The Dream of Independence, Freedom, Personal Responsibility and Self-Sufficiency


craig headshotWay back in 1970, when I saw my first copy of Mother Earth News, I raced down to southern Ohio to meet its founder, John Shuttleworth. I found him upstairs in an old farmhouse surrounded by piles of turn-of-the century “how-to-farm” publications. These became the basis for those first Mother Earth News magazines. John and I quickly realized that we shared the same dream of independence, freedom, personal responsibility and self-sufficiency. His magazine went on to help many Americans follow that Dream.

For my part of the Dream, I went on to help Americans to consume less fuel by designing and inventing equipment that made motorcycle riding more comfortable and desirable. I thought of it as “Living better on less energy.” After all, consuming fuel at the rate of 40 mpg, as motorcycles did, was much better than that of cars of the day, which guzzled gas at the rate of 12 mpg. Not a BIG DEAL considering all the energy consumed in transportation … but it has occupied 40-plus years of my design career.

My major contribution has been designing and producing streamlined bodywork (fairings) that protect the rider from the wind, slip thru the air easier and burn less fuel. My Windjammer Fairing is still the most popular motorcycle fairing ever. By the late 1970s, cars began to improve their mileage, while motorcycles went the other way … getting worse mileage. The bigger motorcycles got, the more they guzzled.

mpg contest

Disappointed, I sold my company and hosted a series of fuel economy contests to find out what the upper limits of fuel economy might be — at 55 mph with street-legal vehicles. In six years, the fuel economy of the vehicles in the contests went from 78 mpg to 470 mpg! Until then, nobody had any idea what might be possible. I like contests and hope to do some more in conjunction the MEN.

freedom machine

Craig Vetter
3/1/2011 8:10:07 PM

The real basis for our Western Standard of Living is cheap, abundant energy. For our transportation and farm equipment, that energy has been increasingly dependent upon imported petroleum. This is a major mistake, I think. More recently, we have become dependent upon gas (made convenient because of pipelines) and coal (made convenient because of rail road tracks). Electric cars are being powered with this coal and gas. This is a pretty good trend, I think because the energy is ours. However, all the above energies seem likely to run out. We need to be using the cheap and abundant energy – now while we have it- to learn to harvest energy directly from the sun, which is not likely to run out. Is there enough sun to continue living the plush Western life style we have come to feel entitled to? I cannot answer that. But I do think we should be learning how to live better on less energy. My new Fuel Economy Challenges will help to show us how. A major bonus is that harvesting the energy from our own rooftops will make our homes, our communities and our country independent and strong.

Rich Easton
2/20/2011 4:02:57 AM

Great blog, Craig! Less is more. Distributed, independent, linked to help each other. Not dependent on centralized services. Lowest level of technology that will do the job. Air, water, security, sanitation, food, tools, shelter, communication, information, energy. Biology. Mechanics. Energy. People. Animals. Fire. Dig in the ground. Wood, stone, adobe, straw. Location, location, location. Get busy, the world is going to Hell in a hurry. A small community is safer than a single household or a big city.

Sean Wenger
1/17/2011 11:37:06 PM

Good points made.. In a Free Market Economy you are rewarded in direct proportion to the value you bring to the Marketplace. Today's Marketplace is distracted by entertainment. The majority dictates that there is a high value placed on entertainment. This does not reflect the True Value of anything. It is only a societal mirror reflecting the perceived values of the majority. If the Majorities' Values are not to reward the True Value of the contributions of its inventors; then what does that say of the Morals of that society? Hear this, I am all for a Free Market, I am just pointing a finger at what I perceive and asking you, if that observation is sound and just.. I could be mistaken, and would accept a respectable rebuke if one is forthcoming. With all due respect, Crimson

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