Since, I’m on my Energy Party kick again, it occurs to me to provide you with something never previously published on the blog: My original Energy Party column from the paper. Since it was based on a blog post to start with, I didn’t post it here. Consequently, when I do my obligatory "Energy Party" link, it’s always to the incomplete, rough draft version of the party manifesto.
So, if only to give myself something more complete to link to in the future, is the full column version, published in The State on Feb. 4, 2007. Here’s a PDF of the original page, and here’s the column itself:
JOIN MY PARTY, AND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS WILL COME TRUE. REALLY.
By BRAD WARTHEN
Editorial Page Editor
EVERYBODY talks about the weather, which is as boring and pointless as the cliche suggests. So let’s do something about it.
And while we’re at it, let’s win the war on terror, undermine tyrants around the globe, repair our trade imbalance, make our air more breathable, drastically reduce highway deaths and just generally make the whole world a safer, cleaner place.
It’ll be easy, once we make up our minds to do it. But first, you Democrats and Republicans must throw off the ideological chains that bind you, and we independents must get off the sidelines and into the game.
In other words, join my new party. No, not the Unparty I’ve written about in the past. You might say that one lacked focus.
This one will be the Energy Party. Or the "Responsible Party," "Pragmatic Party" or "Grownup Party." Any will do as far as I’m concerned, but for the sake of convenience, I’m going with "Energy" for now.
Like weather, everybody talks about Energy, but nobody proposes a comprehensive, hardnosed plan to git ‘er done. So let’s change that, go all the way, get real, make like we actually know there’s a war going on. Do the stuff that neither the GOP nor the Dems would ever do.
I’ve made a start on the plan (and mind, I’m not speaking for the editorial board here). Join me, and we’ll refine it as we go along:
— * Jack up CAFE standards. No messing around with Detroit on this one. It’s possible to make cars that go 50 miles to the gallon. OK, so maybe your family won’t fit in a Prius. Let’s play nice and compromise: Set a fleet average of 40 mph within five years.
— * Raise the price of gasoline permanently to $4. When the price of gas is $2, slap on a $2 tax. When demand slacks off and forces the price down to $1.50, jack the tax up to $2.50. If somebody nukes some oil fields we depend upon, raising the price to $3, the tax drops to $1. Sure, you’ll be paying more, but only as long as you keep consuming as much of it as you have been. Which you won’t. Or if you do, we’ll go to $5.
— * You say the poor will have trouble with the tax? So will I. Good thing we’re going to have public transportation for a change (including my favorite, light rail). That’s one thing we’ll spend that new tax money on.
— * Another is a Manhattan project (or Apollo Project, or insert your favorite 20th century Herculean national initiative name) to develop clean, alternative energy. South Carolina can do hydrogen, Iowa can do bio, and the politicians who will freak out about all this can supply the wind power.
— * Reduce speed limits everywhere to no more than 55 mph. (This must be credited to Samuel Tenenbaum, who bends my ear about it almost daily. He apparently does the same to every presidential wannabe who calls his house looking for him or Inez, bless him.) This will drastically reduce our transportation-related fuel consumption, and have the happy side benefit of saving thousands of lives on our highways. And yes, you can drive 55.
— * Enforce the blasted speed limits. If states say they can’t (and right now, given our shortage of troopers, South Carolina can’t), give them the resources out of the gas tax money. No excuses.
— * Build nuclear power plants as fast as we can (safely, of course). It makes me tired to hear people who are stuck in the 1970s talk about all the dangerous waste from nuke plants. Nuclear waste is compact and containable. Coal waste (just to cite one "safe" alternative) disperses into the atmosphere, contaminates all our lungs and melts the polar ice caps. Yeah, I know; it would be keen if everyone went back to the land and stopped using electricity, but give it up — it ain’t happening.
— * Either ban SUVs for everyone who can’t demonstrate a life-ordeath need to drive one, or tax them at 100 percent of the sales price and throw that into the winthe- war kitty.
— * If we don’t ban SUVs outright, aside from taxing them, launch a huge propaganda campaign along the lines of "Loose Lips Sink Ships." Say, "Hummers are Osama’s Panzer Corps." (OK, hot shot, come to my blog and post your own slogan.) Make wasting fuel the next smoking or DUI — absolutely socially unacceptable.
— * Because it will be a few years before we can be completely free of petrol, drill the ever-lovin’ slush out of the ANWR, explore for oil off Myrtle Beach, and build refinery capacity. But to keep us focused, limit all of these activities to no more than 20 years. Put the limit into the Constitution.
You get the idea. Respect no one’s sacred cows, left or right. Yeah, I know some of this is, um, provocative. But that’s what we need. We have to wake up, go allout to win the war and, in the long run, save the Earth. Pretty soon, tyrants from Tehran to Moscow to Caracas will be tumbling down without our saying so much as "boo" to them, and global warming will slow within our lifetimes.
Then, once we’ve done all that, we can start insisting upon some common sense on entitlements, and health care. Whatever works, whatever is practical, whatever solves our problems — no matter whose ox gets gored, or how hard you think it is to do what needs doing. Stop whining and grow up. Leave the ideologues in the dust, while we solve the problems.
How’s that sound? Can any of y’all get behind that? Let me know, because we need to get going on this stuff.
Join the party at my — I mean, our– Web Headquarters: http://blogs.thestate.com/bradwarthensblog/.