Big Buts Block Our Energy Independence

The statement: "America must reduce its dependence on foreign oil" is frequently heard nowadays.

Quite so, but:

1. Do not the wealth and power of the American oil oligarchies rest upon the foundation of "America's dependence on foreign oil"?

2. Would not any significant reduction in American dependence on foreign oil threaten the wealth and power of the American oil oligarchies?

3. Then should we not expect the American oil oligarchies to do all in their very considerable power to block any developments which would significantly reduce America's dependence on foreign oil?

A bill was recently introduced in Congress which would require automobile manufacturers to increase the fuel efficiency of their future models. Good idea, but the bill was defeated.

The energy bill now working its way through Congress incorporated financial incentives to energy companies to use more renewable fuels such as wind and solar power to generate electricity. Good idea, but a last minute amendment effectively gutted the bill of the financial incentives.

Diesel-electric locomotives used to haul railroad passenger trains are very much more fuel-efficient than jet propelled aircraft used to haul airline passengers. It is repeatedly suggested that funding to the publicly owned railroad passenger train operation, Amtrak, be increased, to allow Amtrak to begin construction of high-speed rail operations throughout the US. Good idea, but Amtrak is being allowed to die a slow death for lack of funding while our government hands out billions of tax dollars to the airlines for bailouts and subsidies.

In the 2000 elections, 58% of Florida voters voted for an initiative which commands the state of Florida to begin construction of high-speed rail facilities between major Florida cities by the year 2003. Good idea, but the state of Florida has mounted a campaign, led by Gov. Jeb Bush, to repeal the initiative.

And so it goes, and will continue, until last drop of oil has been pumped out of planet Earth.

Of course there will be token gestures to give the impression that our government is acting to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil. Some dribbles of funding for fuel-cell cars, high-speed rail, etc. Much talk but little action.

After all, an oil oligarch doesn't have to fight "rush-hour" traffic, or stand in check-in lines at airports. His private jet stands ready to whisk him anywhere at a moment's notice. His helicopter can quickly transport him from his backyard to the heliport on his downtown office building. Or, if he so chooses, he can let his chauffeur fight traffic while he sits in the back of his limo, sipping a cocktail and perusing the stock reports, occasionally looking out the window at four lanes full of assorted 18-wheelers, buses, trucks, and SUVs, crawling along, guzzling petroleum fuel, and lining his pockets with gold.

Gus Mirsalis
Richmond Heights, Ohio

Family Farmers Seek Truth and Justice

Throughout the last year the issues of family farms vs. factory farms have impacted our communities all over the country. With the scenario of factory farms destroying family farms and the environment, all have been awakened.

In my home state of Iowa some of the local elected officials were empowered by the people and became leaders in this state with a factory farm building moratorium and health ordinance combinations to protect their constituency (us). We thank them!

Agri-business does not have many morals &emdash; except to their bottom line. We need to turn back the drive by agri-business to eliminate independent family farms and replace [the farms] with a system of ownership and/or control by them absent any accountability to society or the environment!

This fight goes to the very core thoughts of this country &emdash; the ideals of a democratic republic vs. today's corporate reality. In the US and Iowa livestock debate it has boiled down to corporations aligned with Farm Bureau leadership and their political allies, which is a scenario of them vs. community and the common good!

I question people who are on "less government" to "no" government "crusades." Farm Bureau and their allies come first to mind &emdash; they seem to oppose any regulations on livestock production ... they are narrow focused ... why? Does Farm Bureau's vision of Rural America consists of depopulation, no rights for rural residents (only "if you don't like it, move"), unregulated animal factories, and farmers controlled and/or at the mercy of agri-business? As with Enron, corporate America prospers with no accountability! The only thing we have between the "evil doers" and us is activism and good government &emdash; be patriotic &emdash; seek truth and justice &emdash; stand with us!

Who has a rightful claim to our constitutional rights &emdash; corporations or people (communities)?

Chris C. Petersen
Vice president, Iowa Farmers Union
Clear Lake, Iowa
Email Cpetersn@netins.net

Don't Complain with Your Mouth Full

At an annual cost of less than six tenths of one percent (0.6%) of the total US annual federal budget, US farm policy assures the US consumer of the safest, most affordable food in the world! The US consumer spends 10.9% of his spendable income for food &emdash; the least in the world [according to the USDA].

This 0.6% of the total federal budget is vital to a strong rural and urban economy. The food and fiber industry creates 25 million jobs, produces $3.5 trillion in annual output, and accounts for 15% of the annual gross domestic product of the United States &emdash; larger than the construction, transportation and utilities industries combined.

The federal dollar invested in agriculture produces 35 times as much in gross domestic product terms as the average federal dollar invested elsewhere!

William J. Kaliff
York, Neb.

Two Worlds

A beggar came to my door this morning. It was about 6 a.m. I looked through the glass at him. He was African-American and very thin. He asked for food and clothing, and offered to wash my car. I consented, and he went to work while I searched through some old things which no longer fit me. He asked for cigarettes. I asked him if he got any kind of public assistance. He said he got S.S.I., and that he lived in the mountains.

