A False World As We Thought We Knew It
By James Donahue
The ongoing disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is only the tip
of an iceberg that floats below the sea of chaos now surrounding us.
The oil spill, caused by a rush to turn to deep water drilling
to find more sources of crude, is a reminder that the world is running out of oil and that America’s source of natural
gas from the earth and gasoline from refineries mostly located along the Gulf of Mexico is in jeopardy. We should not be surprised
that fuel costs are rising in proportion to the basic economic law of supply and demand.
If fault can be found, it lies in the fact that most of the
industries’ eggs in the United States are in one basket. Many of the nation’s refineries are located near the
Gulf Coast within reach of destructive storms. Now this spill from a deadly platform explosion and collapse is putting an
exclamation mark on an environmental and social disaster that has been brewing for far too long.
A large percent of our supply of oil and especially our natural
gas comes from hundreds of oil and gas supply platforms standing in vulnerable sites in the gulf. Few if any new refineries
have been constructed in the United States for about 30 years, which some say was a plot to create a false shortage and thus
squeeze the price of fuel oil and gasoline up.
But if the world is running out of oil, the oil barons know
this, and there was probably logic in not investing in new refineries. The price of fuel was bound to go up anyway. It all
points back to the old economic law of supply and demand.
But now that we are in an economic collapse, we have another
very big issue to face.
Can a nation of people living on reduced, fixed or no income
whatsoever survive a winter if the heating bills shoot through the roof? How many people can afford to drive individual cars
to jobs that pay little more than minimal wage with gasoline costs rising above three and possibly four dollars a gallon?
Can we envision the horror of finding an untold number of
elderly citizens frozen in their unheated homes because they could not afford the cost of fuel? And how many people will perish
in fires caused by trying to heat their apartments with make-shift wood burning stoves or by turning their gas or electric
ranges on at full blast?
As President Barack Obama has been warning, as did a line
of presidents preceding him, our dependence on oil as our primary energy source has been wrong for far too long. We now find
ourselves in a desperate need to find alternative energy. Industrial leaders should have been investing in this research many
years earlier. They would be better prepared to cash in on their knowledge now that everything is hitting the fan.
While some money has been earmarked for assisting in the development
and sale of solar and wind power, and a move toward rebuilding our outdated and struggling rail system, Congress has been
reluctant to approve the kind of funding that is needed to put America up to speed.
What was always needed as we multiplied in numbers and built
great cities was a mass transit system that supplied the needs of all. We started in that direction when the first railroads
were built. We were well on our way when we established bus transit lines that reached into even the rural towns. People could
hop a bus and go just about anywhere at a very reasonable price when I was a young man.
This is no longer true.
Instead of building it better, we were sold on the automobile.
Everybody had one if not two in their garages. Consequently we abandoned trains and dismantled much of our great railroad
system. In recent years we tore up miles of track leading to rural America. The bus services were squeezed almost out of existence
by that commercially generated love of the American automobile, even when we were getting strong clues that it was all coming
to an end. People put blinders on and believed the American dream of a future when there was “a chicken in every pot
and a car in every garage.”
Lured by clever advertising everybody wanted individual
homes filled with the latest in gadgetry. We were willing to go deep in debt to have these things. We tossed away perfectly
good used items because we were enticed by the lure of “buying new and better” things to replace them. Thus we
became a materialistic throw-away society. We ravaged our planet’s resources. We lost our connection with the Mother
Earth. We forgot who we were. We made money our god.
This folly has led us down a road to disaster. The fruits
of our great blunder are now upon us. While we weren’t looking the bankers, insurance companies and industrial leaders
plotted to seize the wealth.
International trade agreements allowed industry to move out
of the United States and take those good paying union jobs with them. Tempting low interest mortgage rates built on balloon
payment agreements enticed many people to buy homes they could not afford. Laws forced everyone to pay a high price for insurance
on those houses and high prices cars.
When the crash came, the wonderful dream world that we lived
in for the last fifty years came crashing down like the house of cards it always was. Now everyone in America is facing reality,
and what is real is ugly.