Blue city to red states: Drop dead
All the progressive scolds are really enjoying the spike in gas prices. Mark Morford, the SF Chronicle columnist, is happy at the thought that wicked, gas-guzzling Red State America is getting its just due. Morford's solution to the country's energy woes: Raise gas to $10 a gallon.
It would take some finessing. Maybe also give a price break to some truckers and trucking companies (so vital to the economy), but not so much to global delivery companies (FedEx, DSL, et all), because that would force them to raise shipping rates and force you (and me) to reconsider buyng everything online and hence encourage you to shop locally, thus reviving a stagnant local economy (SF Chronicle, May 10, 2006).
This is what passes for political analysis here in Progressive Land. Morford worries about FedEx, but not about Detroit or the auto industry, because that is Red State America and isn't even on his viewscreen. But it's the glee that Morford takes in the situation that is interesting: punish the transgressors---car drivers, oil companies, American politicians and the American people---for their folly, and then we will have some real fun in some kind of New Age paradise:
Ten bucks a gallon. Imagine the mad scramble by carmakers to invent new ultra-gas-sipping enviro-friendly technologies. Imagine communities coming together for ride sharing and mass transit. Bike sales would skyrocket. Walking shoes would be the new bling item. We would mourn the loss of, say, cool car culture even as we celebrated the birth, of, say, moped culture. Telecommuting would explode. Sure, the supperrich would still tool around in their bloated Escalades, oblivious to the world. So what? The rest of us can simply roll our eyes and laugh, evolve and sharpen and sigh, and wonder what great change we can embark upon next.
It occurs briefly to Morford that auto manufacturers in the US will adjust to oil prices and focus on producing energy-efficient cars, which is what they did in the 1970s. This time it's likely to be a permanent shift, since the politics of oil will probably continue to require energy efficiency more than a genuine oil shortage. But by the end of the paragraph he is back to the unlikely notion that, except for the rich, cars will be more or less obsolete. The reality: If gas prices do rise to $10 a gallon, the whole country will be in recession. But what's the big deal about lost jobs and mortgage payments? Just roll your eyes and continue evolving into the next adventure, because dudes, you know all this political/historical stuff is really just a backdrop for our personal melodramas, as we "evolve" into a higher form of purple ninnyhood. It sounds a lot like the last scene in that Fellini movie, where everyone is holding hands and dancing in a circle on the beach.
I knew it was coming, and, sure enough, Morford gets in the inevitable swipe at President Bush ("BushCo") and "the Christian right." He can't write a column without doing that. It would be nice if Morford would "evolve" to the point where he could do something he's never done: tell his smug readership something they don't want to hear.