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"Like Nothing Else": Warfare Marketing of the Hummer H3 (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

Hummer Grabs Limelight at Open Air Demo.

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by Ryan Jordan | 2006-08-09 03:00:00-06

Silhouetted against the backdrop of the ragged Wasatch Front, home to some of the finest backcountry skiing and hiking in the United States, as part of the Outdoor Industry's most dramatic gathering of businessmen and product buyers interested in gear related to human powered sports, something different is here.

A Hummer.

If you like, you can test drive one.

And Hummer will donate $20 to Tread Lightly if you do.

Sounds worthy.

Tread Lightly has a name that invokes positive emotion from any hiker and they have a cute cartoon squirrel for a mascot.

And any similarity to the type of environmental stewardship we're interested in pretty much stops there.

Because "Tread" has nothing to do with walking.

That squirrel drives a four wheeler, pours gasoline over its cereal, and digs ruts for recreation.

Tread Lightly counts among their corporate sponsors:

  • American Motorcyclist Association
  • American Suzuki Motor Corporation
  • ARB 4x4 Accessories
  • Arctic Cat, Inc.
  • Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover
  • BF Goodrich Tires

Let's stop there. The list is long. View them all here.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Hummer. So back to Hummer.

Right, so test drive a Hummer at ORSM'06 and you essentially fund an organization hell bent on promoting motorized recreation on public lands.

That's just friggin' great. Welcome to the new face of the Outdoor Industry Association.

Hummer, of course, defends itself.

Nick Richards (Hummer's communications manager and apparently, chief pimp of environmental education) said in the Salt Lake Tribune this morning that Hummer seeks the active lifestyle market represented by many of us.

I bet they do.

Nothing like seeing one of the grossest symbols of American frivolity waltz up a jeep trail to a remote trailhead and spill out five ultralight backpackers out to commune with nature, eh?

Who invited these guys?

Clearly, OR let them in the door. But rumor has it that the formal invite was extended by Outside magazine. Hummer, after all, is certainly one of their major advertisers. Outside's CPEE Josephine Parr said "Hummer brings another dimension to the show".


A dimension that fools people into thinking that Hummer actually has something to contribute to the long term health of the Outdoor Industry by funding an organization with a recreational use agenda dominated by motorized vehicle use.

Also in the Tribune article, kayak maker Pyranha's Dick Good said "If they [Hummer hammerers] are so worried, why did we all fly to Salt Lake City and make this 45-minute drive from Salt Lake up here?"

See Dick run...

...From the very core of our industry's passion that allows him to even sell his products. Don't believe me? Then read the marketing B.S. that graces the Pyranha home page. Catch phrases like "not just" and "we're the same now as we were 30 years ago" etc.

I don't have a problem with SUV's per se. One can responsibly use the right tool for the job, right? After all, we do need some means of getting to the trailhead, and in some cases, those trailheads are remote and travel over rough roads. Trucks, and SUV's, can get us there.

Ironically, however, the number of large truck and SUV owners that actually use their SUV's to go to places that require a huge, high-clearance vehicle, is abysmally small.

Does a housewife need a Suburban to run her child to and from soccer practice?

Does a visitor on a driving tour of the National Parks really need a supercab truck to do it?

Do we need a vehicle that spends $100 in gasoline to make the 300-mile round trip from the city up a well-maintained road to a Sierra trailhead?

What the Outdoor Industry Association, Outdoor Retailer, Outside magazine, and Hummer have done this year is take eyes off of human powered sports with this absurd and knowingly controversial move, contributed to the national agenda of motorized vehicle use on public lands, and thus have placed a desire for short term sensationalism over the desire for long term industry health.

Choices must be made at a fundamental, personal level if we are to make a difference. The environmental damage and other costs of the recent BP pipeline failure on Alaska's North Slope dictates that our dependence on petroleum energy is unavoidable. As much as we'd like to, BPL Staff can't walk to SLC. Nor can we carpool, as we're too far distributed around the country. But while we're here, we'll do what we can. We'll carpool to and from our hotel (five of us folks in a compact car at 34 MPG), we'll take the shuttle to Willard Bay for the Open Air Demo, and we'll use our hotel towels for a few days. Small measures, for sure, but taken with some sensitivity to personal responsibility. We'll do our best to tread lightly while we're here.

