by Reverend Hothoneywater
The oil rig environmental catastrophe taking place in the gulf coast is a national disgrace. Add it to the list. Along with the coal miners recently killed by cave-ins. Also, tack on the soldiers dying for control of Middle East oil to the list. And then remind yourself that it doesn’t have to be this way. The United States could be doing a lot more to wean itself off these dirty and irreplaceable forms of energy.
Germany, for example, has set itself a goal of obtaining 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources such as solar and geothermal by 2050. I wouldn’t bet against them; they’ve just finished building a huge offshore wind farm as one of the steps along the path and, thanks to cash incentives to citizens for installing solar panels, cloudy Germany is the world’s #1 producer of solar electricity. And do you remember all that blather during the campaign when candidate Obama pledged to create green jobs? Well, Germany already has over a quarter million jobs in the renewable energy sector and realistically expects many more in the near future. Japan is determined not to be left behind, so they’ve put many incentives in place to drive the their clean energy industries, including putting solar cells on all their public schools by the year 2020. Even Spain has positioned itself as one of the leading nations in solar energy technology.
And yet here in America, if you watch the tv news you’ll often see representatives of our business & politics sit there and pooh-pooh the practicality of these renewable energy sources. The technology is unproven, unprofitable, and can’t possibly supply enough power to meet our American demands. They portray green energy as a myth believed in by either science fiction buffs or the pitifully gullible. Meanwhile, our only real choice is to drill baby drill.
The “no we can’t” crowd finds it in their best interest to keep us enslaved to Big Oil, at least until they find a way to control the Sun. But what America finds impossible - other nations are doing.
Take trains, for instance. And I wish I could. Back in the early 1970′s my mother took me on one of the last runs of a train that went from Dayton, Ohio to Richmond, Indiana about 50 miles away. She wanted me to see what it was like before the trains were all gone. Although trains are one of the most efficient ways to move people or freight, America gave up on them a long time ago. For many decades, the majority of America’s transportation funding has gone into building highways for ever increasing automobile traffic. Back in 1964, Japan started running its “bullet trains” at speeds of 130 mph and has been improving them ever since. China runs trains at 220 mph. Imagine sitting back comfortably and reading a book or taking a nap while you are carried to your destination at 220 miles an hour! Most every developed nation, and a number of the less-developed, has high speed rail service. The U.S. of A. has a grand total of 1 high-speed (150mph) rail line and most the time it operates at an average speed of 63 mph. And I’d say that 63 mph is about double the speed of any American train I’ve ever seen. But at least we’re starting to make some effort in this area, as the 2009 economic stimulus included a relative pittance of funding for “projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service.”
President Truman first proposed American universal government health care in 1945, calling it “a definite public responsibility.” By 1964, President Johnson got Medicare passed so the government would provide for the medical needs of our senior citizens (and it worked so well that even Tea Baggers love this socialist program). Finally this year, President Obama squeezed through a bill that promised to sort of bring us closer to almost making sure most law-abiding Americans maybe have health insurance even if that still means they may not necessarily receive health care. I won’t go into a detailed description about how civilized nations have managed set-up workable universal health care systems. But here is an excellent documentary from PBS Frontline called, “Sick Around the World.” Watch it and weep for the American people.
I can almost hear some of you saying, “Well then, Parson, maybe we just don’t have the money for all those fine things they have in countries like France or Cuba. And that’s because we spend so darn much of our money helping the poor, and the workers, and the families here in the Homeland. And on top of that, we give away so much darn money to other countries.” Sorry to deflate your hot-air balloon, friend, but the facts show the U.S. is actually one of the stingiest nations with its own people and foreigners.
No, we’re not falling behind because we share so generously with the downtrodden. In fact, the cause of America’s slide is exactly the opposite. Much like the kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament Book of Amos, fabulous prosperity for the ruling class has not been tempered with compassion and justice for the poor. God sent the prophet, Amos, to call-out Israel’s rulers about the way they selfishly trampled on the less-fortunate. Then he warned them that their behavior would bring about the near total destruction of their powerful nation at the hands of their enemies. By the way – they didn’t listen.
I would certainly never claim to be a prophet, but I can tell you this: The United States has enjoyed more than 60 years as the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. Unparalleled riches and power came our way. And it’s our national responsibility to use those riches wisely. Call it God or call it karma, but allowing millions of people to be exploited for the enrichment of a tiny greedy minority is a path to destruction of a powerful nation. Even a nation that has 5,113 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
But as I said earlier in this essay: “It doesn’t have to be like this.”