RoadBikeReview.com's Forum Archives - Non-Cycling Discussions


Archive Home >> Non-Cycling Discussions(1 2 3 4 )


More on SUVs(11 posts)

More on SUVsmoneyman
Jan 21, 2003 10:30 AM
Since the lefties here would no more pay for an online subscription to the Wall Street Journal than they would contribute to GWB's re-election campaign, I have taken the liberty of lifting the following commentary from the WSJ online, a service which I pay tax-deductible dollars for, and sharing it with the SUV hating crowd. I hope you enjoy it.

$$ (I'm ordering the yellow one)

The Scarlet SUV

By DAVID BROOKS

I don't own an SUV, but now that they've been identified as the locus of evil, I'm thinking of getting one. And if I do, I figure I might as well let the inner wolf out for a rampage and get the most obnoxious SUV I can find.

My SUV, assuming Hummer comes out with a model for those who find the current ones too cramped, will look something like the Louisiana Superdome on wheels. It'll guzzle so much gas as I walk out to my driveway there will be squads of Saudi princes gaping and applauding. It'll come, when I buy it, with little Hondas and Mazdas already embedded in the front grillwork. Inside I'll install video screens so that impressionable youngsters can play Grand Theft Auto on the way to weekly NRA meetings. And there will be room in the back for tobacco lobbyists nibbling on french fries and endangered prawns.

Please understand that I don't want to do this, but the campaign against the SUV is so fevered that I find myself being propelled in an equal and opposite direction. Princeton's Peter Singer, the most mysteriously prestigious thinker in America, wrote an essay in which he helpfully pointed out that SUV drivers kill far more people than the Sept. 11 hijackers. Arianna Huffington, leading those who have kitchens the size of Texas on a crusade against people who have cars the size of Colorado, has also compared SUV drivers to terrorists.

The main charge is that people who drive sport "utes" are moral savages. SUV drivers "tend to be people who are insecure and vain" not to mention "self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors and communities," writes Keith Bradsher in his book, "High and Mighty: SUVs -- The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way." Mr. Bradsher says he is only reporting on what Detroit's market research reveals, but thoughtful people are usually skeptical about broad generalizations about people's souls on the basis of what car they drive. Not, however, when the pot of revivalism is aboil. The moral fervor that was in past epochs fixated on witchcraft, whiskey, fur coats, cigarettes and child-abuse rings is now etching SUV in scarlet letters. How to explain this fervor, which has risen to the level of a liberal fatwa?

First, remember this is largely a civil war within the educated class. Nobody seems to assault pickup-truck drivers, even though some of the newer pickups look like wheeled aircraft carriers and their beds are surprisingly unscuffed. Nobody picks on minivans, though the Dodge Grand Caravan ES gets only 6 miles more per gallon than the Dodge Durango SUV. Remember also that, as Van Wyck Brooks, Santayana and others have observed, there have always been two educated classes. On the one hand, there's the genteel elite, which lives in a world of literature, ideas, refinement and modesty. On the other, there's the aristocracy of commerce, people who thrive through self-assertion, competitiveness, daring and magnetism. To put it in modern terms, there are geeks and jocks.

This anti-SUV fervor strikes me as a classic geek assault on jock culture. Here are the geeks: thoughtful, socially and environmentally conscious. They understand that only spiritually shallow people could possibly get pleasure from a motor vehicle. Then there are those jocks. They cruise through life infuriatingly unaware of how morally inferior they are to the geeks. They make money, become popular, play golf and have homes that are too large. And they're happy! For all the wrong reasons! And so every few years the geeks pick on some feature o
Finimoneyman
Jan 21, 2003 10:47 AM
Sorry for the cutoff.

s anti-SUV fervor strikes me as a classic geek assault on jock culture. Here are the geeks: thoughtful, socially and environmentally conscious. They understand that only spiritually shallow people could possibly get pleasure from a motor vehicle. Then there are those jocks. They cruise through life infuriatingly unaware of how morally inferior they are to the geeks. They make money, become popular, play golf and have homes that are too large. And they're happy! For all the wrong reasons! And so every few years the geeks pick on some feature of jock life (McMansions, corporations, fraternities, country clubs) and get all worked up about it. And you know what? The jocks don't care! They just keep being happy. The geeks write, protest and fume. The jocks go to St. Croix.

