The Preamble; Fix it or Nix It?

Transportation Without Petroleum or Biofuels

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.

At present, oil saturates the Gulf Stream.  An official six-month cessation of permits for new drilling did not actually affect the industry or government decisions.  Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead.  To explain such an authorization and waiver, the Department of the Interior and the Minerals Management Services Division which regulates drilling, pointed to public statements by Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar.  He did not intend to forbid all first cuts in the Earth’s crust.  Absolutely not.  The Federal Government approved wells off the coast of Louisiana in June. Regardless of the day, or realities that are anathema to our citizenry, little has truly changed.  Today, just as in yesteryear, we, the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect Union, polish policies to appear as though our civilization would wish to protect and defend all beings, equally.  

In an earlier era, and now, the electorate embraces practices that establish justice, while we unreasonably raze the planet.  As a devoted citizenry, we insure domestic tranquility through appeasement. Furthermore, for the sake of homeland harmony, we adopt practices that encourage petroleum production, excessive oil and coal profits, whilst we also rob crops of their inherent dignity.  We, the countrymen, commit to the promise that we will provide for the common defense. In accordance with the demands of the public, policymakers further endorse perilous practices.  

These pursuits are realized in the form of perpetual war.  Blood for oil, minerals, or any resource that makes more money for the few, is what we, believe brings security to the native soil.   Our energy plans, or was it the profound Preamble to the United States Constitution, afforded us world prominence.  Globally, America is seen as powerful, so much so other countries chose to emulate us.  

Our governance and Preamble now belong to many a proud nation.  Collectively, in this country and the next, people clamor, “We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”

Over the years, there have been many opportunities to consider our constitution, our commitment to country, and our love of power.  Before this country was born, we could have seized on the chance to harness energy in a way that did not cause harm.  In 1766, British Scientist Henry Cavendish identified the energetic element, hydrogen.  By 1838, Swiss Chemist Christian Friedrich Schoenbein stumbled upon the “fuel cell.”  Only seven years later, Sir William Grove, an English Scientist and Judge, demonstrated the practicality of the discovery.  Mister Grove created a “gas battery.”  For this feat, he acquired the title “Father of the Fuel Cell.”

Most recall the Franklin kite experiment, which, while not the first appearance of an electrical consciousness certainly was one that gave us a jolt.  That event occurred in 1752.  Then, people began to realize that electricity, not produced from coal or dependent on fossil fuels, could make a meaningful difference in the society.  Initially, there were struggles.  Some people were afraid of an incomprehensible current.  A few did not wish to succumb to a change in lifestyle.  Convenience at a nominal cost convinced the citizenry to change their conventional ways, and of course, modify the meaning of the Constitution.

By 1769, with the advent of the first automobile, people began to ponder inexpensive means for mobility.  The invention of engines and the Industrial Revolution completed the conversion. Steamships and steam-powered railroads became the foremost forms of transportation.  These vessels used coal to fuel their boilers. Still, it was not until the 1880s that “coal was first used to generate electricity for homes and factories.”  Since then, there seemed no desire to turn back.  Way back when, our constitution, or at least the Preamble as practiced today, was set in stone.  

Give it to us cheap and dirty is the American credo.  We guzzle gas, burn through barrels of oil, and belch out endorsements for big businesses that earn billions on our backs.  Americans strip the countryside in search of more and more coal.  We savage the seas and shores whilst we annihilate all the creatures dependent on these.  Indeed, we ignore that we too are reliant on the chain of life to survive.  We disregard what science teaches us; each species and specimen plays a part in the planet’s endurance.  Instead, we loudly state, “We the people commit to cheap fossil fuels and biomass consumption that we have become accustomed to.”  Damn the damage to the planet, and ultimately to humans and all other populations.  We travel on, full speed ahead!

As the Gulf Bay puncture wound bleeds, present and former Governors, Jurists, and citizens clamor, Drill Baby Drill!  In June 2020, be it in Alaska, in the Gulf, anywhere, almost anywhere, regardless of known risks, we are ready!  We want our fix.  Fossil fuels and biomass flow through our blood.  Petroleum, or the reliance on this and other hazardous forms of energy, run our boats, cars, trains, planes, and our lives.  Even if a pipe, mineshaft, or the food chain are broken, the people say, Let it be!”

“Fix It or Nix It” defines the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity campaign. This statement is not an endorsement for renewable energy policies. Nor does it address the altered Preamble, No. This group does advocate for further advancements in fossil fuel usage.“ACCCE.cannot support the Kerry-Lieberman draft bill.”  This all-“powerful” organization considers these two Senators dissenters, or their proposed legislation a threat to the American way.  Reflective of past policies and practices, those who rebel are often forced into submission.  Popular opinion can suppress opposition.

Peers, polls, any pressure, can sway the people.  Promotional pieces are abundantly persuasive.  Ample advertisements feed the public and influence actions. Perhaps this explains why millions of people are easily fooled, or more likely just want to believe as we all do, that what we do now is wise.  

Factoids from associations such as the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity offer us food for thought.  Statements that support what we yearn for speak to our heart, head, and soul. These satisfy the American appetite for energy and satiate the anthem.  “We the people commit to inexpensive energy and welcome any reassurance that all is well, just as it is.”  

  • Coal costs less than any other major fossil fuel source.
  • According to an electric power industry journal, 23 of the 25 power plants in the U.S. that have the lowest operating costs (and therefore provide power to their consumers at the lowest prices) are powered by coal.
  • Thanks, in part, to $90 billion invested in new technologies, the environmental footprint of coal-based electricity generation has been significantly reduced.
  • Since 1970, the use of coal to generate electricity in the U.S. has nearly tripled in response to growing electricity demand.
  • Using coal to generate electricity is less than a 1/3 of the cost of other fuels.

Corporations that profit from the use of coal, petroleum, and biomass fuels flood the airwaves with anti alternative and renewable energy oratory.  Lobbyists and Legislators who like the status quo are also hard at work.

Commentaries, commercials, Congressional concessions, and common clichés do not negate the reality that whenever we invest in naturally replenished resources, environmentally friendly green energy, we ultimately provide jobs, as well as preserve the planet.  Research abounds.  studies confirm.  Pew Charitable Trusts asserts Clean Energy Economy Generates Significant Job Growth.

Nonetheless, the well-established Preamble persists.  We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”  Nations that did not accept our programs, sooner or later, were “willingly” brought into the fold. Money and might can move mountains, petroleum fields, and large quantities of botanical mass. Indeed, the production and use of any fossil fuel is encouraged.  Promised earnings offer a profound argument to dissenters.  

Some followers of the more modern Preamble, an altered petroleum policy, were brought onboard reluctantly. The bid for biofuels proved profitable.  Influential Advisors and Advertisers offered a rationalization. Plants can be grown.  Vegetation is renewable.  This thought removed a sense of guilt.  The public purchased the argument.  For most ethanol is envisioned as euphoria.

Some were less relieved by this opportune “reality.”  However, in time, they too do as the devotees do.  They drive hither and yon.  Petroleum and plants fill their gas tanks.  These persons call themselves environmentalists.  Yet, they know that they too, myself among them, consume gargantuan quantities of fossil fuels and biomass energy. To participate in present day life, we, the people, must pump petro and pledge allegiance to the American way, or else . . . For the sake of convenience, expediency, pragmatism and the Preamble, in a Twenty-First century culture, even conservationists surrender.  

Perchance, as gas and oil fill the Gulf Stream, and travel North, South, East and West, as microbes, mammals, and all other creatures in its path perish, we, the people, will think it is time to reflect.  Let us ponder our proud past.  Perhaps, through the plumes, we will unearth what the petroleum, coal, and biofuels Preamble has hidden, the history of hydrogen and how we abandoned this truly renewable and reliable source of energy.  

1920s German engineer, Rudolf Erren, converted the internal combustion engines of trucks, buses, and submarines to use hydrogen or hydrogen mixtures. British scientist and Marxist writer, J.B.S. Haldane, introduced the concept of renewable hydrogen in his paper Science and the Future by proposing that “there will be great power stations where during windy weather the surplus power will be used for the electrolytic decomposition of water into oxygen and hydrogen.”

