BY WILLIAM J. MCLAUGHLIN – Our nation is facing serious problems ranging from rebuilding the economy to multiple wars to potential environmental catastrophes and a financial crisis, mainly in the public sector. No one appears to be addressing them as a package, yet we live with them as a package. Where is the vision? Where is the leadership? Certainly we do not lack for commentators with 24/7 news and talk shows.
The economy cannot get rebuilt without investment and there is no investment without money—private money. It also does not get rebuilt without investor confidence. The federal deficit doubled during the presidency of George W. Bush. During his eight years in office, our national debt exceeded that of the first 42 presidents combined. During the first year of the Obama presidency, it doubled again and is now projected to skyrocket. Absolutely horrible! It is no wonder there is a Tea Party, the people are rebelling. President Obama campaigned for office as a political moderate, but once elected, he made a sharp left turn.
The last eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Barrack Obama had many differences, but at least one thing in common. Every one of them pledged to break America’s addition to foreign oil.and they all failed. It is a disaster for our currency and our economy.
Today gasoline costs over $ 4.00 per gallon at the pump and speculators are already pushing it over $ 5.00, but what is the real cost? We all know the pump price does not include environmental damage, federal subsidies, cost of wars in the Middle East, etc. On 30 March 2006, the late Milton Copulos, President of the National Defense Council Federation showed in Senate hearings that the real cost to us was $ 26.07 per gallon, assuming $ 60. per barrel and $ 20. per ton of carbon. Today oil is pushing $ 120 per barrel and Goldman Sachs predicts $ 200, per barrel.
At $ 120 per barrel, the real cost of gasoline is $ 39.42 per gallon, which includes a $ 21.70 reduction in investment capital. In reality, every $100 billion in oil imports costs us 2.7 million jobs. The Tea Party has not noticed because most of their political candidates are feeding at the trough of oil company lobbyists. (So much for political integrity and ethics).
How do we end this addiction to foreign oil? We now import over 62% of our oil, much from countries that hate us. Clearly, we are funding both sides in the war on terror. There are only two paths: developing more domestic sources of energy and developing alternative sources of energy. Both paths must be traveled. We need an effort to improve our energy strategy on par with the effort to travel to the Moon in the 1960’s. It just takes leadership.
Today, approximately 18% of the energy in the United States comes from non fossil fuel sources. California has committed to reach 33% by 2020 Our cheapest and most abundant source of energy is coal. If we are to continue to use it in large quantities, we must find a way to capture and reuse the consequential carbon dioxide resulting from its burning. Technical problems have technical, not political, solutions.
The U.S. Department of Energy is currently studying over a dozen approaches to solving this problem. Our oil addiction’s severity will be reduced with better designed and insulated buildings, improved automobile and truck designs (including hybrid and electric cars), and acceptance of the facts about Climate Change.Those who pretend that there is no consequential damage caused by releasing millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere daily are lying to themselves as well as the public.
We must go Green. Our very civilization depends on it. The debate over Climate Change and its causes is over scientifically. Debate only exists among those who deny science. To the degree that the Republican Party in the United States has beat the drum of the anti science nuts, they should be condemned. They are taking advantage of those who received deficient educations in under funded schools. It reminds one of the campaigns by the tobacco industry in past decades trying to convince us that smoking was good for your kids.
Going Green leads to millions of new jobs. Germany has the strongest economy in Europe today. They credit the conversion to a Green Economy as the basis for their economic expansion. Germany currently has 14% of its electricity generated by renewable sources and expects that number to grow to 50% by 2050, without any nuclear. We can do it too. We need jobs. So far California has created 500,000 jobs in the Green sector.
Canada has created a similar number. As we go forward, alternative energy sources will get less and less expensive, while we create millions of nonexprtable jobs.. Wind farms already generate electricity at the same cost as coal fired power plants.
Will some subsidies be needed? Yes, for a while. Perhaps these can be paid for by reducing existing subsidies for non-renewable resources! We continue to subsidize the oil industry to the tune of $ 4.5 billion annually despite their enormous profits. The Defense Department basically funded the start of the computer industry, which has since paid dividends many fold and employed millions.Over the past year or two, the Navy and Marine Corps have made hugh strides in shifting to green strategies—because it makes economic sense and reduces vulnerable logistics lines..
Lastly, we must reign in our tendency to try and solve every international problem with our military. For decades after World War II, we wisely used our diplomats to resolve issues and imbalances between countries without going to war. The creation of the Iron Curtain is a perfect example. Today naïve White House advisors in both parties push presidents into “Cake Walk Wars”.
Our presidents were convinced that we would be welcomed with open arms and flowers in Iraq and Libya, by oversimplifying surface issues without an understanding of the cultures involved. Not too bright! If we listened to people like Baker, Powell, Zinni, Bachevich and Webb, we could have spared the lives of thousands of our finest soldiers, over 100,000 thousand Iraqis and hundreds of Libyans (so far).
It is time to demand common sense from our political “leaders”. The government must function. Our schools must educate. Our economy must grow.. Our energy sources must not destroy the environment on which our existence depends. Our tax structure must encourage growth. We must stop exhausting our military and destroying our finest with unnecessary wars. And we need congressmen and senators who realize the World is not flat and scientific truths are not optional.