Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Declaration of Independence necessary -- this time from oil

No attempt is made at being funny in this post; sometimes the state of the world intrudes.

I saw a reprint of this story in this morning’s Sun-Times; what follows is from Malia Rulon’s article in the Cincinnati Enquirer:
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Miami Township, said Wednesday that she has struck her own blow in the war on terrorism: She bought an ethanol-powered vehicle.

"I will be one of the first in line to buy ethanol this month," said Schmidt, the proud owner of a red 2007 Chevy Tahoe that runs on either the E85 blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline or - if it must - gasoline. Her license plate reads: "E85 4 OH."

But Schmidt said she didn't buy the SUV because ethanol is less expensive or better for the environment. For her, the new car is about stopping terrorism by reducing the amount of money being sent to the Persian Gulf.

"I'd rather give my money to a farmer in Ohio than a Saudi sheik or an Iranian terrorist," she said in an interview.
The Congresswoman is imprecise. There are no problems that arise per se in giving money to Saudi sheiks; the problems come from where the Saudi sheiks send so much of that money. (The alliance with Wahhabism, if now on somewhat shaky ground, has long provided the means by which our Saudi allies have kept their monarchy intact.) And there may not be “Iranian terrorists” as such; the Persians merely finance and supply and train their Shi’a brethren, such as Hezbollah.

The Enquirer article notes that the new alternate-fuel Tahoe retails for $34,000-$47,000 – a fact that has been sized upon by “Schmidt's Democratic opponent, Victoria Wulsin, who... said Schmidt's purchase ‘smacks of insincerity... because not only does it not help us, but she's driving a model that none of her constituents can afford.’"

Somebody has to buy these vehicles, however, so the price can come down: This is the way of technology. Cell phones and computers are ready examples of products which were formerly very expensive, but which became less and less expensive (or providing more and more ‘goodies’ for the same price, which is an illustration of the same principle) as more and more people bought in. What the Republican Congressperson from Ohio is doing – if I may cite on Ms. Schmidt’s behalf a mantra from the Democratic Party – is providing an illustration of the principle, “Think Globally, Act Locally.”

The Curmudgeon is in the market for a new car at present. That is the topic of a much more amusing post which I hope to someday write. Unfortunately, there are no hybrid vehicles or E-85 vehicles anywhere in my price range. I will have to settle for a compact car with the best possible gas milage – and hope that, when next I am forced to buy a car, I will be able to buy one that does not make me contribute, however unwillingly, to further violence in or from the Middle East. Obtaining true independence from oil and gasoline should be a national objective – indeed, an international one, among all of us here in the dar al-Harb.

The need for a real alternative to gasoline is brought home by these two other stories in the news today, one the big story about the Brits foiling a plot to blow up multiple U.S.-bound airplanes, possibly using some sort of liquid explosives – and the other an update on the 11 of 17 Egyptian exchange students who disappeared en route from New York to a “cultural exchange program at Montana State University last month.” Shannon Prather’s story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press describes the arrest yesterday of one of the students in Minneapolis. Two others were arrested in New Jersey after they turned themselves in Wednesday.

Prather quotes FBI sources as saying none of the three students arrested so far posed any threat to national security.
"We have no indication that these individuals posed a terror or criminal threat," said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko, based in Washington, D.C. "In the post-9/11 world, the U.S. government works very hard to connect all the dots. There is nothing wrong with these guys. It's just an abundance of caution."
This is all very reassuring, of course – but what about the eight still missing?

1 comment:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Best to be cautious then the alternative happen.