As our elected officials look for ways to dig us out of the current economic mess, there's one factor that isn't getting enough attention: If Americans continue to be stupid, no amount of economic stimuli will solve anything.
Case in point: The USA Today reports that now that gas prices have come back down, people are showing a preference for bigger cars. Chrysler President Jim Press says that the full-size Dodge Durango SUV is the company's most in-demand car and AutoNation has been canceling orders for small cars and stocking up on big trucks instead.
The problem is that gas prices could -- and according to most experts, will -- go up again, maybe even soon. But by picking cars with all the foresight of a 3-year old in the grocery store toy aisle, consumers are making it difficult for car companies to deliver the products that will meet demand. Predicting the short-term gyrations of the commodities market is essentially impossible, but that seems to be the major factor in how Americans buy cars.
Last summer when gas prices were over $4 per gallon, everyone was trading in their SUVs and pledging a new lifestyle of green friendliness. Now we know what those people really were: posers trading down because they couldn't afford gas.
For now, environmentally-friendly driving appears to have gone the way of the Hula Hoop. But when gas prices are back over $3 per gallon, today's SUV buyers will be back looking for a new Prius -- and they'll really mean it this time, they swear.
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