Travel is Patriotic, Maryland!

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AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts more Marylanders will stay put this Fourth of July than last year, with projected holiday travel down 2.9 percent. But spokeswoman Ragina C. Averella put the numbers in context, saying, “Overall travel is robust, reflecting the second consecutive year of healthy travel figures after declines for the 2008 and 2009 holidays.”

The unspoken assumption in Averella’s statement is that “healthy travel figures” means more travel, because of course our primary responsibility as patriotic Americans is to ravenously consume.

Has anyone else noticed all the mixed messages we receive in an economic downturn? We have to tighten our belts and save responsibly, but on the other hand, don’t stop spending; our economy depends on it.

Four years ago local businesses and attractions began pushing the “staycation” as the financially responsible alternative to discretionary family travel in a recession. Now we are being guilted into making more unnecessary trips, which means more unnecessary expenditures.

And what happened to environmental concerns about burning excessive amounts of gasoline? And is unchecked consumption really the appropriate response to rising prices and a strained supply?

More and more, it seems, we have a fractured and contradictory vision of civic duty. Our personal, economic, and environmental goals are often at cross-purposes.

Like many Marylanders, I had no plans to travel this Fourth of July. But maybe I’ll do my patriotic duty to prop up our travel figures by making a quick trip to the Pennsylvania border and increase our gross domestic product by consuming some explosive patriotic contraband.

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