1937 After ten successful trans-Atlantic flights from Germany to the United States, the Hindenburg, a dirigible inflated with hydrogen gas, crashed upon landing in Lake- wood, New Jersey. The mystery of the crash was solved in 1997. A study concluded that the explosion was not due to the hydrogen gas, but rather to a weather-related static electric discharge which ignited the airships’ silver-colored, canvas exterior covering…

1958 The United States formed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s space program currently uses the most liquid hydrogen worldwide, primarily for rocket propulsion and as a fuel for fuel cells.

It would seem that we, the people, could have endowed and empowered the energy that was first recognized before our forefathers penned what was the United States Constitution.  We might realize that great strides have been made in endlessly renewable hydrogen energy.  However, we, the people, never stopped to consider what we accepted as our manifest destiny.   What we defined as divine intervention or intervention by design was our chosen well-deserved deliverance.  As independent Americans, free spirits, mavericks, we would not be bound by physical boundaries.  Petroleum, coal, and biofuels, we decided, would set us free.  We would drive as if we were driven, deliberately.  

We did. Whilst barrels of oil flood from the ocean floor, we still do.  Nary a person proclaims; it is time to stop the madness, completely.  Hardly an American truly thinks he or she will reinstate the Preamble in its original form.  No, the “better life” has been fashioned. Yet, in Louisiana and elsewhere in the South there is reason to question what had been our truth. “We the people commit to fossil fuels and biomass consumption.”

Possibly, now we will acknowledge belatedly, the better question would have been why did we rely on reports released by the International Oil Spill Conference.,  This organization offers studies sponsored by those who are the worst offenders, who are most dependent on petroleum, and who gain greater power and prowess when oil flows. After the fact, will we abandon the Advisors who brought us our present burdens, our blunders, and our oddly converted Preamble?

Will humans resume operations and disregard reality?  Will we proceed on a false premise that biomass is the better source for fuel? Will we look beyond the boundaries of our desires or will humans, not BP, Exxon, the company of your choice, nay the Governments of, the United States, Britain, Nigeria, or . . . rape the land, place food in the mouths of machines rather than man?  Might we finally admit, that we need not concede to consumption, crave petroleum products, and biofuels?  Will we choose to see that people, and the planet, will not survive if we rely on what has been our folly, our friend, and our funeral march, our converted constitution, and a corrupted Preamble?   Only we can decide.  Fix it or Nix it?  Perhaps, we must do both.

Written with thanks to By Larry Hartweg Zero Energy Design® for a visual presentation that inspires and investigates, Transportation Without Petroleum or Biofuels

Full of Gas

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

People may wish that the fuel tanks on the automobile they drive were full of gas.  Yet, recently, due to the rising price of petroleum, many crude containers are empty.  American citizens feel the crunch, the energy, and economic crunch.  They have cried.  They clamored.  The public craves attention for what they think is issue number one, the cost of Texas Tea, Alaskan oil, and fossil fuels from foreign sources.  John McCain hears the call.  His Vice Presidential pick, Sarah Palin feels the pain of the poor persons, of all Americans, who scream for relief at the pump.  Even Barack Obama has proposed a compromise on a previously held position.

Politicians, sensitive to the pleas hope to provide more petroleum to the people of the United States.  They offer plan after plan.  Nuclear power will ease the pain at the pump.  Offshore oil drilling will end a dependence on oil from overseas.  Each energy initiative is an attempt to appease an anxious electorate.

What is not said is that fission produces electricity.  It does not drive our cars.  Domestic resources for electrical power are abundant.  The supply Americans rely on could be cleaner; however, that topic will wait for another time and treatise.  

Today, while the evidence suggests, Americans will not reap an instantaneous reprieve from the crude crisis, or any real relief at all if the Outer Continental Shelf is probed for petroleum, the public, politicians, and the press continue to focus on what each hopes is the cherished find.  None seem to reflect upon the fragile balance of Mother Earth.

As the cost of oil climbs and affordable creature comforts fall from view, the environment has become less of a consideration.  Americans who grapple with what is of greater importance to them, economics, or the cash that helps create a cozy lifestyle conclude consumption is preferred to conservation.  

Perchance that is why the press is able to alter the conversation.

To care for the planet’s preservation seems beyond the scope of human nature.  Indeed, to think that a single human might affect the milieu seems silly to those who are besieged with the business of everyday survival.  People claim to have bigger problems.  

Can they pay for health care.  Might someone find a cure for a husband’s cancer.  Will employers ship jobs overseas?  Could a son or daughter be called off to war?  The mortgage payment is due and there is no money in the bank.  Foreclosure may be unavoidable.  In the United States, there is much angst.  The ecosystem  and its balance are the least of the average citizens’ worries.

Daily deeds are the priority.  Most activities involve an automobile.  In this industrialized nation, people are expected to drive to school, to work, to the mall, and to town hall.  Once of age, individuals steer to the store.  They visit those they adore.  Most every movement is made from within a vehicle.  The American people pride themselves on their mobility.  

For more than a century fuel was cheap and the possibility for travel endless.  Thus, today, people ask why did this change.  Most Americans are certain ethanol need not be so expensive.  They care not of the climate crisis.  They are convinced such a conjecture is but a hoax.

The press promotes the view politicians control the cost of petrol.  The public is persuaded.  Polls pass for “demonstrable facts.”  Then, the media draws an artificial analogy.  The message is massaged.

David Fiderer, a Huffington Post Journalist, and an Energy Banker, explains;, the media manages the gaseous discussion.  Correspondents carry the communication as calculated.  Science is not stressed in the search for solutions to the propulsion problem.  Minds are maneuvered to the advantage of a political Party.  The press is the source of a less than productive  discussion of the energy policy.  Might Americans inquire, who manipulates the media or owns the message.

In an American Public Radio broadcast of On the Media, aired August 29, 2008, this expert on the effect of energy economics helps to provide perspective.  

Please listen to David Fiderer as he opens a window into the world of fuel and finances.

Dear reader, you may also wish to read the article the author, David Fiderer, refers to . . .

Energy for Dummies: The GOP’s Secret Weapon Is A Clueless Media, By David Fiderer.  Huffington Post. August 25, 2008

Resources Refined . . .

A Cruel Shell, BP and ExxonMobil Game

The Natural Resources Defense Council asks those of us who care about our Mother Earth to contribute to a worthy cause, a plea to the people for a clean environment.  Perchance, we can help advance the message.

Help Expose Bush’s Big Lie and Save Our Coasts!

Please help run this powerful new ad in The Washington Post and turn the tide in Congress against legislation that would sacrifice our fragile coasts to Big Oil and the threat of catastrophic spills.


With our economy sinking and oil prices soaring, George Bush is offering snake oil: a plan to sacrifice more of our coasts to oil drilling on the chance it will produce a few weeks’ worth of oil and reduce gas prices by a few pennies a gallon…in 2028. Imagine America forever tethered to Bush’s failed energy policy. It’s like giving him five more terms.

It’s a cruel Shell game.  And BP game.  And ExxonMobil game.

Over the past five years, the number of domestic drilling permits has nearly doubled. But because of rising worldwide demand, oil prices have skyrocketed. More drilling off our coasts is not the answer. Once destroyed they can never be replaced. The only winners will be the oil companies.

Want gas at $1 a gallon?

America needs a bold new approach to energy, from more fuel efficient vehicles to plug-in hybrids and electric cars. A cleaner electric grid powered by renewables.

Existing technologies could have us driving at the equivalent of a buck a gallon for gas!

Tell your Representative and Senators to stop the giveaway of our coasts. Tell them you won’t stand for billions more for oil companies-and snake oil for the rest of us.

[The Advertisement will be] Paid for by supporters of the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund.

Thank you for your consideration and contribution.

