Stupid White Men and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation



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Literacy Programs
Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

1112 16th Street NW

Suite 340

Washington, DC 20036

202-955-6183

www.barbarabushfoundation.com
Literacy Volunteers of America

635 James Street

Syracuse, NY 13203-2214

315-472-0001



www.literacyvolunteers.org
Even Start Family Literacy Program

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20202

202-260-0991

www.ed.gov/offices/OESE/CEP-/programs.html#prog3
America Reads Challenge

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Avenue SW

Washington, DC 20202

202-401-0596

www.ed.gov/inits/americareads/
National Center for Family Literacy

Waterfront Plaza, Suite 200

325 W Main Street

Louisville, KY 40202-4251

502-584-0172

www.famlit.org
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Are You A Potential School Shooter?
The following is a list of traits the FBI has identified as “risk factors” among students who may commit violent acts. Stay away from any student showing signs of

• Poor coping skills

• Access to weapons

• Depression

• Drug and alcohol abuse

• Alienation

• Narcissism

• Inappropriate humor Unlimited, unmonitored television and Internet use

Since this includes all of you, drop out of school immediately. Home schooling is not a viable option, because you must also stay away from yourself
SIX

Nice Planet, Nobody Home
I’D LIKE TO begin this chapter by revealing what I believe is one of the greatest threats currently facing our environment.

Me.


That’s right—I’m a walking ecological nightmare.

I am the Mother of All Bhopals!

Let’s start with this: I don’t recycle.

I think recycling is like going to church—you show up once a week, it makes you feel good, and you’ve done your duty. Then you can get back to all the fun of sinning!

Let me ask you this: do you honestly know where all those newspapers go after you drop them off at the recycling center, or where your soda pop bottles end up after you put them in the blue recycling containers? To some facility that will recycle them? Says who? Have you ever followed the truck that picks up your recyclables to see where it goes? Do you care? Is it enough for you to separate your glass from your plastic, your paper from your metals—and then leave the follow-though to someone else?

I will never cease to be amazed at the lemminglike nature of human beings and our unquestioning obedience to authority. If the sign says Recycle, we do our part, and assume everything we put in there will be recycled. If the trash can is blue, we figure that’s a surefire guarantee that the glass jars we place in there will be crushed, melted down, and made into new bottles of Ragu.

Well, think again.

One night, coming home late from work, I witnessed the garbage men tossing those earnestly clear blue garbage bags full of glass into their truck’s crusher along with all the other garbage. I asked the guy who works in our building if that was normal.

“They got a lot of garbage to pick up,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t have time to separate everything.”

I wondered if this was just an anomaly—or the norm. Here’s a few things I found out:

In the mid-1990s, Indian environmental activists discovered that Pepsi was creating a complicated waste disposal problem in their country. Used plastic from Pepsi bottles turned in for recycling in the United States was being shipped over to India to be recycled back into Pepsi bottles or other plastic containers. But the senior manager of the Futura Industry factory outside of Madras, where most of the waste was being dumped, admitted that much of it was never actually recycled. To make matters worse, at around the same time the truth about the recycling was revealed, the company announced that it was going to open a company in India that would manufacture—of course—single use disposable bottles for export to the United States and Europe, leaving toxic byproducts behind in India. So while India has been bearing the environmental and health burdens, consumers in industrialized countries continue using plastic products without suffering any of the drawbacks. And all the while we consumers cruise blissfully along, confident that we’re improving the environment by “recycling.”

In another instance, a magazine in San Francisco contracted with a paper recycler to pick up all its white waste paper each month. When one employee followed the trash out the door one day, he saw that the paper intended for recycling was being tossed in with the discarded McDonald’s wrappers and Starbucks cups. When confronted about it, the waste recycling company denied it.

In 1999 an investigation of what happens to all the waste created by Congress (insert your own joke here) discovered that 71 percent of the 2,670 tons of paper used that year by the legislative branch was not recycled because it had been mixed in with food waste and other nonrecyclable materials. That same year up to 5,000 tons of glass bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, and other recyclable waste on Capitol Hill was simply dumped in a landfill, no questions asked. Had Congress properly recycled these products, it could have saved taxpayers up to $700,000.

In instance after instance, I found the same thing. No real recycling was taking place. We were being conned.