And we won't demo drive the Hummer.


""Like Nothing Else": Warfare Marketing of the Hummer H3 (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)," by Ryan Jordan. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-08-09 03:00:00-06.


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"Like Nothing Else": Warfare Marketing of the Hummer H3 (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)
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Cris Reifsteck
(unsuperguy) - F
Crazy Pete (and everyone else) on 08/11/2006 10:00:21 MDT Print View

Wherever you get your information on global warming, politics, economics, trees, 4 wheel drive vehicles, terrorism, human nature, etc. I urge you to examine the bias whether it's the New York Times, CNN, Rush Limbaugh, Al Gore, your local community college, or your friends. Be critical of your sources, whatever they may be. It's a lot of work, but I think it's worth it.

Summit CO
(Summit) - F

Locale: 9300ft
Well Said Chris - Charles, Not so much on 08/11/2006 10:35:40 MDT Print View

Chris - Well said! Virtually every news source has some bias/agenda and the truth is almost always found inbetween.


Charles - If you really think that PETA has the right to try and brainwash peoples children to HATE their parents because their parents DARE TO NOT BE VEGAN, then you have some problems I cannot help you with. I can tell you that harassing people's children is illegal, the level at which PETA does it is assault, and self defense is legal if they don't go away. I've never personally knocked anyone on their butt who didn't hit me first (and I haven't had to do that in 10 years), so you can scratch your little "your a violent meanie" attack off the list. You, however, do need to recognize it is completely out of line to try to interfere with the parent/children bond of other peoples' families just score points for your politicial cause.

Otherwise you are no different than the evangalist missionary who screams at little kids that, "Your mommy and daddy are going to HELL and they are sending you to BURN IN HELL to because they don't believe in ______"

I once tried to explain to a PETA person that their overly selfrightousness, intolerant, militant attitude and immoral, overly aggressive tactics were actually counterproductive to their cause and certainly did damage to the rest of the environmentalist movement as a whole. We end up getting painted with the same "extremist" brush by association. PETA's antics gets them headlines that should be given to more effective and reasonable movements. This activists only response to my attempts atdiscussion was to scream "MEAT IS MURDER" at me until I walked away. What a great way to get your across!

A smug selfrightous environmentalist is just as annoying to me as a smug selfrightous person from any other cause.

Edited for formatting.

Edited by Summit on 08/11/2006 13:40:27 MDT.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: Sorry for the confusion on 08/11/2006 11:55:03 MDT Print View

Thanks for setting the record straight.
Scott :-)

Richard Sullivan
(richard.s) - MLife

Locale: Supernatural BC
Kidz Corner on 08/11/2006 12:29:24 MDT Print View

Charles Strusz
(infochuck) - F
Summit, CO: You miss the point. on 08/11/2006 16:58:44 MDT Print View

I'm not saying PETA activists or missionaries screaming at parents in the presence of children is a good idea. I think it's slimy. I would personally never engage in such behavior. If you read my original post, you'll note I merely claimed to have the RIGHT to. I also have the good sense and common decency NOT to do such things.

But I absolutely reserve that right for myself and others. If you don't want PETA activists hurling insults and epithets, either A) don't wear fur around them B) don't go into public C) IGNORE them, and trust that you've raised your children to be smarter than to fall for publicity stunts; trust that your bond is stringer than that. Yelling, "baby chipmunk killer" at you while you're with your kids is NOT assault; it's NOT yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. Is IS protected speech, no matter how unsavory.

As to interfering in the 'parent/children bond'[sic]: that's done all the time, frequently to 'score points for a politcal cause', like it or not. Schools, programs such as D.A.R.E., churches, television, etc. ALL communicate with our children, unless you keep them locked in the basement.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Summit, CO: You miss the point. on 08/11/2006 17:00:19 MDT Print View

geeez guys come on....

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Politics on 08/11/2006 19:05:11 MDT Print View

What can I say...

The Right is always Right.


