Monday, June 30, 2008

Travel, Environment, and Class

While I certainly recognize the need to provide readers with alternatives to their gas guzzling and environmentally wasteful ways, sometimes the writers at the Times yesterday need a serious muzzle to mask their amazing ignorance of class and common sense.

To be fair, many of the pieces were good. Robert Reich rightfully discusses how high fuel prices are basically a regressive tax on the poor while Nicole Belson Goluboff discusses the future of telecommuting.

But Michael Paterniti's piece was atrocious. His solution to saving fuel: do what he did--give up that road trip you planned to Spain and go across the bay to a coastal island in Maine.

Wow--that's really helpful. He must be speaking to a solid 1% of Americans with that advice. What if you live in Texas or Kansas or Wyoming or Alabama? How do you travel from there without burning too many fossil fuels? Sorry, we don't have beautiful coastal islands 15 minutes away. And even if we did, 95% of us would be too poor to afford their $200 a night hotels.

I don't want to make a big deal out of one short column. But Paterniti again demonstrates how out of touch the Times can be with many Americans. Like the style and travel sections, these "solutions" speak only to the rich. All too often, the paper sees the rest of America as this curious thing to occasionally be reported on, but rarely to be seriously engaged.