Driving ourselves to debt (pt 1)

I drove to the mall in order to save $5. Yes, I used $2 in gas so I could save $5 on a sweater. Can you say idiot?

But that’s our problem, isn’t it? We, in this country, drive, drive, drive and shop, shop, shop.

I’m not going to say anything about the failing banks and the Wall Street bailout that was voted down yesterday because I know so little about such things. What I know is what I see on My Street.

I know people who drive 30, 40, 50 or more miles to work, putting hours of their life and huge chunks of their paycheck into their cars. Living in a rural state with very little public transportation often makes this necessary and common place. But I also know we are our own worse enemy. There are buses but we refuse to ride them. There are car pools but we don’t like the inconvenience of them. No riders, no funding. No funding, no buses to ride even if we wanted to. And so we keep complaining about the gas prices while chugging down another gallon.

My husband walks to work everyday and I do when I can. When we moved back to Vermont we made a conscious decision to move into town. To say we did this to save money and the environment would be overly self-righteous. In reality I just wanted to be able to throw my kids in the stroller and walk to the coffee shop. If we saved anything in the process, that was a bonus. I know not everyone can live in within city limits. Americans like their privacy and their land. What I don’t understand is those who live in one city and work in another. Or live in the suburbs and sacrifice hours and hours of time sitting on a highway. Obviously everyone has their personal reasons and situations, but I have to wonder if many aren’t sacrificing unnecessarily – or putting the wrong priorities in the driver’s seat.

My family has sacrificed privacy for community, a large lawn for street festivals, and a second car for a father who comes home in time to eat dinner and read a bed time story to his children. My daughter rides the school bus for 5 minutes rather than an hour (and will walk to school once she starts 3rd grade) and I get to breathe in the crispness of a fall morning on my walk to daycare and my office.

I hear on the news that more and more people are moving into the cities for the convenience and financial logistics of it. I am thrilled to know that walkable communities are slowly edging their way onto the landscape. But I also know that Sprawl still stalks this land; gated communities yank woodlands out by their roots, box stores are plopped down in cow pastures, and sidewalks are never drawn into new city plans. Americans are forced to drive, our addiction to oil is fed by poor planning, greedy investors, and our own need for property and insulation.

And then there is our addiction to shopping…

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One thought on “Driving ourselves to debt (pt 1)

  1. I totally, 100% agree with you on this. I get so frustrated when people complain about the price of gas and the lack of public transportation but don’t understand the catch-22 they’re keeping themselves in or just refuse to make the necessary changes in their lives that would help make these things happen.

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