Friday, May 12, 2006


Once upon a time, for reasons that even now are somewhat opaque to me, I lived in Orange County CA. The primary industry was real estate development: the conversion of semi-arid scrub into red tile roofs, eight-lane residential streets, and megafreeways of unfathomable size. (The "El Toro Y," the intersection of the I-5 and I-405 freeways, has 26 lanes; traffic still sucks.) The place was, I now realize, an idealized microcosm of a latter-day Bush Administration running a Red State paradise: government of, by and for big business, fiscal malpractice, and a host of other sins I will skip over for now.

Anyway, the population was pro-development overall, though predictable NIMBY concerns did tend to act as a minor drag on the Vista del Condo-ization. I still remember reading an article about one such spat from perhaps 18 or so years ago. A big developer wanted to put up thousands of new units. Locals complained about the effect on already dreadful traffic. The newspaper quoted one of the local officials (I think he was on the County Board of Supervisors), a fellow named Gaddy Vasquez, as saying: "Traffic has nothing to do with development. It's just the sheer number of cars on the road."

(That flair for piercing insight apparently attracted the attention of the kingmakers in Washington; Dubya named him Director of the Peace Corps.)

I thought of the wisdom and honesty of Mr. Vasquez when I read this:

General Motors to End Hummer H1 Production

General Motors Corp. said Friday that the 2006 model year will be the last for the H1, which has been the foundation for the automaker's Hummer brand. Based on the military's Humvee, the about 12,000 put on the road since 1992 defined the Hummer name.

"It's a reflection of where we're going with the Hummer brand," Hummer general manager Martin Walsh said of the decision. "The Hummer DNA still resides in the Humvee. ... It will always be the core from where we come."


The H1 gets about 10 miles per gallon, but Walsh said rising gas prices didn't factor into GM's decision. He noted that H1 buyers typically have been less sensitive about gas prices than most other drivers.

Uh huh. And when the next supply shock pushes crude to $100 a barrel, and H2s and Tahoes and Suburbans and Escalades stack up like cordwood, that won't have anything to do with
fuel prices either. Dreadnought SUV buyers will be insensitive to fuel prices -- all twelve of them.


Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

What are they going to do with all of those Hummers? I remember growing up in San Francisco, my Dad took me to a park that had an old Air Force jet that had been converted in to a playground set. You could climb a ladder and sit in the cockpit, and I think there was a slide down. A Hummvee/Tahoe/Suburban jungle jim maybe?

11:49 PM  

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