Letters To Editors Express Fear For Offshore Oil Exploration

Bush wants to lift ban on offshore drilling

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

In Florida, talk of fuel prices flourishes.  Citizens communicate concerns in Letters to Editors.  For the populace in this Southeastern State is the focus of numerous negotiations, consultations, and deliberations nationwide.  The subject is offshore drilling.  Might Americans abandon opposition to this environmentally perilous practice and let the petroleum flow.  There is much push and pull.  There always is when purses are pinched.  With the cost of gas high, and the use of cars critical in a culture built on travel, much hot and cold air is bandied about.

The questions presented to publishers are, who might decide the fate of the sea just off the shores of the Everglade State.  Are natural beauty and a balanced ecosystem high priorities, or only afterthoughts?  Do Sunshine State residents have a say in what happens on the fragile coastline or does the federal government dictate what occurs?  Perchance, Governor Charlie Crist rules?  There is reason to believe Californians are also caught up in this tumultuous tide, over offshore drilling.  The difference may be Floridians now fear a fight from within.  For many concerned citizens the Chief Administrator in the Gator State is a foe.  Charlie Crist has forgotten his constituency or made friends with those more interested in financial investments.

Readers mention on Op-Ed pages, many affluent individuals muse offshore drilling is an ideal resolution.  These influential profiteers have convinced an anxious public, the greater the surplus, the lesser the expense.  The people willingly believe.  Well-connected politicians propose what will benefit those with deep pockets.  The energy problem would not be, if only . . .

Other options are no longer preferable.  For consumers who contemplate the dilemma in print, the time is now.  The people do not wish to wait, worry; they love to wander.  Therefore, few have the “energy” to study how might laws affect the inhabitants and the country as a whole.  Sea mammals, fish, and fowl are not a consideration to contemplate; nor are future generations.  

Article after articles addresses the fact, Americans clamor; the cost of gas is too high.  This seems to be their more significant quandary.  The public asks what are the politicians going to do to relive the pain at the pump.  People who write in to periodicals note, the persons in power pounce on the problem.  The current President of the United States, George W. Bush, and his “protégé” Arizona Senator John McCain say, “I will take care of your needs immediately.”  Governor Crist relents, or rejects an earlier definitive stance.  While in the past all spoke of how we, as a nation, must reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.  Now that the price of petroleum has generated much public protest, these savvy elected officials speak of sweet crude differently.  They say supply can be easily increased and should be.  

The three public servants boast, inexpensive fuel is just around the corner, or off the shores of Florida.  Each “representative of the people” wishes to forego environmental policies they once endorsed.  Presidential hopeful McCain, and Texas-tea-tycoon and the man who now occupies the Oval Office offer, perhaps, it is best to do as we have done and know how to do.  Let us reinstate offshore oil drilling near the coastal shore of Florida.  Charlie Crist chimes in, “What is good for the goose or his political Party, will be good for his gander.  Governor Crist has his eye on his future.  Many whisper he could be chosen as John McCain’s running mate.  

A few letter writers assert, certainly, ocean exploration will provide Americans with the gas they covet.  At least this theory is the conventional wisdom amongst those who wish to please the people who ultimately place them in office.  In the case of George W. Bush, he may not desire a position in the Executive Branch.  He has been there and done that; he only wishes to strengthen his legacy .

While this shortsighted solution may seem supreme, did anyone mention Mister Bush, his family, and friends will profit from further investments in fossil fuels?  Might we discuss the rewards Republican John McCain will reap if research on alternative fuels is once again delayed?  Could we consider that the oil moneyed moguls intentionally choose not to operate eighty percent of established oilrigs?  If energy executives wanted to, they could produce more petrol . . .

Attempts to keep these topics out of the mainstream are ample.  Taboo questions are suppressed.  Talk is controlled just as the flow of fuel through pipes is forbidden.  However, on occasion the subject of profits, the Presidency, past and present, petroleum bubbles to the surface.

Many Floridians have penned Letters to Editors.  Often the refrain posits a need to lower the price Americans pay at the pump.

While some wish to speak of the cost of gas, I for one prefer to ponder the fate of nature, horticultural plants, to be differentiated from power plants, and people.  I submit my correspondence below, and I ask you to inscribe your own communication.  You may wish to use the template Florida Democrats furnish.  If so please click here, or you might read the reference and use it as a guide.  If you enter the Internet portal and select the publications you wish to address, the software will forward your message on.  Please remember, Letters to Editors need be short and concise.  A standard 250-word count may help to ensure your words will be published.

Economic and environmental endangerment

Dear Editor . . .

The reckless plan John McCain and George Bush proposed is meant to appease the public.  Fat and happy people will not protest.  The populace is encouraged to consider the current cost of fuel before they think of the planet’s future.  A desire for immediate gratification among the masses is a profitable opportunity for oil executives.  John McCain, George Bush, and Governor Charlie Crist benefit from the stuffed coffers of corporate oil cronies.  

If we lift the ban on offshore drilling consumers will reap few if any rewards.  The price at the pump will remain high.  The greater the supply, the more likely demand will increase.  If we continue to focus on fossil fuels Americans will be as we have long been, at the mercy of oil moguls.

Off shore exploration will endanger the habitat of man, sea mammals, fish, and fowl.  Oilrigs blemish the natural beauty that is the coastal calm.  

Oil executives allow eighty percent of fuel fields to remain dormant.  There is no need to give petroleum companies permission to penetrate the Earth’s crust near Florida’s coast.

Might Americans realize oil production is an expense we cannot afford, economically and environmentally.

For years, in cooperation Florida Republicans and Democrats were unified against offshore drilling.  Let us not be led astray or forget our conscious choice to clean a badly damaged environment.  Our lives depend on this decision.

Resources, Natural and Rare . . .

Petroleum and My Prayer

Bush to Visit Iowa Flood Site

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Dearest Mister George Walker Bush . . .

This morning as I sat in what I would wish to think of as my safe little sanctuary from danger, I watched you mount the stairs and ascend into Air Force One.  The television announcer spoke of your impending trip to the Midwest.  As one with family in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois, I was grateful for your travel.  I am certain the people in these regions will be comforted by your presence.  Most will feel they have reason to hope that you will offer help.  I truly appreciate you “swift” response to their needs.  I am gratified that you have decided to fly high above the flooded terrain, and perhaps spend a moment with an individual or two.  Perchance, you will speak to my sister or my Dad.

As I observed the day’s news break on screen, I perused the printed page and realized the American people may have another reason to thank you.  The New York Times reported Bush Calls for End to Ban on Offshore Oil Drilling.  I am confident those on dry land, still able to drive through the streets are pleased.  Your grand gesture will gratify them, belatedly if at all.  The United States House Committee on Natural Resources thinks the move will not improve circumstances.   I sigh.

There is no reason to let little details such as well-researched assessment get in the way of the glorious work you do Mister Bush.  As you well know, the public cares not what the future might bring.  The people prefer to be catered to in the immediate.  I know you understand this Mister President.  You felt the repercussions of a delayed action.  I remember your late response to Katrina, and even to the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center Towers.  

Woe, to the politician who does not take measures to calm the citizens quickly.  Mister Bush, I am consoled as I witness all you have learned.  Indeed, today, you quieted fears and felt the people’s pain.  You did as is necessary.

In this nation, an elected official who bows to the will of his or her constituency will be judged well.  After all, as you are aware Mister Bush, the people are the power.  The populace casts a ballot at the poll.  Even for those such as you, an individual who cannot hold the office of the President again, that is as long as the Constitution remains unchanged, legacies are the legends of history.  

Mister Bush, I applaud your heroism, your ability to reach out and to touch the common folk.  Yet, while I might admire the actions you took on this 19th day of June, I only wish that consolations would clean the mess you created.  

I fear each of the events of the day is the result of earlier enactments.  What occurred in the Midwest is as much that the world has seen recently.  Granted Mister President, you only preside over a portion of a North American continent; nonetheless, what is in our air travels overseas.  Water also journeys to shores far beyond our horizon.

Contaminants and toxins permissible in the United States will be found in the heavens above foreign soil.  Oceans, far from our homeland, will contain elements hurled into American waterways.

I know you might muse Mister Bush, as you did for near a decade ago, humans have little effect on the environment.  Ah, but President Bush, as you now relent, we do alter the balance of nature.  Decisions you made in our name, accelerated the cycle of unwelcome warmth on a globe too fragile to fight off the effects of a fever.

