is it 2003 already?
By now, liberal whining about SUVs has transcended mere cliche and taken its place as one of the defining 3 or 4 caricatures most treasured by the world's dittoheads. But as you can probably tell from my writing, I'm not one to shy away from a good cliche.
The DC Council has just voted to establish some new taxes and fees on SUVs in the District. As you might guess, I'm in favor: I think there are externalities associated with SUV ownership -- things like extra pollution and damage to roads -- that should be paid by people who want to own them.
But even if SUV drivers pay their scientifically tabulated fair share, I know I won't be satisfied. Why? Can I just not stand the declasse spectacle of shameless and conspicuous consumption?
Well, yes. But who am I kidding? I'm an American, too. I enjoy consuming barrels and barrels of oil as much as the next guy. I just like doing it more discreetly.
I think the problem is that some of these externalities simply aren't fungible. There's a personal advantage to having more mass surrounding you as you barrel down the highway, or to being higher off of the ground than the losers in cars of conventional height. Unfortunately, the associated disadvantages to those around you are frequently in terms of life & limb. Charging a premium for ludicrously large vehicles and spending the money on road rage prevention is nice, and it's better than nothing, but it doesn't really make it any easier or safer for me to drive except insofar as it subtly discourages SUV purchases -- which I suspect isn't much.