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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Fixing the Oil Problem, One Day at a Time...

I was extremely surprised to read about what Brazil has done to address the fuel problems they faced in the 70’s and 80’s. Brazil has been leading in developing alternative fuels like ethanol. They are thought leaders in this space. Here is a great summary of articles what they have been working on at NewsTarget. I am pretty impressed with the development coming out of Brazil and some other South American countries.

The question is: Why can’t we do the same? I believe the real issue is the American public is addicted to their cars, more than anything else in modern culture. More than television, radio, homes, alcohol, shopping, or gambling. Unlike other countries, such as those in South America, the car in the US is an extension of the person. The automobiles are marketed as an extension of the owner. People treat their cars as pets in many cases. But overall, the car is a non-negotiable freedom. One dynamic that showcases this situation is the high rate of ownership of expensive and luxury cars that are disproportionate to the income or socio-economic status of the owner.

I really believe that people here feel so strongly that driving and the freedom associated with driving is a locked in right, and not a privilege or entitlement. People feel that they have the right to have freedom associated with driving, and any loss of this perceived freedom can cause major problems. It is this thinking that causes apathy associated with challenging the traditional gas them up and move them out.

How to fix this is a major up hill battle. The cost of fuel, cars, parts, service, and other automotive items does not seem to be a major deterrent. The fix has to shift in the culture. The shift has to be driven from the inside. It can not be forced; it can not be from the fringe; and it surely can not be rushed. We need the leadership in this country, in the forms of the auto manufactures and the politicians to focus on development of both physical and culture solutions to this major problem for our country. If not for my checkbook, please do it for my children and grandchildren.

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