Monday, July 14, 2008

Shut Up and Drill

When it comes to talk of "green," I am first a skeptic. I deeply distrust the mainstream media, the public education system, and our institutions of higher learning. I see in these institutions an intentional, organized push toward an indoctrination of the general public, particularly our youth. If you doubt my statement, just ask yourself how free our science teachers are to discuss the "Intelligent Design" alternative to the "creed" of Darwinism in the classroom.

When it comes to politics, I prize liberty above everything. Liberty is the engine which has made our nation the most prosperous, the most blessed nation on earth. If my grandchildren are to enjoy these same blessings, then I see myself as having a responsibility to defend liberty—liberty of thought, liberty of worship, liberty to pursue one's dreams and aspirations. To me, liberty sits far above protecting the environment on my scale of important things. And this is so because once liberty is gone, it is almost impossible to get it back.

I grew up in Cleveland Ohio. For a short time I lived on the third floor of an old house that overlooked the Cuyahoga River Valley. At night I would walk out onto the metal fire escape and look out at the steel plants belching fire out of their smokestacks. I could see the river barges moving coal and other raw materials up and down the river. Trains also carried their goods in and out of those plants. Both night and day that entire river valley bustled with manufacturing activity. Dirt and noise filled that valley, the valley that provided jobs and income for thousands of men so they could put food on their tables and feed their families.

Then in 1969 the Cuyahoga River caught fire. $45,000 of damage was done to the Norfolk & Western trestle bridge over the Cuyahoga. We became the laughingstock of the country for a while. But that dirty old river had had two previous fires, one in 1936, and one in 1952.

Cleveland sits on Lake Erie. The Great Lakes, especially Erie, suffered greatly from toxins and trash. After the fire, the US Congress passed the Clean Water Act and efforts to clean up the river and the lake went into full swing.

I was part of a small clean-up crew in 1970. A bunch of us went down to one of the beaches of Lake Erie and picked up trash and debris. It was filthy. Dead pigeons littered the beach. The air was putrid.

Nearly forty years later, the steel mills are gone, the river and lake are cleaned up, and the Cleveland waterfront, along with the Cuyahoga River valley are enjoying a renaissance of parks, recreation, restaurants, walking paths, and many other people-friendly features.

I tell this story only to demonstrate that environments can be reclaimed. Political liberty on the other hand, is not nearly so easy to recapture once taken.

Liberty of course comes with responsibility, and our nation certainly has a long laundry list of abused liberties. Labor unions came into real influence around 100 years ago because factory owners, mine owners, and other wealthy business magnates took advantage of their workers. In time, our federal government crafted laws and established agencies to defend and protect the little guy. Today, labor unions exist primarily to line the pockets of labor union bosses and to perpetuate their existence.

I grew up in the fifties and sixties. In those days our highways were utterly littered with trash. Our public rights-of-way looked like today's third world countries. Recycling did not even exist. Everything was used up and then just tossed out.

We've learned. We've become much more cognizant of our environment. And that's a good thing.

My father was one of the first people hired by the EPA when they came into existence in 1971. In fact, his job here in DC is the reason I live in Virginia today.

Our nation's economy runs on oil. And 70% of the oil we use comes from outside of the United States. We have become far too dependent on foreign oil. Because of our politicians' fear of radical environmentalists, we have become prisoners of OPEC.

As for the "hated" oil companies themselves, say what you want about them, but they keep this country running. Eighteen wheelers bring us our food, our clothes, and everything else we Americans consume on a daily basis. Airlines carry millions of people across this great land of ours every year. Transportation, which runs largely on oil, is absolutely vital to a healthy economy. Right now, Florida's economy is in the tank. Why? It's largely due to the drop in the tourist trade. People can no longer afford to travel like they used to.

The company I work for has eight plants in Florida. Five of them have been shut down this year.

I have truck-driving friends whose livelihood depends on oil. Just the other day I heard that it cost a driver over $900.00 to fill up his tanks with diesel fuel. Many truckers are now off the road, unable to afford the fuel. The rising cost of oil drives up the cost of everything else. When people can no longer afford to buy products, the workers that provide them lose their jobs. Everyone suffers.

"But even if we drill for oil today, it will take ten years to see the benefit."

I don't know about you, but I have grown weary of what former Senator Phil Gramm calls "whiners." What happened to the American "can do" spirit? What happened to the America that built the largest military in just four short years and defeated Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan? What happened to the America that, nearly one hundred years ago, dug a 51 mile-long canal through the tiny nation of Panama, with locks capable of handling ships 1,000 feet long? We saw what needed to be done, and did it.

Construction began on the ALCAN Highway in March of 1942. The 1,320 mile road from Dawson Creek British Columbia, to Delta Junction Alaska was completed just seven months later, in September of 1942. From March of 1975 to May of 1977, workers constructed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, an 800 mile conduit to carry crude oil from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska. We landed a man on the moon in 1969—almost forty years ago.

These examples show that when Americans decide to do something, we can do just about anything that needs to be done. Why can't we drill for our own oil and seek out new and renewable energy sources at the same time?

Today, we need oil to keep America strong. We need to wean ourselves from FOREIGN oil. We can do this. We should do this. And we can do it all while developing new, renewable sources of energy at the same time.

France's electric power is about 80% nuclear.

The environmental restrictions we labor under the weight of today strike at our liberty. That's how I see it. And the global warming alarmists want to lay more on us. They want to control the cars we drive, the light bulbs we use, and the food we eat.

I value liberty too much to stand by and do nothing. That's why I vote, why I write, why I speak out whenever the opportunity presents itself, and why I am in regular contact with my senators, my congressman, and even my president. I also write my state representatives as well.

I am not advocating destroying the environment. Besides, that wouldn't happen anyway. We've come too far and learned too much. What I am advocating is using our minds, our willingness to work hard, our American freedoms and know-how to find a way out of this mess. For the short term it will take oil. Fifty years from now, regardless of new technology, we will still need oil to some degree.

We just need the chains of government control loosened so we Americans can do what we have historically done better than anyone else in the world. Find solutions to problems.

Yeah ... I am essentially a free-market, laissez-faire capitalist. The free market almost always works better than the government. The people are almost always smarter and wiser than the politicians.

Look at the ethanol debacle. The government, under pressure from environmentalists, mandated that all of our gasoline include a mixture of bio-fuel. Corn ethanol is the bio-fuel of choice. Here are the unhappy facts: 1) the production of corn-ethanol (clearing of land, production, and transportation of the product to market) leaves twice the "carbon footprint" as gasoline; 2) corn-ethanol produces between two and nine times the greenhouse gases as the gasoline it replaces; 3) corn prices have soared because farmers are now producing corn for ethanol and not for food.

All this is because an army of government experts decided that they knew better than the free market.

I say, "Shut up and drill."


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