Saturday Mailbox


October 18, 2003

Conspiracy against SUVs is absurd idea

I wasn't sure whether Phil Kent's column suggesting a conspiracy of environmentalists and foreign carmakers to take jobs from American autoworkers was irony or paranoid delusion ("Anti-SUV movement puts jobs in jeopardy," Opinion Commentary, Oct. 13).

Conspiracy theories are generally hard to prove, and Mr. Kent's theory just piles silly conclusions on top of illogic. In opposition to Mr. Kent's main points, I'd note that American engineers are smart enough to build autos other than SUVs and that the money spent buying a car flows through the American economy in the same way as money spent on an SUV.

Detroit pushes SUVs because it makes huge profits on each SUV. Millions are spent in advertising to convince us that we need these behemoths, despite their outrageous profit margins.

And I think it's reasonable to suggest that the resulting cash ripped off from consumers is not being proportionally passed on to workers.

We know that the reduced gas mileage of SUVs means more carcinogens, smog, ozone, unhealthy air quality days, asthma, and nitrogen pollution deposited in the Chesapeake Bay, while SUVs' heavy weight causes more wear on roads and bridges.

In a quest to be stylish, many SUV owners are willing to foist all the above ills and their attendant costs in money, health and environmental destruction on the rest of us and on all of our children.

To simply pass this off as the "American way" or a matter of individual rights is an insult. And since when is increasing our dependence on foreign oil a good thing for America's national security?

So there are reasonable, ethical and scientific reasons to phase out SUVs. And only someone desperately protecting certain interests, or hearing voices, could dream up the scapegoat of an international conspiracy of environmentalists and foreign carmakers to stop SUVs.

It's not even a good screenplay idea.

Jim Emberger


Jobs, environment need not conflict

Phil Kent's column "Anti-SUV movement puts jobs in jeopardy" (Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 13) is a rerun of the classic argument of jobs vs. the environment, which is as short-sighted as it is unoriginal.

Technology exists today that can make vehicles -- all vehicles -- much more fuel-efficient. And simple, non-radical changes such as lighter building materials or advanced engine designs could yield SUVs that get an average of 30 to 35 miles per gallon.

This innovation wouldn't simply benefit the environment. Car companies and the people who work for them would also benefit, as recent sales have shown strong consumer interest in fuel-efficient vehicles.

An efficient SUV would provide jobs to auto manufacturers because it would provide a product Americans want in a package that would protect the environment.

Mr. Kent seems to suggest that the power, safety and size of modern SUVs are the price we pay for inefficiency. But we don't have to pay this price.

To produce a fuel-efficient SUV, we don't need to make a great sacrifice or create a brilliant new technology.

All we have to do is look beyond this silly argument of jobs vs. the environment and realize the solution that will benefit everyone is within our grasp.

Pete Connolly


Phil Kent would have us choose between jobs and a healthy environment. Fortunately, we need not be limited by Mr. Kent's rhetoric, because controlling pollution has never cost jobs, but it has saved thousands of lives.

And as the war in Iraq focuses our attention on fuel-efficiency and the SUV-sized loopholes in fuel-efficiency regulations, even Detroit knows that the trend is turning against the 6,000-pound grocery wagon.

As consumer preferences shift, workers now producing SUVs could just as easily produce cleaner, safer, more-efficient vehicles.

Safe streets, a clean environment and competitive industry. What could be more patriotic?

Mark Counselman


Respecting gays, loving neighbors

The current conflict in the Episcopal Church about gays is another example of history repeating itself ("Conservative Episcopalians urge leaders to repent," Oct. 10).

In 1954, the issue was race. Today, if the churches cannot stand for justice and equality under the Constitution, the Supreme Court will do it for them -- just as in its historic decision about race in 1954.

As a patriotic American who served in the U.S. Army and as an Episcopal priest for 45 years, I affirm two pledges of allegiance.

The first is to the American flag and the republic for which it stands. The second is to the Episcopal Church, as follows: "I pledge allegiance to the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. and the Anglican Communion and to the graceful Gospel (Good News) for which it stands; one worldwide church under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

This is not an issue about whom we choose as personal friends or spouses.

It is about loving (not necessarily liking) one's neighbor, which means being responsible and committed to high ethical values and the ordering of society accordingly.

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