03/09/00: A political comment
The Republicans have spent the last seven years criticizing the President incessantly, sometimes for the most trivial of matters. They might easily have offered far more appropriate criticisms of him, had they discussed his inadequate National Energy Policy.
We import about 55% of our Oil. Thus, we drive up the price on the world markets. Thus, we help make billionaires out of foreign countries and people, some of whom (Iran, Iraq, Libya) spend much of the money trying to blow us up through terrorist acts.
By attempting to reduce the amount of Oil we import, we might well improve our national military security and our economic welfare. By strengthening the nation's electric utility capacity and commitment to renewable resources, we might prepare for the coming day when global warming and worldwide economic trends will compel us to rely more heavily on renewable domestic resources. By bringing these issues into open discussion, we can put an end to the bizarre and unseemly spectacle of American officials kowtowing to foreign officials, some of whom have recently been saved from military disaster by the United States.
The President has almost never discussed the US's scandalous reliance on foreign non-renewable commodities for our energy base, and Republicans in Congress have almost never criticized him on this basis. Considering all the time and energy they've thrown into haggling a busy President of the United States, why couldn't they call attention to his failure to act to rid us of our ludicrous dependence on fuels made by nations hostile to us? Why not call attention to his failure to enforce and strengthen the patent rights of individual inventors... the same people we now ask to step up and help us devise new ways to source and use energy? Why not call attention to President Clinton's failures with respect to the enormous Trade Deficit, a signficiant portion of which is is fueled by our our bizarre and unnecessary capitulation in the International Energy Trade? Why not fault him for not doing enough to help the country rid itself of fossil fuel dependence when so many progressive non-fossil-fuel technologies have already existed for so long right here in the United States?
Ten years ago we fought a war over a Little country that we cared very little about except for the Oil supply it gave to us. Kuwait had very little dedication to the principles we admire in nations, such as commitment to religious freedom or expressive freedom or the rights of women. The battle was so one-sided that at one point we succeeded in killing many thousands of the Enemy in just a few minutes without the aid of weapons of mass destruction. We had dedicated ourselves to the creation of matchless killing machines and superb discipline in using them, but we gave no thought for a political science effort to change the conditions which had led to the war. We were the best in history at killing people, but we cared nothing for looking ahead to prevent the need.
Our President was questioned with kid gloves about his decision to cease the war, but he was never pressed about what he or Congress would do to cease our OPEC dependency. Nor did his successor pursue the matter, nor did Congress ever take up the matter. The Press remained silent, never touching the topic. Many (but not all) of our moviemakers and authors continued with their boring Muslim-people-are-the-bad-guys theme, and our World War II generation shook their heads at a nation which had once understood the importance of foresight but which now apparently had none, as though foresighted planning in such matters would somehow violate our principles of freedom and Laissez-Faire.
If Americans died in Kuwait ten years ago fighting over this nonsense, if we spend billions each year protecting ourselves from lunatics enriched by our own oil dollars, if the nation has suffered economically by exporting jobs for no good reason, if there really honestly is a worldwide environmental problem caused by use of fossil fuels, then isn't it time for us to examine whether there is any planning we might do to change this situation?
Here are my constructive suggestions.
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