Is There A
By Lin Stone
We aren't running out of fuel any time soon. Nor has the price of gas
really gone up by any appreciable amount. Compare the the rise in the price
of gas with the rise in the cost of an adequate home and you'll see what I
What we are experiencing
Back when the common back earned $1.00 per hour by the sweat of its brow our gas was selling for fifty cents a gallon. Now that American backs are earning between $6.00 and $75.86 per hour it is only natural that the price of gas should rise to $3.00 per gallon. Considering the quality of our fuel, the price has actually gone down quite a bit.
While none of us likes the newest price of fuel, let's remember that we were even unhappier when fifty cents a gallon first came upon us.
The pickle suckers of our society have been squealing on the gas supply sensationalist plug for the past ninety years. Keep it in mind that the only way for pickle suckers have to make a living is by predicting one crisis after another, pointing their shaky fingers at one issue after another until the whole world is grimacing in actual pain and pessimism. This is not an energy crisis but purely a social dilemma, much like the Mexican Caballeros once faced when they HAD to use a horse to cross the street not because they couldn't walk but just because if they didn't use a horse their peers would believe they had lost social prestige.
There is no denying that using the modern health care system will plunge anyone into bankruptcy unless they have adequate (and un-cancelable) health insurance.
Let's back up a step though. Has it ever been proven that our unhampered modern health care system would actually provide a better state of health to American citizens?
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While we may have an identity crisis going on we certainly don't have an energy crisis lurking anywhere close. At this point we simply need drivers to be more responsible. Everywhere you look today there are fuel-guzzling monsters hunting out distant mud holes to wallow in, purely in the name of fun. Every weekend millions of boaters head for the lakes and streams for hours of chugging around just like there was an inexhaustible supply of energy. There are people who drive to the store three times a day. There are people who drive thirty miles, past nineteen supermarkets, to save fifty cents at their favorite store.
If there really was an energy crisis sneaking up on us a simple solution would fix the problem almost overnight: Just double the taxes at the pump on fuel and let people readjust their lives around luxury costing more. Before you know it, we'd be inventing excuses to only go to the store once a day instead of three, walk instead of ride, acquiring bicycles to go short distances on, and scooters to jet around town on. Fuel would only be used for long trips and we would definitely cut down on the number of long trips. Fuel consumption would be cut in half and station owners would be moaning to Congress for subsidization laws to protect them just like they were farmers or something important.
That brings up the point of Congress and the media blaming farmers for higher prices on our grocery shelves. Poor farmers must be burping bitterly in their cups of cappuccino over that one. Farmers are the one segment of society totally at the mercy of someone else for the prices of their product. Clothing manufacturers? They can raise their prices. Candlemakers? They can raise their prices. Bakers? They can raise their prices. Carmakers? They can raise their prices with impunity. Cereal makers? They can all raise their prices.
But farmers? These poor guys are TOLD what their products are worth. "Your cows are worth .." "Your corn is worth .." Even worse, the farmer is only told the value of his product AFTER he has gone to all the expense and effort of planting it, protecting it, plowing it, harvesting it and presenting it for market. "Gee, I should have raised corn this year. You can get better odds at the casino."
Now, let's go to the supermarket for a sack of potato chips. That big, family-sized bag? The farmer only gets eight cents for the potatoes that went into the package, but who gets the blame for you having to pay the cashier three dollars? The farmer. Rodney Dangerfield never had it so bad.
If there ever is a real fuel crunch a few simple changes in our lifestyles will put matters aright in a hurry. For example, if you look at all the city buses running to and fro you will notice they are usually almost empty. If citizens realize how much they can save by taking buses those numbers can double. When buses begin to get crowded more busses can be bought and even more savings realized. When I was a child we bought groceries once a month. By the time I was grown we were buying groceries once a week. These days it is hard to remember a day we didn't buy groceries of some kind. No wonder there are endless streams of cars hurtling down the highways, usually almost empty. Just checking regularly with our friends to see if anyone can benefit by going the same direction we are can save fuel consumption by one third.
In the same way, once we change social perceptions from only poor people ride the bus to only dumb people don't ride the bus this energy crisis will be on its way to being solved. All we really need to do is curb our spending habits and begin to brag on our neighbors and other people that walk farther than they drive.
If the energy crisis gets downright pickle-sucking bad we could shift our social identity from car ownership to car rentalship. This step alone would eliminate the junkers and clunkers overnight and slash the energy drain by half. People could be encouraged to work closer to home, or even at home. The next step towards a solution would be to off-stagger working hours to alleviate rush hours and relieve jammed traffic street strain. Bicycle routes could be established for the general populace to popular city destinations. Wider walkways would encourage people that had to drive to get out and walk for their health.
If the energy crisis ever does threaten to turn into a real crunch it could be avoided by a shift in sources. Right now the turmoil is in raising prices for corn in an effort to produce enough ethanol so we can continue our irresponsible driving habits. We can't produce enough corn to feed us and fuel our vehicles too.
First off, it isn't a case of either or. There are millions more acres suitable for raising corn IF prices go up in an effort to invite farmers to accommodate. If we run out of land, Mexican farmers would LOVE to sell their corn to us. Second, other grains are raised much easier than corn and harvested more efficiently.
Third, instead of using only the one small portion of the crop to produce ethanol we can use the total plant to produce heat either by burning, or by compression and make electricity for smaller vehicles used for inter-neighborhood jaunts.
Fourth, we can use things that aren't even crops yet to produce heat either by compression or by burning. For example, we have kudzu growing in rampant rages in the South and we have red cedar trees threatening to take over the entire plains country of Oklahoma if we don't do something about it. In New York there is garbage by the metro-gallon.
In each region of the country there are other commodities that are at present causing a problem because they multiply faster than rabbits on welfare. Every day of the year in every state in the union there are trees and other vegetation being shoveled aside in the name of progress then burned to get it out of the way. Take this scientific fact to heart: Anything that will burn, be it grass, garbage or trees can produce no small measure of heat. Heat can produce electricity when properly harnessed, and never forget that heat itself is often a very desirable product.
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