Thursday, November 20, 2008

What In The World Does She Drive?

In last weekend's column for the Waukesha Freeman, Jessica McBride is purporting that we subsidize gas mileage for college students or some such thing. Trying to put aside the incongruities of her sudden embrace of socialism, there is a part of her column that made me stop and wonder (emphasis mine):
I teach at UWM and drive to work there. When gas prices were high, it cost me $20 a day. Many students can’t afford the gas prices, not to mention the parking hassles and costs, the car insurance and payments. Students are shouldering an ever increasing financial burden. Yes, we all are. But there’s a tipping point for students. Most of UWM’s graduates remain in the greater Milwaukee community, including Waukesha County. We all have a vested interest in making sure more people can afford higher education.
Now, we already know that her and her trial lawyer hubby live in Merton. According to mapquest, the distance from Merton to UWM is about 31 miles. Just for convenience, let us say that it takes her 60 miles round trip.

Even if gas was $4.50 per gallon, and she burned $20 worth of gas per day, that means she was only getting just over 13 miles to the gallon. What the heck was she driving, the Queen Mary?

Maybe someone should tell ol' Jess that there are more fuel efficient vehicles out there, since she seems unaware of that fact. But then again, a real journalist would have already known how to do that kind of research.


  1. Good question. You beat me to it.

    There's another angle, though. I'm surprised the Coalition for America's Families hasn't run an ad about it yet, claiming McBride supports free bus service for illegal aliens.

  2. I have a better suggestion than buying a new car. Move. 30 miles each way just? seriously..

  3. My god, if only someone would invent some sort of giant vehicle that could carry a few dozen people at a time and stopped every few blocks to let some people off and other on! Maybe charge a nominal fee per trip. Wow, this might just work!

  4. I have another idea, McJess. How about improving the telecom infrastructure between the colleges and the students? Put more courses online. Make more lectures available via video conferencing. Do they really need to drive to watch a lecture? Put a high-capacity fiber pipe between the colleges and buildings that already exist in the satellite communities: libraries, high schools, government buildings, unused office complexes.

    Instead of commuting 60 miles, let them drive a shorter distance at least part of the time. If they do have high-speed, stay home and watch the lecture. Their homes may not be located in areas where high-speed is available. It's almost as cheap to run ten times as much fiber than you need as it is to run as much as you think you need now. Let even smaller communities pay for spurs from the main line. The cheap bandwidth capacity can be leveraged for our colleges, tech schools, school districts, state agencies, governments and law enforcement agencies to save even more money by eliminating city-to-city commutes. A relatively small subsidy for a cheap pipe will greatly reduce the cost of bandwidth for all these government-run entities. In this sense, it rapidly pays for itself (compared to what we/they're all paying now.)

    Set up always-on, point-to-point teleconferencing between rooms. Need to meet with your group for a class project? Connect students in Merton with Waukesha with West Allis, presto. Rent them by the hour to the public, too.

  5. Or how about quitting the job at UWM and finding something closer to home. Surely someone can fill her shoes at UWM if they search really really hard.