"H" is for Hypocrisy

Gas_hypocrisy_webThis photo was snapped today at my friendly neighborhood fossil-fuel dispensing station in West Hills, California. It was all I could do not to have words with the driver. At this point, I shouldn’t have to point out the obvious: Troops in the Middle East are inextricably linked to our crack-like oil addiction–including her fillup.

This Jeep Liberty with fuel economy from 17-22 is no mileage champ. This is a new model, certainly purchased after 9/11, when the deadly nature of U.S. Mideast entanglement became glaringly obvious for all to see.

Where does this lady think her gas comes from? Does she think it gets here by divine mandate or something? Does she also feel an entitlement to consume an unlimited amount of non-renewable fuels which are fouling our atmosphere? While at the same time touting her self-righteous, “I’m making a difference” message plastered across her gas-guzzling ass??

If you drive a vehicle, no matter how good the mileage may be (I include myself and other Prius drivers, we simply use less, but we are still just as dependent) you are part of the problem. We are ALL part of the problem. George W. Bush may be guilty of a lot of things, but he hasn’t forced anyone to drive wasteful vehicles. Oh, no. We do that quite nicely on our own: “Waaa, but I don’t feel safe in a small car–I like my legroom, I need to haul stuff…” Bush is just like the dealer who scores our product and feeds our habit.

Iran and Iraq have the world’s second and fourth largest crude reserves, respectively. Iraq’s production isn’t expected to peak until 2015, so it’s quite a plum. This is why American troops are there, and they won’t leave until the situation is stabilized, no matter what the Democrats may claim. No American administration could afford to let Iraq’s Shiite majority join together with Iran’s in a “Super-Islamic Republic,” denying the U.S. access to oil, or using it to control U.S. behavior.

If you want to talk about troop withdrawals, then you’d better be sitting on a bicycle, or driving an electric car fueled from domestically produced electricity, or 100% cellulose-based ethanol. Otherwise, you are a rank hypocrite, and fail utterly to understand the problem of why American troops are in the Mideast theater in the first place. It may feel good to talk about peace, but your gasoline fill-up is not only chemically explosive, it comes at a high price in blood, war, and oppression.

Since there are currently (no pun intended) no mass-produced electric vehicles on the market, and no cellulosic ethanol available for purchase, it’s time to buck up and understand the equation:

America will disengage from the Middle East exactly when it gets its act together on domestic renewable energy. The terrorists’ motivations are many-fold, but one of their biggest beefs is with Saudi Arabia, where, like Iran before 1979, the U.S. supports a corrupt monarchy to keep the oil flowing. Take away U.S. need for oil, Saudi could be allowed to go democratic–or Islamic, or whatever. Then the Sunni Saudis and the Shiite Iranians can have it out once and for all, and we won’t have to care what happens to Iraq or which side comes out on top. When we disengage, we will also fix the trade deficit, and generate untold numbers of high-paying jobs in domestic energy production to replace those in other industries which have been exported to China and India.

What are we waiting for???

Comments (9 comments)

