What is one thing...

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What is one thing...

Postby mico saudad » Fri Oct 24, 2008 6:22 pm

If you had 5 minutes during the inaugural address to suggest one thing that the country should do what would it be? Specifically your suggestion should have all of the following properties:

- Something that a majority of Americans could support
- Something that makes a profound impact on people here and/or abroad
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Sober » Fri Oct 24, 2008 7:46 pm

I've been saying for a couple years that the next president needs to pull a JFK and say "in the next decade, we will be 100% off foreign oil."

Then, fund the everloving shit out of that measure, purge the DNC of lobbyist influence, and make it happen. There is zero reason why this cannot be achieved in ten years. There's no reason personal vehicles can't be 100% gas-free in 20 years. Commercial and military vehicles could phase out over the following decade.

A second-term Obama inaugural address should include universal healthcare.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Reist » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:05 pm

Sober wrote:There's no reason personal vehicles can't be 100% gas-free in 20 years. Commercial and military vehicles could phase out over the following decade.

And fuck up Canada's economy please ... come on guys ... remember us poor northerners. :(
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Caravan Ray » Fri Oct 24, 2008 10:55 pm

Sober wrote:There's no reason personal vehicles can't be 100% gas-free in 20 years. Commercial and military vehicles could phase out over the following decade.

You would be better aiming to be 100% personal vehicle-free in 20 years. The fuel used is a minor issue.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Generic » Sat Oct 25, 2008 7:58 am

CR, I admire the ambition, but you've got your work cut out for you if you want to convince the majority of U.S. citizens (approx. 150,000,001 people) that it isn't okay to own a car, even one that doesn't burn fossil fuels. Especially because many cities (like Cleveland, from whence I just moved) have inadequate and underfunded public transit systems and others (like Chicago or my current city of residence Austin) have been cutting funding from their public transit system, causing the infrastructure to weaken and the price of travel to go up.

Plus, if there were no personal vehicles, how would people travel between cities? There are tons of places that buses and airplanes don't go, and the latter are prohibitively expensive for too many people anyway.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Spud » Sat Oct 25, 2008 9:40 am

Ever since the beginning, the great American dream of prosperity and happiness has always revolved around owning a piece of land (preferably with a house on top of it). Home ownership has always been associated with security and stability. The mere act of possessing a parcel to call your own has always symbolized the triumph of moving from the unexplainable stigma of renting to a greater plane, found only on higher rungs up the economic and social ladder.

In order to meet this goal, people have had to move further and further away from centers of business, industry and commerce, to the point where 2 hour commutes are typical and 4 hour commutes are not unheard of. The phenomenon of suburban development can be traced DIRECTLY to the invention of the automobile, and it is the automobile which has fueled this totally unsustainable form of growth. The two are inextricably linked.

In order to get people to give up personal vehicles, the first thing you've got to do is to stop them from building McMansions where there used to be farms. I'm not saying it's not possible, it's just going to take more than 20 years. The U.S. government has done an excellent job of marketing this version of the American Dream, and has enabled it by making home interest deductible and subsidizing roadways and other infrastructure projects.

Time for a new Dream.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Billy's Little Trip » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:35 am

Personal vehicles are not the problem, it's the need for crude oil and more importantly, foreign oil, that fucks everything up. The need for crude oil in general has to decrease and hopefully end. This goes for factories, jets, commercial and personal vehicles. From the second a vehicle is put on the road, it creates jobs, from the roof of that vehicle to the ground it's driving on and everything in between. We should all have a choice of public transit or personal transit, this is America.

Here is one solution:
Major corporations that require physical labor, have to start breaking down their single huge factories in major cities to smaller clean running cells that are spread out to create shorter commutes and spread out to less populated areas. This creates new growth, new homes, new businesses to take care of the growth and finally, the American dream.
Yes, it will most likely increase the final cost of a product. But so what, you have a good job, a solar powered home that you can afford, and two hydrogen powered cars in the garage.

