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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Contemplating the Consequences: Just Think About It!

I try to stay away from controversial topics especially those dealing with politics. I have too many friends that I love dearly and would never want to lose. We all have such diverse beliefs and opinions. Our diversity makes us strong and powerful, and I would never change that.

I could not help but observe something fascinating this breezy afternoon as I looked out my backyard to the street behind. The closest neighborhood park is about three blocks away, and usually anyone who wants to enjoy the park gets in his or her car and drives there. Today, however, I saw a group of people, adults, teenagers and children walking to the park. At that moment an incredible thought hit me. Wow! People have decided not to use their cars to save gas and get a little needed exercise at the same time. At first, I thought "this is a good thing" but then my mind began spinning and I started contemplating the consequences of not driving to save gas.

I must admit almost $4.00 a gallon has taken a tole on me. I drive to campus, to my children's school and to the supermarket and the rest of the time my car sits pretty in the driveway. So what are some of the consequences I contemplated? Well, the fact that I do little shopping means retail stores do not reap the benefits of my dollars, and therefore the state of Florida does not reap the benefits of my sales tax dollars. Share prices for many companies drop and therefore the stock market averages drop too. When the stock market suffers, investors suffer. You might not care about the investors suffering and losing money but who are these investors? Some of these investors are my fellow colleagues, neighbors or retirees living on a fixed monthly income. A school teacher friend of mine commented the other day that she had recently lost a great deal of money in the stock market. She looked worried and disappointed. So where am I going with all of this? Our actions or lack of action creates consequences, sometimes positive and sometimes negative.

Some believe that citizens in the United States have it too good and that we must suffer because the rest of the world suffers. Some propose that we give up warm houses in the winter or cool ones in the summer. Some propose that we give up our large automobiles and ride bicycles to work. Some people propose that we use a 4 X 4 piece of toilet paper, build our homes out of reusable cardboard, raise the federal income tax on every working citizen so the government can pay for socialized medicine ....must I go on. Yes. I must go on. Some have successfully waged a battle against drilling for oil right here in the US of A. Of course, I care about the polar bear, the fish in the sea and all the other awesome wildlife God created, but I also care about the humans who inhabit the Earth.

Many people believe that most of our oil comes from the Middle East, but this is not true. Most of our oil comes from the United States (41%) Smaller amounts come from Canada(9%), Saudi Arabia (8%), Venezuela (8%), Mexico (7%) and only (4%) from Iraq. In fact, according to the Council of Canadians "66 percent of Canada’s oil production is not destined for Canadians. It goes almost exclusively to the United States in the form of exports." Furthermore, if you read the Council of Canadians' article above, you will discover that the US consumer can thank NAFTA for the continued 9% of oil pumped through the pipelines from Canada to the US.

I just have another very important question to ask...where is the Democratic Congress who swore it would lower gasoline prices and make America better? Why have these senators and representatives been so quiet lately regarding gas prices? What are they waiting for? A new US President? If a Democratic president enters the White House, will Congress do "something" then or will these folks in government continue to rake in the tax dollars these high gasoline prices leave them everyday. You must admit the federal, state and local governments need "our dollars" to improve "our" lives." Don't they?

Wait a minute I am confused. The US produces 41 percent of its own oil and only 8 percent comes from Saudi Arabia and some say the Saudi's need to drill more oil, so our gas prices will fall? I am not an economist, but if demand is down in the US, and we produce a large amount of the oil we use and prices still climb, then I can't help wonder if there are other forces at work here. If the barrel of oil is at $135 or so and climbing on Wall Street, why is it climbing?

For the sake of argument, let's just say that every US citizen stops driving and "wasting gas" and instead uses a bicycle. Let's just say we use that 4X4 piece of toilet paper, stop shopping and give the government of the United States 50 percent of our pay check every week. Let's say that we live without the cool air conditioner in our cars or homes and we live without heat except for a wood burning fireplace. Wait, no can't do that either, for we would be cutting down trees, limiting oxygen and then killing the planet that God created. No heat for those of you up north, sorry.

How would the rest of the world react when we stop buying raw materials or durable goods. When we plant our own fruits and vegetables and raise our own cattle, then heck we won't even have to buy groceries and then that 50 percent of our check will serve for whatever we want. It looks like we may not even need any money and bartering would become popular again. I am starting to like this idea.

The only problem I see is what is the rest of the world going to do when the US no longer needs to import, no longer needs oil from our neighbors to our north and south and no longer has a need for airplanes or cruise ships because we have determined to conserve energy. I wonder what would happen if the US government decided to protect its borders, spend tax payer money on US taxpayers and eliminate any foreign assistance of "any" kind to "any" nation. Gosh... I am sounding quite radical. Am I not? Consequences, I am just thinking about consequences.

