7/20/2008

Leadership 101: Inspire Your Constitutents

In the US of A we try to elect leaders to be our President. For example, that the current office holder George W. Bush. A few days after the 9/11 terrorists attacks, President Bush urged us fellow Americans to "go out and shop" to help the economy keep going.

Now, with the economy slipping into an ever darkening recession, Bush has stepped away from his bully pulpit to let his fellow Americans to crew on their own boot straps. President Bush said his is sympathetic with the plight of the people reeling from higher gas prices but he doesn't see the need to step up to the bully pulpit and demand specific conservation measures.

Concerning his constituents, Bush said, "They're smart enough to figure out whether they're going to drive less or not."

Evidently Bush is not paying attention...these are the same people that elected him.

5 comments:

Roadkill said...

Sunny,

Here is Economics 101:

A recession is defined as declining GDP over 2 or more quarters. We have yet to see 1 quarter of declining GDP, ergo, no recession.

So the fact is that we are not "slipping into an ever darkening recession." We haven't slipped into one -- even a brightly lit one.

As for gas prices, hey, we are the only industrialized country that doesn't exploit the bountiful oil and gas reserves off our own coasts. Yes, we permit drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, but the entire eastern and western seaboards, with and estimated billions of gallons of oil, are off limits. And of course, there are the billions of gallons in untapped Alaskan (ANWR) reserves and well as the hundreds of billions of oil shale reserves in the Dakotas and Montana. But Congress, in the pocket of luddite environmentalists, says no.

Do you want relief from higher oil prices, Sonny? Than get focused and tell your elitist Congressman (who probably doesn't worry too much, personally, about "pain at the pump") to relax the restrictions on domestic oil exploration. Oil is crucial to the American economy, and the deliberate starving of that economy (a la drilling restrictions) really will lead to that recession/depression you seem to be pining for.

If you are honest about your concern with the pump price of oil, you best realize that we need to drill here, drill now, and pay less.

The fact is, to the extent that we are energy dependant and reeling from high gas prices, it is a situation all of our own (or Congress’s own, to be precise) making. Let’s change that.

That’s change we can believe in!

Sunny B. said...

Obviously, we need to expand our energy portfolio. I think if we are going to allow American soldiers to die to gas to fuel Hummers, it's time to look seriously into going coastal on the drilling. ANWR seems to be the conservative ground zero of attacking the Sierra Club and anything that has to do with environmentalism.

Why would we need to start drilling in ANWR, if we opened up the East and West Coasts? Who would profit from the oil extracted from ANWR? Would that oil be allowed for export?

Nuclear power seems to be an option that doesn't introduce green house gases into the carbon footprint. Nuclear power has been in the neighborhood for decades, with the Prairie Island and Monticello. Of course, there are those annoying spent rods that have to be dealt with.

T. Boone Pickens seems to have a burr under his saddle about wind power. I would think it would be better to spend $3 trillion domestically on reducing of dependency on foreign oil by expanding options like wind, solar, geothermal, ethanol options. No to mention more fuel efficient engines for an expanding variety of hybrid cars.

There's a lot to think about, but it takes leadership to make it happen. Do you think either party has the political will to do the job? I think the Democrats do and will prove it when they take control of the Presidency, House and Senate this November.

Roadkill said...

Sunny,

I will never understand why you liberals keep floating the idea that the United States went into Iraq to get the oil. There were many reasons we toppled the Baathist regime, but getting at their oil was not one of them. We pay for every drop of oil we import from overseas, regardless of who is in power. We paid Saddam for his people’s oil just like we pay the Saudi royal family for the Saudi people’s oil. And just like we pay the Canadians for their oil and we pay Hugo Chavez for the oil of the Venezuelan people. Hitler and Tojo and Stalin stole oil from the counties that they conquered; the US never has.

Why ANWR you ask? Well, it’s much cheaper to get oil out from land based wells than sea based wells for one thing. Another reason is that the potential for spills is less when the operations are ashore. Finally, we know that there are huge reserves under ANWR, so the time and cost of finding it would be much less than that of exploring off the coasts.

I will concede this: while oil is a fungible commodity, and increasing the supply from any source would tend to satiate global demand, I don’t see any reason why we could not put some restrictions on where the “ANWR oil” is consumed. If we want to reserve it to be burned here instead of in Europe or Asia, I have no problem with that. It just means that we don’t have to import as much Mid-Eastern oil. That really would keep us less dependent on foreign oil. So sure, put restrictions on where it can be sold. But let’s get it to market now, increase world-wide supply, and reduce the price worldwide.

