Energy Policy

Posted by David A. Peterson on 21. November 2008 in Issues |

Okay enough already. Being in my late 40s this is the second energy crisis that I have lived through. The first one back in the 1970s left a stain in my psyche that I just can’t clean up.

I remember the long lines and short tempers that occurred at that time. People were pushing their cars to the pumps. The shots from the local news helicopters of desperate people waiting for gasoline were unbelievable.

Here’s one that I remember from the 1970s we had little red stickers placed on the light switches in my elementary school in Longwood, Florida. Those stickers said… “Turn out the lights we only have 12 years of oil left.” Even in elementary school I didn’t believe the 12 years of oil but I was seeing first hand the effects of not having a real energy policy.

At the time OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) was the cause of our energy problems. They just banded together and cut back on oil production. OPEC’s decision to use oil as an economic weapon in the 1970s is the primary reason why most middle aged people distrust the governments of all Middle Eastern countries.

The energy shock we had in the 1970’s threw the economy over the edge of a financial cliff. For almost a decade we had economic stagnation that depressed jobs, the economy, and ultimately the stock market.

A new term developed as well, it was called “stagflation.” Stagflation was the culmination of inflation coupled with the stagnant economy. American’s got a double economic whammy – no jobs and higher prices.

Richard Nixon ended the Vietnam War and with it the war time economy, Gerald Ford tried to “WIN” which was his famous acronym for “Whip Inflation Now” and Jimmy Carter just couldn’t get the economy to cooperate. Ronald Regan was elected president because the nation was sick and tired of the horrible economy.

Fast forward 30 years and this past summer I again saw long lines and short tempers. I saw police officers having to direct traffic and calm patrons at our local stations in Atlanta, Georgia. I saw news helicopters giving us a bird’s eye view of the trouble. Even in towns that had gasoline the price was over $4.00/gallon.

Just as the helicopters were reporting the news the economy went into a tail spin and Barrack Obama was elected. The reason – again the nation is sick and tired of worrying about the economy.

What struck me in both events is that it is possible to cripple a neighborhood, city, county, state, or our nation’s economy pretty easily. The crippling event is energy.

When oil was at $140/barrel this past summer it was the final factor that threw our nation into a financial crisis. The credit crunch was caused by the housing depression and the housing depression received its final straw from the artificial oil tax that ravaged every consumer in our nation.

Here’s the way I see it…

At $140/barrel my own family’s personal gasoline bill went from around $200 month to over $500 month. This didn’t just happen to my family; the increase in oil affected everyone. The higher prices were just like a giant tax. Everyone took money that would have gone for food, clothing, and shelter – the three elements of modern life and sent it to our old friends at OPEC.

Have you had enough already?

Conservatives need to band together and work with the incoming Democratic majority to create a real sustainable energy policy. Cars, trucks, trains, and planes need to be the starting point of that policy before either the terrorist or the general worldwide population increases drive the price of oil to $200/barrel.

Conservatives have to realize that this energy issue is bigger than any one individual or even one corporation the size of Exxon can handle. We have to realize that standards of efficiency have to be set, technology has to be developed, and infrastructure needs to be built.

As conservative we have to lead. We can’t sit this one out. We will probably see $200/barrel oil as soon as the world economy heats back up. If $140/barrel taxed us into our current situation what will happen when we are paying $200/barrel? By that time we need to be well on our way to some form on energy independence.

Also this is one of those big issues that if we lead, we may find ourselves in a pretty political place when we get there.

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