04/07/2005: Off The Grid
Continuing with Len's post about the *Societal Future* and impending crisis from the impact of the worldwide decline in supplies of oil, I had written this last fall to Don Wycliff (Public Editor of Chicago Tribune):
I read your column, and as I mentioned before I am finishing Lou Dobbs "Exporting America" about this loss of good American job to cheap labor markets overseas. His commentary also covers complementary issues like "job retraining" and "immigration policy" as critical tandem problems in this exacerbated picture getting worse.
I put an "intellectual query" to him to pretend he could use a crystal ball look into the future of where -if unchecked and unstopped - these policies and trends would put us as a nation.
What had caught my attention was an article in Newsweek's "My Turn" section. It was a piece written by Jim Schley, of Vermont, a recently laid-off executive from a small publishing business. Jim had been forced to pursue a fruitless job search for suitable ways to replace his lost income. He wrote in humorously about these "absurd and low paying job trials", but the intriguing part was that what made him be able to be so "off-hand" about his situation was that he claimed that (by choice) he and his wife "lived off the grid." They had solar generated power for their house, grew their own garden food, etc.
What it made me wonder (and not in just some sci-fi fantasy TV show way) if the logical conclusion of the policies we are pursuing now would inevitably lead to some majority of the US population forced by circumstances (cause there just won't be the job providing enough income) to "live off the grid" in some manner or the other. I put this to Mr. Dobbs to ask economists and analysts if this is one possible, down the road, future for where (without some sort of intervention by government) we would wind up soon.
Because it is apparent that despite current policies the trends are this way. No amount of re-training of American workers can possibly compete with a global worker pool of potential employee who will work making 20 cents an hour. Yet the bottom line of companies to post profits and remain "competitive" in such a globalized marketplace is inevitable and "good" for them but not for our workers.
Thus does this make your chasm of the inequality a looming, urgent and painful reality bearing down like a freight train.
For those who will "live" through this societal upheaval, then will this "Halcyon Era" truly seem like "The Brave and Good 'ole Days" as no other in the memory of those to come.
I also had written this editorial piece: "Two Foxes in The Oil Hen House" more directly on Len's point of How can we expect this Administration with "Oil Man" Bush and "Oil Man/Halliburton Man" Cheney to really be serious to effecting the necessary national policies to address these looming concerns Jobs or Oil. Click on the "more" button to read further.
I enjoyed your focus on the current oil crisis in Newsweek, but how can there be any political will or public will to effect meaningful changes absent the encouragement of those in charge of our energy policy? We have what can only be labled "Two Foxes in the Oil hen House" in a Bush/Cheney re-election ticket.
The Bush/Cheney Big Oil company connections, the Halliburton contracts, the pipeline in Afghanistan and the personal relationship with the Saudi Royal family are no speculation. Further, it the reason there is no hope of any meaningful policies from a Bush/Cheney ticket to reduce out nations dependence on foreign oil or offer meaningful choices to consumers that don't include remaining hostage to these issues for the foreseeable future.
These rising oil prices, the Iraq war, the Afghanistan pipeline, Halliburton's contracts in rebuilding oil pipelines in Iraq…they all tie in to a point I'd like to make about whether anyone can really believe that "Oil Man" Bush and "Oil Man/Halliburton Man" Cheney have done anything since 9/11 to significantly reduce (not protect, coddle, rebuild, re-engineer, or kowtowing to Saudi Arabia and OPEC) our dependence, as a nation, on foreign imported oil.
Where, since it was clearly recognized at the time of 9/11 that much of our response to the OPEC producing nations and Saudi Arabia (where 15 of the highjackers were from) had to be tempered (hampered?) by the touchy relationships and this dependence on foreign oil, has the Bush Administration made any moves to fundamentally change that picture?
It's been three years…yet I'm still not offered a suitable, cost effective vehicle that doesn't guzzle gasoline at ever increasing prices (and forget those small, expensive hybrids…I'm a soccer mom who needs a mini-van sized vehicle I can at least load my family into.)
Where are the government incentives for these changes? Alternative fuels? Mileage efficient cars? Effective hybrid vehicles? All the efforts of this administration reveals a commitment to protecting, coddling, rebuilding, re-engineering and continuing the fatal tango with Saudi Arabia and OPEC; not fundamentally changing the picture. And…here's the accountability part, who benefits long term from this failure to invest in changing this picture? And who can believe Bush and Cheney, both with ties to big oil companies and personal ties to Saudi Royals, have a whiff of an inclination to go against these personal interests to effect any meaningful change. At every push, shove and corner these men refuse to pursue any goals but those that enrich their friends and cohorts in this oil dependence business.
It would be one thing to acknowledge the need to maintain some consistent supplies of oil for our markets during a transition phase to making changes…but I can't point to one, even one area where the Bush administration has ever made even a hint at working on areas to transition out of this dependency.
Can you point to one? If they haven't done it in four years, if they haven't done it since 9/11, if they haven't done it since oil prices are going through the roof (and are predicted to increase seriously in the next 5-10 years depending on which analyst is believed) what makes anyone think they'd do it over the next four years? And who'd believe they'd do it given the money to be made for them and their cohorts and business associates.
Karen on 04.07.05 @ 04:14 AM CST