Wednesday, September 06, 2006

'Vegas Stupid and McDonald's

As I mentioned earlier, my Bride and I took some R&R time and flew out to Las Vegas for a pre- Labor Day weekend. While I knew what to expect, she had never been there before. Thank goodness for some of the natural attractions in the area, like Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Red Rock Canyon, because for all the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, honestly, after about 48-hours, we’d pretty much “been there, done that.”

Las Vegas has to be the world capitol of Stupid.
It was like that scene in “The Sixth Sense,” only instead of Haley Osmont, we were chanting, “I see stupid people everywhere.”

Against a dynamic backdrop of neon, jumbo-trons, and searchlights that rival Times Square in New York City, the ugly side of Las Vegas includes the pitiful people who hypnotically plug their cash into slot machines, slap it down on craps tables, and bet the odds on other games of chance.

Take a look around at the impressive resort hotels and casinos and do the math: The winners in Vegas aren’t sitting on stools dropping quarters.
I find that really depressing.

Sure, there’s the argument that gambling is “recreational fun,” and it’s just how some people like to spend their money, versus going to Disney, or the beach, or the mountains.

I didn’t see any fine print advertising for Help Lines for compulsive amusement park goers at Disney. Such verbiage is splattered all over Vegas, however, for help for people with gambling problems. To me that’s the same mentality that rationalizes fun with puffing on a box of cigarettes, emblazoned with the Surgeon General’s warning that smoking will kill you: Stupid.

Gambling may not kill you (although a rental of Nicholas Cage’s “Leaving Las Vegas” DVD could change your mind), but it doesn’t do much for the psyche of the slotzopaths we saw riveted to their bar stools in countless casinos up and down The Strip.
That’s not the role model I look up to.

Speaking of stupid, today I received an e-mail that first made me laugh, then made me a little testy. Maybe it’s just the change of season. But a group called The Alliance to Save Energy is on a tear against McDonald’s, of all companies.

By way of background, the ASE promotes energy efficiency worldwide to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and greater energy security. I’ve got no argument with that.

They preach energy efficiency as the quickest, cheapest, cleanest way to extend our world's energy supplies.
Ditto here.

The ASE is taking exception to McDonald’s “Summer of Happy Meal Fun” campaign, in which toy Hummers are being offered in its Happy Meal and Mighty Kids Meal boxes. They are cleverly calling it the “Hummer of a Summer” promotion. Bill Clinton oughta love this.

The editorializing begins when the ASE depicts GM’s Hummer as the poster child for American automotive indulgence.

"The three ton, 11-miles-per-gallon beast costs nearly $100 to fill at current gas prices and emits significantly more global warming pollution than most passenger cars on the road today," intones the boilerplate. Does that count that blue-smoke belching ‘71 Chevrolet Caprice that nearly hit me as it fogged an intersection last week?

The ASE contends McDonald’s Summer Hummer promotion reflects "an unwillingness to acknowledge energy waste and its impact on national security, but the harmful effects large, inefficient vehicles like the Hummer have on our environment and the health of children, who are significantly more at risk for ailments such as asthma due to increased levels of air pollution."

All that from a scale model, die-cast car in a Happy Meal?

What, pray tell, would The Alliance to Save Energy have McDonald’s include in its Happy Meals, instead?
Would you believe Hybrids instead of Hummers?

The ASE wants Hybrid Hot Wheels in Happy Meals.
As if kids could tell the difference.

If the ASE wants to make a real impact that's germain to its mission, and target McDonald’s, why not a campaign to replace those expensive, energy-drinking, heat-producing, giant neon arches with signage comprised entirely of cooler-burning, energy-efficient LED’s?

The ASE even provided a form-letter of protest for me to e-mail to McDonald’s President, Ralph Alvarez.

I sent one alright…straight back to the ASE, telling them to lighten up. Get a grip.
Have a burger, and relax.

Ray Kroc must be spinning in his grave.

Psst--hey, ASE. Have you calculated the megawatt usage in 'Vegas, lately?

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