Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Take Your Country Back

It seems almost trite to say it: Somebody needs to lead Americans in a fight to take this country back. The religious right and the neo-conservatives have led a war against what they have called a “lack of values.” There is no lack of values, but there is certainly a lack of understanding.

Sometimes it looks like the American public is being manipulated. Take the aftermath of 9-11. The Fed’s response was to lower interest rates. The auto industry came to the rescue and sold a gazillion cars and trucks at reduced prices, often with no-interest loans and cash rebates. Note, very few of the cars were particularly fuel efficient.

Toyota makes at least two models of car that get fabulous gas mileage, in the upper 30s and above. Neither of them gets much advertising. On the other hand, most people can name six or seven kinds of SUV, minivans, and pickup trucks, most of which are getting great mileage if they hit 25 miles per gallon.

Gasoline costs $2.00 or more a gallon. Soon the price of oil will drive up electric bills. People who are unlucky enough to heat their homes with fuel oil already feel the pinch. More people talk about fuel-efficient technology than used to, but the big fix endorsed by the president was opening the last unspoiled land in the United States—the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve—to oil exploration. Most of the United States is not an oil-producing region, making most of its citizens innocent of the destruction that accompanies oil drilling and extraction.

In oil-producing Texas, there are basically three kinds of trees: mesquite, oak, and dead. Driving an hour west of San Antonio, and five minutes off the main road will prove it. Making the well is bad enough, but after oil is found, it is pumped to a tank called a shotgun barrel, where the water is allowed to separate from the crude. This water is not clean, and no grass, weeds, or other plants grow around the outlet where workers drain it onto the ground.

Spills are not an aberration, but the norm. When the production of a well starts to decline, very often drillers will truck in salt water and inject it into the wells to force up what is left of the oil. This practice is also harmful to the environment, considering that salt is hazardous to most inland plant life.

Has the entire country forgotten the Exxon Valdez? Soon enough, Americans will see pictures of oil-coated caribou and moose, because they want to drive their Escalades.

The president of the United States is talking to Crown Prince Abdullah of the House of Saud, trying to get some relief for the populace. Why does the populace not wake up and get its own relief? Most of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudis. Why does anyone think the Saudis would help us?

Interestingly, the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, has arrested the head of what may be the world’s largest heroin production and smuggling operation. He became a target because he sold heroin to American citizens, and then used their money to give Al Qaeda guns and ammunition. What a perfect plan. Take the Yankees’ money, and use it to destroy them; get them to pay for their own destruction.

The same people who are appalled at the idea that some women want to have abortions have yellow ribbons tied to their mailboxes and plastered on their cars. Someone in that camp needs to explain how war is pro-life. Why is not-yet-born life more sacred than 18-year-old life?

The list goes on and on. The problems this country faces cannot be solved by one faction taking the helm and going off in a direction that half the country thinks is wrong. Why is conservation the enemy of American society? It does not need to be. Why do business and industry leaders cling to out-moded paradigms for business, when simpler solutions exist?

A prime example is the beleaguered Amtrak system. No other country in the world thinks its rail system should turn a profit from serving so small a segment of its people. Workers on the East Coast have access to Amtrak, but for the most part, it stops there. In order to go from Texas to South Florida, it is necessary to go through Chicago. (This is true.) If Amtrak served a larger segment of the population, it might become self-supporting, or even profitable.
Rather than address the oil problems by expanding public transportation, the policy makers have decided to let Amtrak die its painful death, and leave the country without a passenger rail system altogether. Not such good thinking.

When leaders propose preposterous solutions for problems and ignore the sensible options in front of them, either they are stupid and need to be removed from power, or they are dishonest and stand to profit from the solutions they back, and they need to be removed from power.

In a representative democracy, citizens tell their representatives what they want, and the representatives are supposed to listen.

If a representative does not hear from his constituency, he can only assume that he is doing what they want. The practice among representatives, including U.S. Senators, when they receive letters urging them to take a position on an issue different from the one they hold, is to send out a letter that explains that they are going to do what they darn well please. Fine. Let them send out their letters, telling people that after prayerful consideration they still think Americans should be killing and maiming young people. They cannot ignore the opposition forever, particularly if it comes knocking on their doors with regularity.

Write a representative today. Let her know what Americans really value. Don’t give up. Take this country back.

© 2005

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About Me

I love my country, that is why I criticize its absurdities; I love my freedom, that is why I do it publicly.