In the end, we are all connected and so what may seem not to affect you actually does; you just have not made the connections yet. The US citizen deserves these high gas prices, many say, because we have been bad, greedy and spoiled. We have too much, and the rest of the world has too little. Every US citizen should be made to pay dearly for his or her efforts to achieve something better and something more. Capitalism, free markets and seeking greatness creates an uneven playing field for the rest of humanity. Instead of capitalism they propose socialism or communism where you have the same thing everybody else You see capitalism promotes competition and excellence. Capitalism allowed my immigrant parents who arrived in this country with nothing but the clothes on their backs to study, drive, buy a car, go to work, buy a home and raise "free" children. Capitalism gave my parents freedom, opportunities and hope when no hope was left. If capitalism and democracy are both so destructive and evil why do more than 320,000,000 people, legal and illegal, live here? Why do so many more risk their lives to come here hidden inside cargo ships, hanging on the side of an overstuffed boat or on a raft. As the daughter of immigrant parents I have more today than I would have ever had in my homeland. And I do not refer to just the "things" I can purchase. I refer to the "things" no money can, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

I hope every one contemplates this whole gas issue, being dependent on oil that comes from somewhere else and being "too concerned" with conservation that we destroy our own existence in the process. I do not have all the answers and surely do not know all the questions I should ask. I do know that I see a "storm a c'mon" and our lack of preparation might make some of us wish we would have done things differently earlier.

I know many of you may disagree with me, and I accept that quite comfortably. I hope you check back with me in 20, 30 or 40 years...yes I do hope to live that long...and then we can compare notes.


  1. Although I don't like it, perhaps we Americans are paying for our propensity to over-consume. We are not always content with using just our fair share of anything.

    While I am not in favor of socialism or communism, I am in favor of responsible stewardship. There are those on the Right that would argue that my desire to consume responsibly makes me a socialist. I don't think so.

    I don't know what your religious beliefs are, and it really doesn't matter. However, my Christian beliefs tell me that it is the responsibility of those who have plenty to share with those who lack. Sometimes, that puts me at odds with myself and my feelings about a free market economy. I don't think our consumer greed is doing us much good these days.

  2. This is some serious and well done thinking, questioning and writing. I REALLY like this piece because you have managed to step way back and look at a HUGE picture, not just one corner, or the dot in the middle or the point on the left or right. You have raised it all. And I don't know that I have answers but what I like about this is you've effectively put the brakes on rash instant decisions and thinking. You have gone deeper. It shows me the depth of your own thinking and where you live your own life from. But then I saw that right from the start with you. SO amazing. I also, again, admire you for having the courage to speak your mind. I loved this line you wrote that said:

    "In the end, we are all connected and so what may seem not to affect you actually does; you just have not made the connections yet."

    That has often been the problem all along with us humans we act rashly, independently and with thinking of the consequences...often until it is too late.

    Excellent and gutsy!

  3. Great post!

    I second your opinion here. What are we waiting for? I hope once people start cutting back there spending these oil companies might begin to take some heat(even more than they get now!). Keep up the good work

  4. Thank you Lee for visiting and commenting. I agree with some of what you write.

    "Consume responsibly" "responsible stewardship" are good points and I doubt any conservative would think you a socialist. at least this conservative does not. I do believe in service to others; it is what I do every day of my life. However, I "chose" my charities and who to help and how to help. I do not want a government body redistributing my wealth as they see fit to anyone anywhere in the world. I question where our tax dollars go and whose pocket they fill. I trust the American people, people like you and me who believe in helping those in "true need."

    Leaving the politics out, I would not call Americans greedy, spoiled perhaps, but not greedy. Americans are some of the most generous people in the world. I think we give more aid than any other country in the world, in fact.

    Again, I have such mixed feelings about so many things right now. Writing this post was just a way for me to gather some of those thoughts. Thanks again.

  5. Wow what a great post. I agree 100%.

  6. I have not read a common-sense article that rang so true in a long time. You bring up some very interesting and little known facts, most notably the source of oil supply to America. I'm emailing this one to many people I know. It's brilliantly written, and breaks out of the standard expressions of conservationism and capitalism. There are no easy answers, but asking questions such as this is definitely what we all should be doing.

  7. Thank you Robin and Rick for your comments. I have many questions as you see here, but I wish I had answers too.

    Thank you Rebecca for your support of my post. I believe there are many people out there who are as confused and torn as I am.

    Scott thanks for your comments. I am continuing my research and hope to gather more facts to present in an upcoming post. I believe in analyzing facts first and then arriving at conclusions instead of the other way around. I can't really know what I think on a particular subject until I have gathered as much info as possible so that I can make an educated decision. Basing my opinions solely on my emotions is dangerous, and the media "does that already" so I will take on a different role. I do not want to indoctrinate but rather educate, present data and let those who read make up their own minds.

  8. Let's just put it that americans are "blessed" because we are in a society that holds a diverse culture;as a means i believe other countries need our help (desperately)! Yet, our gas prices are rediculous,and we need their fuels to help us its necessesity at least for us !


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