You, Mister Bush may have learned the laws of motion in your studies.  As Sir Isaac Newton discovered in an Earthly environment, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  Perchance, as a Chief Executive and one who received a Master’s degree in Business Administration, you are more familiar with a similar premise, economic in nature, “You scrub my back, and I will cleanse yours.”  

In the financial world, the policies you endorsed illustrate that you embrace this “theoretical” truth.  I recall your first hundred days in the Oval Office.  Much to the benefit of business buds, who supported your rise, you chose to initiate practices that filled your friends’ purses.  . . . and oh, yes, these very guidelines damaged the milieu.  Ooops.

  • Bush administration marks 100 days in office (04/29/01)
  • EPA drops objections to Florida rule that undermines Clean Water Act protections (04/26/01)
  • Gale Norton nominates William G. Myers III as solicitor for Department of the Interior (04/24/01)
  • Yellowstone snowmobile ban goes into effect, but perhaps not for long (04/23/01)
  • Bush seeks to relax requirements of Endangered Species Act (04/09/01)
  • Bush administration delays hard-rock mining regulations that protect watersheds (03/21/01)
  • Bush withdraws new arsenic-in-drinking-water standard (03/20/01)
  • Bush appoints industry apologist as regulatory gatekeeper (03/06/01)
  • EPA upholds Clinton decision to clean up diesel pollution (02/28/01)
  • EPA delays, then upholds, new rule protecting wetlands (02/15/01)
  • White House announces regulatory freeze (01/20/01)

Indeed, you were a busy man Mister Bush, just as you have been today, and throughout your terms.  You entered the White House and released the latch on barn doors throughout the nation.  Domesticated animals, Americans, did not rush out, for they had long felt as though they were not in harm’s way.  Centuries of relative calm encouraged citizens, beasts of few burdens, to believe they were sheltered from storms.  However, once the portals were open, predators, or was it you Mister President, ran in.  

Marauders came though back gateways, side entries, windows, and slats in the ceiling.  Perhaps these too were but friends of the fellow we all know as George, you, Mister Bush.

Oh, Sir, you must know, corporations, intent on earnings, ignored the warnings of environmentalists.  Scientists could not be heard above the hum of oil drills.  The clang of change as it fell into deep pockets muffled the melodious mantra of the few concerned citizens.  This circumstances Mister Bush caused the globe to warm.  Now the water falls from the sky without end.  Levees poorly maintained or engineered break.

My Dad hopes his sump pump will not fail.  My sister prays that her home will remain on a hill.  My best friend fears for his roof.  A friend in Racine, Wisconsin I hope is well.  No one has been able to reach him.

Mister Bush, when you first arrived in Washington District of Columbia you changed the fabric of the land.  You did not steward the territory we each occupy.  Economic favors flourished as did environmental hazards.  The rich grew richer; the poor did not prosper.  Those who had wealth garnered dividends.  Those with few resources received less.  Now, we all suffer.

Wind and water does not discriminate.  Homes, bought and paid for wash away in a torrid tempest just as shacks do.

Oh my dear Mister Bush, you promised to be the Compassionate Conservative.  If only you had chosen to be the Consummate Conservationist.

Each day Mother Nature cries out.  She weeps and the terrain floods.  Her heart breaks, and tectonic plates move.  Cyclones are the swell of tears her eyes cannot hold.  Mother Earth pounds us with hail; she means no harm.  Her children, under the tutelage of an oil moneyed man are out of control.  She knows not what to do to get their attention.  She throws what she has at hand, and hopes, perhaps, her brood will stop the insanity.

Mister Bush, please I plead, do not pander, or patronize.  My Dad does not need cheaper fuel.  He is a patient man and willing to wait for alternatives that do not leave him soaked and sorrowful in the next five-hundred year flood, which may occur only a month from now.

My sister would be content, if she could tell he son with certainty, she will leave him a world better than the one she grew up in.  Sensitive as she is, my sibling hopes to bequeath her grandchildren with a glorious existence.  However, as you fly to her home with promises too late, and replete of a skewed reality, she fears a dependency on fossil fuels will never end.  

She too, just as Daddy, does not concern herself with what cannot be salvaged.  Each requests that we secure the future, clean the environment, and do not drill for more oil, offshore or anywhere.

Mister Bush, the time is now.  For as much as any American would wish to believe they are safe in their now dry homes, as long as we continue to rape the few resources we have left, as long as we waste, and want more and more “conveniences” no one will be secure.  

As you peruse the cities and crops destroyed by rains and runoff, you might realize climate change is evidence of what you sowed.  No promises will repair broken hearts.  No policies that allow for more petroleum usage will produce calm or clean seas.  We now reap the rewards of gluttony and gratification.  It is not a pretty picture.

Mister Bush, tomorrow does come.  Our actions today will be the cause.  The effects of your past performances are what you see today in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri . . .  Let us no longer wash the back of a egocentric executive, at the expense of the environment.  Instead, kiss my sister, hug my Dad, and if you can find my friend, lost in the tragedy, please tell him I love him.

Resources, No More Oil . . .

Let Them Eat Oil

President Jimmy Carter – Address to the Nation on Energy

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

In a nation, where appeasement is condemned, Americans are anxious.  The people have been pacified for so long they can no longer recall what it means to be other than indulged.  On June 6, 2008, Congresspersons, uncomfortable with the notion that they might have to use the rod, concluded, for now, it is better to spoil the already pampered Americans.  Lawmakers said, as they have so often, “Let them eat oil!”  After all, the people love petroleum.

Rather than rescind policies that contribute to global warming, or the related scarcity of food and water Legislators declared defeat.  Hope for change was put off for the future, just as it was one score and ten years ago.  Now, nearly a decade into the twenty-first century, the United States Congress concluded a bipartisan  Bill, intended to control climate conditions must die.  The hope was postponed, again.  The dream differed until 2009.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, cautioned climate change is “the most important issue facing the world today.”  However, apparently, it is not imperative enough to counter the cries of despair heard from the American people.  Citizens in this country think cash in hand counts for more than the health of the planet.

The public is easily able to dismiss evidence; Mother Earth is in trouble.  Extinction threatens every species.  Even humans are at risk.  Pollutants fill the air that men, women, and children breath.  Poison is found in the rivers and stream.  Toxins travel through the ecosystem.  There are consequences to what we do.  Global warming is but a warning, one not heeded by Americans who prefer to remain sheltered from talk of environmental storms.

Co-authors of the measure designed to limit heat-trapping gases, California Democrat, Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut envision the demise of the Bill was a win.  The three expressed a shared joy.  Perchance lawmakers are closer to an agreement.  Might it be that Legislators are more unified in an attempt to appease Americans.  The Senate was just shy of consensus.

Conventional wisdom states, “There is time.”  The world can wait.  Evidence does not suggest a need to act immediately.  Next year will be better.  In actuality, politicians did just as the people prefer.  Government officials did not ask the people to forego creature comforts.  Regulations on industry were not increased.  

While the people insist someone must pay for the drastic rise in petroleum prices, most suspect, ultimately, the cost will be passed on to the common folk.

Perchance, that is why Congress was willing to probe profit margins.  The people wanted an explanation; why do they pay exorbitant prices at the pump.  It mattered not that the expectation proved to be the reality.  When tycoons who produce Texas tea were asked of the high cost of fuel, they sang the same old song. What was important is the sense the people had after the hearing.  They had tried to make the big bosses accountable.  The public demands little, insists on less.  Yet, as coddled children who covet a toy just out of reach, they protest loudly.  

Members of Congress, the President of the United States, and Oil Executives understand this.  Each has perfected the art of appeasement.  Give the people what they please.  Then positions and profits will remain secure.  Explanations and examinations reassure the masses and best of all for those comfortable and cozy in millions of cars nothing changes.  Certainly, circumstances dictate all must remain the same, and while few admit it, all are pleased.

The executives firmly insisted that global market forces beyond their control were to blame for high prices.  “As repetitive and uninteresting as it may sound, the fundamental laws of supply and demand are at work,” said John Hofmeister, the president of Shell Oil Company.

