To prospective auto buyers

If you’re in the market for a car or truck, and you’re leaning toward one that’s bigger than your person/cargo carrying needs, please carefully consider your reason for doing so. For many people, the fundamental reason is fear: either of death/injury, or powerlessness.

If the former, note that although you may be a bit safer in an accident, the chances of having an accident in the first place are extremely low (so there’s no need to make it such a high priority in the buying decision), and that modern safety equipment has mostly negated the difference in safety between larger and smaller vehicles. Note also that whatever safety advantage you might have in an accident directly translates to equivalent increased risk to passengers in every other vehicle.

If the latter, note that there are far better (cheaper, more rational) ways to confront this fear.

Regardless of the reason, remember that your actions have consequences. In this case, the consequence of millions of people compensating for their fears with SUVs is that the environment is being destroyed. And though you may not live to see that consequence, your children, or the children of your friends or relatives, will.

So please think before you buy.

Just Bad.

The legacy of the George W. Bush administration is one of fiscal irresponsibility, reckless foreign policy, rejection of reason, and violation of human rights. Bush was either too incompetent to stop his underlings, or too unbalanced to think anything was wrong with what he was doing. Either way, he was completely unsuitable for the job of President, and no amount of jokey last-minute interviews will change that.

The Usefulness of Bad Economic Decisions

It appears that our economy was based on people making poor economic decisions (buying on credit, getting loans they couldn’t afford). We appear to be stuck; either people make bad decisions and screw up their personal financial situation, or they make good decisions and all the industries that benefit from bad decisions (which appears to be most of the economy) are wrecked.

It’s a sobering thought to consider that my relative frugality, if applied to everyone, would almost surely cause national economic meltdown. I wonder if someday the President will implore people to spend beyond their means, to please max out their credit cards as part of their patriotic duty…

The Power of Images

Until now, it had only been an abstract policy debate to me. This latest cover from The Week magazine changed all that, however:

How can any nation do this to a human being?

Especially when the evidence is overwhelming that the information it elicits isn’t accurate?
Especially when every credible expert in this field unequivocally calls this torture?
Especially when that which it purports to decrease, terrorism, is only incited in the minds of those disgusted by the hypocrisy of a nation that would preach “justice” and yet do this?

We’re the good guys. We’ve been the good guys for fifty years. We still can be. But:

It doesn’t matter if the one being tortured is man or woman, white-skinned or dark-skinned, Christian or Muslim or Jew or atheist, American citizen or no. We must be better than this.