Sunday, February 13, 2005
By adamantly refusing to do anything to improve energy conservation in America, or to phase in a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax on American drivers, or to demand increased mileage from Detroit's automakers, or to develop a crash program for renewable sources of energy, the Bush team is - as others have noted - financing both sides of the war on terrorism. We are financing the U.S. armed forces with our tax dollars, and, through our profligate use of energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where the cash is used to insulate the regimes from any pressure to open up their economies, liberate their women or modernize their schools, and where it ends up instead financing madrassas, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agenda America is trying to promote. Now how smart is that?Friedman makes a lot of sense.
The neocon strategy may have been necessary to trigger reform in Iraq and the wider Arab world, but it will not be sufficient unless it is followed up by what I call a "geo-green" strategy.
As a geo-green, I believe that combining environmentalism and geopolitics is the most moral and realistic strategy the U.S. could pursue today. Imagine if President Bush used his bully pulpit and political capital to focus the nation on sharply lowering energy consumption and embracing a gasoline tax.
For about ten years, I've watched the roads fill up with gigantic Suburbans, Expeditions, and Hummers. Most of them have one or two people in them. Almost nobody has the third row of seats up. They could fit what they are carrying into a sedan. Obviously nobody needs a Suburban or a Hummer if they are only driving themselves to work at an office. What is the attraction? "Safety" is the answer from the people in the gigantic SUVs. Yes, they are safe. When a SUV collides with a compact car those in the SUV are safe. On the other hand the compact's driver and passengers are dead. So SUVs are safe, if you don't mind causing the deaths of innocent others in an accident in order to attain your own safety.
The downside of gigantic SUVs is gas mileage. Until the last year, in the previous 20 years real gas prices in the USA have been going down. As it got continually cheaper to buy gas, there was less disincentive to buy a gigantic, enormous SUV. Coupled with the child seat laws that forced families with more than two children to buy either vans or SUVs (since two child seats are the limit for one back seat), it caused an explosion in SUV sales.
But in the last year, I have seen many of my coworkers and friends, who were driving everywhere in their SUV only a year ago, sell the SUV and buy something with better gas mileage. They have long commutes, and fill up every other day. They just couldn't afford to buy $400 worth of gas every month. Something had to change. So they sold the big monster and bought something more economical. Only a change that hit them in the pocket convinced them to reduce their fuel consumption.
Angry about what the Saudi's do with the money we give them for their oil? Upset at the fascist, jihadist rhetoric coming out of their state-sponsored mosques and printing offices? Stop giving them so damn much money to subsidize their evil habits.
Up with nuclear power. Down with Hummers. Up with wind, hydraulic, and geothermal energy. Down with Suburbans. Up with hybrid vehicles. Up with motorcycles. Up with bicycles. Up with light controls tied to access controls or motion detectors in office buildings. Down with stupid, endless budget allocations for more petroleum bought from more bloodsucking, fascist dictators.
Don't buy so damn much gas!
Starve the bloodsuckers out!