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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The President is Talking about the Wrong Crisis

Gasoline has reached $3 a gallon on the West Coast—about ten years behind European prices. Is $3 a gallon high enough a price for consumers to figure into their new car buying equation? Is $3 a gallon enough for Americans to realize that there is an actual finite supply of oil on this planet and that as supplies dwindle the price will increase drastically to economy-wrecking highs? Is $3 a gallon high enough for our government to begin to think about a strategic approach to consumption or will we continue to throw ourselves into the abyss?

I’m no oil industry analyst but I can do simple arithmetic. I understand that three bucks is a buck more than the two bucks we paid last summer for a gallon of gas. Will we pay four bucks next summer? How soon will it be before we start paying five? Do I hear six?

Perhaps we need to face a crisis in this country to wake us up from our neo-con fantasy we have been hearing for the past ten years. The voices of the far right screamed that 9/11 was a crisis for this nation. We were commanded to be afraid. We were told that war was the only way to insure our survival as a nation. It is pathetic even to think about the staggering amount of money we have since spent on “security.” Do I also need to mention that over 1,500 American soldiers have died on our quest for security? How secure is a nation that is experiencing annual 50% fuel hikes?

$3 a gallon represents an almost 50% increase in gasoline prices over the past year. Think of that increase as a tax, an extremely regressive tax. Most of Bush’s tax cuts were for the very wealthiest tier of the American economy. This new gas tax represents a higher percentage of your income the less you make.

About the only energy idea that Bush has brought to the table in his presidency is that we should drill for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. Most experts agree that this will only yield about 3% of national needs and it won’t be flowing for over a decade. This is like having Bush invite us to an expensive restaurant and when the bill arrives he only forks up a few bucks towards the tip.

Our president has been on a tireless whistle stop tour of the country warning us about the coming crisis in social security. If only our energy problems were as simple to fix as social security. A very modest tax increase would be enough to insure the safety of the social security program as we know it, one of the greatest entitlement programs this country has ever implemented. Social Security has insured a dignified retirement for over two generations of American workers. Most economists don’t believe the program is in crisis.

What if we were told that our social security taxes would increase 50% in a single year as did our gas prices? Why isn’t our president touring the country warning us of the existing energy crisis? I think a one year, 50% increase in fuel prices is a crisis. If asked, the president would probably say that is the way the free market cookie crumbles. Nothing we can do about it.

Social Security isn’t in bad shape. Even if we do raise taxes the program is extremely efficient to administer (less than 1% of its revenue is used for administration). Everything that is paid out goes directly to Americans. Most recipients spend all of their social security income which channels it directly back into the economy. Where is all of that $3 a gallon going? I’m thinking a lot is going towards private jets for Saudi princes.

Once again liberals in America have let the extreme right corporate wing dictate what is being discussed in the political arena. If our energy policy in this country were as functional as our social security system we’d be in pretty good shape. We aren’t in good shape.

From the comments:

Fellow Seattleite, I know you well and like your brightly lit site that expounds the native party line so well.

I'd be interested to know why 9/11 was not a fearsome event for you? Just one of those things. One of those things right wing fanatics love to trump up in order to instill fear in the voting population. You, of course, can handle any numbe of 9/11s, you can handle one per week and still not feel threatened - oh, I forgot, because the real enemy is Bush.

From your photos you look young and buffed. Why not cut all the Seattle bullshit and join the marines and go to Iraq?
Cheers, Seattle cub.

-- das
-- # Apr 23 2005, 08:25 pm

I don't think Bush is the enemy.

The enemy is the arrogance and faux patriotism with which people like you, members of the Pope Bush and his neocon cult, carries itself.

"The Left" is not some grand anti-American conspiracy or even a remotely organized opposition to anything except ignorance and the tyranny of the mob that promotes such virulent nationalism and mob-rule populism like the Bush cult.

The question isn't who the hell are we, the question is, who the hell are you to sneer and deride criticism so flippantly--any criticism that is anything remotely antithetical to your cult’s party line--and expect to be taken seriously?

Not once in your comments above did you even try to address the substance of Leftie's essay, but instead attacked him with knee-jerk ad hominems (none of which are even close to the truth) and condescension in a manner I find repugnant and childish.

What kind of dialogue (if you even want one) do you expect to open by using such vitriol and almost abusive language except to bully the opposition?

Wow. That makes your ilk such "great" debaters of American democratic ideals, the central one being the idea that the primacy of one faction or ideology over the other is destructive and anti-democratic. I don't think "The Left" as you call it even has a grand ethos or ideology except to protect the rights of the minority from the mob.