So I stopped recycling. I came to the conclusion that when I recycled, what I was really doing was letting myself off the hook. As long as I did my little paper-glass-metal separation duty, I wasn’t required to do anything else to save Planet Earth. Once my bottles and cans and newspapers were deposited in the appropriately colored barrels, I could press reset on my conscience and trust that someone else would do the rest of the job. Out of sight, out of mind, back inside my gas-guzzling minivan.

Yes, I have a minivan. It gets about 15 miles a gallon, about 7 less than what the sticker said. I love this minivan. It’s roomy, has a smooth ride, and sits a foot above the cars in front of me so I can see everything.

I know some people say we Americans are spoiled by our low prices at the gas pump compared with the rest of the world, which pays up to three times what we pay. But hey, this ain’t Belgium, where you can drive across the entire country in something like thirty-five minutes. We live in a huge nation. We need to get around! We’ve got places to go, things to do. The rest of the world needs to understand that they benefit from our ability to get from Point A to Point B. How else are hardworking Americans supposed to get from their first job of the day to their second job at night—which is all part of a greater plan to create a global economy—if they don’t have any wheels?

See, I come from Flint, Michigan—the Vehicle City, not to be confused with the Motor City. We’re an hour north of Detroit, and at one time my hometown built every Buick in the world. They don’t build Buicks there any more.

Growing up immersed in a car culture, you come to see your car as an extension of yourself. Your car is your stereo room, your dining room, your bedroom, your home theatre, your office, your reading room, and the first place you do just about anything in your life that means anything.

When I became an adult I decided I didn’t want a General Motors car—mainly because they broke down more often than I did. So I bought Volkswagens and Hondas and drove them around town with pride. If anyone asked me why I didn’t “buy American,” I’d make them open their hood and show them the MADE IN BRAZIL plate on their engine, the MADE IN

MEXICO lettering on their fan belt, and the MADE IN SINGAPORE label on their radio. Other than the tag on the dashboard implying the entire car was made in America, what exactly could they point to in their car that actually gave a job to anyone in Flint?

My Honda Civic never broke down. For eight years and 115,000 miles, I never had it in the shop for any reason other than regularly scheduled maintenance. The day it died I was broke and on unemployment and stuck in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue about four blocks from the White House. I just got out, pushed it over to the curb, removed the plates, and bid it farewell.

I didn’t buy another car for nine years. Working most of the time in New York City I didn’t need one, thanks to the city’s fine mass transportation system and reliable taxi drivers. But because I spend a lot of time back home in Michigan, I got tired of renting from Avis and broke down and bought a Chrysler minivan. This much I’ll say—you’ll never see me stuff myself like a sausage by driving around one of those little tin cans again!

The internal combustion engine has done more to create global warming than anything else on the planet. Almost half the pollutants in our air come from the stuff that spews out of your car—and that air pollution is the cause of some 200,000 deaths per year. Global warming is jacking up the world’s temperature, year after year, which can cause increased risk of drought in some countries and have dangerous effects on agriculture and health. We’re perilously close to creating a horrible calamity if we don’t figure out how to turn down the heat.

But you should see how this minivan handles! And it’s so quiet inside—that is, until I crank up my Korn on the combination CD/tape surround-sound deck, complete with eight bitchin’ speakers. I can drive 400 miles straight with the music cranked, the air conditioning cranked, the hands-free satellite phone ready to take that all-important call from Rupert Murdoch thanking me for the fine work on this book and letting me know that my execution has been moved up to Thursday so as not to conflict with America’s Wackiest School Shooting Videos.

Detroit has proved it has the technology to mass-produce cars that get 45 miles per gallon and trucks and vans that get 3 5 miles per gallon. The year the auto companies reported their best gas mileage—1987, during the reign of Ronald Reagan—the average car got 26 miles per gallon. Yet after the eight years of eco friendly Bill Clinton—who promised that cars would be getting 40 miles per gallon by the end of his presidency—the average miles per gallon for vehicles went down to 24.7. General Motors threw a lavish party in Washington for Clinton’s 1993 inauguration. I guess it’s just impolite to upset the host of a party given in your honor.

Clinton’s greatest gift to the Big Three automakers was exempting SUVs from the mileage requirements of regular passenger cars. Because of this exemption, these gas gluttons use up an extra 280,000 barrels of fuel each day. That fuel demand is one of the reasons the Bush administration is pushing to drill in the Arctic National Preserve in Alaska. Bush says the drilling will give us an extra 580,000 barrels of oil each day, enough to double the number of SUVs on the road.

