AAA is Pure Evil

First, I must make something clear. The AAA to which I refer in this article as pure evil is the AAA formerly known as the American Automobile Association. I have no problem with the good folks at the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, a group whose members are nice enough to come to Hayden Planetarium lectures on clear nights with their own telescopes and allow people to look at the stars. Please assume all references to AAA going forward refer to the former American Automobile Association, known simply as AAA now.

If you are a member of AAA, please answer for yourself whether you joined for roadside assistance and travel services or whether you joined to become part of a powerful lobbying organization. I’m going to assume the former. If I am incorrect, please reply and let me know that there truly are grass roots members of the AAA that intended to further the causes lobbied for by the AAA in your name.

Second, I’m going to assume that the vast majority of AAA members, when asked the generic, “what are you?” will likely NOT respond with the first thought, “I am a motorist.” Yet, that is precisely how AAA claims you would respond. They would also claim that as a motorist, you want certain things. And, they will lobby for those. Check that list carefully and see whether you are OK with AAA lobbying using your name as one of its many members, the largest grass roots organization in the country.

Third, you have a choice. There is a better roadside assistance club. Read on please.

Now read some of these articles about the things AAA lobbies for, and has done so since its inception. Essentially, it might be fair to call AAA a secret lobbying arm of the automotive and oil industries. Read these and decide for yourself.

The Secret Life of AAA — from The Amicus Journal, reprinted by NRDC

Smitten with a Club – Your AAA dues fuel pollution and sprawl — From Harper’s, linked to a reprint on the Better World Club site to avoid a requirement to subscribe (more about BWC later).

For those not willing to read detailed articles on other sites, here are some of the things AAA has lobbied for and/or still does:

  1. 1990 – AAA lobbied against the Clean Air Act
  2. 1998 – AAA lobbied against a 7 cent gas tax for land preservation. We all like to get from point A to B, but only if neither is totally paved over when we get there.
  3. Present – AAA still lobbies for ever wider roads, seen as a major cause of congestion rather than a relief of it by many organizations.
  4. Present – AAA is on the record against virtually every proposal for cutting automobile pollution.
  5. 1989 – AAA called vapor traps on gas tanks a safety hazard.
  6. 1994 – AAA opposed a move by smogbound eastern states to promote low-polluting cars.
  7. 1997 – AAA opposed new smog limitations.
  8. AAA opposed the airbag law, not sure what year.

So, with AAA lobbying for everything you are against and against everything you are for, most likely, anyway, what can you do about it? You can cancel your membership immediately. They will pro-rate you for the year, or at least they did for me, much to their credit. Then you can join Better World Club, which has other advantages as well. They will help you if your bicycle gets stuck. The will give you four $10 checks per year for your gasoline. Send in a receipt for more than $10, get a check for $10. That’s $40/yr. I’ll take it.Here is Sierra Club’s plug for the Better World Club, which should carry a lot more weight with you than my own.

To help further clear your conscience for the bad things that driving causes, you may also choose to get a terrapass to offset your carbon emissions.

Happy driving! May it be as guilt free (or more accurately guilt reduced) as possible.

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14 Responses to AAA is Pure Evil

  1. planettrash says:

    I’m taking the bus a few days a week to offset my carbon emissions. Thanks for sharing the truth about AAA. I’m not a member, but we have to be leery of groups and their names. Some have nice environmentally friendly names, but aren’t. They are quite the opposite. Like the oxymoron that the United States is a Christian nation. First of all, we weren’t founded as such, and second of all, our current leadership is far from the philosophy of Jesus, who wouldn’t deny children healthcare.

  2. planettrash says:

    My site is http://planettrash.wordpress.com

    I show how we are slobs and trash our home.

  3. BubbaRay says:

    Not a member of the AAA you mention. Wish I were a member of the other AAA. But I am a member of the American Astronomical Society, which lobbies for:

    Doing away with light pollution, which will also save millions in energy costs while still keeping those parking lots safe.

    Green all around — the city lights and pollution destroy the enjoyment of the sky for those that live in or near large cities. (Scott, I’ll bet you haven’t seen stars in NYC in a long time, I’m glad you travel).

    Education — those who can’t even figure out whether that light in the sky is Venus or Mars, well, I’m not allowed to type what I think about that on a gentleman’s blog.

    Heck, I’m even a member of the RASC- Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

    Thanks for the tip on the BWC!

  4. Misanthropic Scott says:

    BubbaRay,

    I can see some stars outside in NYC. I can see them far more clearly than even you can inside the Hayden Planetarium. If you come to NY and go to the Hayden, bring binocs. The projector can display images smaller than you can see with the naked eye, and does. Binocs can show the moons of Jupiter on the Hayden screen, for example.

  5. BubbaRay says:

    [off AAA topic]
    Well, OK, I guess a planetarium has its place. But I’m distressed and depressed by the fact that most kids can’t see the *real* sky or even know what it looks like. Ask anyone (besides me) where is the Moon tonight? Did you see Saturn last night? How about that meteor shower? You’ll get a blank stare. Cripes, most people don’t even know the Earth revolves around the Sun or the 4 major moons of Jupiter.

    http://tinyurl.com/32ljqa

    Grab your camping gear and a star chart, some beverages and a pair of binoculars and head for dark skies. You’ll be amazed at what you can see with the Mark I Mod 0 eyeballs. A planetarium is like watching TV — You only get a shadow of what the cosmos is really like and the director shows only what he wants you to see.

