Monday, August 11, 2008

Week of 08/11/2008

Carter Was Not Right
– by David Matthews 2

“Jimmy Carter was right!”

That is the mantra of liberals as they discuss America’s continued energy dysfunction.

“President Carter was right,” they would say in their own unique ways in newspaper column all across America. “We don’t need to drill for more oil. We don’t need higher fuel mileage or to get rid of the SUV. We just need to put on a sweater when it’s cold, turn down the thermostat, and not drive as much and we’ll get through this just fine! If we did those things when Jimmy Carter was still president, then we wouldn’t have this problem today!”

What a load of bull!

Okay, first of all, Jimmy Carter wasn’t right when he put the onus on the American people and just told them to “grin and bear it” back in 1979. The American people were looking for leadership for support, and instead they got sympathy. The two are not interchangeable!

To be honest, telling Americans to simply put on a sweater when it is cold wasn’t the only thing that Carter did, but it is the only thing that sticks out in the minds of Americans. Carter was the one that pushed for fuel efficiency standards. He started that dismantling of President Nixon’s price controls for oil, which he believed caused much of the gas shortages in this country. He put in solar panels and a wood-burning stove in the White House. He even set down a doctrine in 1980 that said that any action that impeded the importing of American oil from the Persian Gulf was tantamount to an act of war.

That doesn’t sound like any liberal today, does it?

But we don’t remember him for those things. We remember him for telling Americans to just “grin and bear” the discomfort.

And now, thirty years later, we’re still having problems dealing with our energy resources. But instead of gas shortages, we now have obscene price spikes. In Jimmy Carter’s days, three-fourths of our oil was domestic. Now almost three-fourths of the oil we consume is imported. Thirty year ago, we were calling for the elimination of price controls. Now we are actually DEMANDING price controls.

If Carter was “right”, as the liberals continually claim he was, then why have the conditions we are in become inverted?

It’s not because Carter was “right”… because he wasn’t… but because we are still looking for leadership, and so far we haven’t got any.

People don’t like being told that they have to fix a problem themselves. As someone who has to deal with technical support, this commentator knows the mentality all-too-well. When friends or relatives call on me to fix their computers, they don’t like being told that THEY have to do most of the work. They just expect me to show up, do my magic, and everything works again. Quite often, they’ll feign ignorance and/or sheer incompetence. “I’m technically-illiterate” is their mantra. Guess what? I was too… but I figured stuff out on my own, and so can you!

But the truth of the matter is this… there are some things that are beyond the scope of our own actions. For instance, when it comes to energy resources, we don’t set the policy that allows the oil companies to export our own oil to other nations while becoming more and more dependant on foreign imports. We don’t have any control over that. Our government does. We can’t control the fuel emission standards for the vehicles we can purchase. We can only choose to buy the vehicles that are available. We can’t tell the automakers to make a car that gets at least 50 miles to the gallon. We tell them and they laugh. Our government controls those standards. Only our government can tell the automakers that they have to make a car that gets at least 50 miles to the gallon.

In those instances where we the people have no power to make the changes needed, we need government to do their jobs. In those instances, we are looking for those in charge of government to reassure us that those things will be done. In those instances we are looking for leadership.

In Carter’s tenure, there was an ongoing accusation that the oil crisis was artificially generated by the oil companies to eliminate the price controls on gasoline. Rather than investigate the oil companies and promise to prosecute them if such proof did exist, the government gave the oil companies exactly what they wanted. Not exactly a sign of leadership that the American people were looking for.

In fact, Carter’s so-called “Crisis of Confidence” speech was pretty much a reaffirmation of the common perception that our government let its people down.

So now here we are again, thirty years later, and we are still looking for leadership. We are still looking for ways to get us out of the problems that we are in.

And what are we hearing instead? We are hearing that America is “addicted to oil”. We are hearing a lot of talk about alternatives, a lot of talk about wanting to find new sources of oil, but very little action itself.

