December 1, 2002
by Gary Aldrich - Volume 2, Issue 51
This article appeared at Townhall.com on November 21, 2002
Im driving a truck. Its a great truck with cushioned seats, a CD player, cruise control and all-climate air conditioning but its still a truck. I used to drive a European sports sedan, but my teenage son was starting to drive and the speedometer implied that he could go 140 miles per hour if nobody was watching so the truck seemed like a better choice.
Some call our truck an SUV, and I suppose this helps marketing, but its still a truck. Its even a guy color gunmetal grey. My son and I drive around in our Chevy Tahoe feeling manly. It has a big cargo area where we store our skill saw and tool chest. My boy managed to find room back there for his 12 inch woofers, explaining that these were very necessary if he was expected to drive it.
The speakers are big, loud, bulky, and ..manly!
Imagine my embarrassment when Chevrolet sent me a recall notice the other day warning that if I wasnt careful when folding down the back seats I might pinch my pinky finger! So, while loading two-by-fours or heavy plywood into the back, there was a chance that I or some innocent loved one of mine could pinch a finger.
Now, this could be just good public relations on the part of the manufacturer, but I dont think so. I smell the federal government in this decision to recall trucks for pinched pinkies. Imagine millions of owners inconvenienced by having to take their trucks to the dealer so that a small plastic cover could be installed to help prevent pinching.
Imagine the cost to the manufacturer, who will now, of course, pass that cost right along to the buyers but well all feel better!
I got to wondering, Did anybody at Chevrolet ever have a kid whose finger got pinched by a car door? Now, thats a pinch! Why doesnt Chevy recall every vehicle and install some sort of device to save us from that? And those dangerous 12-volt utility plugs they install everywhere what about those? How many kids (and dumb adults) have stuck their finger into those outlets to see if theres anything going on in there? Surely the manufacturer can be forced to produce little plastic covers to go over these outlets before somebody gets shocked!
Why is this happening to me to us? Ill tell you why there are too many federal government agencies with nothing to do with time on their hands. They look for issues to inject themselves into, and they do! Im willing to bet that some nosy, overbearing control-freak federal bureaucrat heard of a pinky pinching and saw this horrible trauma as his or her ticket to bureaucracy stardom. After all, its not sufficient to just show up at these warehouses of make-work federal agencies no, in order to get ahead you have to champion an issue!
So, minor matters that nobody cares about suddenly can become multi-million dollar crusades with the cost to the general public higher than anybody can possibly calculate.
My son is a vintage sports car buff. He knows about MGs and four cylinder Porsches with four cams, and Lotus racers with formula one tubular frames. We were looking at a few of these cars at a recent vintage car race. He asked, Dad, why do some of these cars have those neat wire wheels with the knock-off hubs, and others have one large nut?
I should explain to some of our less car-interested readers that these knock-off nuts had little wings, the sole purpose of which was to provide a surface for a manly brass hammer to whack.
In other words, you whacked the wheel off, and then after putting the new wheel on, you whacked the nut in the opposite direction to keep the wheel on. It was very manly, you see, and far more efficient than taking off five or six individual nuts. In a car race, every second counts.
When the wing nuts were outlawed by the U.S. Congress back in the sixties, that forced car manufacturers to create boring wingless nuts that needed an ugly looking wrench to get the wheel on and off. All the romance was taken away. The laws were so intrusive that some car manufacturers went right out of business, but who could deny the beauty of a 1967 Austin Healy 3000 with chrome wire wheels and those wonderful chrome wing nuts sparkling in the sunlight? And it was so beautifully loud! Every car nut knows what Im talking about.
How did this awful tragedy happen? Simple. The maternalistic types like Ralph Nader had been watching too many Hollywood movies. Ben Hur, featuring one of our greatest stars, Charlton Heston, had a great chariot race, and one of the chariots had these huge wheel wing nuts that had been made into deadly blades. The bad guy could get up next to our hero and use the deadly spinners to destroy his wheels, but thats not all!
If the chariot went out of control and slammed into a crowd, not only would innocent bystanders get trampled by horses, but they would be cut to ribbons by those deadly spinning blades! Imagine that! Of course, thats all it was imaginary.
But in the mind of a Ralph Nader, those little wing nuts on the wheels of those dangerous sports cars were worrisome. So, the wing nuts had to go, along with the wooden dashboards and the aircraft style toggle switches. All sharp edges were softened. Next came seatbelts and cushioned surfaces and bumpers that were so high they made the cars look like an old man with his pants pulled too high. They all but destroyed the European sports car market with their nanny-like concerns.
But, what an improvement! Now we have tiny, ridiculous looking jelly-bean vehicles that are boring, but they sure save a lot of gas. No longer can you get sliced by spinning wheels but if youre hit by a traditional sized vehicle youll be smashed like a bug in a paper cup.
If Ralph Nader and his ilk feel better, remember - thats all that really counts. Feelings.
And thats why my son and I drive a truck I mean an SUV. It not only makes us feel safer it is safer! But please, Mommy, let us enjoy our driving experience its one of the few freedoms left to us. Isnt it OK if I want to ignore those pinky pinching dangers that now face us on a daily basis?
Those mommies who drive us crazy with their worries about all other walks of life are now coming after our trucks! Whats next? Outlawed gun racks?
How about outlawing overbearing, personnel-swamped, maternalistic federal agencies instead?