So the anti-SUV crusade is part of a pattern, but there's also a more worrisome element. In centuries past, the armies of righteousness tended to at least fret about things that really matter: character, virtue, innocence, sin and depravity. These days moral energies are directed at health, safety and risk. Narcissism, dishonesty and promiscuity are regarded as mere lifestyle choices. But driving a car with trunk space is a sin worse than seven of the Ten Commandments. This is defining righteousness down.

If we're going to have moral fervors -- and though they're insufferable, they're overall a positive feature of life -- then let's at least have them about things that really matter. And let's resist the do-gooders' temptation to see everything fun as morally suspect. The anti-SUV brigades like to point out that most owners never actually take them off-road. Imagine what environmentalists would say if they did!

Buying an SUV is partly an act of fantasy. It's a way to connect imaginatively with a more inspiring life than the one you actually lead. Like every muscle car before it, SUVs are big, dangerous and superfluous, but they're also poetry made of metal. They're symptoms of a latent spiritedness, even in a sedate suburban world. There's nothing wrong with having a little poetry in your life. Surely the geeks can see that?

Mr. Brooks, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard, is author of "Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There" (Simon & Schuster, 2000).
Probably he is just buying the Hummer because of the tax break..Bruno S
Jan 21, 2003 11:54 AM
He is right about SUV being big, dangerous and superfluous.
Terrible article.cyclopath
Jan 21, 2003 10:51 AM
Shame there's no I.Q./morality test for being a journo, and vehicle buyer - would solve two big problems in one go.
You pay for this dissinformation?czardonic
Jan 21, 2003 11:03 AM
Even if his mileage figures on the Durango and Caravan were correct (which they don't seem to be, according to Edmunds), 6 miles more per gallon would amount to "only" a 30-40% improvement!

Thanks for sharing this dispatch the might-equals-right culture.
It's called an editorial,TJeanloz
Jan 21, 2003 11:08 AM
Those of you who read The Guardian, and thus don't seem to differentiate between editorials and news, might be surprised to learn that this is an individuals opinion, to which he is entitled. And it happens to be a pretty decent response to last week's article in the SF Chronical which similarly lacked factual basis.
Oh, I get it. He was being ironic.czardonic
Jan 21, 2003 11:26 AM
By using false figures to draw asinine conclusions that generally undermine his "opinion", he was slyly parodying the whole concept of the editorial. Very clever.
Oh thankscyclopath
Jan 22, 2003 1:45 AM
I'm sure that if we need any more of your famous expert analysis of the English daily broadsheets, combined with that intellectual stiletto you so frequently brandish, we'll all know just where to come asking...

We are soooooo lucky to have a contributor as erudite and worldly as yourself on board...
the numbers aren't rightDougSloan
Jan 21, 2003 2:16 PM
According to Consumer Reports, the Durango gets 13 mpg and the Caravan, with 6 cylinder, gets 18; these are "over all" figures, combined city and highway.

Pick up the Consumer Reports year summary book; you'll be amazed at how high or low some vehicles are. I'd say about half the so-called SUV's get better fuel mileage than about half the vans, mini-vans, and full sized cars.

Doug
oopsDougSloan
Jan 21, 2003 2:19 PM
That is 6 mpg better. What was I thinking? :-)
His conclusion is still laughable. Inciedentally. . .czardonic
Jan 21, 2003 2:25 PM
the numbers I saw would have better illustrated his point. Edmunds had the Durango at 15/20 and the Caravan at 17/23, if I recall correctly.