We have members of Congress pointing fingers at each other and demanding action on only one solution while busy crucifying the other side for their favored solution. They are more interested in gridlocks and deadlocks and running out the clock until the next vacation than in doing anything substantive.

And what sorts of alternatives are being proposed by the two men who want to replace our current Doofus-in-Chief? Well, we have one presidential wannabe who wants to give Americans a gas tax holiday, and the other wannabe wants to tax the hell out of Big Oil’s profits (which doesn’t work anyway) to give Americans $1000.

And the guy currently in the Oval Office still thinks that giving Americans $600 per person somehow rejuvenated the economy. This is the same Doofus-in-Chief that stayed on vacation in 2005 while New Orleans flooded and America was suffering from outages. Leadership was needed then, and our “fearless leader” was blatantly negligent.

And our liberals are busy patting themselves on their backs and crowing that “Jimmy Carter was right!”

Let’s get brutally honest here… Jimmy Carter was not right. Jimmy Carter was wrong about a lot of things. He was wrong in believing that making a speech reaffirming the government’s failure will somehow inspire change. He was wrong in believing that taxing the profits of Big Oil wouldn’t somehow be passed down to the consumers. But more importantly, he was wrong in believing that Congress would actually carry out any of his programs as he intended.

Carter believed in his speech that “We will protect our environment. But when this Nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.” And yet we have placed the demands of the Environmental Protection Agency above the need of a new refinery or a new pipeline to the point where both are sorely needed and yet they’re not being built. If Carter was right, then why weren’t they done when the Democrats were in charge of things in 1993? Instead, why were sweetheart deals brokered with other nations whereby we would give them our oil and we would become more and more dependant on foreign sources?

In short… if Jimmy Carter was so “right”, then why were Democrats busy doing the complete opposite of what he believed needed to be done?

And if he was “right” then, why is it that the opposite is happening today? Why are Democrats pushing FOR price controls and NOT pushing for higher fuel efficiency standards sooner rather than later? Why are Republicans pushing FOR tapping into prohibited areas for oil and yet not worried about the countless areas that the oil companies ALREADY own that are going untouched? Why is it that an OIL MAN is coming up with energy alternatives that would appease the liberals, and yet the liberals can think of nothing but ulterior motives?

And why is that liberals are so busy beating their chests about why Carter was “right” thirty years ago when he talked about us having to “grin and bear it” and not about the other programs that he was pushing for at the time?

It is true that someone took Carter’s words of action to heart. A certain body of government took up Carter’s call for alternatives and made it real. That body of government made the hard sacrifices needed thirty years ago to break their dependency on foreign oil. Today more than half of that country’s motorists run on vehicles powered by alternative fuels that are more efficient than anything American alternatives can offer. That country is now unaffected by the skyrocketing price of oil. They don’t need to worry about OPEC or APEC or any other foreign source getting stingy. And they are the number two oil exporter in that area.

I’d love to say that it was our government that did what needed to be done thirty years ago. But it wasn’t America that made the dream of energy independence a reality. It was Brazil.

Today we can’t even begin to try to do what the Brazilians pulled off, for that kind of action requires leadership and a plan. We have neither here in America. We just have career politicians pointing fingers at each other and worrying more about keeping their jobs than in actually doing them. We have consumers that are experiencing the same helplessness and the same hopelessness as was experienced thirty years ago. And we have those in the media that are boasting about how the failures of a politician thirty years ago somehow are validated today.

If Jimmy Carter was “right” thirty years ago, then we would not be having this conversation. We would instead be breathing a sigh of relief in knowing that the antics of third world leaders would have no effect on the American economy. We would not be worrying about the price at the pump hitting $4 a gallon or $5 a gallon. The airlines would not be able to justify crappy customer service and excessive fees. Automakers would be opening new plants rather than closing down current ones. We would not be worrying about how people would be heating their homes in the wintertime and fretting over how many people would freeze to death. We would, instead, be worrying about the other nations and how they would be coping with skyrocketing gas prices.

And we would not need liberal commentators in that hypothetical world to proclaim that “Jimmy Cater was right”, because, if it were true, then the proof would be all around us.

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