Thursday, May 1, 2008

Friedman for President

It is not surprising that the most emailed article from yesterday’s New York Times, is Thomas Friedman’s “Dumb as We Wanna Be”

I’ve missed reading Friedman who just completed a sabbatical book-writing project that expands an article he wrote for the magazine section a year ago:
The book version, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution--and How It Can Renew America, will be published in August.

Why not start a write-in campaign to elect Friedman President? He always seems to have the right perspective on foreign policy and our economic and energy crisis. I also like his even-tempered demeanor. Someone once said you have to be crazy to want to be the President of the United States. Maybe that is the problem with a plan for his Presidency. Friedman is not crazy.

He calls Clinton and McCain’s proposal for a summer gas tax “holiday” political pandering (Amen) and a form of money laundering, borrowing from China, moving it to the oil producing nations, leaving a little in our gas tanks as the broker for the transaction, but also leaving our children with the debt. The analogy would be funny if it were not so sadly true.

But the rest of the article goes to the core of the problem, not having a game plan to achieve energy independence, and helping to repair our decaying environment along the way, something I’ve also ranted about:

The ongoing political shenanigans over this issue and the lack of a plan are enough to make me sick. I had thought our current administration was just too clueless to grasp the importance of leading our nation to energy independence through alternative solar, wind, and geothermal technologies. Imagine my shock at seeing Laura Bush recently conducting a TV tour of their home in Crawford, Texas, which is replete with geothermal heating and cooling and a system for capturing rainwater and household wastewater for irrigation. I would have expected this from Al Gore, but George Bush?

His public environmental policies are in direct contrast to what he has done in his own home. So it is not a question of not knowing better, it’s knowing better but not leading our country to a better place, an immoral travesty of the public trust. Where would we be today if we had thrown down the gauntlet at the beginning of his Presidency? By delaying a commitment to energy independence, we have made the goal even more difficult as we must now start with massive debt, and a devalued dollar.

Instead, we pour resources into ethanol with the unintended consequences of food shortages and burgeoning food prices. Sounds like a good plan, subsidize the farmers to buy seeds and fertilizer (at triple the cost vs. last year), squeeze out food crops and tax our water resources, buy oil for the energy needed to convert crops to ethanol (be sure to take on more debt to get that oil), and continue to watch fuel prices escalate in spite of increasing ethanol additives, while paying much more for all food staples (hoarding rice along the way).

Yesterday the Federal Reserve laughably said, “readings on core inflation have improved somewhat” (which excludes food and energy). Maybe it’s time we go back to the Consumer Price Index as a fairer measurement of inflation so government has to face the real facts.