Nov 2005

Member Alert

AAA Watch

Top Story


Washington Watch

In The News

Member Alert
Question: When Should My Membership Materials Arrive?

Customer Service: Life is a Riddle. The Answer Is Revealed at the End...

Stop It, Michael, Don't Turn Everything Into a Spiritual Issue. The Answer Is Based on Your Effective Date

Michael: That Still Sounds Spiritual To Me

Your fulfillment materials will reach your mailbox 5 to 10 business days after your effective date, not 5 to 10 business days after you sign-up or renew. Many new and returning members have been confused about this, so hopefully this will clear things up. To further explain, your fulfillment materials contain your member cards, your Motor Club Benefits folder, and your $40 in gas rebate coupons as well as other perks of membership in hardcopy form.
AAA Watch
AAA Club South Won't Treat Partners as Spouses

Better World Club Treats Partners as Spouses, But Asks the Bigger Question:

Do You Treat Your Spouses as Partners?

Tom Payton of Athens, GA has been a member of the AAA auto club since 1994. After he and his partner, Art Ordoqui, held their wedding in August at the University of Georgia, Payton wanted to include Ordoqui on as an associate member on his AAA membership.

Well, Georgia state law doesn't recognize this marriage, so why should AAA?

"Only spouses or dependent children up to the age of 21 (if in college to age 25) meet our criteria for associate membership," AAA Club South wrote to Payton in a letter dated October 7th. "This policy has been reviewed on several occasions over the years and we have determined that these are the appropriate guidelines for our membership discounts..."

AAA went on to say that they would be happy to enroll Ordoqui as a Primary Member for full price. Complete Story

Member Specials
Ideal Bite Thinks Better World Club Members Don't Have Enough T-Shirts

Oops. Ideal Bite Thinks BWC Members Don't Have Enough Cool T-Shirts

Ideal Bite, the cool green tipster website, has determined that Better World Club members are the coolest group of people that they have yet to dominate. So they are offering BWC members the equally cool Biter Tee at a 20% discount: $19.95.

To take advantage of this discount, you will need to log into the 'Members Only' area of Better World Club, and follow the directions under 'Member Discounts'.

And they wanted us to let you know that apparently there are some holidays coming up in December and these tees would make a perfect gift for anybody who regularly walks around your house naked. (Knowing KA readers, we thought this was a very small group, but they're the marketing experts)

Not familiar with the Ideal Bite cult? Then you missed the In The News section of our September Kicking Asphalt. (Our Travel Cool! Carbon Offset Program was mentioned again on November 17th). You should check them out and sign up for their daily green tips.
Top Story

If It's Good Enough For Willie Nelson, It's Good Enough for Us

Better World Club is expanding its new member special for owners of alternative fuel vehicles to include bio-diesel users.

From Monday the 5th, all new members owning a recognized alternative fuel vehicle will receive a 15% discount. The owners of hybrid vehicles can continue to enter their VIN numbers into the online application. Owners of electric and natural gas vehicles should call the Better World Club membership office.

Bio-diesel users will need to do three things:

1. Enter their Diesel VIN # into the application.
2. Pledge to use bio-diesel fuel.
3. Be prepared, if asked, to submit one month's worth of bio-diesel fuel receipts to the Club.

As reported in BWC's Action Alert, Go Forward social consciousness and enormous musical talent aren't the only things we have in common with Willie Nelson. We both love biodiesel. In fact, Willie has gone into the biodiesel business. And, for someone with his track record with Farm Aid and other efforts, it's understandable why.

Biodiesel is a completely natural, renewable fuel suitable in most any situation where conventional petroleum diesel is used. Even though "diesel" is part of its name, don't be confused. There are no petroleum or other fossil fuels in biodiesel. Biodiesel is 100% vegetable oil based.

Driving a car powered by biodiesel is another great way to lower our dependence on foreign oil. Learn more about biodiesel and get involved with a cooperative such as BWC affiliate




Better World Club finished ninth out of seventy corporations in the vote for "Green Business of the Year" sponsored by Co-op America.