Just today I was listening to MPR (Morning Edition) and heard an interview with V.V. Chari, professor of economics at the University of Minnesota. He was asked what he thought of the theory that speculators were driving up the price of oil. He responded that oil is a commodity like any other, and that the futures market in oil was no different than any other futures market such as wheat, corn, or pork bellies. Asked what was responsible for the recent run-up in oil prices, he responded that there were three factors: high demand, restricted supply, and the weak dollar.

I agree that we need to continue pursuing new and/or alternative sources of energy. Sooner or later, a major breakthrough will occur and demand for oil will collapse; its not a question of if, but one of when. Nuclear is a good alternative right now, but work still needs to be done to make wind, solar, and geothermal competitive in the marketplace.

As for hybrid cars, I recently read this interesting analysis:

Say you have the ability to trade in a 10 MPG SUV for a 20 MPG crossover, or a 25 MPG car for a 50 MPG hybrid. Which switch is better for the environment? As it turns out, the former, even though one might be tempted to say that the former only improves efficiency by 10 MPG while the latter improves it by 25. Assume a 100 mile trip. The SUV will consume 10 gallons versus 5 gallons for the crossover for a net savings of 5 gallons. The car will consume 4 gallons versus 2 gallons for the hybrid for a net savings of 2 gallons.

So raising the MPG of gas-guzzlers is actually more fuel-conserving and environmentally-friendly that eking out more mileage from the more fuel-efficient cars that are already on the road.

As for which political party can better move us forward in this area, I say neither. The solutions to our energy problems can only come from the private sector, and that will happen regardless of who is running the government. I will say this: we will endure much less pain and economic hardship in the interim if conservatives are running the government that if we spend our tax money on the futile pipe-dreams of leftist social engineers.

Sunny B. said...

Roadkill, I'm a progressive not a liberal. I think it would truly be interesting to actually see a fundamental conservative in charge of the government. I can't think of one that has been in that position yet. Can you?

We get politicians labeled as "conservative" or "liberal," but what we get is watered-down, cartoon-cutouts of what they are supposed to be. It's like getting hot sauce in Minnesota v. Mexico. Mexicans would confuse Minnesota hot sauce with ketchup.

On ANWR, Alaska seems to be a pretty big place. There must be plenty of oil reserves underneath its surface. The anti-conservationists like to point out that ANWR is just a spec of fly poop in a sea of pepper. If that's the case, why not explore elsewhere. I think people like those in the Sierra Club who fight to protect wilderness, wildlife and the natural state of things are among the few true, long-range visionaries in the world today. They are looking ahead and trying to preserve the natural state. This doesn't set well with a mind set that wants to convert everything into cash and leave behind a pile of trash.

ANWR is one of those issues that I suspect the Sierra Club may eventually lose out on. But I hope they keep fighting the forward progress of the corporate mindset that is hell-bent on slowly reducing whets left of our wild America by nicks and cuts. In a way, it's like those people fighting for their guns rights and the pro-life and pro-choice people. That is the foundation of what our government stands for.

It's part of our birth right to fight for what we believe. When you fight for what you believe in, you will be fighting against others who don't believe in what you do. They will call you "gun nuts," "tree huggers," "baby killers," "religious fruitcakes," "futile pipe dreamers," "leftist social engineers," etc. They are grapes fighting not to be squished into the collect whine of mediocrity. I suppose that is why they are raisin their voices.

Sunny B. said...

...on the oil speculation v. corn, wheat, etc.

The only people who seem to be trying to seriously spin the price of oil being caused by speculators seem to be politicians and talk show radio hosts. Long ago and far away, I remember questioning one of my economics professor on how politics and economic theory interact in public policy. He said politics trumps economic theory all the time.

Of course, much of the wild speculation is based on the fact that we are over in the Middle East making war and threatening to make more war. Of course, the US isn't stealing oil from Iraq, but my guess is that French oil companies aren't getting the no-bid contracts to get the Iraqi oil fields pumping. To discount oil from the equation that caused us to make war on Iraq seems rather neo-conish to me. I suppse we did it because of the WMD or Iraqs roll in the 911 attacks...