The answer isn't to go backwards, it's to improve what we have. The big monopolizing corporations that are fucking up our planet have to either change or be boycotted to make room for businesses that do care about the environment as well as their employees futures.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Spud » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:44 am

As my good friend Caravan Ray says, it's not just the fuel, Billy:

Historian Mark Foster has estimated that “fully one-third of the total environmental damage caused by automobiles occurred before they were sold and driven.” He cited a study that estimated that fabricating one car produced 29 tons of waste and 1,207 million cubic yards of polluted air. Extracting iron ore, bauxite, petroleum, copper, lead, and a variety of other raw materials to process steel, aluminum, plastics, glass, rubber, and other products necessary to construct automobiles consumes limited resources, uses great amounts of energy, and has serious environmental repercussions. In recent years, for example, the automotive industry in several developed countries was a major purchaser of iron and steel (30 percent), lead for batteries (46 percent), aluminum (23 percent), and platinum for exhaust fume control (41 percent). Approximately 75 percent of the cost of the industry’s power comes from electricity, but the auto industry also consumes natural gas (15 percent of energy expenditures), and coal and coke (over 8 percent), as well as steam, oil, and propane.

Vehicle assembly plants themselves are major polluters. In the early 1990s, there were 20 engine plants in the United States, more than 40 assembly plants, hundreds of metal stamping facilities, and thousands of suppliers. Automotive plants release sulfuric acid and other smokestack emissions into the air. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed car and truck assembly plants among the top ten waste producers in the country. In 1990, the American automotive industry accounted for 1 percent of all hazardous waste or 172 kg per vehicle produced. Paint shops, in particular, utilize large quantities of solvents; in the State of Michigan, these paint-shop solvents account for almost one-fourth of all pollution from volatile organic compounds. The introduction of water-based paints was meant to drastically reduce solvent contamination, but the retrofitting of paint shops is costly, and the large quantities of water used there and elsewhere in the plants do not leave as clean as when they entered. The network of supply industries, building infrastructure, and transportation systems necessary to produce and deliver vehicles to the consumer also must be factored into any discussion of the environmental impact of the automobile.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Billy's Little Trip » Sat Oct 25, 2008 10:52 am

I added to my post before you posted, Spud. But yes, all true. But everything can be produced in an environmentally clean way. But major conglomerates that buy off and make the decisions for our politicians are the problem, not personal transportation.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Spud » Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:07 am

I agree that personal transportation is not the problem. The problem is that people make decisions about where to live based on faulty information and without considering the true cost and they are encouraged by the government to do so.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby frankie big face » Sat Oct 25, 2008 11:27 am

Caravan Ray wrote:
Sober wrote:There's no reason personal vehicles can't be 100% gas-free in 20 years. Commercial and military vehicles could phase out over the following decade.

You would be better aiming to be 100% personal vehicle-free in 20 years. The fuel used is a minor issue.


I would personally love this, but thanks to I don't know--Eisenhower?--we pretty much fucked ourselves out of ever having a kickass rail system like Europe. In a place like Lancaster, where I live (pop. 50,000 or so), it's almost impossible to get around without a car. I take the bus to work most days, but it's only because a) I live in the city--less than ten minutes walk from the main bus station, and b) there happens to be a route that goes right by my workplace. When a friend of mine looked into doing the same, it was entirely impractical.

But people are super-lazy and selfish in this country. Most people who could carpool to work don't. Most people who could use public transportation don't. Most people who could buy a small fuel-efficient car don't. It pretty much sucks Ray.

(Now wait five minutes for the following possible responses: "If you don't like it here, move!" "America is the greatest--you suck!" and "They hate us for our freedom!" Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.)
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Lord of Oats » Sun Oct 26, 2008 1:04 pm

Since we've headed this way again, I have a general, open-ended question.