This was highly suspicious. Ok, Ten Thousand Villages is one of the oldest and largest fair trade organizations in the world and a pioneer among Fair Trade businesses in the US. (To learn about Ten Thousand Villages visit

Better World has barely been around for three years. Maybe that's Ten Thousands Villages' advantage. Or maybe it's that they know how to spend their campaign dollars strategically in a way that Better World doesn't. We'll be examining this issue closely over the next year. We already understand that the Co-op America Staff appreciates the "thank-you" of a crisp $20.00 bill, if you know what we mean. And we think you do.
New American Dream Offers Eco-Travel Sweepstakes with Better World Carbon-Offsets

Attention Members with Seasonal Affective Disorder...and Everyone Else

Are the cold, dark days making you long for a tropical vacation? If so, you might want to visit a doctor. After all, winter hasn't even started yet.

And, given the medical bills you're facing, you might want to check out this opportunity to win a ten day carbon-neutral trip for two to some of Costa Rica's finest eco-lodges. The sights will be spectacular, your days will be relaxing, and you can rest assured your travel is treading lightly on the planet thanks to Better World Club's TravelCool! carbon-offset program.

New American Dream is a non-profit organization that helps people challenge the 'more is better' culture and get more of what matters -- more time, more fairness, more fun. They're sponsoring this contest to promote their Conscious Consumer website's new Green Vacation resources, and to build their community of people who are living consciously, buying wisely, and joining with others to make a difference.

If the New Dream Community sounds like your kind of community, please add your name today. You'll help build a powerful constituency for change, connect with others looking to get more of what matters, and maybe even find yourself vacationing in Costa Rica...later in the winter...when it really will be cold and dark.

Enter your name in the New American Dream Sweepstakes

''New Laptop Computer? Thanks But I Was Hoping for a Membership in Better World Club!"

Better World Club memberships make an excellent gift for family and friends. (For those of you who are really cheap, give a gift subscription to Kicking Asphalt. It doesn't cost a thing, but the psychic value is enormous--and isn't that what the holidays are all about?)

And remember, Better World is now testing auto and homeowners insurance in 20 states. You can find the list here. We'd appreciate your filling out an application and allowing us to give you a quote. Better World Club offsets the first 2,000 miles of greenhouse gas for auto insurance customers.
Washington Watch
Bush Fires Amtrak CEO David Gunn

Post-Katrina Change In Management Strategy:

Out: Hiring of Incompetents
In: Firing of Competents

Management Consultants Prove Well Worth It

On November 9, David Gunn was fired by the Bush Administration, he had been described by The Oregonian as "the best leader Amtrak has ever had". The Oregonian added that Gunn was fired because "he would not lie down on the tracks and let the people who want to dismantle the nation's passenger railroad system run over him".

If you want to be impressed with a public manager, here are excerpts from Alex Marshall's interview with Gunn.

David Gunn: Well, you know actually Amtrak's situation is very similar to the situation of the New York City Transit Authority, it's just that the geographical spread is much greater. But in terms of the nuts and bolts, they are almost identical. Amtrak has suffered from years of deferred maintenance. Complete Story

North American Railroad Passenger Association Analyzes AMTRAK Budget

Congress Slides Off The Rails

The National Association of Railroad Passengers analyzes the $1.315 billion 2006 Amtrak Appropriation and finds it "respectable" but opposes a number of provisions.

According to the Association: The conference report, which President Bush is likely to sign into law, effectively forbids Amtrak from offering "after March 1, 2006,a discounted fare of more than 50% off the normal, peak fare."

The report also has an $8.3 million earmark to force dramatic growth in "carload shipments of premium temperature-controlled express," although Amtrak considers this business a money loser, obstacle to good schedules and on-time performance, and unnecessary cause of ill will between Amtrak and the freight railroads. Complete Story
In The News
Wall Street Journal Reports that AAA's Image for Promptness Not Universal

Fails to Report that Better World Club's Image as Greatest Responsible Business in the History of Commerce Might Be a Bit Exaggerated As Well.

Whew...Another Close One!

The Wall Street Journal article is "subscribers only", so here are a few excerpts from the November 19th article: Who to Call When the Car Stalls. (For more on service provider attitude toward AAA, see the September Kicking Asphalt.)

"If you simply want to know which provider arrives fastest, nobody seems to conduct independent tests. Most claim average response times of under an hour. As the market leader, AAA is the target of a fair bit of trash-talking on that point from rivals, which accuse it of using its size to bully tow trucks into accepting lower payments. Complete Story
In The News (cont'd)
Should Kicking Asphalt Go Into the News Business?

