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"Road Trip"

By Gary Aldrich
web posted July 23, 2001

Here's some news I can't seem to find in the mainstream media: Gasoline prices are down, down, down! Virginia's gasoline prices dropped dramatically, yet nowhere can you find any mention of this amazing development. Would the news of it make George W. Bush look good?

As I drove through various Virginia counties this past weekend, picking up and dropping of my children at summer camp, I was amazed to find that in some places gas prices had slipped to $1.40 a gallon for unleaded fuel. A friend called earlier and told me that in Georgia a gallon costs only $1.15. At a local marina where I was visiting a friend's boat the other day, I found that high-test gas had dropped a whopping 20 cents per gallon, as compared to last month.

What ever happened to the dire predications of $3.00 a gallon by summer? Where have all the "hysterical" hand wringers gone? At the peak of the hysteria they had some federal government officials agreeing to revisit the issue of gas guzzling SUVs - see how easy it is to get the federal government to react? Just become emotional, hysterical and ignore the facts. Washington will capitulate because it always does.

My family and I are heading out on a lengthy summer road trip so, of course, I'm thinking about gas prices and how they will impact on the other things we want to do as we travel along. Yes, we're driving one of those hated SUVs, and yes, it is accompanied with a cell phone.

I've noticed as I drive along in our large, black truck that the so-called politically correct cars are in more abundance these days. I notice them because I fear for the safety of the drivers and passengers of what I refer to as "jelly bean" cars. I will confess that I had a small sports coup at one time, but that "fear nothing" attitude that seems to come with the ownership of those cars was left in the dust of my youth.

The Ford Explorer: A killer according to some
The Ford Explorer: A killer according to some

Today I can't image having an accident in one of those death traps. The fact is, if you insist on driving one, whether you crash into a tree, an SUV, or into another "jelly bean" car, you're going to be injured, at the very least! Most people are aware that consumer reports say those driving economy-size vehicles are at risk.

I guess it goes to show that those in the Green movement care more about your use of fossil fuels than your life or the safety of your children. They insist car manufacturers make those poorly constructed, weakly protected vehicles due to their belief that these economy cars will yield positive impact on the environment. Maybe they will, if you don't count the death and injuries to humans that result. Heck, we have humans to burn! We have more humans than we know what to do with. We don't have enough whales and baby seals, though. Right?

There is no question low-income folks are drawn to these cars, but it is often out of necessity. Smaller vehicles are cheaper to buy and cheaper to run, afterall. But, I would never allow a loved one of mine purchase or ride in a care that is no more equivalent to an eggshell on wheels. I believe it does a disservice to us all to allow the poorly informed think they are safe behind the wheel of economy-sized cars. We are responsible to tell them the truth! Having two more wheels and tin foil doors does not make it a car!

Yet another point that comes to mind when writing about cars is the recent legislation passed in New York. Banning the use of cell phones in cars was not only passed by New York legislators,' but it is also being considered by other states. My take on this issue is that cell phones are not good for those behind the wheel that are unable to multi-task.

I was talking to a friend the other day who was highly in favor of outlawing the use of cell phones in cars. I pointed out that it was not the phone itself, but the dialing and conversations that were responsible for the wrecks. She was not to be dissuaded because she made here stand by her emotions. The fact that she drives an economy-sized vehicle proves this point all the more. Her fear is that an SUV with a cell phone will end up flattening her like a pancake. The fear this woman has from SUVs and multi-taskers' sets demands that interfere and possibly even cripple progress made by those that can do two things at one time. The emotional protests of victims does not always constitute a new law to be passed. Rational, fair and quantified principles are at the very root of the America legislative process. Why do so many insist otherwise?

Frankly I'm tired of fighting with emotional people who let no facts get in the way of what they demand for the rest of us. I'm joining them! I know it's too late for this road trip, but next time I go out for a long drive, I want to see that all "ECC" is banned. What's ECC? Why, that's Eye-Contact Conversations inside a vehicle. Ever notice how some drivers cannot carry on a conversation with passengers unless they maintain a steady eye contact with them?

These people drive me nuts because they are not watching the road and are usually surprised when the car in front of them makes a quick stop. They slam on their brakes and create a very dangerous situation for all the cars following behind. They may not have a cell phone, but they are distracted. At least the cell phone users are looking at the road most of the time, even if they are having a conversation with that "dream-boat" of a guy they met last night.

How about all those make-up artists, map readers, cigarette lighters - especially the ones who discover the lit end has just dropped into their laps. Oh, and those burger eaters with drink in their hand, driving the car with their elbow or knees? Ever see one of those? There ought to be a law on that for sure!

Rest assured, sooner or later they'll have one because the stupid and very stupid among us cannot moderate their own behavior. As one friend of mine so wisely says, "ignorance can be fixed, but stupidity is forever." In order for the "Nanny State" to make it safer for us all, everyone else's liberties must be sacrificed until there are no more freedoms left to enjoy.

I used to believe that driving my car down the interstate was one of the last, pure freedoms available to the average American citizen. Since "Road Rage," "Gas-Guzzling SUV hatred," banning of the dreaded cell phone, and all the other attentions paid to driving by the hand wringers, mommy dearests' and do-gooders, I've changed by mind.

All these laws are nothing more than "affirmative action" for the stupid and slow thinking single taskers' who are jealous and intimidated by those of us who can chew gum and walk down the street and the same time.

Freedom on the road is just a distant memory.

Opps, I just ran a red light while recording my thoughts for this summertime essay. The camera at the intersection snapped the evidence - I'm busted! Can the police surveillance helicopters be far behind? I'd better slow down or the radar photo box will get me.

Better yet, forget the road trip. There must be something I can do to have fun where my "Big Brother" and my ever-present "Nanny" are not watching!

Gary Aldrich is the president and founder of the Patrick Henry Center, nonprofit, non-partisan educational and charitable foundation. He is also the author of the bestseller, Unlimited Access: An FBI Agent Inside the Clinton White House.

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