And yet consider: if SUVs had been forced by Clinton to meet the same gas mileage standards my minivan meets (an improvement of only a few miles per gallon), Bush would have no justification for drilling in Alaska.

With all these SUVs on the road, I can no longer see over the vehicle in front of me. They’re so big and intimidating, they’re like a midget 18-wheeler on crack. What exactly is the point of an SUV? Initially they were developed to give one the ability to drive in the middle of nowhere where there are no roads. I understand how that might make sense in Montana, but what the hell are all these yuppies doing inside them charging down a crowded street in Manhattan?

In June of 2001, a panel of top American scientists reported that global warming was a real problem, and it was getting worse. In their study, requested by the Bush 11 White House, the group of eleven leading atmospheric scientists (including several who were previously skeptical about the scope of the problem) concluded that human activity is largely responsible for the warming of the earth’s atmosphere—and that we’re in serious trouble as a result.

The release of the study put George “I Sleep Just Fine” Bush in a tough spot. He and other members of his administration had pointedly avoided using the phrase “global warming” and had. repeatedly expressed doubts about the idea that air pollution was heating the atmosphere in dangerous ways. Bush also outraged international leaders in July of 2001 when he rejected the Kyoto Protocol, a pact originally negotiated by more than 160 nations (including the United States) and designed to reduce global warming.

But now Bush’s own scientists were saying the Earth was on its way to a major catastrophe.

Well, I dunno: Maybe Young George has a point on this one. After all, I like it warm. Coming from Michigan, land of brutal winters and the three-week summer, I kind of enjoy this more “temperate” climate. Ask people if they’d rather have a nice scorchin’ hot day at the beach or a bitter, frigid Alberta Clipper that makes their tongues stick to their teeth, and I’ll bet you 9 out of 10 Americans already have their shades on and the portable Weber in the trunk. So what if you need sunscreen that says 125 SPF?

Last summer, though, something happened that I found slightly shocking. The New York Times reported that for the first time in recorded history the North Pole had ... melted. A shipload of scientists boated right up to the top of the world—and the ice was gone! The news induced such panic that within days the Times ran a correction, trying to reassure us: it wasn’t really melted, just a little squishy. Right. I remember the last time they tried to quiet things down—back in the 1990s, when they told us about the big asteroid that was heading for a collision with Earth sometime in the next twenty years. Again they took it back immediately, but they should know we can see right through that kind of withdrawal. The powers that be are never going to tell us when the end is nigh, given the risk of mass pandemonium and subscription cancellations it would cause.

The last Ice Age was the result of a global temperature change of only 9 degrees. Right now, we’re halfway there. Some experts are predicting a rise in temperature of 10.4 degrees just in the next century. In Venezuela, four of the country’s six glaciers have melted since 1972. The fabled snows of Kilimanjaro are almost gone. When the lighthouse at Cape Hatteras was built in 1870, it was 1,500 feet from the shore; by now the tide has risen to within 160 feet of it, and the lighthouse has had to be moved farther inland.

A melting of the polar ice caps could cause the oceans to rise by up to 30 feet, in effect wiping out every coastal city there is and taking out the entire state of Florida (voting booths and all). I realize places like New York and Los Angeles could use a good scrubbing, but three stories of salt water over the whole island of Manhattan wasn’t what I had in mind.

Speaking of Florida, that state can also be held responsible for this sorry mess. Why? Ask Mr. Freon. Before air conditioning, Florida and the rest of the South were lightly populated. The heat and humidity were unbearable. I mean, you can barely move on a 100-degree day in Texas. The air is so thick in New Orleans you can hardly breathe. No wonder people down South spoke with “such an unintelligible drawl. It was just too damn hot to form a series of vowels and consonants. I believe this brutal, paralyzing heat is also the reason no great inventions, no new ideas,

And no contributions toward advancing our civilization ever came out of the South (with a few notable exceptions: Lillian Hellman, William Faulkner, R.J. Reynolds). When it’s that hot, who can think, let alone read?

Then the air conditioner was invented—and suddenly you could actually get some work done in the South. Skyscrapers went up all over the region—and northerners, sick of the winter, came down in droves. They found that you could drive to work in your air-conditioned car, work all day in your air-conditioned office, study all day in your air conditioned college. Then you could go home at night to your air conditioned house to plan the weekend’s cross-burning and block club barbecue.

