A Modern Modest Proposal
by Bill Hufnagle
aka Biker Billy
In the spirit of Jonathan Swift, I offer these remedies for the melancholy state of affairs that affects the highways and byways of this Great Union. Recent affairs in the nation find us in a state wherein the increasing carnage extracted upon motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users are only limited by the ever-increasing cost of gasoline. Our politicians and judges are as reluctant to support safety education and punishment for blatant disregard of life and law on our roads as the oil sheiks are to stop raping our economy with their high oil prices and supporting terrorists.
These modest proposals will, if placed into effect, simultaneously reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our roads the safety envy of the civilized world.
Eliminate all long distance trucking and large diesel trucks. Freight would be shipped long-distance by railroad, powered by electricity generated from our bountiful coal and hydroelectric supplies. From a grid of freight hubs distributed one hundred miles apart, small electric trucks would distribute products and supplies. Electric power would be possible since no location would be more than fifty miles from a rail hub. To enhance safety for vulnerable road users, these trucks would be limited to 25 MPH and be equipped with a new safety device designed to encourage the driver to be safe and courteous. This safety device would operate much like current airbag systems. It would replace the bag with a large steel spike designed to explosively impale the driver upon the slightest impact with another road user. This device, called an “Air Spike”, would create an end to road rage, support survival of the safest, and by law would be required on all four wheeled vehicles. All other current government mandated safety devices would be banned.
For people transport, all forms of mass transit and the current driver licensing system would be scrapped. In their place would be a graduated system of licensing and the type of vehicle one would be allowed to own and operate.
1.) From childhood until the age of twenty-one only two-wheeled pedal bicycles would be allowed.
2.) From age twenty-one to twenty-five, step-through scooters of 250cc or less would be allowed.
3.) From age twenty-five to forty, only motorcycles would be allowed with one exception.
That exception would be that, starting at age thirty, married families with children would be allowed a four-wheeled vehicle similar to the local electric freight trucks for limited use in transporting children and groceries. These vehicles would also be equipped with the “Air Spike” safety enforcement device.
4.) At age forty, convertible sport cars equipped with the “Air Spike” would be allowed.
5.) Starting at age 65, yearly testing would be mandated to ensure that one could still hold up a bike. Failure would require driving a trike.
This freight handling system and simple five-tier driver licensing system, along with the mandated use of the “Air Spike” in all vehicles having four or more wheels, would do more than just eliminate our dependence on foreign oil and make our roads safe at last. It would end unemployment, as it would take virtual armies of workers to build the rail system, revamp our road system, mine the coal and dam all the rivers. Full employment along with dirt-cheap energy prices would increase our quality of life, as it would allow each of us to buy as many imported electronic and household items as Red China could produce. Since the EPA tells us that vehicles are the main source of pollution, not corporate smoke stacks protected by Washington lobbyists, air pollution would also be gone.
This would also usher in an era of world peace. Red China would be too busy filling factory orders to build a credible military threat. North Korea could become the world’s largest producer of the “Air Spike”, thus finding a way to stick it to us for foiling their dream of conquering South Korea and dropping their nuclear weapons program. We could form a new peace corps composed of our now unneeded and unemployable safety-Nazis and environmentalists. Armed with an almost unlimited supply of used helmets, seatbelts, airbags and ACLU lawyers, they could solve the problem of peace in the Middle East and win the war on terror. Imagine all the combatants with their seatbelts buckled, airbags armed and each with a personal ACLU lawyer to advocate for their insane goals!
OPEC would go broke spending its vast horde of our cash on Madison Avenue and Super Bowl ads trying to sell us on new ways to use their oil. America would at last be free of the diet craze, as anyone young enough to worry about their figure would be pedaling off all those fast food calories. Retirement planning, the Social Security and Medicaid crisis would end along with the controversy over the right to die, living wills and assisted suicide as oldsters “Air Spike” themselves in record numbers. The ancillary benefits of these Modern Modest Proposals are almost unlimited, and unlike Jonathan Swift’s efforts to save his nation almost three hundred years ago, you won’t have to change your dinner plans.
Yellow Bowl of Fire
Yellow is a hot August sun in the desert. The road invites you to ride – fast, faster. You feel the thump, thump of the motor as its heat rises to engulf you. The wind howls in your ears as the sweat runs into your eyes. Everything becomes a blur of speed and heat. Then suddenly you snap back to reality and reach for another chip full of this mind-bending salsa.
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 or more fresh habanero peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, cored
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon golden molasses
Heat the oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the habanero pepper and onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is transparent.
In a blender or a food processor equipped with a chopping blade, puree the bell pepper and the water for 30 seconds. Add the puree, white pepper, salt and molasses to the onion mixture. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve warm.
Makes 1 cup
Column copyright Bill Hufnagle 2005. Recipe reprinted with permission from “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire” published by Whitehorse Press, Center Conway, New Hampshire copyright Bill Hufnagle 1995, 2004. Biker Billy hosts a syndicated television cooking show, “Biker Billy Cooks with Fire” and has authored three cookbooks. Check out www.bikerbilly.com where you can acquire autographed books and also find information on Biker Billy’s touring schedule.