(Of course, it was repetitive and uninteresting: Mr. Hofmeister read the same line in his testimony the day before.)

The executives politely but just as firmly insisted that Congress should focus its efforts on allowing more drilling and exploration for domestic oil – in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, offshore in the Atlantic and Pacific, and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.  They insisted that they were investing heavily in search of new oil supplies.

And they strongly warned against other measures: any new tax on profits would put American companies at a disadvantage and only further decrease oil supply; a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax would increase demand and only raise prices more; lawsuits against foreign nations would do nothing to lower prices.

The public may not trust the moneyed moguls; nor do they respect the Representatives.  Nonetheless, the people are silently satisfied.  Few if any wish to give up the freedom they feel as they drive down the road alone, or with one special passenger.  Convenience is comfortable.  The people do not wish to pay the price for alternative energy.  The actual cost may not frighten Americans; the idea that they may need to forfeit a familiar lifestyle terrifies the average citizen.

Months ago, when gas was relatively cheap, cars barely crawled on clogged highways.  Yet, few did more than grumble.  People were essentially cozy cocooned in snug Sports Utility Vehicles, mini-vans, sedans, coupes, and cute convertibles.  Children were pleasantly preoccupied.  Digital Video Discs entertained the young and other occupants as they lounged in leather seats.  Drivers pounded out tunes on the dashboard or punched cellular telephone keyboards.  Travel was a pleasure.  

Some treasured the hours spent on the road.  Life was good not so long ago.  Few complained.  Less requested freedom from fossil fuels.  Progressives may have postured; it is time for a change.  However, few fled from their automobiles.  The price of petroleum may have transformed their habits temporarily.

On Friday, (May 23, 2008) the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported that Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles in March 2008 than in March 2007.  According to the FHWA, that’s the sharpest drop since the agency began keeping records in 1942.

Calculate Risk provides some context:

This is only the third time since 1970 that the year-over-year change in total U.S. miles driven has declined.  The previous two times were following the oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 — and led to the two most severe U.S. recessions since WWII.

Drivers, some now riders, rejoice.  History teaches us economic downturn do not last.  This too shall pass.  Most anticipate the shift is but a provisional switch.  Indeed, Americans work to receive assurance.  They rant and rage.

The President of the United States hears the cries.  He responds.  In April 2008, as Americans clamored for affordable fuel George W. Bush eloquently expressed elucidations to calm the citizenry.  As a Mom or Dad might soothe a baby who bawls incessantly disturbs the parent who only wishes to please his or her progeny, President Bush proposed we do as has long satisfied spoiled Americans.  George W. Bush proposes oil companies provide the people with what they want, more petroleum at prices the electorate likes.

As a self-proclaimed steward of the environment, the President said he would never wish to harm the land.  He assured Americans, if we were to drill for fuel in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge [ANWR] that would be responsible stewardship, regardless of what some scientist say.  Mister Bush declared if Americans simply increase the supply of fossil fuels, demand would be met.  After all, is that not the goal.  Give the baby a bottle of sweet crude and they will stop crying.

Studies show oil pumped from the Artic would have little impact on the cost or availability of petroleum; however, that information is less significant than immediate gratification might be.  John McCain understands this.  He is sensitive to the research and to the millions who intellectually reject the claims the Chief Executive makes.  Senator McCain has a reputation for being a maverick.  He relates to people who, in the twenty-first century, are more environmentally conscious.  The Grand Old Party nominee knows the citizens can no longer be cajoled to believe drills do no damage.  In the Information Age, the electorate is enlightened.  

John McCain is cognizant; the people will only be persuaded to do as they desire if a Presidential aspirant promises to reduce greenhouse gases.  Therefore, he proposes a cap and trade solution.  This policy would allow companies to buy and sell emission credits.  Those who wish to splurge and surge the grid can continue to do so.  Energy exploiters can garner greater credit from those who are prepared to scrimp.  The people who prefer to remain plugged in can.  Those who wish to leave a smaller carbon footprint may do so.  Everyone will be happy, and energy policies will not substantially change what is.

In remarks prepared for delivery Monday at a Portland, Ore., wind turbine manufacturer, the presidential contender says expanded nuclear power must be considered to reduce carbon-fuel emissions.  He also sets a goal that by 2050, the country will reduce carbon emissions to a level 60 percent below that emitted in 1990.

Americans are again gratified.  Change can be delayed.  There is no rush to an energy revolution.  Indeed, this proposal will furnish fission and not provide an authentic substantive solution.  McCain’s Nuclear Waste could possibly contaminate the ground water.  The senior Senator does not discuss the need to prevent nuclear proliferation, the problem with security at nuclear facilities.  Indeed, speculation is John McCain is a proponent of nuclear energy for political reasons.  Imagine that.  Assuage the people who have the power and finances to further a career and all will be well.

Senator McCain and the people, rich and poor, will retain the luxury that has long been essential.  The public and the official can portray themselves as environmentalists.  Yet, they need not abandon the way of life that has sustained them.  John McCain states as many Americans do.

As never before, the market would reward any person or company that seeks to invent, improve, or acquire alternatives to carbon-based energy . . .

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge [ANWR] I believe is a pristine place.  I don’t want to drill in the Grand Canyon and I don’t want to drill in the Everglades . . .

I believe that climate change is real.  It’s not just a greenhouse gas issue.  It’s a national security issue.??

However, Senator McCain has a record.  He voted against tax credits to promote research.  The League of Conservation Voters granted Senator McCain a zero rating on environmental issues.  In 2007, the supposed ecological standard-bearer McCain missed all 15 critical environmental votes in the Senate.  In the course of his Senatorial lifetime, only twenty-four (24) percent of the time did John McCain vote in favor of conservation.

McCain Missed Opportunity To End Big Oil Tax Breaks to Invest in Clean Energy.  In 2007, McCain was the only senator who failed to vote on a motion to invoke cloture (thus limiting debate) on the Energy Independence and Security Act.  This vote was about whether to close $13 billion in tax breaks for major oil and gas companies to invest in new clean energy technologies such as wind and solar, and efficiency.  Sixty votes were required for passage.  The motion was rejected 59-40.  (; HR 6, Vote #425, 12/13/07)

Actually, all Americans have a history that contradicts what they say is their truth.  We, the people consume and waste, we purchase and pollute.  We scrounge for energy-wise merchandise.  Then, we buy not the most environmentally efficient product, but the best bargain.  Many of us know what we did in the past, although we do not wish to speak of it.

Only years after citizens of this country waited in long lines for fuel, as a nation, Americans mused of the humorous hours they spent engrossed in an energy crisis.  Once more, the public concluded it was time for a change; yet, they proved that transformation was not what they really wanted.

In 1976, the people elected an Executive Officer who did not wish to appease the people.  On January 30, 1977, Jimmy Carter said what he reiterated days later on February 2, 1977; two weeks after the former farmer took office.  The President engaged the public in a fireside chat.  Donned in a casual cardigan sweater Mister Carter somberly said . . .

(T)he United States is the only major industrial country without a comprehensive, long-range energy policy . . . our failure to plan for the future or to take energy conservation seriously – started long before this winter, and it will take much longer to solve.

I realize that many of you have not believed that we really have an energy problem.  But this winter has made all of us realize that we have to act . . .

Our program will emphasize conservation.  The amount of energy being wasted which could be saved is greater than the total energy that we are importing from foreign countries.

The American people looked, listened, and laughed at a President who would suggest.  “All of us must learn to waste less energy.  Simply by keeping our thermostats, for instance, at 65 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night we could save half the current shortage of natural gas.”  

Citizens in this, the wealthiest nation in the world thought there was no need to worry.  There never is.  Americans are encouraged to live in the moment.  This petroleum predicament would pass.  The people then, just as now, ignored the cautions.  Months later, President Jimmy Carter offered  . . .

(Energy, the supply and demand) is a problem we will not solve in the next few years, and it is likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century.

We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and grandchildren.