    You can print your own star charts from this excellent site:
    http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=1052

    I know you love nature and animals, but there are some cool animals etc. in the sky.
    Ursa Major and Minor – the bears
    Camelopardalis – the giraffe
    Orion – the mighty hunter
    Canis Major and Minor – the dogs
    and many more.

    WARNING — Learning the night sky can be addictive and lead to major expenditures for astronomical equipment. How about a pair of nice binoculars for $2,400? I can build you a fine observatory with a computer controlled 24″ cassegrain for less than $500,000!

  6. Misanthropic Scott says:

    BubbaRay

    [following your atrotangent]
    For any night, the moon (and Saturn) can be found in the plane of the ecliptic. No meteor showers more recent than quite a few months ago in my memory. They always disappoint me. Europa and Io are the only moons of Jupiter I can can name, for the same reason that I’ve said repeatedly about astronomy being of less interest to me than cosmology, astrophysics, and biology. I know about Io and Europa for the obvious reasons that they are particularly interesting, the latter, especially so.

    Most of what can be seen even with good binocs is fairly uninteresting to me. I’m much more interested in what can be seen by the Hubble. As such, while I can and do appreciate the beauty of a clear, dark night sky, what can I really learn by looking at it myself? It’s not like watching animal behavior where there is always something I can see (and hear and smell) that is NOT on the nature videos.

    The constellations are pretty much an ancient drug induced hallucination. And, the southern sky a more recent and less imaginative one. Triangulum??!!? Any 3 stars make a triangle, as Neil De Grasse Tyson has repeatedly observed.

    My binocs were only $1,300, but multiply by two for a pair for my wife. And add two camera bodies and multiple lenses. Another expensive hobby? No thanks. I’d go for scuba before that and am not starting that one either.

    As for Le Idiot, holy merde!! I got the answer without needing to wait for the subtitles.And, je ne parlais pa Frances vraimont.
    [/astrotangent]

  7. Misanthropic Scott says:

    [astrotangent]
    BubbaRay,

    I just remembered the other two Galilean moons of Jupiter, Ganymede and Callisto, right?
    [/astrotangent]

  8. BubbaRay says:

    I too enjoy watching nature and animals, it’s why I always have a small portable telescope within reach (and why I never fly commercial).

    That’s ok, we enjoy different perspectives on the Universe (per equipment). I like the heavens, you like what’s here. To me, without understanding the Universe (and FSM knows I’m so far behind now in math) we can’t understand nature. Jeez, I can’t even keep up with string theory and yet not so many years ago I understood General Relativity.

    I also enjoy being alone with a medium aperture scope (24″-36″) and just wandering around the sky. Sometimes it’s so spooky, a feather dropping would freak me right out. Hard to explain, but I’ll bet you’ve felt it when taking some of your cool photos.

    I’m excited we can enjoy the wonders of nature and comment on them with this technology – sharing photos and experiences we couldn’t do just 15 years ago.

    Now tell me how I can post a picture here – just email it to you should I run across one I think you’ll like?

  9. BubbaRay says:

    Scott, “I just remembered the other two Galilean moons of Jupiter, Ganymede and Callisto, right?”

    Correct, Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto. And watching them pass in front of giant Jupiter leaving an eclipse shadow on the clouds in real time is a thrill!

  10. Misanthropic Scott says:

    BubbaRay,

    Maybe so, but I’d be more curious to know if there’s life in Europa’s oceans. That’d be a real thrill, especially if it’s not DNA based.

  11. BubbaRay says:

    “Maybe so, but I’d be more curious to know if there’s life in Europa’s oceans. That’d be a real thrill, especially if it’s not DNA based.”

    Looks like you’ve read Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001, 2010, 3001. I sure miss him, Heinlein, Asimov….

    We DO need a probe specifically designed to explore Europa. Hope I live long enough to see it happen.

  12. Misanthropic Scott says:

    BubbaRay,

    We certainly do. However, with all the money currently being funneled into a human to Mars mission, it seems unlikely it will happen. I just hope that when/if we do it, we’re good enough at not infecting Europa with introduced species of any size.

  13. YES! The CARTALK Website has all the evil facts on AAA as well!!!
    AAA has a lobbying staff of 15 in Washington, DC. Unbeleieveably, they have committed more atrocities that this article mentions. No wonder “Triple “A”” markets so heavy with a dozen or so paper pieces per junk mail, complete with Foil-sticker.
    AAA is the largest and one of the oldest grass-roots organizations, but in this case they have encompassed all the wrong things that auto-dealerships represent (Greed, lies, self-interest, conning the consumer and spinning truth’s with smear campaign’s)
    The audacity of connecting our country’s name into something so hideous makes me fraught with nausea!

    [ed. note: Click this link for the CarTalk website regarding AAA. Thanks Matt.]

  14. hhopper says:

    I let my AAA subscription lag. It used to be handy when we went on trips because of all the free info and hotel discounts. I never realized how political they were.

    I’m surprised with all the page views you didn’t get any new comments.

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