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May 27, 2005

What a Good Idea.

Duncan Campbell (the Grauniad journo, not the Ricin Plot investigator) comes up with a fabulous idea today.

In Poland in the 60s, according to a Polish woman who emailed me, "the authorities introduced the Hitchhiker's Booklet. Every hitchhiker who had it could write down how many kilometres they covered. The booklet contained coupons for drivers, so each time a driver picked up somebody, he or she received a coupon. At the end of the season, drivers who had picked up the most hikers were rewarded with various prizes. Everybody was hitchhiking then."

Surely here is an idea for any political party desperate for a bit of blue-sky thinking. Such an initiative would seem to fulfil many of the government's current aims: it would increase respect by breaking down barriers between strangers, it would help fight global warming by cutting down on fuel consumption as hitchhikers would be using existing fuels and not flying, and it would improve educational standards by delivering instant lessons in geography, orienteering, history, politics and sociology. What is New Labour waiting for?

From memory there are a number of  places trying out variations of the American ride share schemes but this is inspired, goes well beyond any of them.

I would quibble a little over one point, that it should be a political party that proposes or the State that should fund such things. By using a prize system one would get vastly more activity per pound spent than one would with direct payment (people consistently over estimate the liklihood of winning something) and you could almost certainly get many of the prizes donated by chivvying  companies into donating them for the reflected glory. But this is such a good idea that we shouldn’t wait for the State to lumber into action, rather, we should be looking  to a private sector actor. Someone known to be worried about, involved in,  actions to counter climate change. Someone with deep pockets (I reckon, indeed would be happy to come and set it up at such a budget, something like 500,000 a year would do it), someone with a brand that is already associated with such initiatives. Someone who in 2003 received 163 million euros in donations to save the planet perhaps?

Hellooo! Greenpeace? Care to actually do something useful?

May 27, 2005 in Climate Change | Permalink


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"Hello, I'm just heading up north, here's my coupon, Oh the kitchen knives? They were a prize won in a raffle..."
I hitched' from London up to the Lake Country and then across over to Teaside...or something, on the east coast and back down, good-lord it was a long time ago.

Posted by: -keith in mtn. view | May 27, 2005 7:02:07 PM