Friday 29 February 2008

Bring back petrol rationing and save the world!

Picture the poor tourists battling with the Pay and Display Parking in Galway City.
They have sussed out that it costs a whacking great ¤4.80 to park for a measly two hours, and they've also discovered that their chances of sliding a fiver into the machine and recovering change are as solid as the rushing river Corrib.
They drop in a coin.
'One Moment Please.' says the digital readout.
Desperately, they dive into their phrase book.
"What exchange rate is this 'Moment' to the Euro? Perhaps is this 'Moment' an Irish slang for 50 cent, or maybe a special parking card?"
And then again, far more likely in these days of educated and enlightened travellers, they understand perfectly well what a moment is, but cannot for the life of them comprehend why they can only park for two hours, and how it can cost so much.
As this colyoom has pointed out before, the costs and time limits imposed on visitors to this city are insane, and as a result, Galway is being bled dry of goodwill and trade.
In two hours you can either have a family meal or do a bit of shopping, but you most certainly cannot do both, and surely locals and visitors alike are being deprived of enjoying Galway, as well as being unable to pass on their hard-earned moolar to local businesses.
Oh yeh, I know, if they want to stay longer, all they need to do is move the car and pay again, but when you're out on your own with three kids under five, going all the way back to the car is not only a right royal pain in the arse, but also means your visit to Galway has cost just under a tenner before you've bought anything at all.
I love Galway and hate to see the council leeches sucking the lifeblood out of the place, at the expense of the very people who work and live in the city.
A couple of years ago I used to take my car into town, park nearby, and spend lovely long leisurely afternoons doing what Galwegians do best.
These days I'm constantly checking my watch and mentally cancelling things I wanted to do in town because I have to get back to the bloody car.
Where's the good in that?
No wonder there are so many taxis in Galway.
So what's the answer? Well, how about ¤1.50 per hour, up to three hours, and then a fiver for four hours.
There will of course be those delighted that I'm not using my car as much as I used to, because they'll figure the reduction of my carbon footprint is helping to save the polar bears and rain forest.
And they would be right, if I wasn't instead sitting in a taxi. Had we anything approaching a comprehensive public transport system, we'd all be on the right track.
The politicians try to look like they give a damn about climate change by slapping happy taxes on those who drive SUV's, but it doesn't work, because people just want to show off.
Worse, the ever-growing ranks of ostentatious and evidently insecure people who feel the need to drive small tanks to pick up a pint of milk from the Centra round the corner are blathering on and on about how they are victimised and isn't it just dreadful and yes, of course I can afford it, after all it's only a few hundred quid a year. but really it is the last straw.
No mate, you're the last straw.
As long as there are SUVs, people will want to buy them, and as soon as another bigger more expensive more utterly ridiculous model comes out, there will be another well-dressed stampede down to the showroom, each toff slavering at the possibility of being the first to drive this spanky sparkly super-dooper model, which is very reasonable really, when you think that you could barely buy a three-bedroomed house for the same money.
No, I'm not slagging off the rich in a covetous or begrudging way; merely, as Basil Fawlty so eloquently put it, stating the bleedin' obvious, which is that people who have it seem to need to flaunt it.
So what's the answer?
Well, some in the USA make the interesting point that in fact, these hulking great SUVs and Hummers are actually greener than most other cars, because they are made from less plasticcy ingredients, and thus last far longer than tiny hatchbacks put together with petroleum by-products, cardboard and glue.
And indeed they have a point, but the only thing that should require two gallons of petrol to go around the block is the local bus, carrying everybody else.
You moddim, do not need to be driving something that costs more than the gross domestic product of a small nation to pick up your child from school.
Oh, and while we're at it, can I be the first to ask if it is only SUV drivers who are granted special dispensation to park on double yellow lines, or can we all apply for a permit?
As always and ever, this colyoom does not merely give out and never gives in. 'Double Vision' has a solution, so precise and beautiful in its simplicity that, were I a Bond villain, I would hold it in my arms and stroke it slowly whilst almost imperceptibly dribbling contentedly from my mouth.
Bring back rationing.
Yep, that's what I said.
This way, you can have and drive whatever car you like. Hell, if you can find a Boeing 757 and adapt it to fit in your garage, then take that down Tescos, by all means.
But each year, when you go to buy your road tax, you will be allocated a monthly ration of ¤50 in petrol.
To ward off the gangsters and black marketeers, all cars will henceforth be fitted with microchips that will disable the engine after more than ¤50 of petrol has been consumed each month.
That'll sort out the gas guzzlers from the planet savers. Let the games begin, and enjoy your half-mile drive each month in your 7 litre, 8 cylinder ¤125,000 Hybatsushi Continental Invader.
Me? I'm about to strike fear into the hearts of all ye drivers out there by dusting off and climbing onto my bike, so look out for a Silverback with attitude on two wheels under man power.

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