Before we knew it, the South had risen and was now controlling the country. Today, the conservative ideology that was born in the Confederate South has the nation in its grip. Mandating that the Ten Commandments be posted in public places; teaching creationism; insisting on prayer in school; banning books; fomenting hatred of the federal (northern) government; calling for reduction of government and social services; thirsting to go to war at a moment’s notice; and looking to resolve any problem through violence—these are all trademarks of the elected lawmakers of the “New” South. If you think about it, the Confederacy has finally won the Civil War—a long-awaited victory won by luring stupid Yankees down there with a promise of 5,000 BTUs and a built-in icemaker.

Now the South reigns supreme—and if you still don’t believe it, just look at our last four presidential elections. If you wanted to win, you had to have been born in the South or adopted it as your home. In fact, in the last ten presidential elections, the winner (or Supreme Court appointee) was the one with his feet planted most firmly in the South or West. No longer can anyone from the North get elected to lead the nation.

Air conditioning made it all possible. And now, having opened the door to southern pols and Dixie climes, it’s also promising to export those hot southern winds all over the world—by making the hole in the ozone layer a reality. That hole is now over Antarctica—and is two and a half times the size of Europe!

The ozone layer in the earth’s atmosphere protects us from ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can give us cancer and kill us. The hole we’ve ripped in its fabric is caused by chlorinated fluorocarbons (CFCs), chemicals typically used in air conditioners and refrigerators and as propellants in aerosol cans. When these chemicals are released into the atmosphere and struck by high energy light waves such as ultraviolet light, they form compounds that destroy ozone. The biggest contributor of ozone-depleting CFCs? Car air-conditioning units—one of America’s favorite traveling companions.

Which reminds me of another (literally) indispensable accessory du jour for hip young Americans on the go: bottled water. Why drink water out of a tap or fountain for free when you can pay $1.20 for the same thing—and get a plastic bottle you can pretend to recycle later?

I didn’t always drink bottled water in New York. In fact, I used to put faith in the folk legend that New York’s water supply is among the cleanest in the world. The water itself, I learned, is collected and stored in twenty-two open-air reservoirs in the Catskills and upper Hudson River area and brought down to the city through an elaborate aqueduct system. It all sounded so pristine.

But one night, at a party at a friend’s house, an acquaintance remarked that he and his family “try to get up to our cabin on the Croton Reservoir every chance we get.”

I asked, “How can you have a cabin on the shores of our drinking water?”

“Oh, it’s not right on the reservoir. It’s across the road.”

“You mean, there’s a highway that surrounds the water we drink? What about all the runoff from the road, all those oil spills and tire shavings and the like?”

“Oh, they sterilize everything once the water gets to New York City,” he replied.

“You can’t sterilize anything once it gets here!” I protested. “By the time it gets to New York it must already have every known germ-killing agent available to mankind already in full battle mode.”

He then went on to rhapsodize about how wonderful it is to boat around the reservoir.

“BOAT?” I cried. “You’re boating in my drinking water? ”

“Oh, sure—and fishing, too! The state lets us keep our boat right on the shore.”

That was when the cases of Evian began entering my apartment.

Of course, the downside of drinking bottled water (other than the outrageous cost) is that, like the recycling bins, it prevents me from giving a moment’s further thought to the state of our water in America. As long as I can sell enough books to afford my “French” spring water, why should I waste any time worrying about the PCBs General Electric has dumped in the Hudson River? After all, hundreds of years ago the Indian dumped their refuse into the Hudson, and the early white settlers used the river as a nonstop sewage drain. And look at the great metropolis they went on to create!

Manhattan is also a great place to get a steak. Until a few years ago, I don’t think there was day in my adult life when I didn’t eat beef—and often twice a day. Then, for no distinct reason, one day I just stopped eating it. I went a full four years without a morsel of cow passing my lips. I have to say those were the four healthiest years I’ve ever had. (Note: Guys like me define bealtby as “I didn’t die.”)

Maybe it was hearing Oprah Winfrey say on her show back in 1996 that learning about mad cow disease “just stopped me cold from eating another burger.” Of course, Oprah then had to contend with a threat that was equally dangerous: the Texas cattlemen, who sued her (and the former rancher and beef lobbyist who appeared on the show to speak about the dangers of mad cow disease) for $12 million. They claimed that Oprah and Howard Lyman violated a Texas statute that prohibits the false disparagement of perishable food products. (Please note that it was Oprah who said she was “stopped cold from eating another burger,” not me—because, again, nobody here wants to be sued.) Oprah won the lawsuit in 1998; then, just to mess with their heads in Texas, she declared, “I’m still off hamburgers.”