william prophet / January 13th, 2007, 11:20 pm / #1

I completely agree with you with regard to the issue of oil, politics, war, etc., however the decision for me to switch to a more fuel efficient car is not as easy as I wish it were. I drive over 100 miles a day during the week, and was recently involved in a serious car accident. At the time I was driving a 1989 Nissan Pulsar – a small, somewhat sporty car that I bought used, primarily for it’s relatively high fuel efficiency. I stopped at a crosswalk for a pedestrian and was hit from behind (at a slight angle) by a woman driving a pickup truck. The force of the impact was great enough to twist the back of my driver’s seat approximately twenty degrees clockwise and bend the back of the seat to a somewhat reclining position (permanently deforming the frame of the seat). I was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and had to see a chiropractor for several months. I still experience lower back pain as a result of this accident when under stress. My next car was a 1992 BMW 325i convertible. Again I was hit from behind, this time while fully stopped at a red light. The car that hit me was an older Mercedes sedan – a large and heavy one – and the driver barely slowed before hitting me. My car was considered a total loss, yet I wasn’t injured at all, and my son practically slept through the accident (he awoke for a moment and then fell back asleep). Of course the two vehicles that hit me could have been travelling at significantly different speeds, however I don’t think they were, based on the police officer’s reports. In any case I swore from that day on that I wouldn’t drive a small car for my commute anymore. My next car was a 1995 BMW 525i sedan that I purchased for $10k from a friend. This car gets 23.5 miles per gallon (per the on board computer), it’s extremely comfortable, and I feel safe in it. I realize that the newer cars come with newer safety technology (i.e. side impact airbags, etc.), however I didn’t feel financially comfortable buying a brand new car four years ago when I bought the used BMW 525 – not only would I have higher car payments, but also higher insurance. My car now has 205,000 miles on it and is still running great (I try to maintain it well). I’ve already decided to buy a Prius as soon as my current car dies, in part based on the Prius’ safety rating, however in the meantime I feel as if I’m doing my part for the environment by taking care of an older car that still passes the smog test, rather than sending it to the landfill and buying a new car that used fossil energy to manufacture. I understand what you meant, though – that consumers of brand new, inefficient SUVs use the excuse of safety concerns to justify thier purchase. I simply wanted to let you know that some people have to make somewhat tough decisions based on true safety concerns and/or financial reasons. Living in Germany for two years (85 & 86) taught me quite a few lessons with regard to the environment. As recently as twenty years ago (if not longer) many Germans practiced the mantra of “Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle.” Milk (and beer) trucks still delivered thier product to people’s homes in reusable glass bottles, grocery stores charged 5p. for each paper sack, McDonalds charged 10p. for each ketchup, and two trees were planted for every tree cut down. It felt great to be in that culture, and as much as I enjoy living in America, a part of me never left. I love your website – you throw the truth in our faces with a writing skill and style many writers long to but never acquire.
Thanks & take care,

BlackSun / January 13th, 2007, 11:51 pm / #2


It’s not that I automatically condemn everyone who for whatever reason needs to drive larger vehicles. There may be some good reasons, work, safety, large family, whatever. Our culture has encouraged it, from advertising to all the subsidies oil enjoys. With fuel as cheap as it has been, people have had little reason to change.

My problem is with the self-righteous and unconscious consumers who forget that their ‘right’ to consume comes at a high price. Then they somehow twist their perception, looking at a SYMPTOM, in this case WAR, rather than the CAUSE, which is U.S. monopolization of a disproportionate share of planetary resources.

Rather than seeing the END OF WAR as a goal, how about a realistic position, which takes into account the situation we are in, and works on a strategy to change it. How about a big sign that says: “Renewable energy NOW, not more troops in Iraq!” On an SUV that is burning cellulosic ethanol instead of gasoline! That’s a slogan I could support. But blaming it all on Bush while at the same time guzzling gas is pathetically naive as well as offensive.

There are many daily acts of hypocrisy in this country. But this is to me among the most distressing. It’s window dressing–rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s tantamount to showing up at a peace march in a giant truck or SUV. “Pull our troops out now!”–no matter what. People just don’t get the link. They don’t understand what a different world it would be if America’s enemies shut off our oil supply before we have a chance to make the inevitable transition.

Who has the oil? Russia, Saudi, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela. Who wants it besides us? China, India, and everyone else.

Do we really think we’ll be able to keep consuming 25% of the world’s output without provoking more wars?

What I’m saying is: If you need to drive a large vehicle for whatever reason, be conscious of what you are doing, appreciate the the price we all are paying, and above all, don’t badmouth the very necessary strategy that makes it possible.

doris tracey / January 14th, 2007, 5:54 am / #3

Hi Blacksun-

I believe what you say is true and I know we all should use energy efficient cars. I wouldn’t mind riding a horse locally, there would be plenty of green grass everywhere and maybe in California also. I don’t know what the answer is Blacksun, we all have to reason together.

