Logic would argue that higher prices at the pump dictate a change in lifestyle, with driving fewer miles the obvious modification to daily living. But our penchant for chasing the American dream into the hinterlands where it’s affordable to own a home means that we, as a nation, are spinning our odometers faster than ever, navigating traffic-choked highways and byways to and from our positions at distant corporations that rarely reward such behavior with pay raises in the twisted mentality that nothing matters anymore but quarterly profits, rising stock prices, and fat executive bonuses. Want to work at home? Not unless your boss knows how to manage by task. After all, you might be watching “Oprah” on the company dime.
So downsize already. Go get that Honda Civic that manages 40 mpg on the highway. Nevermind that the neighbors might think you’ve been downsized, outsourced, checked into the boards of the corporate rat race. Not so easy, dumping that Chrysler 300C or Land Rover LR3 for something that makes sense as a commuter vehicle, is it? In America, you are what you drive, and what you drive tells your peers what level of success you’ve attained, so damn the torpedoes and widen that hole in the ozone layer even more.
And we called corporations twisted.
Maybe we need even higher fuel prices. Everywhere else on the planet, small, tidy, efficient vehicles rule because gas is freakishly expensive. We think it’s ugly on American roads now, it could be worse. Take a look at this recent poll of gas prices from around the globe, compiled by CNN/Money:
|Nation||City||Price in USD Regular/Gallon|
There … feel better? We didn’t think so. We should point out that most of these countries offer viable commuting options that are actually used by a wide-ranging segment of the populace: Buses, trains, subways, scooters, and bicycles are in heavy use for commuting everywhere in the world, and even in a handful of U.S. cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. But generally, Americans are almost totally dependent on their automobiles, and we’re clearly the minority.
The good news is that you can learn to maximize the miles you squeeze from a gallon of gas, even if you’re rolling in a raised Hummer H2. It will take some effort and self-restraint – two traits sadly disappearing from the American psyche – but it’s possible. And you might even be able to feed the kids something more substantial than ramen at the end of the month.