Monthly Archives: September 2011

No more car

Most people can’t imagine living without their car, which is exactly how the auto and oil industries like it. Of course, cars are not inherently bad — they give us the ability to go great distances, they are fast and sexy, they take us on road trips and provide the perfect place for teenage makeout sessions. But they can also be giant money drains, dangerous and detrimental.

My car was the perfect car for Miami: red with a tan drop-top, a fast, sleek sports car. Alas, it was the victim of scam artist mechanics and is now fit for the junkyard — but only after dumping thousands into repairs.

I now have to get around via foot, bike and scooter, and it’s a little challenging, but really not so bad. It’s healthier and a helluva lot more economical. I don’t need to pay for insanely expensive gas or insurance, worry about cops and exorbitant traffic and parking tickets, have panic attacks over insane Miami drivers, feel like I spend most of my life on my ass or contribute to local smog pollution and large-scale global warming.

Cars cost a lot, and they kill a lot — over 30,000 people a year. Not that I’m now immune to death (riding a bike around Miami is no picnic) but somehow, I feel safer being off the road. Ideally I would live in a bike-friendly city, a pedestrian paradise, like the European capitals, or somewhere with a mass transit system.

I wonder if modern cities were deliberately constructed so people NEED cars. I do think the huge amount of commercials and advertising make people think they need new cars, expensive cars, multiple cars.

There is another, better way. If you have a family, you might need one. But you could use it a lot less. It feels good to bike and to walk, especially if you’re nowhere near a road. Feel yourself decompress. Breath some fresh air. No blaring radio or angry honks. The way things used — and maybe should — be.

Finally contributed cash

I get a lot of gut-turning, heart-wrenching emails from organizations like Greenpeace about the imminent destruction of habitats and endangered species. I often sign their petitions, post them on Facebook and pass them on to friends and family.

But being, of necessity, frugal (not cheap, frugal), I have not contributed funds — until today.

On Sunday I was swimming in the ocean and I found a dead baby turtle floating in the waves. That has no direct relation to the campaign going on right now against the tuna industry and their devastation of endangered turtles, but … perhaps it was a sign.

In any case, I couldn’t say no this time. The Greenpeace boat Esperanza is out there in the Pacific confronting the commercial fishermen now. If they are willing to do that, I should be willing to give some hard-earned money to make their fight a little bit easier.

My heart goes out to the turtles and vulnerable creatures of the sea.

Can we peacefully protest?

The First Amendment calls for freedom of speech, but right now, people are being violently arrested for exercising that right. If Americans can’t peacefully protest on important issues in public spaces, what kind of Democracy are we leaving in?