a tdaxp Special Report by “Aaron”
Aaron is a Noted Beacon of Non-Partisan Sanity
I’ll avoid quoting cliche’ but we all know the text of President John F. Kennedy’s famous Inaugural Address. At a time when there was much uncertainty in the world, the President did not ask us to fend for ourselves but to band together and make sacrifices for the greater good of each other and the world. Later, at a speech at Rice University, he famously said “we choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
In his State of the Union speech on January 31, President Bush noted the following:
Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. And here we have a serious problem: America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology. Since 2001, we have spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy sources — and we are on the threshold of incredible advances.
In this statement, the President is throwing the onus of oil consumption reduction on scientists and engineers, not on consumers and definitely not on producers. Again, no request for sacrifice from the voting public. Has patriotism gone to exclude the self-giving that Kennedy and others asked of us?
In reading this and reflecting, it occurred to me that this President Bush is very hesitant to ask anything of the American people, the Military excluded. We shy away from heavy environmental regulation because it may hamper our ability to do business efficiently. We opt out of the Kyoto Protocol, noting that other countries would not be expected to sacrifice as much as we do. We continue to decrease taxes for those who need it the least, and when I say need I mean honest, physical need. We ignore the warning signs of global warming, glacial retraction and seawater acidity, because no one has proven definitively enough for the detractors that we can stop it or that it’s our fault… Even though a simple reduction in world greenhouse emissions could show us a positive or negative change in warming acceleration in less than a decade. The President is eager to push Health Savings Accounts on the American public, asking us to spend more of our own money or go to the doctor less, all in an effort to better pad the pockets of investors and CEOs.
It seems that in every turn, the current Administration is only interested in making more, keeping more, and not in using less or making less. I understand that capitalism thrives on the efficiency of everyone being as greedy as possible, but could it not also thrive on people being as giving as possible?
Dan and I discussed at length the idea of a fuel tax. We thought that an increase in the price of gasoline might drive down demand. We discussed that this tax could be made fairer by giving rebates at tax-time for miles driven. In this system, those who drove the least would be rewarded and those that drove the most would even out. But we both know this idea would be political suicide for whoever attempted to legislate it. Again, no ask for sacrifice. Is it that unpalatable to the American public? For every person who volunteers for the military, where is the person willing to pay $5/gallon for gas? For everyone who thinks the President is infallible, where is the person trading in his tax-subsidized SUV for a hybrid, or even a higher fuel-efficiency vehicle? Again, efforts to mandate increased efficiency were retarded to spare the automobile industry the brunt of higher cost of manufacture. Some manufacturers even tweaked their models slightly so as to be larger than the government standard ‘light truck’ qualification, thereby exempting themselves from even the relaxed newer regulation. And who is crying foul? A marginalized Democratic minority?
This year, the economics of the situation got to me. I started riding my bike to work more frequently and I second-guessed a lot of short trips. I already had a fuel-efficient vehicle (32mpg) but I have paid more attention to keeping it efficient… Maintenance and more pragmatic operation. The President is pushing for more nuclear energy, which I applaud, but what’s wrong with wind, solar, and hydroelectric energy? Almost no mention of them in the speech. He mentions switchgrass farming for cellulose alcohol, a more efficient form of combustible than ethanol. But where is the mention of agricultural subsidies to the farmers growing an initially unprofitable crop?
I am interested to see where the Administration goes with this. I have great hopes for the American people. In the same speech, President Bush vowed billions for the teaching of math and science. And in the same term, argues that intelligent design ought to be taught in public schools. I think if we can only overcome the limitation of our President, we just might make it.