The United States has many things that members of the Taliban and the Islamic State do not, and the right to a free press is among them. One Kansas journalist indulged in that right when he penned an opinion piece bemoaning America’s lack of an item the two terror organizations regularly use: mini-pickup trucks.

“Many’s the time I’ve turned on the nightly news and seen Taliban or ISIS militants tooling around in mini-trucks, mostly Toyotas, with machine guns bolted to the bed ‘Rat Patrol’ style,” wrote Dion Lefler, opinion editor for The Wichita Eagle.

“Every time I see that, I say to myself (or anyone unlucky enough to be in earshot), ‘There, that’s the truck I want’ — minus the machine gun, which I’d only need if I were driving [Kansas Attorney General] Kris Kobach in a parade.”

The author of the piece goes on to state that “profits and politics” are the reasons why the average Joe can’t purchase a tiny Toyota with desert sand damage, a free-flying flag and gun turret.

“Profits, because car manufacturers make way more per unit selling jumbo trucks,” Lefler notes. “And politics because of an antiquated trade policy levying a 25% tariff on imported light trucks, in retaliation for a European tariff on U.S. chicken.”

For those not familiar, “The Chicken Tax” was initiated under President Lyndon B. Johnson as a tariff on several grocery items as well as light trucks imported into the U.S. The move, designed to slow the import of these items, was modeled — and appropriately named — after a similar European tariff that sought to limit chicken imports from America.

This tariff, however, has been around since 1963, and many automakers have since found loopholes to continue the sale of trendy vehicles. According to AutoTrends, Japanese manufacturers were the first to do so, making Lefler’s argument something of a stretch.

But on the “profits” side of the argument, one has to think it’s because most Americans ascribe to the notion that “bigger is better.” And manufacturers know that.

However, Lefler continues, “Ditching the Chicken Tax might break the big-truck stranglehold on the market. If smaller import trucks sell, as I suspect they would, our domestic manufacturers might be led to retool and compete. And then, when it comes to buying a pickup truck, we might once again be as free as the Taliban.”

We should all be so lucky...

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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