Robert Brookshire
it's an illusion, folks on 08/12/2006 11:58:32 MDT Print View

Craxy Pete said...
"Oh and Ryan---its called the free market---if someone wants to spend a $100 to go to the grocery store, they may be a moron, but I dang well will defend to the death their right to choose with their own mind and not have the government make our choices for us. That would be socialism--and we all know how wonderfully THAT works..."

I once agreed with this sentiment, right up until I was smacked in the face by the fact that our market ISN'T free. You can pretend that people have the right to choose with their dollars, but our dollar market is presently destroying wealth all over this planet because people actually believe that dollar value represents real value somewhere behind those curtains we call the "Free Market". It's a sham, my friend. Do you think there is ANY value created by the sale or driving of a Hummer (or any other fossil-fuel powered vehicle)?

When you visit the dealership, does your purchase decision include the costs of environmental damage (air and water pollution doesn't stop at park boundaries), energy depletion, and third-world depravation? Not likely. We THINK that purchasing a product is a personal decision (a freedom) to spend our hard-earned money on whatever we wish, but we are wrong. Wrong because our purchase does not just affect just us as individuals. It affects us all and this is where American rugged individualism runs right up against the reality of the cramped aquarium we call Earth. An individual with $50,000 to buy an SUV is making decisions that affect a lot more than just themselves. They are voting for a whole slew of other people that haven't the power to make the decision for themselves. Those people simply don't get to vote. We call ourselves a democracy, but then promote a "free market" where all votes are counted in US dollars. Do you think you have an equal say in your government when corporations spend billions of dollars lobbying Congress to lower their own tax burdens or gain access to natural resources? This "government versus free market" stuff is pure hogwash, but it's used by politicians to get our votes. Where would that "free market" be without the interstate system or huge hydro-electric dams? Nowhere. There is a complex system of economics at work, but there is no detectable distinction betweeen "government" and "free enterprise". All you'll find if you look is a humongous gray area.

Think beyond individualism, for none of us in a developed country are acting within our own rights when we make "free market" decisions. We assume otherwise and pretend that each of us has a God-given right to drive an Abrams tank if we can afford to. If the rest of the world were to consume as much as the average American, we'd need 5 more Earth's to supply the resources. That's not American wealth creation at work. It's robbery. The free market is lying to us all, but all of our children will be left with the tab. There are a lot of things that you can do about this as an individual, but justifying someone else's theft is not one of them. That Hummer driver is stealing more from your kids than that Prius driver is, though they are still both running up a debt.

Edited by brookshire on 08/12/2006 12:20:04 MDT.

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Re: it's an illusion, folks on 08/12/2006 16:04:19 MDT Print View do get to make a decision...but your decision has less influence than other decisions. I did say a free market, where money determines what will be made and what will not. Obviously, if one has a product that only 2 people want to buy, it will not be produced, but if many people wish to buy it, then it probably will. Thus, your hate filled diatribe actually supports the idea of a free market that thrives upon competition and consumers voting with their dollars.

The world apologizes that the market rates your skill set lower than others and thus does not give you as much influence as those with greater skills--the reason professional basketball players maker a hundred times more than most of us.

Neil Bender
(nebender) - F
Re: it's an illusion, folks on 08/12/2006 20:13:37 MDT Print View

One problem with the argument regarding external costs is that not everyone values the environment, and isn't willing to pay for it. For those not willing, some means of force will ultimately need to be applied. Force means government and government is composed of individuals who still make decisions for their own individual benefit, with the special protections afforded by any office. Power corrupts.

The ultimate question for interventionists is: what services are best applied at gunpoint? So far wilderness is one of them we accept, as is national defense, but rationing commodities is questionable and has never worked economically because such schemes remove human motivation to improve and prosper. Far from being fair, such schemes lead only to government connected haves and everyone else a have-not.

If however, you are also making only an aesthetic argument with the understanding that people are free to make bad decisions then you essentially accept the premise of a market (voluntary production and exchange). We can both agree that people need to be educated and discerning in their economic decisions, but it is arrogant of us to assume that economic evaluations are anything but local subjective assessments of personal circumstance, resources, inclinations, and individual expression and personality. It's too easy to project our values onto a strawman generic consumer, but such ideals ignore the diverse needs and unique insights of the individual.

