As I've said before, Bush, I have enough European blood left in my veins to have a slightly different take on the rising cost of gas than most of my American friends. I note from this morning's news that the French, the Italians, the Germans and the Brits--and probably most others on that continent--are paying $5 or $6 or more for a gallon, nearly twice as much as we do over here. I would have little sympathy for the whine, then, were it not for the unconscionable, shameless profits posted by the oil companies even as the prices escalate.
That said, there's a wider perspective here that needs to be taken into consideration. First, there's the record of fifty years or more since geologists and others started warning anyone who would listen about the depletion of the world's oil resources. No one listened. We were all too busy focusing on "growth" and "progress." You'd think there might be some small sign of an adult sense of responsibility, but no, we all acted like a bunch of unruly children without a thought as to the consequences of our actions. The conservative approach, particularly, with its blind faith in market forces and supply side economics, remained obstinately opposed to conservation, and you and your friends in the oil industry were having too much fun raking in the profits of today to worry at all about tomorrow.
Well, tomorrow's here. It's time, as they like to say, to pay the piper. Our own growing demand for gas and other oil products here in the United States is compounded immensely by the growing needs of rapidly developing countries, and the limits to the earth's resources have become painfully clear. The lack of any significant preparation for this moment, despite those early warnings, has left us with little more than the almost pointless, almost negligeable steps that you proposed yesterday. Even then, I suspect you proposed them more out of political necessity, with an eye to the November elections and what seems like the only remaining Republican principle: hold on to power at all costs. I assume you're hoping that a quick band-aid will distract the attention of the electorate for long enough to assure another victory for your party.
I say the party's over. I say the issue can no longer be glossed over with quick fixes and vague promises. I say your still rather puny steps toward conservation and the development of alternative energy sources are nowhere near what's called for in this current global crisis. I've said this before, too: if you want to rescue what's left of your presidency from the stinking sewer pipes of history, you'll pull your head out of the oil well right now, you'll remove your hand from the pocket of the industry and denounce the thoughtlessness and greed that have brought us to this pitch. You'll bring together the brightest minds in the world to develop an energy policy that's grand enough in scope to address the future of the planet, not just the interests of the industry or this country. You'll devise a sensible system of tax incentives--and, yes, penalties--and divert some of the good money that goes down the military drain (think Star Wars!) to pay the tab. You'll reorient your "War on Terrorism" to fit appropriately into the larger scheme of which it is already no more than a part. And you'll speak loud and clear to the world about America's intention to be part of the solution.
If you fail to do this, Bush, I very much fear for the future of our world. I foresee more resource wars--isn't that what Iraq is about? Be honest--as the needs of countries like India and China exceed their ability to provide. You still have a very great opportunity to do good things in the world now, Bush, if you can only change your mind. The whole world begs you not to blow it.