Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spilled oil and Socialism....

Lots of chatter going around about the gulf oil spill. Guess I figured it was time to check in again and organize my thoughts on the matter. That and it’s sailing season again, so I find myself with time in peaceful places to have thoughts on such things…

In a nutshell, which is how many would describe my cranium, I’m as angry about the oil spill as most everyone, though I think my anger is differently directed. It’s easy to go on a witch hunt at times like this and look for a scapegoat. It’s pretty much a natural reaction. What really upsets me is that with such an obvious example before us, most people still don’t get it. The witch hunt ends in front of the nearest mirror. I’m not angry with BP. I’m angry with America for blissfully ignoring the fact that our monster SUV’s, Mc Mansions, excesses and conveniences sent them in search of the spilled oil to begin with.

Think about it. Oil companies answer our demands. They may make more money at it than we like, but there’s no profit in drilling up even one barrel more than we buy. I’m not defending record profits and price fixing. I’m simply stating that if you do not demand and show willingness to consume a commodity, it will not be produced.

I’d love to replace my 24 year old mini truck. Trouble is, the new one has more horsepower, along with standard power everything and AC. So it gets 5 mpg less. The option for simplicity and only adequate power has been taken away. Why? Because, so I’m told, that’s what America wants.

I grew up in a house without Air Conditioning. Not even a window unit. And we survived. My Grandparents did too. Now I know lots of people in debt to their ears, who wouldn’t dream of not cranking the A/C as soon as the mercury hits 70. In fact, I’m not sure I know anyone else who lives without A/C today. Well folks, A/C is electricity and electricity is oil.

Lots of folks will react to the current mess insisting that the answer is more government oversight. More rules and standards. More inspections and police work. That might help slide the odds slightly in a safer direction. But a fraction of a percent improvement in the odds is meaningless when the numerator in the equation is exponential growth in use and consumption. Basic probability says that accidents will occur in some percentile relation to the quantity of oil drilled, refined and transported. It is simply unrealistic to expect, in a world of human and nature factors, an accident rate of zero. If it could be done, the airline industry would have made it happen long ago.

So here it is in plain fact. More oil consumed = more oil produced and transported= more accidents. The only way to reverse the cycle is from the root of the problem.

The President has stood and taken the blame for the spill. Some will interpret this as admission of inadequate oversight. I choose to see it as something more profound. We elected the president as a country, so he is at this time American attitude personified. His acceptance of blame, in my view, is acknowledgement that we as a people are to blame. But still, most people don’t seem to get it. Personal accountability has somehow been eradicated from our national culture.

There’s a lot of talk about America “going socialist” with healthcare reform and generally increased government involvement in our lives. Well, think about it people. We have before us one of the starkest examples of the folly of our own excesses in years, and still we can do nothing but blame someone – anyone else. If we choose not to look within for responsibility, eventually all responsibility will be handed over to someone else. That someone else is ever expanding government. The buck can only stop there. Make government large enough and it gets called socialist. It is our refusal as a people to take responsibility for our own actions and their effects that is bringing about this change, not the policies or will of those we elect. And, by the way, if you think this trend can turn out well in the long run, you really need to have a chat with an exile form the former Soviet Union.

Are you ready to accept some accountability and do something about having to accept less next time? Change your choices. Take convenience and excess out of the number one and two slots in favor of less consumption. If you are visiting this blog, it is because you suspect or already know it is possible. If you read on, you will see my take on how it is possible. I don’t claim not to see blame in my mirror. I only know that the inconvenience of the hard choice is fleeting and the reward long lasting. I sometimes wonder about the wisdom of my path. It carries a high price of alienation at times. But then when you have to ask yourself if there was anything else you could have done to have less of a hand in a great disaster, it feels pretty good not to come up with a long list.

1 comment:

  1. Great essay Chris, thanks! I just posted a link to you from my Facebook page, hoping that others will take aboard what you have so clearly said.

    Best regards,

    Chris McKesson