There is a crisis happening on a global scale, and we here in the United States of America have a moral responsibility to take action to help alleviate global food prices and ensure that millions of people do not suffer the ill effects of hunger and possibly even starvation. We are all complaining about the high cost of oil these days and how it is impinging on our budget, but in the developing world this is having extreme consequences.
The stark reality is that three billion people on the planet earth live on less than $2 a day, and a good portion of that money goes specifically to the purchase of basic food grains to survive. As a result of the skyrocketing price of oil, the price of food grains has risen due to commercial production costs and transportation to as much as $800 a ton for rice which has led to food riots in the developing world.
The reasons for high oil prices are complex, and due to many factors, but we can take steps now to deal with the global oil crisis and help people in the developing world avoid a worsening food crisis. One of the principal factors in the current oil crisis is directly related to the US invasion of Iraq. The war in Iraq, which administration officials believed would lead to democracy and stability has instead resulted in civil war and prolonged military expenditures. The financial uncertainty in the marketplace regarding the instability in the middle east has driven oil prices even higher and the worsening Federal debt, greatly impacted by the hundreds of billions of unpaid dollars committed to the war effort has made the dollar less attractive to global investors, driving down the value of the dollar in relation to global currencies and discouraging investment.
With President Bush refusing to reduce troop commitments below 140,000 and Congress seemingly unable to limit the power of the executive branch to spend money we do not have on a war we do not need, the global markets are losing faith in the security of the dollar and the American economy generally. This situation has been further complicated by the credit crisis which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of foreclosures and displaced as many Americans who are having to scramble for someplace to live. The credit crisis, which was permitted to go on for far too long due to the lack of oversight and failure to enact basic regulatory responsibilities, is another factor contributing to the weakening American dollar globally and lack of faith in the American economy generally.
Then there is the lack of any long-term vision or reasonable central planning in regard to domestic infrastructure and planning for the utilization of limited resources. This is a long-term problem, which is fundamentally an aspect of free trade policies and decades of deregulation and faith in a free market policy to solve all problems. In order to get a grip on the reality of an entire domestic economy that has been oriented toward free market economics imagine the situation of a western gold mining town in the nineteenth century. Many of these boom and bust economies were based on the immediate availability of a limited resource which brought immediate corporate investment, short term economic gain and left long term environmental disasters. In addition, when the gold ran out, almost every gold mining town became a ghost town.
This is the reality of the current oil economy. Regardless of how you look at it is that we are investing in a short-term resource which took millions of years to develop and which we are now burning through in less than a century. If we would like to avoid looking like a global ghost town we must begin to take realistic steps now. The federal government is the only collective entity, which has the infrastructure and collective wisdom to deal with this looming crisis for which we have not to this date made any effective steps toward resolving.
I support investment in the alternative energy infrastructure. We have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in a war we cannot win and in the meantime oil corporations are making record profits at the expense of the working people in this country. I say let’s take away their profits by investing in something they cannot profit from. The sun is an unlimited source of energy and the wind is always blowing. Why are we letting the oil companies and their investors get rich while at the same time we are warming the earth with devastating consequences? It is because we have continued to let the powers that be make decisions in Washington which are always in the interest of free market profits without consequences. What we need is to reign in the free market ideology which has driven us to this precipice and begin to use the long term wisdom of a federal government that is looking out for the basic needs of working class people, the environment and the health and well being of everyone on this planet.
When we begin to treat the oil crisis like the problem that it really is and begin to take realistic steps to find ways to power our automobiles, heat our homes, produce our food and generate our electricity the people of the developing world will thank us. We have had one of the strongest economies in the world and we are resourceful and ingenious nation, always up for the challenges that face us. I have faith that we can make the right decisions, but we must take the right steps. We must move away from a free market ideology with respect to energy and specifically oil and look toward government investment in the alternative energy infrastructure. We need to end the war in Iraq and stop acting like there are no consequences for spending hundreds of billions of dollars that we don’t actually have. We need to balance the federal budget and restore faith in the economy for the global investment class. We need to address the housing crisis in this country with stronger regulation and no corporate bailouts for Wall Street investment firms that have profited at the expense of the poor. We need to take a second look at how we do our cities and ask if unlimited sprawl is really the best idea for urban development. But most of all, we need to elect representatives to Washington DC and to all levels of government who are going to have a long-term vision and will vote for policies that are in the best interest of our country.