BWC Prez Tests Water, Makes Up the News; Helps Out, Publishes It

Members: You're Like a Serious Version of The Daily Show

That's a Compliment, Isn't It?

With people accusing KA of making up the news, Better World Club President Mitch Rofsky decided to conduct an experiment. So he made something up--and published it! You be the judge--and let us know if it made you laugh. After all, it would be alot easier to put this publication out each month if we did just make it up. (The piece is not about transportation or the enviornment, but the Watergate figures' reactions to the CIA Leak Scandal. We understand if it's not your thing.) You can find "You Should Have Seen Perjury in the Old Days." here entire article

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
"Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" Is Moving

"Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is' is moving. No, not to Boca Raton, FL. It's not retiring. It's moving to Better World Club's new Action Alert: Go Forward

If you are a Better World Club member, you should be receiving Go Forward.. If you are not a member, you can sign up now.

Here are a couple of items to take a look at while we're packing:

Highest Fuel Price States

1. Hawaii
2. Alaska
3. California
4. New York
5. Washington
6. Nevada
7. New Mexico
8. Oregon
9. District of Columbia
10. Idaho

On the mainland, the range is from $2.42 for Regular Gasoline in California to $1.96 in Oklahoma.

Hybrid Cars Becoming Less Attractive as Horsepower Is Increased and Fuel Economy Decreased?

First, the article that let everyone know what the Auto Companies are up to. Then, the latest response as government and the private sector increase the incentives for hybrids.

Hybrid Cars Burning Gas in the Drive for Power

WASHINGTON, July 16 - Mark Buford is happy with the Honda Accord hybrid that he bought six months ago, and he has already driven it 13,000 miles. He was determined to buy a hybrid electric car, he said, and this one is clean, "green" and accelerates faster than the nonhybrid version. He just cannot count on it to save much gasoline.

Many people concerned with oil consumption, including President Bush and members of Congress, are pointing to hybrids - vehicles with electric motors as well as internal combustion engines - as a way to reduce fuel use and dependence on imported oil. The first ones to reach the market did that; the two-seat Honda Insight, introduced in December 1999, was rated at 70 miles per gallon, and it was followed by the five-seat Toyota Prius, also built for reduced fuel consumption. Those cars have no nonhybrid equivalents. Then came the Civic hybrid, designed to perform almost as well as the original, only using a lot less gasoline.

But the pendulum has swung.The 2005 Honda Accord hybrid gets about the same miles per gallon as the basic four-cylinder model, according to a review by Consumer Reports, a car-buyer's guide, and it saves only about two miles a gallon compared with the V-6 model on which it is based. Thanks to the hybrid technology, though, it accelerates better.

Hybrid technology, it seems, is being used in much the same way as earlier under-the-hood innovations that increased gasoline efficiency: to satisfy the American appetite for acceleration and bulk.

Despite the use of hybrids to achieve better performance with about the same fuel economy, consumers who buy the cars continue to get a tax credit that the Internal Revenue Service allows under a "clean fuels" program that does not take fuel savings into account. Complete Story

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

But New Incentives Try to Maintain Interest

Want to save $3,150 in taxes? Buy a hybrid car.
Mark Clayton, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

November 15,/2005--Buying a hybrid car to save gas and the environment may be its own reward. But for curmudgeons who need extra incentives, help is on the way.

Across America, states, cities, and corporations are leaping on the hybrid-incentives bandwagon. On top of state tax credits, some hybrid drivers now enjoy exemptions from emissions-testing and excise tax. Others even get unlimited use of HOV commuter lanes.

And the mother of all hybrid perks will soon be unveiled: Beginning in January, the federal government will offer a tax credit of as much as $3,150 per car, based on its emissions profile.

"The federal incentives, higher gas prices, and all these other small but attractive perks are tipping the balance," says Bradley Berman, editor and owner of "Hybrid culture is definitely shifting into the mainstream. It's moved from environmentalists and early adopters to energy security and people that just want to save on gas."

But like bleacher bums who envy those in box seats, drivers of regular vehicles are honking their horns in protest at the sweet perks. Complete Story

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