How is improved public transportation going to deliver a pizza in thirty minutes?

How is it going to get the newspapers to the driveways of the old, stubborn, indirectly polluting heathens who won't embrace the internet?

AND YES we should eat more local food. We should grow most of our own food. But people still want asparagus available all year, and are willing to pay for it. And the people in Alaska want to eat all year, instead of just in the summer, etc. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, how can one get a locally manufactured iPod or computer? Or any highly proprietary piece of anything? Through franchising? Isn't production more efficient on a larger scale? When distribution makes it more expensive, no. But distribution is cheap. A box factory can make boxes a lot faster and cheaper than you, but then they do have to get there, don't they? Domino's can make a pizza much more efficiently than you. But then again, you don't live at Domino's.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby bz£ » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:02 pm

Domino's can make pizza more efficiently than I can, but only if I ignore the many costs of delivery.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Sober » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:04 pm

This has turned ridiculous.

Americans will never give up car ownership, whatever powers it. A fundamental reason for this is the layout of our cities. Suburban neighborhoods just aren't built for walking distances. I don't have a barber, grocer, bank, post office, or train station within walking distance, and I suspect most house-dwellers here don't either.

Everywhere I went in the UK, you had a variety of things within a 5 minute walk, including a train/tube station, even out in the suburbs. A quick glance at googlemaps will show just how compartmentalized our suburbs are. That's the benefit of living in cities that are decades instead of centuries old, I suppose.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Caravan Ray » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:51 pm

Sober wrote:This has turned ridiculous.

Americans will never give up car ownership, whatever powers it. A fundamental reason for this is the layout of our cities. Suburban neighborhoods just aren't built for walking distances. I don't have a barber, grocer, bank, post office, or train station within walking distance, and I suspect most house-dwellers here don't either.

Yes. That is the whole point.

Changing the type of fuel you put in your car will not really solve anything.

Throwing your hands in the air and saying "A fundamental reason for this is the layout of our cities" is just plain dumb. That is what you need to change. That is what you need to aim for. Not a pointless and ineffective goal of "in the next decade, we will be 100% off foreign oil."

(BTW: I own 3 houses in 2 different countries - all of which do have a barber, grocer, bank, post office, and train station within walking distance. I would not contemplate living any other way. I do own a car - but the fuel used in it is fairly irrelevant because I rarely use it. And both Aust and NZ have exactly the same town-planning problems and car reliance as the USA. Doesn't mean it can't change)
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Reist » Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:28 pm

Caravan Ray wrote:(BTW: I own 3 houses in 2 different countries - all of which do have a barber, grocer, bank, post office, and train station within walking distance. I would not contemplate living any other way. I do own a car - but the fuel used in it is fairly irrelevant because I rarely use it. And both Aust and NZ have exactly the same town-planning problems and car reliance as the USA. Doesn't mean it can't change)

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say ... it can't. I don't have a barber, grocer, post office or train station within walking distance. And with the temperatures we get here in the winter, there's no way in hell that I'm going to walk or use any eco-friendly transit. Even the trains are unbearable in the winter.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Spud » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:40 pm

I am going to go out on a (pretty sturdy) limb and say that you are wrong, Reist. Change will not happen in a decade, or even in our lifetimes. But there will be change. The traditional suburban model is out of date. The infrastructure of older suburbs is failing, so they will have to be replaced, anyway, and that's at least as expensive than the houses themselves. Let's tear them down, start over, and get it right this time. Not all at once of course, and not in a big hurry. But it will happen, over time.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Reist » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:20 pm

Spud wrote:I am going to go out on a (pretty sturdy) limb and say that you are wrong, Reist. Change will not happen in a decade, or even in our lifetimes. But there will be change. The traditional suburban model is out of date. The infrastructure of older suburbs is failing, so they will have to be replaced, anyway, and that's at least as expensive than the houses themselves. Let's tear them down, start over, and get it right this time. Not all at once of course, and not in a big hurry. But it will happen, over time.

