By Diane Wagner
Imagine a Hummer H2, luxury suburban assault vehicle, trying to navigate the McDonough Square.
I saw one over the weekend in downtown Fayetteville and it nearly blocked out the antebellum courthouse rising in the background. Its fenders were almost as high as the windshield on my Honda and?why does nobody seem to realize this?it does not fit on the road.
People who own the status symbols say they're fun, can go anywhere and are great protection from flash floods, kidnapping attempts and (other) insane road hogs. With celebrities like role model Dennis Rodman touting the joys of ownership, General Motors sold nearly 19,000 of the monstrosities last year, and interest continues to rise.
Hummers start around $50,000 but, of course, what self-respecting egotist would buy one without another $20,000 or so in special options? Sure, you can live in one, but it's still a little pricey. However, help is on the way in the form of President George W. Bush's economic package.
True to his promise to benefit the little people, Bush upped the deduction small business owners can take on the purchase of SUVs used for work. It used to be a $25,000 deduction. Now people like cement contractors, shopkeepers, your yardman?oh, and doctors and lawyers?can write off up to $100,000 on their taxes when they buy a giant gas guzzler.
And let's not forget depreciation. An incentive meant to help farmers maintain tractors and haulers keep their dump trucks in shape now includes any vehicles weighing over 6,000 pounds.
At 6,400 pounds, three and a half tons, the Hummer H2 is exempt from gas mileage ratings, although GM notes it gets 10 to 13 miles per gallon. The larger Hummer H1 gets about 8 mpg and costs over $100,000. For that one, you have to subsidize the purchase with a little of your own money.
Air pollution immediately springs to mind, but that kind of weight on our infrastructure is also bound to cost the rest of us in Department of Transportation money for road repairs. And the poor developers. They're already in a bind with 20-foot-long SUVs forcing them to put bigger front yards in cluster-home subdivisions so the family car can fit in the driveway.
A local radio station is advertising a contest where the winner takes home a brand, new Hummer. Listening to the hype, while stuck in traffic on Interstate 75 this weekend, I had time for a lovely daydream.
What if I won?
I could donate that sucker to the Georgia Clean Air Campaign. And they could hold a fundraiser, charging everyone a dollar a minute to beat that thing into smithereens with a sledgehammer.
Diane Wagner covers county government for the Daily Herald. She can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or firstname.lastname@example.org.