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You want war?
“No, of course not.”
“You want oil?”
“Not necessarily.”
You want food?
“Obviously.”
“Then you want oil?
“What are you talking about? You mean for crop production and stuff?”
“I mean for everything.”
“Everything?”
“Well, oil is pretty important to the economy…
“I suppose if we need it we need it.”
“Well then you must want war.”
“How’s that again?”
“The oil’s in a war zone. Besides, there really isn’t enough to go around.”
“I see. Well, maybe I don’t really want the oil so badly, after all…”
“It’s up to you.”
“What do we really need it for anyway?”
“Cars, for one thing.”
“Yeah, I suppose… but we could always make better use of public transport.”
“Absolutely. Public transport is a far more efficient use of fuel. Do you live near a bus stop?”
“Pretty close. Half a block or so.”
“That’s good. Grocery shopping might be a bit of a pain though.”
“Maybe, but we could always take a taxi when we have to carry things around. Or keep a small car for—”
“—A small car?”
“—for—yeah a small car—just for when we had to carry things around—or go somewhere off the beaten path—”
“—You want to keep a small car on hand just in case you have to carry things around?”
“Well, big enough—obviously—to hold groceries and luggage and things…”
“Oh, ok. I was thinking you meant “small” like sub-compact or something.”
“Well it has to hold the family, for crying out loud.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound like I was accusing you of anything. This is all hypothetical anyways.”
“What is it you wanted again?”
“I just wanted to know if you wanted oil.”
“If I wanted oil.”
“Yeah. And I can’t remember if you said you wanted it or not.”
“I said I didn’t want it at the cost of war.”
“Ah, that’s right. You were saying we could do without—”
“—Could do with less.”
“—Could do with less… oil… by…”
“For instance, by taking public transport whenever possible.”
“Whenever—?”
“—Within reason—”
“—Within reason… take public transport. Yes. Is that what you want to do?”
“Yes, I just said that. I think everyone should take public transport whenever it is a reasonable option.”
“Well I think it’s a fabulous idea. Would you like it subsidized?
“Subsidized?”
“To pay for new buses and drivers—”
“—Do we need to do all that?”
“No. Not if you don’t want to. The buses aren’t that old. I just assumed that you might want to make the system more comfortable and convenient if you are going to be using it every day.
Every day? Oh, I suppose. But where’s the money going to come from?
“Where do you think?”
“Taxes?”
“It has to come from somewhere.”
“How about from the existing budget?”
“Sure, that’s possible. Do you have any preferences?”
“Ha Ha. Take it from Congress’s retirement fund. Ha Ha.”
“That is funny. Do you really want to convince Congress to subsidize public transport with its members’ retirement money?”
“I was joking—obviously. But I’m sure you could find a pork-barrel project somewhere in the budget.”
“So. You want to convince a member of congress to give up his pork?”
“No. I want to convince the other members to take it away from him. That shouldn’t be too hard. It’s not their pork.”
“Well, how do you think the pork got into the budget in the first place?
“Someone put it there.”
“I imagine the others wanted it there, too.”
“No. Why would they want it there?”
“Well, if they didn’t want it there, why did they go along with it?
“I don’t know—maybe a little quid pro quo?”
“Probably. Yeah. So how do you decide whose pork to revoke?”
“Does it matter? You asked me what I wanted. And I said I wanted to divert funds from a pork-barrel project to improve public transport.”
“You won’t make any friends doing that.”
“Do I look like I care?”
“Okay, well. Why don’t we just tax drivers and use that money—”
“—Then I would end up paying more when I used the car, and why should I do that? I’m already offering to use public transport practically everyday—”
“—practically?”
“I mean—if I am going to use public transport every day why can’t I expect it to be adequately funded—instead of some other… white elephant…”
“Sure, if that’s what you want. Let’s give it a try. Shall we wait till we have everyone on board, or begin right away?”
“Huh? Everyone on board?”
“Well, your neighbours for a start…”
“My neighbours?”
“Do they want to use public transport, too?”
“How the hell would I know?”
“Okay, well, do you want to find out?”
“Honestly, I couldn’t care less.”
“Oh. Okay. Great. Just so I have everything straight. You want to use public transportation—”
“That’s what I said. Is there a reason you have to keep repeating everything?”
I just want to make sure I have everything straight, so that you get what you want. You want public transport made comfortable and convenient. And you want oil?”
“What? Do you have some sort of screw loose? Hasn’t this whole conversation been about how I don’t want oil?”
“Well, it started out that way. That’s what I wanted to know. But then you got a bit sidetracked. You started talking about taking public transport—”
“It was about using public transport as an alternative to the wastefulness of driving a car everywhere. The whole idea was that we wouldn’t need oil if people used public transport more often.”
“That’s right. That’s what got us sidetracked.”
“What do you mean sidetracked? That was the conversation.”
“But you started talking about how you wanted to use public transportation…”
“Yeah… and…?”
“…and… so you want oil…?”
“NO.”
“Well, then, I don’t see the connection between your desire to use public transport and your lack of desire for oil.”
“Haven’t we already established that public transport consumes less fuel?”
“Than…?”
“Than all those ridiculous SUVs roaming the streets.”
“Oh. So you want to convince the SUV drivers to use public transport too?”
“Huh? Did you think I was going to be riding the bus to work alone?
“Well, you were talking about what you wanted…”
“Well not just me. I wanted everyone to take the bus more often.”
“Oh, well that makes more sense. If everyone took the bus more often we wouldn’t rely on oil so much. “I see. So you want everyone to use public transport.”
“That’s what I just said.”
“But your neighbours—”
“Oh, I see what you were getting at. Yeah, we have to make sure they’re committed, too.”
“Ok. Good. Uh, not to be repetitive or anything, but uh, do you want to wait till we have everyone on board, or begin right away?”
“How long would we have to wait?”
“Who can say? Some of them may be tough to convince.”
“Yeah, I bet. Maybe we should just hold off until we have a critical mass of support.”
“It might speed up the process if you decided to lead by example…”
“What, by taking the bus everywhere?”
“Well, within reason…”
“Do you want me to carry a picket sign, too? I said I don’t want oil, but what good would it do me to go to all that effort if no one else was going to participate?”
“Hmm. It probably wouldn’t have much effect on overall oil consumption. But like I said, it might make change come faster—”
“I’m not interested.”
“So… you want public transport…”
“Only if everyone uses it.”
“Alright then. So you want to convince everyone to use public transport.”
“Yeah, sure. That’s what I want. And you can finance it from the pork-barrel account. Okay?”
“Right. Good one. I got it. So you want oil?”
“Huh? Not that again.”
“Well, you said you wanted to use your car after all—”
“Just for the time being—until—”
“—Until we get enough people on board that it’ll have an effect. And in the meantime…”
“Yeah, yeah. In the meantime I want oil. Is that what you want to hear?”
“Huh? No. I don’t have a preference either way. I just wanted to know what you wanted. So, uh do you want war?

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