How much is enough?
This is a question I often wonder about. How much more can the American public take? What will have to happen in order to actually force Washington to take action? At what point did Americans become so complacent that we simply accept our leaders’ decisions without even a whimper?
Sadly, I could be describing any one of the major issues facing our country today: the housing crisis, the economy, the war in Iraq, the energy crisis. The issue I am referring to right now, though, is the defeat of a Democratic proposal by the GOP to tax Big Oil windfall profits. (Yes, I know, big surprise – Congress isn’t “playing nice”.) Although I would very much enjoy a break at the pump, and in my food bill, I’m not sure that several billion dollars will make a difference in the long run. (My opinion remains the same on a “gas tax holiday.” What folly.) I would like to see their profits being reinvested in some other sort of energy source, which apparently is the case, yet the results remain to be seen.
So what are Americans doing about this in the interim? Are we just shaking our newspapers (or laptops?) and vocalizing a loud, “Harumph!”? Or maybe just complain over our morning coffee – or even perhaps, in a blog. In other words, not enough action is being taken.
I am informed by earnest, if perhaps naive, individuals that the answer is simply driving less. Um, what about the trucks that bring our food and supplies? Do we simply start using these items less frequently? I’m not sure that most families these days are spending money on items they can probably do without.
OK, so going back to driving less – and I think many people are adopting this approach. Unfortunately, many here in Orange County don’t really have the luxury of driving less for necessary trips such as going to work. That’s great if you can find someone to carpool with, and even better if an agreeable schedule can be worked out. However, for those of us working in research, this isn’t always the best solution (think hours that stretch way beyond your typical workday). And forget it if you try to rely on public transportation here – it’s painful at best.
The sad reality it’s very difficult to cut back on driving in southern California, not so much because of our car-obsessed culture, but because we have spread out so far that we have now become uncomfortably dependent on our motorized beasts. And, after talking with my family in the midwest and in Hawaii, it seems that it is a problem there as well.
So what’s the answer? What action do we take?