March 8th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #778 'Rolling out of Little Rock'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The president gets driven around in an expensive car that weighs a lot. I get driven around in an expensive bus that weighs even more. So I guess in the “Who gets the best mileage?” contest, we’re both losers. Ha!

Dear Mr. President,

As I write this, I am rolling on the CNN Express through Arkansas, as we continue this week’s rendition of the Building Up America tour. Which is another way of saying we are using a lot of fuel, because trust me, this mammoth, rolling, studio-on-wheels does not get the best mileage. We could probably put wheels and an engine on a house and do slightly better.

That’s on my mind, because in between interviews today I was looking at how quickly gas prices are rising, and thinking specifically about this part of the country. Last year, the middle-Gulf states, including Arkansas, increased the amount of driving they were doing more than any other group of states. (At least your transportation secretary says so, so if it’s not true, take it up with him.) And I’m pretty sure they weren’t doing all that driving just because they felt like it. I suspect a lot of that running around is related to work. Or hunting for work. And if you stop for just a little while at a gas station you can hear the frustration over the spiking prices. People talk about cutting back, making hard choices, changing their lifestyles.

Maybe all of that is good. Plenty of folks have argued that we use too much fuel in this country and we need to cut back. On the other hand, we’ve built our towns, our societies, and our economy around enormous mobility; and if we give up that, I suspect we’ll have to give up some of our hopes for a quicker - rather than a slower - economic recovery.

I know (or at least I think) that there is nothing much you can do about this in the short term; there are just so many drivers, so many cars, nothing is going to calm our jitters quickly. But I just wanted to let you know what I am thinking - rolling down the road, and wondering how much the next fill-up will cost.

You should, btw, come on one of these trips. They’re very interesting, and folks can be awfully nice. Give me a buzz if you want to join us. See you then!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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