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(DV) Random: Paradigm Shift -- Embracing the Power of Green







Paradigm Shift: Embracing the Power of Green  
by Jack Random
May 1, 2006

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There is something profoundly disturbing in observing George W. Bush the environmentalist. If we had not already observed Bush the peacemaker, Bush the compassionate and Bush the advocate for immigrant rights, we might be tempted to take it seriously. 

The president’s peacemaking turned out to be a magician’s poorly executed sleight-of-hand at the United Nations’ Security Counsel while a predetermined plan of attack was executed on schedule. His compassion translated into a prescription drug program shell game in which every choice was ultimately wrong.  His compassion for the working class was another round of tax cuts for the elite and another “free trade” agreement with Central America (CAFTA). His compassionate words for migrant workers were delivered almost simultaneously as Homeland Security rounded up the undocumented in 26 states. 
Is this the best way to use our Homeland Security department, rounding up migrants from Mexico and Latin America? 
Just when we thought we had heard it all, the president proposes to save us from our addiction to oil through “clean coal” and nuclear technology. 
Among the most dangerous lies this president has told is the claim that coal, the dirtiest fuel on the planet, can be transformed into a cheap and plentiful supply of clean energy. Not to be outdone, the plutonium lobby (AKA big oil) promises that scientific advances have rendered the dangers of nuclear power negligible. Reminiscent in reverse of the hopelessly optimistic pauper selling an apple for ten grand (if he can only sell one), the proponents of the nuke blissfully ignore the fact that we only need to get it wrong once: Chernobyl. We have not yet begun to solve the problem of spent fuel rods yet we have taken to using spent uranium in shell and missile casings. Spent uranium is hard, hot and deadly, cutting through armor like a knife through butter, and it lives to spew its radioactive poison for tens of thousands of years. 
It is rumored that Chernobyl and Three Mile Island killed far more innocent people than will ever be known. Perhaps if we knew, we would be tempted to ban nuclear power forever. If we knew how spent uranium is distributed over the desert, suburban and urban landscapes of Iraq, if we knew how many soldiers and civilians are desperately ill or dead from that evil toxicity, we would be inclined to outlaw its use in weaponry as well. 
It is now universally acknowledged that we should have taken safe and renewable energy seriously decades ago but the oil-energy industry convinced us that all such technologies were a drop in the ocean of plentiful supplies of crude. Instead of subsidizing oil exploration, if we had committed our resources to green energy then, our world would be very different today. 
If it were not so tragic, it would almost be amusing to observe all the politicians and pundits scrambling for “solutions” to the problem of the rising price of gas. Within or without the administration, not one of their proposals will have any impact on the problem. Charge an excess profit tax and the oil industry will rediscover Enron-Anderson accounting. Implement a temporary suspension of tax on gasoline and the industry will pocket the difference. 
In the metaphor of addiction, we are the addicts. The industry is the pimp. We have no leverage. If we cannot afford the price of gas, our options are dismal.  We are in debt to our ears. We are commuters by necessity. We have no choice but to commute. We have already cancelled our vacations, rolled over our mortgages, refinanced our debts and sold our meager investments. 
Unlike other nations that have had some notion of foresight, we have had our heads buried in the dream of treasure beneath the sands of Arabia. While other nations have learned to conserve, we fantasized an unlimited oil supply, secured by the blood of soldiers and the armaments of war. 
Even now, the coalition of the profitable is a breath away from lecturing its naïve subjects: “We told you so. We need that oil and it no longer matters how we secure it.” 
The difference between America and Europe or Japan is that they have fuel-efficient vehicles and viable mass transit. The only city in America that is even remotely prepared for the coming storm is New York. The subway system may be overwhelmed but it will adjust and function. Imagine Los Angeles at five to ten dollars a gallon. Imagine the I-580 corridor between the central California valley (where the workers are) and the Bay Area (where the jobs are). 
What happens when the cost of transport consumes 50, 60 or 70 percent of wages? We are no longer talking gridlock; we are talking implosion. 
Maybe that is exactly what it will take. It is not as if we have had no warnings. Clearly, we are reluctant learners. 
The solution to this quandary is as obvious as it is daunting. It requires comprehensive change -- a change in the way we think as well as the way our government functions. In short, it will require a paradigm shift. 
At present, though we are facing a national crisis on par or greater than the Great Depression, we can have no hope of a national strategy for change. The federal government is completely entrenched, bought and controlled by the masters that finance it. The proposals offered in recent weeks, so paltry and insignificant, should be enough to convince us all that the current government is incapable of remedy. 
Rather, I propose that California should take the lead (just as Massachusetts has in medical insurance). The program must begin with a massive undertaking to transform our gridlocked highways into a comprehensive mass transit system, replete with hybrid powered subways, solar powered trains and bio-mass busses to connect the inner-city dots. 
California has the largest commuter working force on the planet. If we looked to a mass transit project as an opportunity to create full employment for all Californians, including all migrant laborers, we could effectively alter the paradigm. Beyond the obvious benefit to the environment, we would be developing the most valuable technologies of the new millennium -- technologies that simultaneously reduce global warming and our suicidal dependence on oil. 
We should not stop with mass transit. We should legalize industrial hemp (no grandma, it will not get you high) with the idea of replacing all oil-based products. We should level a tax on plastics and create incentives for alternative materials. We should institute full recycling of waste products – particularly those that are most toxic. We should require all new constructions to incorporate solar panels (as they do in Britain) and energy-efficient designs. We should unilaterally impose ever-stricter fuel efficiency standards and challenge the courts to overrule common sense and social consciousness. We should impose stiff fines on the irresponsible and inefficient vehicles on our roads and highways. 
We should join the Kyoto Accords independent of our wayward nation and become the world’s leading purveyor of green technology. 
Far from becoming a wasteland for industry, as the idiots of global capitalism forewarn, we will become the model of a new economy. We will resume the leadership role that was stolen from us by a handful of corrupt Texas energy corporations operating under the protection of the White House. 
Where California leads, the nation must follow. The case will be so compelling and powerful that not even the most dogmatic “free trader” will be able to deny it. 
How do we finance such a grand venture? 
Nationwide, it would only require a cessation of the war and the occupation of Iraq. California, however, would require creative financing -- a combination of fees, bonds and taxation. It would require initial sacrifice but it would be the best investment we ever made: an investment in the future of planet earth.

Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle, Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website: Random Jack.

Other Articles by Jack Random

* Remember the Bastille: A Response to Mickey Z
* Designated Fall Guy: Replacing Rummy
* Libertad Y Justicia Para Todo!: Liberty and Justice For All
* Barry Bonds and the Steroids Saga
* Defiling the Grave of an American Hero: The Censoring of Rachel Corrie
* Starving the Beast: Programmed Ineptitude
* Constitutional Suspension: An Abdication of Democracy
* Right and Responsibility Depictions of the Prophet Mohammed
* Open Letter to Cindy Sheehan: Challenging the Pro-War Democrats
* The State of the Union: A Stumbling Illusion of Strength
* The Presidential Power Grab
* Surrealistic Pillow: The West Virginia Mining Disaster
* Pataki & Bloomberg: How to Bust a Union
* The Imperial President and the NSA Spying Scandal
* France and the Burning Embers of Repression
* The Activist Court & the Neoconservative Agenda
* The Agnew Factor: Clearing the Impeachment Path
* Iraq and New Orleans: The ABCs of Police Lawlessness
* The Age of Catastrophe: Preparing for Disaster
* No Tears for Rehnquist: The Legacy of a Chief Justice
* Zero Tolerance: Bush Gets Tough as New Orleans Suffers
* Hugo Chavez and the American Slug: Pat Robertson’s Call for Assassination
* The Lie of a Strong Economy (Beneath the Towers of Avarice)
* Fooled Again: Major Party Turnabout
* The New War Candidate: Major Paul Hackett for Congress
* Free Judy! The Fine Art of Calling a Bluff
* Executive Blackmail: The Betrayal of Democracy in Haiti
* Blame the Democrats & Move On: The Federalist Court
* Against the Wind: The Inevitable End of the Iraqi Occupation
* London and Madrid: Reflections on the War on Terror
* Judith Miller: The Anti-Hero
* Schizo Scherzo: The Last Waltz
* The Last Throes: The Light at the End of the Tunnel
* Impeach Bush -- US Out Now!
* Recall the Governator
* The Gates of Hell: Occupied Iraq
* May Day: The Rise & Fall of the Middle Class
* The Papal Aristocracy: Confessions of a Nonbeliever
* No Citizen Left Behind
* A Marine Comes Home: The Untold Story of War
* The Compassionate Leader -- In a Time of Crisis
* In Defense of Barry Bonds
* Defending Dan? Rather Not
* David Went to Canada...& Johnny Got His Gun