Progressive Writers Bloc

Santa Claus Is Dead

Uncle Bill Warner

All of you who understand supply and demand, raise your hands. If you have a lot of something like sand and not many people want it, the price stays down. If something is in short supply and a lot of people want it, as in the case of diamonds, the price goes up. Take this one step further. Now, all of you who know why we are building permanent bases in Iraq raise YOUR hands!

Oil and fossil fuels are in high demand in this country, and the supply is dwindling here at home. My former brother-in-law worked in the Teapot Dome oilfields in Wyoming, which was once our biggest bonanza. Now, it is dry and he is living in Bakersfield driving a truck. Once the coal deposits in this country were thought to be inexhaustible, but now abandoned strip mining pits and closed mines attest to its depletion. Our supply is going down. So, where do we get the fossil fuel we need to run our cars, make plastic, manufacture pesticides, fertilizer, electricity, etc.?

I once visited the Valley Steam Plant down in L.A., which supplies electricity for much of the San Fernando Valley. The steam turbine-generators are fueled by oil, "sweet bunker crude" from Indonesia, on the other side of the Pacific! I wonder why we supported a nasty dictator there for years. Could his guarantee of that oil flow to us have been a factor? Could our recent, and ongoing, attempts to overthrow a democratically elected leader in Venezuela be to assure the continued flow of oil, and oil profits, to the U.S.? Could our love affair with the Saudis (remember it was Saudis, not Iraqis that flew the planes into the Twin Towers) have anything to do with their oil? Could our support for the tyranical Shah of Iran, have had anything to do with his oil? Did the Iranians after the revolution call the U.S."The Great Satan" because they hated democracy, or was it because of our greed for oil? Why did we go to war in the Persian Gulf over Kuwait under George's Father? Not to bring democracy to them, that's for sure! How did our oil get beneath their sand anyway?

Most experts (the oil industry toadies aside) agree that the world's supply of oil is not getting any bigger. Our access to the lion's share of it is critical to maintaining our high "standard of living." WE NEED MORE OIL AND NATURAL GAS! Probably... unless we get serious about lowering our demand, and/or finding creative alternatives to oil. That won't happen under this government, populated as it is with oil industry people like George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. Their focus is on getting more oil, not in getting us free of its stranglehold. Unless we change our ways we will continue to wage war, support brutal dictators, and attempt to overthrow democratically elected governments to assure that flow of oil and oil profits.

So, is there any way we can cut demand without sacrificing our lifestyle? I don't think so. Are you ready to give up that big 20-mile-per gallon SUV for a smaller, 40 MPG Toyota Prius? Are you willing to move to where you work and save a two hour commute each day? Are you willing to forego that flight to Hawaii? Could you possibly use a solar clothes drier (clothesline) to save fossil fuel electricity and natural gas? Can you think of ways to help slow down world population growth? (religion gets into this one...hoooooo boy!) Can you cut your TV watching in half? Can you to use less a/c and house heating energy even if it means some personal discomfort? Would you hook up a generator to your exercise bike to charge the batteries to run your radio, TV or computer? Would you put an expensive photovoltaic array (solar cells) and a solar water heating collector on your roof? Would you consider closing off half of your house and only heating or cooling half of what you do now? Would you buy stock in a wind farm? I could go on for hours, but you get the idea....

Santa Claus used to give us cheap energy. When there was a huge, easily-accessible domestic supply of fossil fuels, we could live like there was no tomorrow. Well, tomorrow is here, and Santa is long gone. Do we have the smarts to deal with this new era? Will we cut demand or deal with more wars and higher prices?

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