Yet, in the past and in the present, the public, while intellectually eager to leave a lush legacy for the progeny, does not wish to think of  how what we do establishes the future.  Few Moms and Dads ponder the profundity of energy policies.  Prices are the only issue of import to the common folk.  Countless will contact their Representatives to complain; the cost of gas is too high.  Who will call and say, let the price of fuel rise?  Americans cannot continue to eat oil.

Certainly, it will not be the millions pacified or the few who cling to the words of a scientist or two who scoff, humans have little effect on the environment.  Will the people who read recent reports realize the need for immediate change.  Will the informed relent and say, “I will no longer be placated,” or will they respond to this energy crisis as they did in the last century when there was still time to correct the calamity that may now be out of our control?

Our countrymen may be content as spoiled children are.  Perhaps, Americans will again stomp their feet, hold their breath, pound on the table and buy a gas-guzzler regardless of the admonition.  The public may say, “Give me, give me, give me what I want, or else!”  Let me eat oil, or maybe, just maybe, the childish ways of Americans will be gone with the wind.  We can only hope that the people will no longer crave pacification and conciliation.

Our Resources and References . . .

Issue Number One; Economic Insecurity Breeds Bigotry, Bias and Bitterness

Fear Itself

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

He was a beautiful bouncing baby boy.  He was born to two parents that love him dearly.  Even before his birth, indeed, prior to conception, this little fellow was the apple of his parent’s eyes.  His biological beginning was carefully calculated.  As the seeds of life developed into a bright-eyed baby, the people he now knows as Mom and Dad thought of little else but Maxwell.  The soon to be proud Papa and Momma anxiously anticipated the day they could hold this bundle of joy.  Each of his parents was eager to meet and greet the small, sweet face of the guy that they would call Max.  Maximum value, supreme significance, marvelously magnificent, all this was and would be their son.  After Max was delivered and during any political season, such as this, Mom and Dad feel certain Max is issue number one.

The guardians look over their angel.  They plan for his future, and they are apprehensive, just as their parents and grandparents were before them.  For generations the realities of daily life have shaped parental priorities.  First and foremost, families want to survive, to feel safe and secure.  Yet, much that accounts for stability is beyond the control of a parent or any single person.  Moms and Dads agonize, as do all individuals.  Economic, educational, environmental concerns have an effect on caregivers and all citizens.  Military engagements also affect households, even if only one lives within the domicile.  Mothers, fathers, and babies, boys or girls learn to fear.

Ultimately, in the course of a life, each individual will ask, how does any matter affect me, my family, and friends of mine?  Countless citizens sense we have loss the sense that within a society, each individual works for the commonweal.  The words of Thomas Paine On the Origin and Design of Government in General are principles from the past.  In America today, the common folk feel they can no longer trust the government.  In recent years, people profess too many promises were broken; lies were told.  Intelligence was not wise.  Still, Americans sense there is an enemy.

In the minds of most Americans, the foe exists outside self.  Few have fully internalized the truth of the words uttered by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  As people do, citizens in this country trust themselves.  People know their faith will guide them.  The Almighty will not disappoint them.  Proud of their personal strength and all they survived throughout the course of their lives, the American public, no matter their economic station believes their family will be fine.  All Americans trust in their ability to fight the opposition.  Residents in the United States are not afraid to take up arms if they need to protect themselves from evil forces.

Nevertheless, Americans are “bitter.”  People in the cities, the suburbs, and in the countryside, resent the precarious position their leaders have placed them in.  In the “Land of the free and home of the brave” the public is “looking for strong leadership from Washington.”  Individuals and communities recognize they cannot go it alone.  Sadly, those previously entrusted with Executive privileges have not served the common folk within the United States well.  Citizens have expressed their ample concern for quite a while and no one seems to hear the cries.  While some of the Presidential aspirants wish to believe Americans are not indignant . . .

Poll: 80% of Americans Dissatisfied

By Associate Press.

Time Magazine

April 4, 2008

(New York) – More than 80 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, the highest such number since the early 1990s, according to a new survey.

The CBS News-New York Times poll released Thursday showed 81 percent of respondents said they believed “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.”  That was up from 69 percent a year ago, and 35 percent in early 2002.

The survey comes as housing turmoil has rocked Wall Street amid an economic downturn.  The economy has surpassed the war in Iraq as the dominating issue of the U.S. presidential race, and there is now nearly a national consensus that the United States faces significant problems, the poll found.

A majority of Democrats and Republicans, men and women, residents of cities and rural areas, college graduates and those who finished only high school say the United States is headed in the wrong direction, according to the survey, which was published on The New York Times’ Web site.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said the country was worse off than five years ago; just 4 percent said it was doing better . . .

The poll also found that Americans blame government officials for the housing crisis more than banks or homebuyers and other borrowers. Forty percent of respondents said regulators were mostly to blame, while 28 percent named lenders and 14 percent named borrowers.

Americans favored help for people but not for financial institutions in assessing possible responses to the mortgage crisis.  A clear majority said they did not want the government to lend a hand to banks, even if the measures would help limit the depth of a recession.

Intellectually astute, each individual understands to his or her core, a country must work well as a whole.  If we act independently of others, with little regard for those who reside in our nation, we all will realize a reason to feel insecure.  No family can survive alone. Maxwell’s parents can plan and work to provide, but if the country suffers from a crisis, be it fiscal, a protracted feud, the cost of food, or fuel, the family will also find themselves in situation critical.

In a society, we are our neighbors’ keeper, for what affects those in adjacent abodes will influence us.  If one person is poor, so too is his brother.

The tenet is true in the abstract; it is also viable concretely.  We need only consider what occurs when one domicile on the block is in disrepair or foreclosure flourishes in an enclave.  Property values for all homes in the area plummet.  A family functions best as a unit.  A nation fares well when we are one.

Our most conservative estimates indicate that each conventional foreclosure within an eighth of a mile (essentially a city block) of a single-family home results in a 0.9 percent decline in value.  Cumulatively, this means that, for the entire city of Chicago, the 3,750 foreclosures in 1997 and 1998 are estimated to reduce nearby property values by more than $598 million, for an average cumulative single-family property value effect of $159,000 per foreclosure. This does not include effects on the values of condominiums, larger multifamily rental properties, and commercial buildings.

Less conservative estimates suggest that each conventional foreclosure within an eighth of a mile of a property results in a 1.136 percent decline in that property’s value and that each foreclosure from one-eighth to one-quarter mile away results in a 0.325 percent decline in value.  This less conservative finding corresponds to a city-wide loss in single-family property values of just over $1.39 billion. This corresponds to an average cumulative property value effect of more than $371,000 per foreclosure

In 2008, this consideration consumes millions of persons who thought they were safe and secure.  As the subprime debacle ripples through every community, people realize their very survival is at risk.  Everyone, even some of the elite now experience a profound sense of insecurity.  Again, people ask who or what might they trust.  The average American has faith only in what is familiar.  Max, Mom, and Dad, families turn to what is tried and true.  Whatever has protected them in the past, they hope, will save them from what is an uncertain future.

Certainly, people have no confidence in government.  Many are frustrated.  They resent those who placed them in such a precarious situation.  Mothers, fathers, sons such as Max, and daughters are reminded, without regulations only the few profit.  Dreams die.  Witness the subprime debacle.

Mortgage companies and banks, such as Wells Fargo, have twisted the average prime mortgage loan into something much more incapable of paying by the recipient, but profitable to the company. Subprime loans, as “adjustable rate mortgages,” are packed with deceiving modifications that have low “teaser” rates that expand in interest exponentially after an initial low pay period.  Families that have received Subprime loans have bit into a bitter center of the sugar-coated American dream.

Citizens in this once prosperous country wonder whether they will ever again be able to trust that they can aspire to greater heights.  Homes are no longer worth what they were at the time of purchase.  Payments on adjusted rate mortgages [ARM] are exorbitant and balloon expenditures are now due.  Americans feel pinched.  Businesses are also affected by a slowed economy and bad investments.  Bankruptcy is an option, although brutal.  As the cost of fuel and food rises, financial fears become more real.  Existence takes a toll.  As Americans assess the circumstances within their home region, they realize there is reason to hold on tightly to what they know and love.  