I, on the other hand, have unfortunately fallen off the chuck wagon, nibbling every now and then on poor Elsie. You’d think I would have learned my lesson back in the mid seventies when, instead of eating beef, I ate fire retardant.

Like millions of Michiganders, I spent a year ingesting PBB, the chemical used in kids’ pajamas—and didn’t even know it. The PBB came in the form of a product called Firemaster, manufactured by a company that also happened to make cattle feed. At one point they accidentally mixed up the bags they poured the stuff into and sent the fire retardant (labeled as “feed”) to a big centralized operation in Michigan that distributed the feed to farms all over the state. Soon the cows were eating PBB—and we were eating the cows and drinking their milk, fall of PBB.

The problem with PBB is that the body doesn’t excrete it or eliminate it in any way. It just stays in your stomach and digestive system. When this fiasco was uncovered—and we learned that the state of Michigan had tried to keep the news from the public—the residents of Michigan flipped out. Heads rolled, politicians were thrown out of office. And we were told that scientists had no idea what the PBB would do to us and we probably wouldn’t find out for another twentyfive years.

Well, the quarter-century fuse has run out, and I guess the good news is that my stomach has never caught on fire. But I’m still sitting here full of anxiety, waiting for the other hoof to drop. I can’t help thinking about Centralia, Pennsylvania—the town where residents continued about their daily business while underground fires raged on nonstop for years. Science does NOT have an answer for everything! Are millions of Michiganders fixing to develop fleece-lined cancers and kick the milk bucket? Or will we just lose our minds and find ourselves working for a candidate who can’t win but can do a lot of collateral damage?

I don’t have the answers, and neither does anyone else. If you know a native Michigander ( and I guarantee there’s one within shouting distance of you right now, thanks to the Reagan sponsored diaspora of our people in the 1980s), ask her about PBB and see the ashen look that crosses her face. It’s the dirty little secret we don’t like to discuss.

But there’s a much greater bovine threat afoot among us today~ one that knows no state or regional boundaries, one that deserves the Poeian moniker it wears like a bell around the neck.

Mad cow.


This is truly the scariest threat the human race has ever faced. Worse than AIDS, worse than the black plague, worse than not flossing.

Mad cow disease has no cure. It has no preventive vaccine. Everyone who gets it dies, without exception, a gruesomely painful death.

And the worst part is that this is a man-made disease—born of a moment of human madness, when we took innocent cows and turned them into cannibals. Here’s how it started:

Two researchers went to Papua New Guinea to study the effects of human cannibalism and how it made many Papuans go insane. They discovered that what these people were suffering from was a transmissible spongiform encephalopathic disease (or TSE). The native people called it kuru. What happens in TSE is that rogue proteins—prions—latch onto brain cells and twist into abnormal shapes. Instead of breaking down the way a good protein is supposed to do, these guys hang out and make a mess of your nervous tissue, leaving your brain full of holes like a wheel of well-aged Swiss.

Turns out that in Papua New Guinea, these prions; were being spread by cannibalism. No one seems to know where these prions originally come from, but when they get into your system they wreak havoc. Some suggest that a mere speck of prion-infected meat—only the size of a peppercorn—is enough to infect a cow. Once the little buggers are released from the beef you’ve ingested, they spread like an army of Pac Men, heading straight for your brain and devouring everything in sight.

And here’s the unbelievable part—you can’t kill them ... because they’re not alive!

The disease first entered the food chain in Britain through sheep, then spread to cows, when they were fed ground-up body parts of their fellow sheep and cows. Ultimately the diseased beef was sold to the British public. The disease may lie dormant for up to thirty years before it unleashes its holy hell; only after the deaths of ten young people in 1996 did the British government acknowledge that something was wrong with the meat supply—something they had suspected for ten years.

The British solution for eradicating the source of the disease is to destroy any cow suspected of kuru, or mad cow disease, by cremation. But when you burn them, the threat doesn’t disappear; you can’t kill them, as I said. The smoke and ash just carry them to another new location, setting them free to find their way once again to the British dinner table.

