settles.

Yesterday I saw this interesting article on how Presidents get to work.  I thought I would share it with you and allow you to reach your own conclusions.

Comments on: "HOW DID YOU GET TO WORK TODAY?" (8)

  1. Prius – I hesitated buying one for a long time, until my research showed that not only do the ‘traction’ batteries last forever, they are modular and rebuildable, so if it ‘fails’ I don’t need to go to Toyota and drop 3 grand. Also, it has no alternator, no starter motor, the AC compressor is electric, and the brakes last twice as long since the regen system does most of the stopping. Buy a hybrid, but don’t ever go back to the dealer, just change the oil and the air filters. – My best MPG so far 54.4 on a tank, late last summer, the outside temperature has a lot to do with mileage, this winter my best has been 45.

  2. Good for you for being a smart and environmentally-friendly consumer. Having a 102 pound puppy doesn’t make the Prius a good option for me. However, my 1999 Volvo station wagon is doing just fine. It only has 117,000 miles and I’m shooting for one million. (And Gracie the pooch loves it).

  3. We are a two-car family and many people attached snob value to this. They simply assumed the worst and indulged in snide remarks.

    I saw it as an investment in my children’s education – daily shaving off about 2 hours of commuting time for each of them – time, which the children invested in schoolwork, gainful activities or to simply chill out.

    There was a wonderful bonus. The drive time was the best for us as the children were always chatty and it helped us bond. The ‘children’ – all adults in their twenties now – talk to us about everything – friends, sex, career, god…you name it!

    You are so very right about the CEOs and elected officials – somebody lacks basic maths skills.

  4. Based on our ever-increasing deficits I’m voting that it’s the legislators who can’t do basic arithmetic.

  5. I usually vote for those who do me the least harm. All of them cause some harm to the people they are supposed to serve. I have very little time for political labels. They are just a clever means to manipulate people whose opinions have been shaped by the media to think what is currently described as the left and the right. I’m more interested in issues than labels, and issues are usually raised by the people and adopted by politicians only as a means to cyphen off as much money as they can or exercise the most power. However the alternative is worse I suppose, and that is a so called “Dictatorship of the People” which is code word for a few people controlling whole nations with the resulting loss of liberties.

  6. I certainly understand your “do the least” harm philosophy and thoroughly endorse it. As to labels – they are simply convenient catch phrases designed to make the unthinking feel that they have a grasp of the situation.

  7. I believe that we can only fix our problems if all of us pull together and sacrifice a little. I just think that it would be inspiring if those who are in positions of leadership would set a good example.

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