Perchance G-d and country are all citizens can believe in, and maybe there is no longer reason to believe either of these will save them.  Certainly, Administrations in the recent past and present have not protected us well.  After all, our Presidents, Congress, and the Federal Reserve were responsible for the Demise of Glass-Steagall Act.  This law once regulated banks and limited the conflicts of interest created when commercial depositories were permitted to underwrite stocks or bonds.  Without such oversight, Americans lost their security.  Survival no longer seems possible.  The American Dream is a nightmare.

The Next Slum?

By Christopher B. Leinberger

Atlantic Monthly

March 2008

Strange days are upon the residents of many a suburban cul-de-sac. Once-tidy yards have become overgrown, as the houses, they front have gone vacant. Signs of physical and social disorder are spreading.

At Windy Ridge, a recently built starter-home development seven miles northwest of Charlotte, North Carolina, 81 of the community’s 132 small, vinyl-sided houses were in foreclosure as of late last year. Vandals have kicked in doors and stripped the copper wire from vacant houses; drug users and homeless people have furtively moved in.  In December, after a stray bullet blasted through her son’s bedroom and into her own, Laurie Talbot, who’d moved to Windy Ridge from New York in 2005, told The Charlotte Observer, “I thought I’d bought a home in Pleasantville.  I never imagined in my wildest dreams that stuff like this would happen.”

In the Franklin Reserve neighborhood of Elk Grove, California, south of Sacramento, the houses are nicer than those at Windy Ridge-many once sold for well over $500,000-but the phenomenon is the same.  At the height of the boom, 10,000 new homes were built there in just four years. Now many are empty; renters of dubious character occupy others.  Graffiti, broken windows, and other markers of decay have multiplied.  Susan McDonald, president of the local residents’ association and an executive at a local bank, told the Associated Press, “There’s been gang activity.  Things have really been changing, the last few years.”

In the first half of last year, residential burglaries rose by 35 percent and robberies by 58 percent in suburban Lee County, Florida, where one in four houses stands empty. Charlotte’s crime rates have stayed flat overall in recent years-but from 2003 to 2006, in the 10 suburbs of the city that have experienced the highest foreclosure rates, crime rose 33 percent. Civic organizations in some suburbs have begun to mow the lawns around empty houses to keep up the appearance of stability. Police departments are mapping foreclosures in an effort to identify emerging criminal hot spots.

The decline of places like Windy Ridge and Franklin Reserve is usually attributed to the subprime-mortgage crisis, with its wave of foreclosures.  And the crisis has indeed catalyzed or intensified social problems in many communities. But the story of vacant suburban homes and declining suburban neighborhoods did not begin with the crisis, and will not end with it. A structural change is under way in the housing market-a major shift in the way many Americans want to live and work.  It has shaped the current downturn, steering some of the worst problems away from the cities and toward the suburban fringes.  And its effects will be felt more strongly, and more broadly, as the years pass. Its ultimate impact on the suburbs, and the cities, will be profound.

Perchance, more weighty than the influence of a social degradation on a community is the impression such dire circumstances leave on a little lad such as Maxwell. Young Max will learn, just as his parents had.  Likely, he too will come to believe that he can only depend on himself.  An older and wiser Max will not fully grasp how extraordinary he is, or perhaps he will know all to well that no matter how glorious he is, someone might jeopardize his stability.  No matter how well he lives his life, another force, power, person, or authority might cause his dreams to go awry.  

Maxwell sees how hard life is for his parents.  He comes to understand that he too will always and forever, need to prove his worth.  How else might he hold onto his job, his home, his money, or his sense of self?  For Maxwell, as for us, anyone, innocent as they may be, might seem a threat.  His Mom and Dad, fearful that they might lose their livelihood, health care benefits, the family home, and their ability to provide, let alone survive, teach their young son trepidation.

Mom and Dad look around the neighborhood and they see society is shifting.  People of other races, colors, and creeds are destined to overtake the white majority.  This can be nothing but trouble, or so they think.  Maxwell trusts this sentiment to be true.  The parents wonder; might immigration and  Free Trade deprive them of their life style?  In the United States, Anglo Americans react more to what they muse might be so.  However, ample evidence affirms the contrary.  A 2006 study, by the Pew Hispanic Center avows, the sudden rise in the foreign-born population does not negatively effect the employment of native-born workers.

Growth in the Foreign-Born Workforce and Employment of the Native Born

By Rakesh Kochhar, Associate Director for Research

Pew Hispanic Center

August 10, 2006

Rapid increases in the foreign-born population at the state level are not associated with negative effects on the employment of native-born workers, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center that examines data during the boom years of the 1990s and the downturn and recovery since 2000.

An analysis of the relationship between growth in the foreign-born population and the employment outcomes of native-born workers revealed wide variations across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. No consistent pattern emerges to show that native-born workers suffered or benefited from increased numbers of foreign-born workers . . .

The size of the foreign-born workforce is also unrelated to the employment prospects for native-born workers.  The relative youth and low levels of education among foreign workers also appear to have no bearing on the employment outcomes of native-born workers of similar schooling and age.

Nevertheless, people continue to fear what is less than familiar.  Maxwell’s mother and father often speak of the immigrants.  The words voiced are unkind.  Assessments often are unrealistic.  In this country, on this globe, our apprehensions, our insecurity, the fear that we might not survive divides us.  Self-surety is issue number one.  

When individuals do not feel as though all is fine, when distressed, emotional reactions may be exaggerated. Many persons prefer to deny that they feel distraught.  The press, the powerful, and persons who wish to be more prominent understand this.  Each is expert in the art of persuasion.  Tell us that we are doing well, that we are strong, that they will help bring certainty, security, and safety to our lives, and to our country, and we will croon along with them.

Anxious Americans, at home and abroad, such as the parents of young Maxwell attack.  Anyone can be considered the enemy.  Bankers, big business, bureaucrats, billionaire oil magnates, migrants, and of course, mutineers of Middle Eastern descent.  Our fellow citizens are easily terrorized, if not by the persons who they think might destroy the neighborhood, or take their job, the people who crashed a plane into the Twin Towers must be a target.  Since September 11, 2001, Maxwell parents have thought it wise to protect United States shores.

Some Americans say we must stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These persons may fear terrorists from the Persian Gulf.  There is great consternation when people do not think they are physically safe.  

Citizens feel a greater concern when they discover the reasons we went to war are invalid.  Again, the people in this country recognize the adversary is the American Administration.  Lie by lie, the Iraq War Timeline reveals greater reason for antipathy.

Those who cite security and survival as the primary concern proclaim, “It is the economy.”  They say, this is the number one issue Americans must address.  Too many persons, today, cannot even live paycheck to paycheck.  Disposable income, discretionary spending, savings to fall back on are luxuries of the past.  People dream of the cushion they hope to create.  Yet, in the back of their minds, they fear.  Again,  foreclosures are in the forefront in people’s minds.  Many are mired in debt.  In February 2008, another sixty percent (60%) of Americans concluded they could no longer pay the mortgage.  Mortgage Woes Boost Credit Card Debt. Balances on charge cards cannot be reconciled.

Plastic Card Tricks

The New York Times

March 29, 2008

Americans are struggling with a very rocky economy while they are also holding almost $1 trillion in credit card debt. In most cases, those cards provide a little flexibility with the monthly bills. But an increasing number of people are defaulting because of the “tricks and traps” – soaring interest rates and hidden fees – in the credit card business.

Before more Americans get in so deep that they cannot dig out, Washington needs to change the way these companies do business to ensure that consumers are treated fairly.

The stories about deceptive practices are harrowing. At a recent news briefing in Washington, a Chicago man told about what happened when he charged a $12,000 home repair bill in 2000 on a card with an introductory interest rate of 4.25 percent. Despite his steady, on-time payments, the rate is now nearly 25 percent. And despite paying at least $15,360, he said that he had only paid off about $800 of his original debt.

Once more Americans are confronted with what causes great bitterness.  No one, not Congress, the companies that lend citizens cash, the corporate tycoons, or candidates can imagine why Americans might be bitter. None of these entities care enough to help the average Joe, Jane, Maxwell, or his parents.