Another basic problem with externalities is there is no known mechanism to calculate the magnitude of external costs. At least a marketplace (voluntary exchange)is capable of resolving prices. That's what a price is, an agreed upon cost where an unforced exchange can actually happen. Economic calculation under socialism is infeasible (see Hayek or PBS series Commanding Heights). Fortunately for socialists, they usually have a free market nearby or an internal black market to perform economic calculation in the dynamic establishment of prices.

You also seem to be implying that everyone owns all natural resources. This can easily lead to the effect known as the tragedy of the commons where since everyone owns a resource, no one is willing to care for it. A wilderness can be policed, but in general productive resources other than war production have been found to be best trusted to free enterpise. I don't know about you, but I sure don't want government producing my food or my clothing, or other daily basic needs that don't actually depend on a central infrastructure.

Interstates and dams are nice benefits but if a private corporation did these exact same acts, people would be examining the costs as well, and such economy of scale operations might be found harmful as well. But you can't (successfully) sue government for submerging canyons or stealing land from farmers and indians.

This notion also is extremely neglectful of the adventurous souls who develop resources to the benefit of those who are willing to pay for them. I have no claim on the earth's bounty that I'm not willing to pay or work for. If I'm wrong in this let me know what's mine that I haven't claimed.

Prius and other hybrid cars also have externalities associated with them such as disposing or recycling of heavy, metal and toxin laden batteries. The market has already exposed that even with Toyota loosing money voluntarily to game their CAFE numbers, even with tax subsidies (stealing from the many to pay for the guilt ridden commuter feeling holy and green), the buyer of the hybrid will spend more on transportation than the owner of a Civic or Scion xB.

Here's a good summary of the issues as seen by both sides:

Here's a good analysis of all aspects of public goods fallacies:

Our children will also be left with the tab of government pyramid schemes and debt, largely because government, unlike private business doesn't need to operate uner the real constraints of profit-loss accounting. A bankrupt government likely will plunder the earth even more voraciously than any greedy entrepreneur. Then they will steal from the innocent serfs to pay for their clean-ups. Think nuclear war. Think agent orange. Think trichloroethyllene from an airforce base in your ground water.

If our Constitional (limited) Republic was honored our government would have few favors to sell to corporate rent seekers and pressure group lobbyists. But when the purpose of government becomes plunder the only rational response is for people to collectivize into factions and demand their share.

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Re: Re: it's an illusion, folks on 08/13/2006 01:19:03 MDT Print View


(RavenUL) - F
Re: Re: it's an illusion, folks on 08/13/2006 02:43:16 MDT Print View

"But when the purpose of government becomes plunder the only rational response is for people to collectivize into factions and demand their share."

Actually, the only rational thing is for the people to STAND UP and tell their government "NO!"

Anything less is to legitimize what you yourself called "stealing" and "plunder", and to "demand their share" means nothing less than selling your right to not be a victim so long as you get enough hush money.

But that is a rant for a different topic.

Edited by RavenUL on 08/13/2006 17:14:07 MDT.

Lorraine Pace
(SowthEfrikan) - F
What a load of stupid rhetoric on 08/13/2006 08:01:57 MDT Print View

As a third worlder I always get particularly teed off when some godly American starts talking about how you in your country are ruining ours.

What makes you so special? Give me a moment to bow to you and your incredible might.

Do you really believe that BS about consuming more than your "fair" share of the world's resources? Well, if you care so much why don't you just move permanently to one of our pimpley little nations and live there. Go on, you can do it, lots of environment to save and opportunity to feel even more superior and smug than usual.

The planet has been hotter and colder than it is now; fossil fuels have very little to do it; many scientists have protested their names being placed on global warming papers; I defend the right of anyone, anywhere to buy a hummer; and the environment will always have wild spaces, it always has and always will without the intervention of do-gooders; and the wilds are not just the preserve of a chosen holier-than-thou few who walk.

I seem to remember a plane of some kind being used by some hiker to get out of the artic just recently. Now how much fossil fuel was dumped in that little exercise, I wonder?

