Scene In Passing: Resolved: Downsize; right size; rebalance

Americans, including yours truly, need to wake up and smell the gas fumes, understand personal and physical energy equations, and stick with some serious resolutions.

If you are like me just after the holidays, including a New Year’s bash or two, you are recovering from the usual binges involving sugar highs and overindulgence lows. Resolutions may include easing up on food and drink, heading for the fitness center, getting finances in order. In other words we put our good intentions to work on downsizing some things and right-sizing others. But it’s a tough gig.

“How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them,” said Ben Franklin, the founding father fond of aphorisms. Another pertinent one from him goes, “There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”

It’s time to tackle the tough task of trying to know ourselves with regard to the American penchant for largesse and largeness. We eat and drink too much, exercise our muscles too little, sit on the couch and watched television, and buy bigger cars to stay comfortable. Call such vehicles rolling couches. Some avoid this couch-potato living, but often I haven’t.

I’ve carried around the same dozen to 18 excess pounds most of my adult life; one of my two-member family vehicles — that’s right, two for two people — is a sports utility vehicle. So I ride my bicycle or hoof it around town too little. The SUV is roomy, and like many Americans I like that because I take up too much room. The spaciousness helps, but paying for the fuel required to move two cars around doesn’t.

These things, I think, are related. Americans buy more SUVs and large cars whenever gasoline prices drop, which was reported again last week by The Wall Street Journal because gas pump prices have fallen precipitously. Calling low gas prides a double-edged sword, Wall Street financier Steven Rattner said it’s great for consumers but “encourages sales of SUVs and other gas guzzlers, which makes increasing fuel economy harder.”

Our own Nevada Appeal reported last week Carson City vehicle sales tax in October jumped 8.9 percent for more than $20 million; looking at dealership lots around town makes me think more than a few were SUVs or other gas guzzlers. But make no mistake. Sooner or later petroleum costs will rise again.

So how about looking at this new year defensively? Resolve to do four things: downsize ourselves at fitness centers and outdoors; downsize our appetites, too; thereby downsize our need and desire for large vehicles, and then work toward right-sizing our retirement plans by adding to them money saved due to less food, fuel and less expensive cars. This program is based on what we know or can find out by minimal research. It will pay big dividends.

As Ben Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

John Barrette covers Carson City government and business. He can be reached at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment