Sunday, May 14, 2006

The demise of the giant American dream vehicle

In June 2006 General Motors Corp. will stop producing the Hummer H1. This is the civilian version of the military Hummvee. The Hummvee will live on in its smaller versions. Last September the last Ford Excursion rolled off the line with its 44 gallon gas tank.

As a guy who loves off-roading in Jeeps, Hummers, hog trucks and old gas-guzzling rigs I see this as a sad day. As a practical guy who sees the cost of fuel connected to increased demand, I say it’s about time. We as Americans have to come to the realization that we can’t have our cake and eat it too. It’s the hardest paradigm to crack.

Until a few years ago, I was like so many Americans thinking life would continue on like I am accustomed to. I really believed we Americans could do what we danged well please and if the rest of the world didn’t like it, tough nuts. I don’t think like this now.

Like our forefathers (and mothers) we have to earn what we consume, not ride on the never-ending wave of prosperity and excess that we imagine. Look around and you will see 18 year olds driving new cars and trucks with accessories that would normally be impossible for their age group to procure. No longer does a kid work their way through high school and purchase, with their own money, a 10 year old automobile. They wouldn’t drive one if it was given them anyway.

We are a spoiled, self-gratifying, glutinous country and it is a sad, but true fact. Folks buy 42” cut riding lawn mowers to cut a yard I cut with a 20” push mower just a few years back. Men (and women) purchase $40,000+, 4-door, three-quarter ton, 4X4, diesel pick-up trucks to drive to work and park in a parking lot. Want to BBQ? Why you just have to have that $650 gas grill, which is so big, you get it delivered. Want to watch the big game? How about a 65 inch HD-TV? We can’t really get that “live” feeling with that stupid old 36”.

No I don’t have a plan to save the starving multitudes, stop the spread of AIDS, fix Social Security, etc., etc. What I am saying is we – me – you need to take a hard look at the future and see if we can break out of this vicious cycle of spending and consuming like there is never going to be a reckoning.

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