The Man in the Mirror

With the U.S. consuming about 20% of the world’s fuel, it’s time to take matters into our own hands to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

By Jim Callahan

You may have noticed that fuel prices seem to be on the rise recently. Quite dramatically you say you’re really ticked off about it–you say it’s putting a crimp in your disposable income and starting to have an effect on your standard of living, threatening your business, and you want to know who’s responsible. Let’s examine those thoughts for a minute

I’m told that America comprises around 5% of the world’s population and yet consumes some 20% of the world’s fuel. Despite this obvious imbalance, consider these three facts:

1. We do not have a meaningful long term energy policy. In my mind, both sides of the political aisle have nothing to brag about on this issue.

2. We do not encourage or allow oil drilling in many promising areas of the country.

3. While we have expanded many refineries, to my knowledge, we have no plans to add any new refineries any time soon, save a facility in Canada that will not help fuel costs in the U.S.

Quite similar to no one wanting a prison built in their backyard, mandates and opinions stop us from exploring for oil in portions of Alaska, off the coasts of Maine, Massachusetts, Florida and California, just to mention a few, leaving us easy and seemingly willing prey to the oil producing nations.

I don’t recall a major new refinery being built in this country in close to 30 years. There is much debate regarding the need for such an animal, but I’m told the permitting alone for such a venture would take more than 10 years. That’s a real scary situation. Talk about political paralysis.

Add to all this, the indisputable fact that we’ve sent so many of our jobs to Mexico, India, Pakistan and more recently China. Seems to me we take a double hit on this issue. First the loss of jobs and the economic strength that goes with them. Second, we are forced to deal with the reality that the citizens of those countries, naturally enough, now want to live the great American dream. Who can fault them for wanting to drive an automobile instead of a bicycle, motor scooter or merely walk, while at the same time creating an unprecedented demand for additional refined products and helping to exacerbate the present situation regarding high priced fuel?

These few lines, while admittedly over simplified pretty much say, “We are the man in the mirror,” and it is not a very pretty painting.

Forcing Change
Moving right along and making this mirror exercise a bit more personal, raise your hands if you drive an SUV or a high performance auto that calls for, and guzzles, premium gas? For the record, while I drive a comparatively economical Ford Focus, we also have and love a Mercury Mountaineer SUV. My purpose never was to lecture, but rather to try and draw a thumb nail sketch of a bad situation and perhaps get a little dialogue going or at least get us to take a good hard look at the picture in the mirror that we have collectively painted, albeit through the rear view mirror at this point in time.

Americans have had serious challenges throughout the years and have somehow always managed to rise to the occasion, but we can’t change this situation over night and it isn’t going to change without a tremendous amount of hard work and sacrifice. Our detractors are thinking were too weak and spoiled. Our enemies are salivating at the thought of an economic collapse that could eliminate us without the proverbial first shot ever being fired. We seem focused on how we are affected.

John F. Kennedy’s enduring line seems appropriate: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask rather what you can do for your country.” We are all patriotic. What we need though are patriots.

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