The gross national product of the United States in 2001 was $9.87 billion dollars. We are fond of saying that we are the wealthiest country in the world, but that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a very few. The beggar is likely to go to bed tonight on the topsoil of a mountain made of granite, covered by who-knows-what for warmth.

Pacifica Radio recently reported that in the decade following the Rodney King riots, South-Central L.A. lost an enormous number of jobs. Almost simultaneously, KNX newsradio chimed in, saying that during the Clinton years, Los Angeles experienced almost no job loss. It is as if there are two worlds in our city.

Is this the America of which we all must now be so proud or risk the calumny of financial elites? An America in which a man sleeps on the ground surrounded by million-dollar homes? It is an old question, and while somewhere it says that the poor shall always be with us, it also says that the exalted shall be humbled and the humble, exhalted. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

The man at the door was my brother, and yours, too. He was just as much a human being as Donald Trump. He may come to your door next. Will you look him in the eye, or will you avert your eyes in shame? Will you open the door, or will you fear him? I know what I will do. I recognize that beggar as my neighbor, and love him as myself.

D. H. Kerby
Los Angeles, Calif.

Check W's Resumé

Candidate G.W. Bush, in his resumé to the American people, said, "I flew until I was discharged" and "I'm a businessman"! Were Arbusto, Spectrum 7 & Harken Energy failing companies? How many shares of stock did G.W. Bush take with him when he left? Haliburton was on Dick Cheney's resumé! A few year's ago, Dick Gephardt ran for president and a college term paper was called into question! Before Enron, there was Arbusto, Spectrum 7 and Harken! Why are the president & vice president getting a pass on their resumés to the American people?

Gary Lee
Roanoke, Va.

Under Whose God?

The recent court ruling stating the phrase "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional raised a furor in many people and a question in my mind. Which God is being referred to? There are many amongst us who will point to the Christian Trinity &emdash; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Others amongst us will claim God's name is not to be pronounced and deny the Trinity. Still others call God Allah. There are those who say there is no God, the Buddhists. The Hindus say there are many Gods, all of whom are aspects of one central being which is all existence, Brahma. Beyond this there are a variety of independent thinkers who have seen God in many different lights. Do you understand my confusion? In this great country of ours with its many people from varied cultures, what do we mean when we say it is a nation under God? Until we can clear that point up, maybe we should exclude the phrase.

Art Hambach
Aurora, Ill.
Email bigart@ameritech.net

Military 'Intelligence'

The obvious question about the Bush administration and the 9/11 attacks is:

If the US intelligence community indeed let the president down prior to the 9/11 disaster, then why is he pushing for first strike capability based on information he would inevitably be receiving from these very agencies?

If they can't get things right to protect our own fellow Americans, should we be entrusting the lives of millions of citizens abroad to our supposedly incompetant bureaucracies?

That's almost as absurd as Bush, who was not democratically elected, telling Yassir Arafat, who was, that he has no right to power.

Sheryl Zettner
San Antonio, Texas

Greens Will Keep Fighting

Here we go again. (In whining tones): Why don't the GREENs stop running candidates that "spoil" the election?

Get real. If they did that, every Demo running would do what Gray Davis did in California, knowing that he's finally screwed CA bad enough with the Enron deal and his purchase of energy at the HIGHEST peak possible that even Joe 6-Pack has noticed the mess the governor's made and now hates him. So what does he do? He uses a considerable amount of his war chest to knock off the moderate Republican to leave a nightmare opponent, sure that NO ONE will dare vote for the third party when the specter of Simon looms.

Really? We GREENs will pull more Republicans than ever, along with the disaffected Demos.

Don't you think it is verrrry interesting that with a majority and near-majority in the federal legislative branch, the Demos can't give Baby Bush any trouble at all with his agenda? With a small minority of Republicans, the far right never gave Clinton a free breath for 8 years, even BEFORE he was in office.

Ralph Nader was right: the bulk of the citizenry (the Progressives) "don't get no satisfaction" from either head of the Hydra.

Andrea Dorey
San Jose, Calif.

Try a Single Tax

First Enron, now WorldCom; these two debacles could never happen if the single tax proposal were enacted into law. It uses a concept of taxing all transactions at the point of origin. It includes all transactions from the creation of and all movements of money. This single tax could replace all the federal, state and local tax structures. It would be virtually impossible to evade or be abused. To find out check the message at (www.taxmoney-notpeople.com).

Paul R. Bottis Sr.
Worcester, Mass.

Don't Be So Opinionated

While looking for something to read tonight, I came across a roomate's copy of The Progressive Populist. What I found as I read was less a newspaper than a severely biased, poorly written, poorly edited political rag. It's not so much that I disagree with any statements made, but a newspaper should be a newspaper: full of news, not editorials. I don't even mind a bias; the Seattle Times reporters are surely biased, but in what they write about, not how they write. Your "reporters" give their overt opinions in every story, nay, in every paragraph, which makes for difficult reading, as well as making me believe that you all are a bunch of hacks and amateurs. Keep the political debate going, but lay off the mudslinging.

Nathan Darden
Seattle, Wash.

Editor replies: Some people think it's more honest, in the spirit of full disclosure, for "newspapers" and their writers to keep their biases out front and center.

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