On December 22nd I was in a local car accident and I was sitting at the light waiting for it to turn green when all of a sudden I heard, Bump,Bump,Bump,Bump. I got out of the car to make sure everyone was all-right and I saw that there were three small cars sandwiched between me a 1989 Bronco 11 and a larger vehicle then mine four cars behind me that initiated the accident. The accident was a chain reaction. I never really found out what really happend. My car was not damaged at all and the large vehicle that started the accident was all-right, but the three small cars, were like accordians. The People in the small vehicles seemed O.K. even though the ambulance took a few of them to the hospital. I would love to have an energy efficient car, but I don’t have the money in my hands and use today. Lets face it the Government only listens and supports the rich folk and the common people are ignored.

Lotus / January 14th, 2007, 12:50 pm / #4

Point well taken. And, I agree with your observations on Saudi Arabia and fuel alternatives.

Perhaps it would have been a little more forgivable if she drove an Asian import of greater fuel efficiency of 30/40 mpg.

Btw, I think that the rear of that vehicle is from a Jeep Liberty not a Grand Cherokee. The mpg is rated at a slight difference of 17-18 intown mpg and 22 on the highway.

aidan / January 14th, 2007, 5:18 pm / #5

I would also have balked at the juxtaposition of “troops out” signage and gas guzzler. There is a profound irony at work there. Great photo.

Of course as William pointed out there are extenuating circumstances that make ownership of larger vehicles understandable. Moreover advertising feeds into it also.

That said, consumption habits drive not only oil wars but also environmental problems. Despite our knowledge of this truth … ego satisfaction, status concerns and just plain macho disdain prompts many who know better to please self first.

So long as the industry offers these supersized vehicles as must-have status possessions and cutting edge auto tech, 70% of the people with surplus cash will look the other way. Sad but true.

Wonder what Al Gore drives?

Christopher / January 14th, 2007, 6:02 pm / #6

Great post. The problem with my part of the country (Pacific NW) is that I stupidly moved my wife and I out of downtown Portland (where we could walk to everything we needed or take a streetcar there) to the suburbs 15 miles west of Portland. Huge mistake. Not only did I not meet the goal I was hoping (save money on rent, I use the money I’m “saving” by putting more fuel into my 96 Honda) but there is less public transit options in the ‘burbs.

Not only is the oil subsidized but so are the cars (in a way). The car price does not reflect all the roads we use to drive our four wheeled environmental destroyers.

In the city of Portland, the city council is starting to discuss expanding our streetcar system to where it was in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, before GM used a bunch of front companies to rip it all up to make way for the beloved automobile.

When real people start to research why there is no viable pubic transit system to easily buck off the car it is because the US government didn’t do much to stop the mass consumer drive to the hallowed auto is when we can have a real discussion about moving off of fossil fuels. When the demand for alternative fueled cars surges the prices will lower, until then, our market will continue to make these vehicles a niche commodity for the wealthy liberal. I’m so proud to be an American.

Mark / January 16th, 2007, 10:43 pm / #7

George Bush is the war criminal who has invaded a country with no good reason and has unleased a civil war and the American public is responsible! Right. Who gives a damn what lying reasons the politicians give for their foreign interventions? Don’t think they won’t have some new ones when the old ones don’t work.

BTW, I don’t own a car.

ClintJCL / January 17th, 2007, 3:56 pm / #8

I’ll stop driving when zoning laws allow me to operate a business out of my house. :)

Danb / February 2nd, 2007, 10:35 am / #9

Hi Sean,

Reading your post -and you’re right, this is our dissociative internal conflict and external dilemma- I think of the

site, where there is great insight except when it comes to oil. For instance, one writer there has told me he’s writing an essay on why we don’t need the middle-east’s oil. See, he believes CERA is wholly credible. I’ve given up sending him things that suggest otherwise.

Anyway, you’re right. But I think we’ll –collectively– not see it until it is obvious, until we feel the pain of resource scarcity. That is definitely where we’re headed in health care. However, the Portland, Oregon Task Force on peak oil preparations, released two weeks ago, is an inspiring document in places.

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