Americans are not immune from this deadly disease. Some experts estimate that some 200,000 U.S. citizens diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may, in fact, be carrying the alien protein and that their dementia is actually a form of mad cow.

Britain and many other countries have since banned the cannibalistic feeding of animals to their own kind, and no scraps or leftovers of food intended for humans can be used on cattle farms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has followed suit, banning the feeding of animals to other animals of their own kind. But cannibalistic products still get through. And how’s this for scary: many drugs and vaccines, including those for polio, diphtheria, and tetanus, may have been made with products that could, in theory, carry mad cow disease.

Both Britain and the United States have been slow to act regarding this growing plague. Make sure, if you have to eat a burger or a steak, to cook that sucker until it’s black. The leaner the meat, the better your chances.

Me? I’m going to stop eating all beef unless someone can prove to me that the PBB I’m hauling around in my innards can vaporize the damn human-brain-eating mad cow parasites.

I’ve thought about just moving to California and becoming a vegetarian. No—wait! Not California. Talk about a place with ecological mayhem afoot everywhere you turn. If the Golden State isn’t being hit with earthquakes, it’s being burned to the ground by uncontrollable wildfires. Whatever the fires don’t destroy, the mudslides finish off. If the state isn’t experiencing a major drought, then it’s being hit with La Niña, El Niño, or El Loco. The West Coast is a crazy place to drop a bunch of humans: I’m convinced that nature never intended for our species to settle there. It just isn’t constructed ecologically for our survival. No matter how much sod you lay down over desert sand or how much water you pump from the Colorado River a thousand miles away, you can’t fool Mother Nature—and when you try, Mother Nature gets really shit-faced.

The Indians figured this out early. Some scientists say there was more pollution in the Los Angeles basin when tens of thousands of Indians and their campfires were there than there is now with eight million cars on its freeways. The Indians couldn’t stand the way their smoke just hung in the air, trapped by the mountains. And when the earth moved and split apart, they got the message and got the hell out.

But not us, California is our dream. Thirty-four million people—one-eighth of our population—are crammed along a strip of land between a mountain range and an ocean. This means manna to the energy companies: thirty-four million suckers to take advantage of.

Welcome, Rolling Blackouts!

Back in the good old days, California’s electricity was supplied by regional monopolies whose rates were set by the state legislature. Then, in the mid-1990s, deregulation was touted as a, way for the companies to escape the high costs they’d incurred by building nuclear power plants—and as a way to make much more money. One of the most vocal advocates for deregulation was Enron—a major contributor to the Republican party, and George W Bush in particular.

Deregulation went into effect in 1996, thanks to a piece of legislation that took a whopping three weeks to pass and included a $20 billion bailout payment to the California utilities—most of which was used to cover their bad investment decisions of the past. For four years prices were frozen—at above-average levels—but so was competition, which is supposed to increase in a deregulated market. There was a block in effect against new power plant construction, so Californians grew more dependent on out-of-state, independent providers for their power. Thus, on and off for the past year, power has been bought on the daily spot market—at outrageously inflated prices.

Today utility customers not only pay more, they’re forced to go through certain parts of the day without electricity. But it’s not because there isn’t enough power. The Independent System Operator, the California agency that oversees the transmission of electricity, has access to about 45,000 megawatts of power—the amount needed for summertime peak demand. The power companies are holding back as much as 13,000 megawatts of this power by going off-line (for reasons they don’t have to divulge). The Wall Street Journal reported in August of 2000 that 461 percent more capacity was off-line than in the previous year. And, of course, tighter supply means higher prices.

But this is not the case in those cities served by community owned utilities. People in Los Angeles and other areas where the public still owns the energy have not experienced blackouts. Other states in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest have sufficient supplies of energy to have bailed much of California out of this recent crisis by providing almost 25 percent of its power.

While all of this Hollywood drama has been going on, junior and Uncle Dick have been seizing the moment to scare up public support to build more nuclear plants, burn more coal, drill for more oil. In other words, they want to make bad matters worse. Meanwhile, Bush has built a new home on his Texas ranch that is an environmentalist’s dream. It is fueled by solar energy, and its wastewater is recycled. And Cheney’s vice presidential residence is equipped with state-of-the-art energy conservation devices that were installed by the President-in Exile, Al Gore.

Clean, renewable energy is okay for them, but the rest of us get the message, loud and clear:

“LET THEM DRIVE MINIVANS!”

“LET THEM EAT BEEF!”



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