Road kill

Reader response from our Jan. 9 cover story, “Riding high and mighty,” which notes the general characteristics of SUV drivers, was overwhelming. I want to thank all of you who took time out from your busy schedules to drop me a line or leave me a voicemail. Add one more trait to those feisty SUVers—willingness to share their thoughts! (I’d say “defensive” but that could well trigger some heated and aggressive responses. We don’t want that.) I’d have to say after reading the letters and listening to the phone messages that SUV must stand for “Super Useful Vehicle.” Anyway, we have good news for those of you looking to purchase a new SUV, especially the small-business owners. It seems the president has included in his budget a tax break for those who want to invest in the really big, inefficient versions of the popular vehicles. The president’s plan increases by 50 percent or more the deductions small-business owners can realize immediately on those Super Useful Vehicles. That means you, as a small-business person, could buy a $102,581 Hummer H1 and use a $75,000 capital-equipment deduction. Not bad. Consider this: There are only two Hummers in all of Chico. You’d be on the cutting edge of local status.

An acquaintance recently sent me some American WW II propaganda including a public-service announcement urging people to sacrifice for the war effort. The PSA shows a fellow in business suit and hat driving a convertible. Next to him in the front passenger seat is a ghost-like image of Adolph Hitler. “When you ride alone you ride with Hitler,” the PSA says. “Join a car-sharing club today!” Critics of the president’s plan, environmentalists and accountants, say offering such a break only increases our reliance on foreign oil. All of this sort of smacks of those ads the anti-Super Useful Vehicle people—like that wealthy foreigner Arianna Huffington—are running. Enough, I say. If Americans weren’t free to drive the vehicles of their choice, our forefathers wouldn’t have said so in the Constitution. Would they?

I recently learned that it costs $80 to play in the local Little League. (We had an option—sell $40 worth of candy bars or just buy your way past that with $20.) As a 9-year-old, you can try out for the minors or just go straight to the farm league—that’s where the coaches pitch to you instead of a player from the other team. We’re gonna give the minors a try but are willing take our place with the farmers should we not make the grade. I will not be a vocal, overbearing parent shouting from the stands during games or showing up at practice and insisting my boy play more. I know from experience that such behavior is devastating to a young athlete. This is not because my parents engaged in it—the worst thing my mom did was yell, “Be there,” every time I took a shot for my eighth-grade basketball team. Her voice would slice through the din and reach my young ears just as I was launching one toward the hoop. By the end of the season, I was averaging about three shots a game. It was my buddy Joe’s parents who crossed the line when it came to pushing your kid on the coaches. Joe was one of the best athletes I’ve ever known, but his parents ruined everything by inviting coaches to dinner, showing up at practices, driving right behind the bus for out-of-town games and so forth. Joe could have gone places but ended up working at a truck loading dock and living to get high. True story.