Archive for Saturday, April 9, 2005

Simons: Nation must get serious about energy, Social Security crises

April 9, 2005


What are the chances or what would it take to get our leaders in Washington to forget politics and do what is in the best interest of this country? Not what is best for either the Republican or Democratic Party but what is best for the United States and its people?

This sounds like daydreaming and, in many ways, it is, but stop to think what might be accomplished if, by some magical means, those in Congress and the White House and in state legislative bodies throughout the country decided it was time to shoot straight with the public.

Regular unleaded gasoline is creeping toward $3 a gallon in San
Francisco, with some saying it could hit $4 before long.

Regular unleaded gasoline is creeping toward $3 a gallon in San Francisco, with some saying it could hit $4 before long.

There is only so much time to get things done. This does not suggest the world is coming to an end in "X" number of days, months or years, but rather that, when faced with serious challenges, every day wasted in taking positive action is indeed a day wasted, and who knows whether there will be a second opportunity to correct the matter.

Two issues before Congress, as well as the public, are extremely important and have been for years. Unfortunately, little significant progress has been made in past years to address these two highly important issues.

How long before positive action will be taken on these matters? Is it going to take a very real, immediate crisis to sufficiently raise public demand and the awareness by our nation's elected officials that there is no more time to posture, play politics and endanger the country and its citizens?

U.S. motorists are likely to face even higher gasoline prices in the coming months, and there are those who say gasoline could hit $4 a gallon before long. But the danger is far greater than just the cost of filling a vehicle's gas tank.

The dwindling supply of oil, plus the far greater demand for oil, coming quicker than many had predicted has caused a lot of talk and posture but little significant action to address the problem.

Environmentalists have been effective in stopping exploration in various offshore areas, as well as certain parts of Alaska. Are these people prepared to play "chicken" on this issue and refuse to make any concessions even in the face of growing dangers to the U.S. economy and Uncle Sam's position in world commerce? Is it a case of who is going to blink first?

There is a lot of talk about solar energy and greater use of the country's vast supplies of coal. Unfortunately, there has been far too little discussion of nuclear energy, a low-cost, clean energy source that could fill a large percentage of this nation's energy demand.

Apparently, too few people really think there will be an energy crisis, and too few legislators and national leaders are making a strong case for greater oil exploration, conservation practices and faster research and development of nuclear energy, solar energy and coal.

Why not act as knowledgeable, concerned adults rather than politicians playing to their constituents and worrying about gaining or losing votes? How about doing what is right and in the best interests of the country? What importance do those opposed to greater oil exploration give to preserving and even strengthening the U.S. economy?

The same thinking applies to the Social Security challenge. If nothing is done to protect and strengthen the system, it will go broke and be unable to pay anticipated benefits to citizens when they reach retirement age. No one questions or doubts this will happen; the only question is how soon.

If that's the case, why not get to work today to fix the problem rather than allowing it to get worse and being forced into a not-too-well-thought-out, quick-fix solution?

The president claims funding will be inadequate to meet all the claims by a certain time, while Democrats are adamant the president is crying wolf and that the financial crisis is much further into the future than Republicans are claiming.

Why play games? Why not fix the upcoming shortfall?

It would be interesting to keep the dates being suggested by both Republicans and Democrats in mind and, at some time in the future, see who was right. Unfortunately, those who today are fighting any reform measures will be long gone from the scene -- either dead or out of office -- and when survivors are asked why they didn't act when they had a chance, they are sure to offer some lame excuse and blame someone else.

When is this kind of irresponsible action going to stop? When will lawmakers realize their true mission is to do what is best for the country rather than giving first priority to ensuring their chances for re-election.

They are shortchanging the public and the country.

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