Yeah for sure. I'm very NOW-focused, if you know what I mean. Maybe I'm just too self-centered, but I don't usually worry about this stuff if it's not going to happen in my lifetime.

As for the environment and some other issues, I like to think ahead, but I don't worry myself too much about it.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Spud » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:30 pm

I take it you don't have kids.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby bz£ » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:13 pm

I live in the third most densely populated state in the US-- by a wide margin. The population of my town is a shade under twelve thousand people, and there are zero grocery stores in the town. The nearest supermarket is in New Hampshire, twenty minutes away by car. We have a two-year-old living with us right now; the nearest playground and nearest preschool are about the same distance, also not in Massachusetts. In fact, there is not a single commercial property of any type within one mile in any direction; as a smoker and generally lazy and unhealthy person, one mile is way more than what I would consider "walking distance."

I actually do live close to what most people would call a "main road," but there is no public transportation available either.

I don't think any of this is atypical. At least it isn't in Massachusetts, which again is one of the most densely populated states in this country (trailing only Jersey and Rhode Island).

This is probably the case in many parts of England and such too, but, of course, not in London.

I'm not suggesting there's any easy solution to this, but gasoline independence makes a lot more sense than "nobody can have a vehicle." I also drive a gas-guzzling SUV, because I can't drive safely in New England weather without one. I'd be happy to get some kind of non-gasoline four-wheel-drive car, if/when one that I can afford becomes available.
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Generic » Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:17 pm

Caravan Ray wrote:
Throwing your hands in the air and saying "A fundamental reason for this is the layout of our cities" is just plain dumb. That is what you need to change. That is what you need to aim for. Not a pointless and ineffective goal of "in the next decade, we will be 100% off foreign oil."


Well, if I'm not mistaken, the goal that Gore set, and which the Democratic Party (i.e. Obama) has gotten on board with, was not to be 100% off foreign oil, but rather, to be 100% free of fossil fuels entirely. And that's not ineffective. That's solving the problem. Not in the same way you've got in mind, CR, but still solving the problem nonetheless.

What, by the way, would be the problem with owning personal vehicles that don't run on fossil fuels and don't produce unsafe emissions? We're not there yet, but we're working on it. If there were a high-speed personal vehicle with the same ecological footprint as a bike, that would be fine, right?
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Re: What is one thing...

Postby Billy's Little Trip » Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:05 pm

bz£ wrote:I live in the third most densely populated state in the US-- by a wide margin. The population of my town is a shade under twelve thousand people, and there are zero grocery stores in the town. The nearest supermarket is in New Hampshire, twenty minutes away by car. We have a two-year-old living with us right now; the nearest playground and nearest preschool are about the same distance, also not in Massachusetts. In fact, there is not a single commercial property of any type within one mile in any direction; as a smoker and generally lazy and unhealthy person, one mile is way more than what I would consider "walking distance."

I actually do live close to what most people would call a "main road," but there is no public transportation available either.

I don't think any of this is atypical. At least it isn't in Massachusetts, which again is one of the most densely populated states in this country (trailing only Jersey and Rhode Island).

This is probably the case in many parts of England and such too, but, of course, not in London.

I'm not suggesting there's any easy solution to this, but gasoline independence makes a lot more sense than "nobody can have a vehicle." I also drive a gas-guzzling SUV, because I can't drive safely in New England weather without one. I'd be happy to get some kind of non-gasoline four-wheel-drive car, if/when one that I can afford becomes available.

Thank you. Great scenario, Ben. People seem to think that the world is whatever is outside their front door. And, your last line, "I'd be happy to get some kind of non-gasoline four-wheel-drive car, if/when one that I can afford becomes available" <<< This! This is the fucking problem that shouldn't be a problem. A person should be able to easily afford and qualified for an eco friendly mode of transportation.
Last edited by Billy's Little Trip on Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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