Why might inhabitants in this Northern continent be cynical, or feel a need to cling to religion, weapons, or hostility.  Perhaps, these sanctuaries feel  more tangible.  Faith, as an arsenal, and anger too, are at least more affordable than other options.

Petroleum prices are also an issue of import.  Citizens cry, I now work for fuel.  Only four short month ago, oil hit $100 a barrel for the first time ever.  The rate charged for petroleum continues to climb.  Now the expense exceeds what was once unimaginable. The cost of crude is the cause.  The effect is, Mommy and Daddy do not drive much anymore.  Each trip is evaluated.  Carpools are common considerations.  Vacations are not thought vital.  Parents who had hoped to show Max the seashore this summer cannot keep the promise they made to themselves and their progeny.  Plans did not prove to be predictions.

In 2008, the inconceivable is classified as inevitable.  Scientists share a stingy assessment.  The environment is no longer stable.  Nor are our lives on the planet Earth.  We, worldwide, have passed the point of no return.  Globally, groups and individuals pooh-pooh this determination.  For them, immediate concerns take precedence over the future.  

The question we all inevitably ask, even if not expressed aloud, is, “Will I continue to exist?”  If so, “Will my family and I be comfortable?”  The answers shade our sense of what is right or wrong.  Maxwell hears his Mom and Dad speak of free trade.  This is another hazard that haunts them.

The link between economic integration and worker insecurity is also an essential element of explanations for patterns of public opposition to policies aimed at further liberalization of international trade, immigration, and foreign direct investment (FDI) in advanced economies. Economic insecurity may contribute to the backlash against globalization in at least two ways.  First is a direct effect in which individuals that perceive globalization to be contributing to their own economic insecurity are much more likely to develop policy attitudes against economic integration.

Second, if globalization limits the capacities of governments to provide social insurance, or is perceived to do so, then individuals may worry further about globalization and this effect is likely to be magnified if labor-market risks are heightened by global integration.

It seems every issue intimidates us.  Each challenges the security we crave.  All beckon us and cause us to question whether we, Maxwell, or his parents will survive.  Our serious fears force us to believe we must separate ourselves from others, from our brothers and sisters.  In an earlier speech, echoing the words of Franklin Roosevelt, the eloquent Barack Obama spoke of this situation and how our own anxiety harms us.[ The Presidential hopeful offered solutions.

[W]e need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all . . .

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.”  We do not need to recite here the history of racial [or economic] injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the [any] community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered  . . .

Legalized discrimination . . . That history helps explain the wealth and income gap  . . . and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity  . . . and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of [all] families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban [and now with “no new taxes” suburban] neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

Potential President Obama understands and hopes to help all American realize that we are one.  While this vocalization was meant to focus on the more obvious rift between the races, the Senator from Illinois, the community organizer, attempted to advance awareness for what troubles Americans as a whole.

In fact, a similar anger exists within [all] segments of the  . . . community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch.  They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor.  They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense . . ..

Americans, no matter the color or circumstances might contemplate that anger is “often proved counterproductive” as are resentments.  These attitudes distract attention and widen any divide.  If Americans are to find a path to understanding, we must accept that our insecurity, our fears need not distract us.  We will survive if we work as one.

This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of [any child] black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem.  The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy . . ..

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics [poor and those the government classifies as affluent] who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life.  This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag.  We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

Today, we must be honest with ourselves.  We can admit that we are incensed, irritated, infuriated, and irate.  These feelings do not immobilize us.  Nor do we necessarily need to fight, and be combative.  It is time we teach Maxwell and also Maxine, distress can inspire us to dream the of impossible and make it our truth.  We, Americans can rise above our bitterness and build bridges to a fine future if we unite.

It is not elitist to speak truth.  It is ignorance and obfuscation to deny how we feel and what we fear.  We cannot change what we do not acknowledge.  Elusion will not bring bliss.  We may be insecure; we may question whether we can survive.  Indeed, if we act as we have in the past, if we focus on our faith and antipathy, there will be no reason to hope.  Americans, divisions have distracted us for too long.  To negate our natural response is to restrict our growth.  This time citizens of the United States, let us come together.  Bitterness can become sweet.

Sources of insecurity.  Resources for survival . . .

The Cost of War and Gas; The Climate of Aggression ©

Today I heard a story that I wish I could say surprised me; however, it did not.  The event occurred on Friday, August 19, 2005.  In Alabama, an angry customer killed a gas station owner.  The driver of a Sports Utility Vehicle, possibly a Jeep, was attempting to “steal” $52 worth of fuel.  The owner of the station tried to stop him; he grabbed hold of a vehicle.  Sadly, the driver continued on his trek, dragging the body across a car park and onto a highway.  Husain “Tony” Caddi, 54 years-of-age, fell from the vehicle and was run over by the vehicle’s rear wheel. Why did this happen? Some claim, the cost of gas is the reason.

An industry group spokesman reported that in 2004, an average of one in every 1,100 gasoline fill-ups was a gas theft. Customers drove off without paying for their purchase. Station owners are very concerned.  Proprietors only reap a one-cent profit on each gallon of gas they sell. A vendor must sell an extra 3,000 gallons to compensate for every $30 stolen.  Money is tight for all of us, consumers and retailers alike.

As the price of petroleum rises, gasoline thefts increase.  In 2004, merchants nationwide suffered a loss of $237 million. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, this is more than twice the $112 million loss in 2003. Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the NACS stated, “As the price of gas climbs, people’s values decline.”

I theorize.  The cost of gas does not correlate to the decline in values; when we engage in war, that is our code of ethics.  I invite you to differ, to discuss, and to deliberate.

I believe that when we accept and approve of aggression, we see it, expect it, and create it everywhere we go.  Today, more so than ever, it seems violent behavior and unilateral attacks are considered “acceptable.”

There are those, such as our President, that say, “War is the last option.”  Yet, I have always believed and maintained, if you think it an option at all, if you believe there is ever a reason for retaliation or revenge, ultimately, engaging in it will be your choice.  You will settle the score.

We can always select, what we think is a possibility, and we do.

Consider the words of our great President; George W. Bush, “war is my absolute last option.”  Contemplate his choices and his intentional actions.  Baby Bush chose war!  He spoke of diplomacy, belatedly.  However, his intention was clearly stated for the start.  On September 11, 2001 at 1:04 PM, only hours after the planes struck World Trade Center, George W. Bush said, “Make no mistake, the United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts.”  Cowardly acts?  Is vengeance not the path of a coward, one that is not strong enough to communicate?

There are those that say you cannot talk to terrorist.  While I strongly disagree, I still surmise, killing is not the only alternative.  War is more than a mere homicide. Murdering in mass, for me, is never correct or just.  George W. Bush forgets his history; he does not recall violence begets violence.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

The compassionate Christian conservative fails to remember his commandments, “Thou shalt not kill.”  Our Commander-and-Chief is considered our leader; we follow in his footsteps.  If he accepts aggression, if he believes there is reason to attack, if he concludes vengeance is justice, why would we do differently?

• Update . . . Additionally we might consider the comments of Pat Robertson.  Mr. Robertson is the host of Christian Broadcasting Network’s The 700 Club.  This “esteemed” fellow is the founder of the Christian Coalition of America.  In the spirit of Christianity and the commandment, this evangelist called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Today, this is America.  The climate is cold; aggression is the course.  We are considered a “democratic” nation, our Constitution espouses peace and freedom.  Yet, our actions demonstrate that we do not believe “all men are created equal.”

You might want to read a broader perspective on the Pat Robertson rant.  Please visit,  Fangs come out from right wing clerics…as usual, at MF Blog.

Please also assess the financial, physical, and practical cost of our wars against terrorism. 
Travel to . . .

Operation Truth
National Priorities Project
Casualties in Iraq
The Human Cost of War, Patricia Foulkrod
Economic Costs of War
Bill Moyers on the Costs of War
Bush Began to Plan War Three Months After 9/11 By William Hamilton, Washington Post