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Works and Days

The Moral Left

May 11th, 2007 - 9:50 am

A World Away From Laurie David, Sheryl Crow, and Al Gore

Those Good, High Gas Prices? Makes us conserve? Ushers in the age of alternate fuels?

There are some foolish things being written about the positives of the very real possibility that gas might reach $4 a gallon by mid-summer—or at least in some high-demand states like here in California (that suffers the double whammy of expensive refinery requirements, and opposes most material investment (reactors, refineries, pipelines, coastal drilling, new highways, new damns, etc) that contributes to preservation of the state’s elite yuppie lifestyle.)

I was reading two such columns that were happy about the increased prices the other day—right before filling up in rural California. I collated the eight cars in the service station. There were four large 1980s pickups,—Dodge Rams, Fords, and one Toyota—two old Crown Vic-type gas guzzlers, and two used vans.

All except me and one very poor looking white blue-collar painter in one of the pickups (I gathered that from the sprayer that seemed to have splattered his truck as much as what he works on), were Mexican aliens (no English) or Mexican-Americans. I would imagine (I talked to only two) other than the one housewife with four kids they were carpenters and landscape people filling up early (6 AM) on their way to work in Fresno.

Shame on you, esay, for not driving a Prius!

None of these vehicles could have gotten much more than 10 or 15 miles per gallon, given their size and age. Most of these commuters live in rural Selma or Sanger and must drive 50-60 miles to work and back each day.

None of their gear I think would fit into a smaller truck. Or at least they had made the decision to buy a used clunker with size ($2-5000) rather than a newer, fuel efficient light truck ($20-25,000). The result is that at an extra buck-fifty, they might possibly pay as much as an extra $10 per day or $50 per week. I am not convinced in the short term that extra wages or payments will cover their additional expenses.

I say all this for three simple reasons: (1) there are, of course, some benefits from high gas prices if it discourages consumption. But it would be far better to “achieve” (if that is what some want) $4 a gallon through taxes, rather than paying unstable regimes petrol bounties.

(2) The carbon footprint and energy consumption of those that I saw at the gas station are far less than those of an Al Gore, Laurie David, or Sheryl Crow—or most who preach about the benefits of high gas. I would wager that none of the eight drivers lives in a house much more than 1200 square feet. None has ever been on a corporate jet (400 gallons an hour), or fly transcontinentally.

(3) I grant that such elites mean well and that their activism may pressure some corporate bogeyman to insist on new technologies and more efficient engines. But in the meantime, I think the carbon-footprint movement and the alternate energy group are largely out of touch with most Americans, who unlike Europeans live in a large, wide-open country that in other respects is far more industrious and efficient than Europe.

These workers belong to no European-style union, operate under no 35-hour work week protocols, enjoy no lifetime employment. They are the world’s most industrious laborers and we should be upset that high gas falls upon them inordinately.

As Americans we should all take a pledge: that we promise to use one toilet paper square, to turn up the thermostat to 75 degrees this summer, and to borrow to buy a Prius, when Al Gore and John Edwards move back down to, say, 3,000 square feet, when Sheryl Crow vows never to ride in a private jet, and when Ms. David promises to stay away from energy-burning commercial jets to Europe.

Right now I worry more about how Hector Rosales is going to pay the extra cost for his 1983 Ford 150 to get to north Fresno to mow lawns than Laurie David Gulfstreaming to her Martha Vineyard’s second home, while on break from her LA enclave.

I, President-elect Hillary!

When inaugurated as your 44th President, I will usher in a new era in American foreign policy, where I listen and work with our allies. Therefore, I will urge the Europeans to increase their support for Nato operations in Afghanistan, as part of our new multilateral alliance. It’s time we quit telling them no, when they want to help. As part of this new attitude of compromise, I also look forward for European and United Nations initiatives about the stubborn problem of Iran’s possible nuclear proliferation. It is a moment not to lose, and we must allow the Europeans to become full-fledged partners with the United States; the days of shunning and discouraging their efforts to show us the way in Afghanistan and with Iran are over.

After we withdraw from the quagmire of Iraq, we look forward to working again with the governments in Baghdad, Mosul, and Basra that will emerge to manage their own affairs. The demonization of Iran and Syria is over, and it is critical that we enter into a serious dialogue with both, without either preconditions or prejudices, to hear their novel and constructive ideas about regional stability.

I have said often that it was intolerable that George Bush took his eye off al Qaeda in Afghanistan when he went into Iraq; therefore, after seven years of a free pass, it is time to redirect our attention back to bin Laden and bring him to justice. Now with all our resources properly devoted to Afghanistan, I will apprise President Musharref that either his government delivers al Qaeda kingpins to US forces in Afghanistan or we will begin hot pursuit into nuclear Pakistan, by land and air, to apprehend him.

It is time to repeal the Patriot Act, shut down Guantanamo, stop the intercepts of phone calls, and cease making the war on terrorists more dangerous to our lives than the terrorists themselves.

In addition, for too long we have pressured our allies in Europe and our former friends in Russia with unilateral efforts at missile defense, a system that is unproven and provocative. Let’s stop this billion-dollar fiasco, get back on track with our partners, and quit making enemies out of former friends.

Finally, American foreign policy has always been bipartisan and disagreements about it should stop at our shores. We are tired of the opposition party always by rote blocking an administration’s initiatives’ simply for the sake of gaining political power and leverage. The notion of proposed cut-offs, filibusters, private freelancing diplomacy with foreign heads of state—all that only divides us as a nation. I didn’t like it in the past, and won’t tolerate it in the future. We need to speak as one nation, and the President must remain that one decider in the conduct of our external relations.


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