Friday, May 09, 2008

Gas Guzzling

This whole idea of a gas-tax holiday is incredibly stupid.

Remember the rations of World War II? Remember reading about and viewing the call-to-sacrifice that the US asked of its patriotic citizens? Now, we're being told that gas is at an all-time high (well, the prices, obviously. The gas quantity itself... notsomuch), we should get some temporary relief. As if this period of gas gagging is just a little hump, like last year's was. Or the year before that. Or the one before that - dating to when gas was jumping up to 1.25 a gallon and we all thought we would die and that maybe our cars should start operating off of garbage like the DeLoreans of the future.

The problem is that there is only so much oil in the world. And instead of aggressively looking for solutions and cutting back our dependence on Big Gas, we buy up big SUV's, guzzle gas like we're pledging, buy at Wal-Mart like we need to, and demand for someone to relieve us a flipping 5% at the pump. It's not built to last.

What doesn't bother me is the Republican's pandering. You kind of expect that. What bothers me is Clinton's so-called response. She talked about her long-term plans as if they were gonna make a difference in about twenty years or so, but let's wait til later. Let's wait til we're after the point of necessity. It seems that she doesn't understand the severity of it. And worse, like one of Jack Nicholson's signature characters, she's sure that we can't handle the truth.

She does argue that her plan is different than, say, McCain's in that the gas companies will be taxed on their surplus of profits. Again, not ecologically sound. But, if that don't float your boat, so to say, take former Clinton staffer George's account...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Economists say that's not going to happen. They say this is going to go straight into the profits of the oil companies. They're not going to actually lower their prices. And the two top leaders in the House are against it. Nearly every editorial board and economist in the country has come out against it. Even a supporter of yours, Paul Krugman of The New York Times, calls it pointless and disappointing.

Can you name one economist, a credible economist who supports the suspension?

CLINTON: Well, you know, George, I think we've been for the last seven years seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion basically behind policies that haven't worked well for the middle class and hard-working Americans.

So, what I hear you saying, Senator, is that the current administration got us into this hell-hole because they listened to experts, and not because they're bull-headed ideologues who would not take suggestions from experts - and oftentimes would deliberately remove them from influence. Gosh, thanks for clearing that one up.

CLINTON: From the moment I started this campaign, I've said that I am absolutely determined that we're going to reverse the trends that have been going on in our government and in our political system, because what I have seen is that the rich have gotten richer. A vast majority -- I think something like 90 percent -- of the wealth gains over the last seven years have gone to the top 10 percent of wage earners in America.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But can you name an economist who thinks this makes sense?

CLINTON: Well, I'll tell you what, I'm not going to put my lot in with economists, because I know if we get it right, if we actually did it right, if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively.

Now, look, I have long-term plans too. I mean, it's a misnomer to say this is all that I'm doing. It's not. I have a comprehensive long-term energy plan that would go right at dependence on foreign oil. We've got to undermine this incredible addiction that we have. We use more foreign oil today than we did on 9/11. That is a disaster for America.

So, the solution is to use more, nationally-found gas? To once again destroy our land to find enough gas to last a few months? To hold off on attempting anything substantial now in an effort to attempt everything at once at a later yet-to-be-determined-time and then hope that nothing goes to pot at the 11 1/2 hour? To plan for the future by ignoring the nearly-present right now?


It reminds me of a scene from The Simpsons Movie, where President Arnold Schwarzenegger has to choose between five harrowing, life-altering scenarios, all laid out for him in manuscript form. The man who presents the options asks him, as President Arnold places his finger on the middle one, if he would at least peruse the options. The President says, "The American people voted for a leader, not a reader."

I had no idea that would be a description for a progressive presidential candidate this year. I thought that was the area for the neocons.

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