My friends in Cambridge and Berkeley like to complain that the U.S. is a rich man’s world. A trip out on the highway reveals that in fact it is not. If the U.S. were a rich man’s world, the rabble would be paid to ride public transit instead of clogging the highways and getting in the way of rich folks’ monster SUVs. Perhaps every Mercedes would come with an automatic device to fling subway tokens out the sides of the car. In a rich man’s world, as in London, an electronic toll of $20 would be collected from every driver wishing to enter an already-crowded highway or section of a city.
A lot of rich pilots whom I know don’t own especially fancy cars. They can’t be bothered to trade in their old Honda Accord for a new $100,000 BMW or Mercedes because the fancy new car won’t get them anywhere any faster than the existing car. Plenty of rich folks in California, however, do spend more than $100,000 on a car. And during this past week they get onto the highways blocked off by civil unrest and demonstrations against restrictions on illegal immigration.
What would be an intelligent way to spend serious $$ on ground transportation? How about a $120,000 diesel-powered 40′ motorhome? It wouldn’t be as much fun to drive as a BMW M5 and it would certainly be difficult to park in the city. You solve both problems by hiring an illegal immigrant to act as your driver. You send him to schoolbus driver school for a few days and let him sleep on the fold-out dinette in the RV at night. Now when you go to the beach, it will still take the same two hours at 5 mph on the clogged freeways that it always took, but you won’t care because you’ll be at home. You can read in an easy chair. You can do some writing at the dinette table or refer to your files. You can make phone calls and take notes. You can watch TV. With a mobile phone data connection, you can use the Internet. You can take a nap in the bedroom in the back. If you get hungry, you can fix yourself a grilled cheese sandwich in the kitchen. You’re at home in your second house, so waiting for friends or traffic jams isn’t anywhere near as annoying as it would be if you were in a car.
How about the environmental impact of getting around in 20,000 lb. buses instead of an SUV or a big German sedan? As it happens, the engineering of SUVs and big German sedans is so spectacularly inefficient that the gas mileage is about the same. The monster diesel-powered SUVs get as much as 9 miles to the gallon.
New advertising campaign for Winnebago: “RVs: They’re not just for camping and traveling anymore” or “Motorhomes for commuting”.