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A Simple Plan
April 26, 2002
By Lincoln Farnum

I think about our war a lot and it's not terribly difficult to make some connections that, somehow, we don't hear about on the news. The war in Afghanistan (did you know that there is talk about renaming it Exxonistan), and the one still to come in Iraq are about access to oil (though Afghanistan has some opium overtones as well.)

Our commitment to freedom in Columbia is based on protecting an oil pipeline owned by a campaign donor (and maybe controlling who gets to make and sell the drugs there.) Venezuela, well, apparently we're happy to throw out a democratically elected leader any time we can replace him with someone more.reliable. In terms of democracy and free markets we talk the talk, but we don't walk the walk, and it's mostly about oil.

Throw in ANWR, or throw it out, as the senate did last week (in a rare moment of lucidity), and then kill any mandated mileage requirements for automobiles, and it starts to look like a plan. The plan is for you to keep using oil and energy as fast as you can. Don't worry about the pollution it causes, or the environmental degradation, or the fact that our 'elected leaders' will quite happily make a deal with the devil (and destroy entire countries and kill countless other humans) to get it.

It's your right, as an American to have as much energy as you can use (well, at least as much as you can afford.)

During World War II they rationed a whole range of supplies to keep the military supplied with tires for jeeps, and fuel to make them run. This war on terrorism seems to be about being sure we have to ration nothing, except maybe freedom, justice, and civil rights. I don't know about you, but freedom, justice, and civil rights mean a lot more to me than cheap gasoline does.

So here's my plan. I say we institute a grass-roots voluntary rationing plan. We each, in this country, reduce our fuel consumption, by as much as we are able. That doesn't mean living in the dark and not going to the grocery store, it means being careful, combining automobile trips, not lighting (or heating and cooling) unused rooms, using a sweater or a pair of shorts in preference to one's perfect temperature. If we can walk or take public transportation, it makes perfect sense to do that. I'll bet that just by being conscious of our energy use, we can conserve 10-15% of the energy we're currently using.

Since the lucky 2% of us living in the United States use 40% of the world's energy, decreasing our personal use of it, though it won't translate directly since a lot of it is used to heat, cool, and light office buildings, light roads, etc., we could make a real difference in world energy markets.

We could starve the oil economy.

Would that hurt your Exxon-Mobil stock? Maybe, but it wouldn't hurt your country, or the world (dump the stock now, before this starts.) I expect that if there were any serious efforts at energy conservation, we'd all be told that it's our patriotic duty to use more energy. I'd like to see that; it would first be our patriotic duty to invade other countries to get the energy, and then it would be our patriotic duty to use up all the energy we invaded them for.

Are we citizens or a target market?

As citizens, if we don't like what is happening in our name, if we don't like the behavior of our 'elected leaders,' we have options. We might still even be able to vote to replace them. I certainly hope so.

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