THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 179, June 24, 2002

"Assume a Meditative Stance"

Twenty-Three Skiddoo!
by L. Neil Smith
lneil@lneilsmith.org

Exclusive to TLE

Every now and then I hear some morally challenged parasite express a deep, churning, irrational hatred for an artifact that, in my part of the country at least, stands as a shining symbol of the Productive Class.

The so-called "sport utility vehicle" is a splendid machine that, from the wheelwells down, is basically a medium-duty truck (often with a trailer hitch mounted on the back bumper and a winch up front) and from there up, a cross between a station wagon (at one time a shining Productive Class symbol in its own right) and a luxury hotel room, complete with air conditioning, adjustable heated seats, AM-FM radio, a CD changer holding anywhere from ten to a hundred disks, and, with increasing frequency, a VCR-DVD TV in back for the "Are we there yet?" generation.

Some SUVs have sun roofs, moon roofs, collapsible awnings, tent annexes, folding lawn furniture, luggage racks, objects that look a lot like photon torpedos on the luggage rack, running boards, wet bars, hands-free telephones, answering machines, faxes, refrigerators, microwaves, onboard computers, pink flamingos, and satellite dishes. At the moment, jetted hot tubs are still pretty much limited to custom limousines.

The first criticism you'll hear collectivist scumbags make about these wonderful machines is that they consume too much fuel. Actually, what you'll hear is that they're "gas guzzlers", meaning absolutely nothing except that what socialists lack in originality, they make up in mutual plagiarism. The last time anyone left of Hubert Humphrey had a new idea was somewhere back around the year that Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein.

Speaking of fossil fuel, however, it's time we got a few points straight, right now and forever. First, once I've paid for the stuff, it's mine, and nobody's frigging business how much I use or how I use it. What else is it for, anyway? It doesn't do anybody a bit of good when it stays in the ground. Once it's been extracted and refined, you can't drink it or bathe in it, and it makes extremely poor suntan lotion.

Ambulances and fire engines and Meals on Wheels can only use so much of the stuff, so that means there's plenty left over for those less altruistically commendable (but vastly more enjoyable) pursuits like tractor pulls, demolition derbies, snowmobile rallies, running all- terrain vehicles over the tundra (come to think of it, what else is tundra for?), doing doughnuts on the ice or in the mud, stock car races, popping out for a carton of cigarettes, or taking the kids to gunshops.

Another point is that you get what you pay for -- admittedly an entirely new concept to those accustomed mostly to getting what other people are forced to pay for. An SUV may use a lot of gas, but it takes you where you want to go in maximum comfort, convenience, and safety. On the other hand, the underpowered tin-plastic boxes the left wants us to drive have exactly the same chance of surviving collisions as the proverbial snowball in hell. What's more, the position you're forced to assume to ride in these kiddycars, pretty much guarantees that if you happen to run into something, or it runs into you, you're gonna wind up with both hips dislocated and your pelvis shoved up your nose.

They whine that petroleum is irreplaceable, a finite resource -- "resource" being a word they use when they're making off with somebody else's property. If you ask me, the sooner we use it up, the sooner we can get on to other things. I rather fancy the idea of a nuclear SUV, myself.

They don't really need to worry, in any case. Silverfoot Junior is busy right now, acquiring more "resources" for them in central Asia. That's what his "War on Terror" is all about. That's all it's about, war on the terror he and his buddies feel when they wake in the middle of the night, hearts pounding, limbs shaking, leaking sweat from every pore, for fear of losing all their ill-gotten wealth and illegitimate power.

But there I've gone and gotten serious again, haven't I?

Sorry about that.

Another thing they love to whimper about (the left-wing socialist bedwetters, not the right-wing variety like Our Little Fuehrer) is pollution. The more fuel it uses, it says here, the more pollution it creates. That sounds logical. The trouble is, today's vehicles are virtually pollution-free compared to those of the past. What they mostly generate is water and carbon dioxide -- good for plants and other living things. The only real pollutants modern vehicles create are carcinogens, a product of the catalytic converters and lead-free gas forced on Detroit by -- you guessed it -- left-wing socialist bedwetters.

But forget all that. The truth is that these stunted creatures simply hate to see anybody enjoying any aspect of his life -- usually because they have no lives themselves, or what lives they do have are a misery and they want company. And too, they understand too well that an individual who enjoys his life is far more difficult to control, something they just can't abide. As the late Alan Sherman pointed out in his masterpiece, The Rape of the Ape, that's why religions made sex a no-no. Anybody who's getting laid regularly is impossible to control.

The great philosopher Robert LeFevre used to talk about a 19th century commission put together to consider the "problem" presented by a new energy source, petroleum. No mere corporation, they decided in their august wisdom, could ever bear the cost of finding, extracting refining, and distributing the black, gooey stuff, so -- say it real fast, now, so nobody will notice -- it should be made a government monopoly.

Luckily nobody paid attention to this gaggle of bungheads, but you can get a good idea what shape the oil business would be in right now if they had, simply by taking a look at another energy source that did, in effect, become a government monopoly: nuclear fission. The cheapest, cleanest, safest source of power in human history, if not the Known Universe, now lies in ruins because all of the decisions about it came to be political in character, rather than economic and private.

But once again I have digressed. This essay was supposed to be about how weary I am hearing morons sneering at or whimpering over SUVs. The thing is, I know how to stop them cold. The problem is, it isn't a very libertarian solution. In fact, it isn't libertarian at all.

So I'm going to make make the suggestion anyway, rely on you to spread it around, and on the conservatives to run with it. Afterward, whenever the idea gets attributed to me, I plan simply to quote the guild navigator in Dune and reply, "I didn't say this. I wasn't here".

Any time you some envirocollectivist blathers about placing a special federal tax on your Grand Cherokee, Land Cruiser, Range Rover, Suburban, Trooper, Montero, Exploder, or Durango, inform him, her, or it that you're a member of a group that plans to lobby for a special 23% tax on that shining symbol of the tofu and Berkenstock class, the bicycle, and on everything even remotely associated with the damned contrivance.

That means tire pumps, sprocket wrenches, bells, baskets, lights, obscene Lycra clothing, and most of all those helmets that look like bedpans. Somebody, after all, has to pay for all those of bike lanes and pathways cluttering up our cities nowadays, as well as for all the accidents and aggravation generated by pisswits who pretend that they're pedestrians when it suits them, and vehicle drivers when it doesn't.

Twenty-three percent sounds good. That oughta shut 'em up.

They'll be exempted if they buy an SUV.

But remember, I didn't say this.

I wasn't here.



Three-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 23 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collection of articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website " The Webley Page". Autographed copies may be had from the author at lneil@lneilsmith.org


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