I just love the way that the tolerant and progressive are so intolerant of anything that doesn't fit their world view.

Cheers to the soccer mom who uses an SUV that is more likely to save the kids in a wreck than some "environment friendly" tin pot.

And please leave we in the third world out of it, we don't need to be patronised.

Have a nice day.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: it's an illusion, folks on 08/13/2006 09:17:59 MDT Print View

Crazy Pete wrote: "your hate filled diatribe"

Robert's "it's an illusion, folks" post was hate-filled?! Wha?

Robert Brookshire
Re: it's an illusion, folks on 08/13/2006 15:11:25 MDT Print View

I had no intention of hatred in my "diatribe." If I sometimes sound a bit "high and mighty" in my posts, it is not intended as such, but I did once subscribe to many of the arguments that free-market, individualistic proponents often use. As such, I can't help but feel that I've already made those mistakes and I want to share with others what I've learned. I don't know everything, by any means, but I do want to discuss things in good humour and with as much factuality as possible. I think that all conversations should be friendly, since all parties share mutual respect for one another despite our differences, right?

Ryan may well be applying personal opinion to the "Hummer at ORSM" issue, but I do understand his concern. Even Subaru, whose owners (including me) are often "green" types with bikes, kayaks, etc strapped to their cars, tends to play up "protecting the Environment" while there is no such thing as a car that protects the environment. However, Subaru is involved in Leave No Trace, an organization that promotes Human Powered activities, instead of Tread Lightly, which tries to reduce the damage of fossil-fuel powered activities. Tread Lightly is not inherently evil and are doing a necessary work to create a culture among ATV'ers and others that off-road fun must be had responsibly. However, Tread Lightly is trying to make a compromise that can't really be reached. There is no such thing as sustainable gas-powered off-roading within present park boundaries with the current growth in off-road participation. Kermit the Frog is on PBS telling people that "It IS easy being Green" on a commercial for the Escape Hyrbid. The Escape Hybrid is a fine product, but it's not at all "green". It's simply less destructive than it could be. Our culture just has no comprehension of the size of the problem and therefore thinks that buying a hybrid car or recycling a small portion of their trash is going to help the Environment. It's hard to blame us for wanting to maintain our high-energy lifestyles, but it's also hard to sit quietly while so many pretend that our current free market is going to save us. The void is vast between the average US citizen (including me) and sustainability on any front. Protecting public lands is just one of those fronts.

As our aging transportation industries try to grapple with social responsibility in the 21st Century, they are bound to keep pursuing impossible compromises such as Tread Lightly while still growing their sales figures. These things are totally incompatible within the limits of our planet, but it's hard to blame Hummer for trying to make it's products appear innocuous to the buying public. They feel that this is an appropriate response to Hummer-bashing. It's easy to see that this is totally empty "feel-good" marketing, but if you made Hummers for a living, you'd certainly want to fight for your livelihood.

Peter McDonough
(crazypete) - F

Locale: Above the Divided Line
Re: Re: it's an illusion, folks on 08/13/2006 15:51:30 MDT Print View

A scientific explanation should clear up this mess quite nicely says I....

Edited by crazypete on 08/13/2006 15:52:20 MDT.

Robert Brookshire
Re: Bender on 08/13/2006 15:58:55 MDT Print View

I don't disagree with most of what you said.

I don't claim that humans "own" all natural resources. I did not mean to imply that, but this assumption is built into both American culture and economy (I can't speak for all others). I can't possibly hope to tackle that assumption within my miniscule little lifetime, so I don't bother arguing that point.

Free markets are not bad at all. I SUPPORT free market economics. Socialism fails miserably because it can't price goods and services, as you said. I am not a committed communist or any such thing, but I am simply saying that our free market could use a lot of improvement. Yes, you have a right to ask how we are going to improve it, but I say that we start by doing away with our subsidized energy and resource infrastructure. We give energy producers tax breaks and cheap access to gas and oil. We give our lumber industry cheap access to public timber. We subsidize the consumer conveyor belt (GDP is a 1-way path that leads from resource to landfill as fast as possible), but then wonder why environmentally-friendly practices are more "expensive" than business-as-usual. Many people will deny my claims and I may very well be wrong, but I've heard too many convincing arguments that show that even our gasoline taxes are inadequate to cover our government's costs in acquiring that fuel. We therefore pay for our fuel partly through our income taxes, but since we don't SEE that cost, the free market does NOT accurately reflect those costs (and just try to get a member of congress to support an increased gas tax right now). In fact, the globalized "free" market depends both on cheap labor in poor countries and upon cheap transportation, provided by petroleum that is also located primarily in poor countries (and will increasing become so, since developed countries have nearly exhausted their own supplies). Local markets can more accurately reflect costs precisely because they are local. I claim that free markets are good, but that we don't live in a free market.

