Sunday, May 4, 2008

automobiles and the recent obeisty trends

Since the early 1980's American citizens have gained an average of about 27 or 28 pounds. This is actually quite staggering even though many of the industrialized nations are experiencing the same trends.

The effects of this trend have been felt in many areas. By far, the industry hit the worst has been the health care industry. Because of the additional risks that obesity brings on, it could almost be considered the second or third worst moral killer in the US. Another example of a moral killer would be the habitual smoking of cigarettes. One area also affected is the automobile industry when one considers the cost increase of energy.

There has been an influx of literature recently dealing with the subject of obesity and energy. Studying these research projects and updating them to reflect current EPA estimates on fuel consumption, I have determined that Americans could be wasting up to about one billion extra gallons of gasoline per year due to their weight gains. This is really just a drop in the bucket... 0.8 percent of the total consumption, to be sure.

Since this is a relatively small number, I tried to find a way to make it sound significant. This total amount of fuel wasted would have kept about 3.5 billion dollars in American's pockets. Still, we have chosen to go out to eat and pay double. Also, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would last a whole half a day if we were as collectively thin as we were twenty five years ago. This may not seem like much, but I doubt there is a commanding general in the military today who wouldn't take all he could get. Plus, it could just make the difference in case of a severe supply disruption. I'm sure that if there were such a disruption, conscientious rationing would occur across the board. This would allow the SPR to be maintained even longer. Looking at it this way, we can see that this energy consumption actually becomes a matter of national security. Therefore, we should try to curb this however possible.

It is very difficult to attribute this recent putting on of weight to mental or genealogical disabilities. Therefore, since obesity has sweeping effects on energy, security, and economics, we should implement policies to help curb our diets. Pun intended.

I recommend giving all automobiles maximum load limitations and equipping them with sensors that can tell when this load has been exceeded. During the next fuel stop, the vehicle will then assess an additional tax if a violation has occurred. This would be a flat, nonlinear tax. A similar pilot program is already being implemented in several states. Although, the pilot program, already approved for testing and funding by the government, will track vehicle via GPS to determine vehicle miles traveled (VMT). When this vehicle is refueled, a radio frequency is transmitted to the pump and the pump assigns a linear tax dependent on the VMT.

My recommendation seems a little less 'big brotherish,' if that is a word. Still, this would not solve the problem totally. Neighborhood arrangements have to be changed and people have to be changed. The second is the most difficult part. However the method, there should be a slogan that goes along with these new sin taxes reading "get fit America." Since shaping up our bodies will simultaneously shape up our economy, security, and energy consumption, this may begin positive trends that lead to even more shaping up. This is simply a natural tendency when one feels as if he or she owns the resolution.

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