I am simply appalled at what I saw in the newspapers today. Here’s the deal: I don’t read the newspaper all that much. So for me to glance at it randomly and see the same subject in both papers makes me wonder how bad it really is.
Oh, the subject? Oil addition.
Bike Friday owner Katie Alvord wrote an incredibly well-researched history of how the automobile (called Divorce Your Car! which you can buy on the Bike Friday store) came to dominate our streets and, concurrently, how we ultimately got the first taste of the life-wasting drug that is oil.
The oil crisis of the 70s was not unlike that part in The Basketball Diaries where Reggie saves down-and-out just-hit-rock-bottom heroin junkie Jim Carroll but makes the mistake of leaving him alone in his apartment. He rummages around, finds some money, goes back out and gets another fix.
For Jim there ultimately was a resolution, and though I want to believe there will be one for America, I have my doubts. When I see stretch Hummer limos and people unwilling to even concieve of life without a car, it just makes me worried, despite how many more people I see riding bikes, taking the bus, developing alternative transportation technology, and at least trying to be carlite. On the positive side, there’s even a Republican (you know, those guys that always get blamed for all the wrong doings in the world) defending the plight of fixed gears in Oregon when he could have easily spent his time subsidising oil or something.
However, the headlines today definately left a bad taste in my mouth.
First from the local Register-Guard:
“Auditors say big oil stiffed U.S. taxpayers”
“Four lawsuits claim the Interior Department blocked efforts to collect royalties”
The skinny on this is that there are these four guys that work for the feds auditing leases for oil and gas on government property. They caught some instances where a few companies, Shell and Kerr-McGee among them, had cheated the government out of money. We’re talking $30 million worth. Well, it turns out their bosses told them not to bother investigating. So basically, we’re giving these guys money in the form of subsidies and then turning a blind eye when we discover they’re robbing us, too. Nice. Gotta have those cars.
The second one actually disturbes me a lot more. This one from USA Today:
“For Bush, cheaper gas is premium”
“Job ratings rise as fuel costs fall, and vice versa”
Click on that link above and look at the trend. It’s absolutely nuts. What’s also crazy is that even when he pulled people together for the war on terror, which increased his ratings, it was short lived because the war itself raised oil prices. All in all people are essentially forming their opinions on politics based on oil. How crazy is that?
Are we really so entrenched in this addiction that we cannot see another way to live? If having gas was so important, how did we survive for so many years without it? Why does it seem that people are turning a blind eye to the fact that eventually, perhaps soon, we’re not going to have oil? I really think we’ve become just like a heroin addict: completely devastated, unaware, and unable to break free from the cycle of compulsion.
By the way, tomorrow is World Car Free Day. Wake up and smell the fumes! It’s time to ride your bike!!