Hyrbid cars are no panacea and I make no claim otherwise. There is conflicting data on them, however. Some studies show a positive lifetime savings compared to regular vehicles of the same size, especially in reduced oil consumption (~70% or our oil is used for personal transportation). It is most certainly true that a Yaris is more environmentally friendly than a Prius, but how many people are going to buy a tiny car? Very few. Even a Prius is considered a small car in the US.

Edited by brookshire on 08/13/2006 16:04:17 MDT.

Robert Brookshire
Re: Lorraine on 08/13/2006 16:00:42 MDT Print View

And for the third-worlders out there, I think you misunderstand the point. I have no interest whatsoever in living my own little "self-righteously green" existance in some barren place. My interest is in affecting my own place where I live. I am a very small person, but every single one of us makes some difference one way or the other. You may be right to call me "godly", but I also know for a fact that the numbers don't add up. In the past 40 years, the poor of the Earth have gotten poorer, the rich (including this high and mighty American) have gotten richer, while the middle class has all but disappeared! Seriously. Globalization has destroyed the world's middle class. Well, *something* certainly has and it sure does happen to precisely correlate to the energy consumption of the so-called Developed world. Energy = wealth and third-world countries are getting the scraps. Sure, the term "third-world" is condescending, but I use it sarcastically just because all the people in "developed" nations are so convinced that the rest of the world can somehow be as wealthy as they are. It's all bunk.

And you're darn right about me on at least one point. I hate the concept of soccer moms protecting their kids through "the best defense is a strong offense" mentality. I know too many people that actually buy a vehicle because it's "bigger, heavier" and therefore deemed safer. Tell this nonsense to a Formula One driver. Heft does not equate with safety. Cushioning does. It is totally possible to produce lightweight, efficient cars that are still big enough for fat Americans and their 2 kids.

I certainly have no intention of partonizing the "third-world", but I apologize for it anyway. If you live in the third-world and have visions of American-style wealth and industry, I do wish you the best, because like it or not, there aren't enough resources to go around. No matter what you think of me, the only option will be to battle for what resources there are and I can't see how any intelligent being would think that's the best course of action. With Americans spending by far the most per-capita on their military, I'd say that it'll take a lot of suicide bombers to keep the US from obtaining whatever resources it wants. Luckily, since the average American's physical health is dropping compared to the rest of the world, we probably won't be able to control those resources for long. :)

Have a nice, as well.

Edited by brookshire on 08/13/2006 16:07:25 MDT.

Summit CO
(Summit) - F

Locale: 9300ft
Graph on 08/13/2006 20:26:04 MDT Print View

Pete, while I don't agree with your graph, it is absolutely hillarious.

For me, more horsepower makes me sad in the pants (specifically in the left pocket where my wallet lives since I have to drive a lot).

OTOH HP sure makes me happy when trying to get a hard pass on a two lane mtn pass when stuck behind an ascending semi with a line of traffic behind it.

My 4banger will have to suffice...

Lorraine Pace
(SowthEfrikan) - F
Robert on 08/15/2006 17:12:33 MDT Print View

Actually, I was not talking directly to you.

But since you chose to reply, I'd like to thank you for assuring me that I and the billions of others who are middle class do not exist, and inform you that my non-existent middle class lifestyle in Africa was far better than what I am experiencing here in the US, and that the non-existent black middle class in my country outnumbers the white population.

Oh, and the "gap" between rich and poor has been supposedly growing since the Romans, and every breath we take uses up the world's finite resources.

Green nuts drive me nuts.