And if this left-wing guiding ethos is somehow repugnant to you, why bother calling yourself an American? Obviously you don't understand our principles of tolerence, compromise, and egalitarianism.

I don't hate Bush or Republicans or conservatives, nor are they my enemy. Their ideas and attitudes, however, are certainly not appealing to me.

Oh, and I served in the Army for eight years and agree 100% with Leftie's sentiment. What does that make me, a traitor? YOUR enemy?

Spare us all the arrogance of such misguided patriotism and ideology, pal.

-- mat
-- # Apr 23 2005, 10:01 pm

Well, now that we've blown the powder off each other's noses we can have something like a conversation.

Christ, I love your idealism that sees conservative thought as fanatical or extreme; it is cuddly and downright loveable. It sure isn't dangerous or risky - to call Bush Pope and his supporters cultists; it is just so doggone charming - I mean your verbal radicalism is all taking place in a vacuume - what is not permitted you in America? Do something really risky. Protest to the extent that it costs you something; then I will listen and not just smile my superior smile at the cookie cutter Seattle-shaped smile button that seems to epitomise your thinking.

I am sorry, not quite sure which writer I am addressing, but, I do celebrate and honor your military service much much more than your posted thoughts which I hope, as aforesaid, break out a bit from the Seattle mold.
Cheerio. Das.

-- das
-- # Apr 24 2005, 01:46 am

Well, now that we've blown the powder off each other's noses we can have something like a conversation.

I don't think so. Your first comment was so impolite and filled with arrogant bluster, what's the point? You're not the type to listen. You probably love the sound of your own voice too much for that. You have all the answers and your cause is so pure, you don't even think we--liberal leftie traitors we are--have anything to add to your already closed world and mind.

Christ, I love your idealism that sees conservative thought as fanatical or extreme...

No, I see neoconservatism (conservatism's angry and vicious grandchild) as promoting a dangerous sort of nationalism and populism that does harm to our republic. I see a bunch of neoconservative punks screaming for war but who fail to serve their cause with nothing more than a raised fist and empty words. I see a right-wing, Chicken Little hysteria over 9/11 that greatly exceeds the real threats we face. You have a better chance of dying in a car accident than in a terrorist attack, so are you waging war on automobiles too? I read a couple of your blog entries, and you DO seem to use the paranoia and Armageddon hysteria of religious cults. "A large Dark Bird sails over the earth and his name is Nihilism." Or this gem: "Meantime the bird circles the globe and we expect him to alight here or there any day now." Hooo doggies, hide the sharp knives at your house, please, das.

Do something really risky. Protest to the extent that it costs you something...

No offense, Mr. Superior American, but I did do something risky for my idealism, I joined the US Army when I was 19 and served until I was 27. Me, a liberal then as now, sacrificing 8 years of freedom to serve my country and democracy and all it stands for. That's pretty risky, don't you think? What have YOU done? Why not dazzle us with your tales of national service to the "cause." Or are you another justification by faith "patriot" who thinks, "Well, national service is voluntary, and well, your life had other priorities." Or am I wrong?

I do celebrate and honor your military service much more than your posted thoughts...

I am not asking you to honor or celebrate anything. Do you think I hold my breath awaiting praise from narrow-minded, know-it-all blowhards like you? I served my country for me, not you, nor anyone else.

Please go crawl back into your bomb shelter under your house and await Armageddon while the rest of us enjoy this beautiful world. I am not afraid and I pity anyone who lives with such fear and pessimism.

-- mat
-- # Apr 25 2005, 12:31 am


From a look at your blog I can see that you keep busy defending America from the All Dark Meat Chicken of Nihilism and crack-pot nobodies like Ward Churchill. Now you have taken it upon yourself to venture out and focus your scathing vituperation on lowly draft-dodging “Seattleites” (an odd pejorative) like yours truly here at leftbanker.

You must know something the members of the 9/11 commission didn’t when you skipped from a reference to that terrorist attack to exhorting me to join the Marines and go fight in Iraq. Perhaps you feel that you serve your country better not by enlisting yourself, but by urging others to fight. By the way, I’ve already done my military service. What was your unit?


-- Management
-- # Apr 25 2005, 01:53 am

I've got site feed problems here and I can't post. Smoke if you got'em.

-- leftbanker
-- # Apr 29 2005, 08:36 pm

I am an Army Recruiter. Why don't you leave me your phone number and I will arrange for you to process for the Army. I can arrange for you to be in a front line unit and you can go help your brothers in arms in Iraq, a war you are so quick to defend. It's your move: patriot or chickenhawk.

-- Mike
-- # Apr 30 2005, 12:00 am

Just walk everywhere like I do. 450 miles so far!!!

-- Catch-23
-- # May 06 2005, 01:34 am

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