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Ron Hart Columns: Drilling for common sense in Congress

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Drilling for common sense in Congress

July 6, 2008 - Panama City News Herald

By Ron Hart

With gas over $4 a gallon and politicians trying to blame each other for not having done anything, let me apply some reason and fresh focus to what is going on here. It has gotten so bad that Al Gore had to turn down the heater on his private residence pool, which he never uses, from 83 to 81 degrees. He is even thinking about swimming a lap in it one day, if he were ever home resting up from saving the environment and the world and such.

A recent front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC, or "Al Jazeera Constitution" as locals call it) led with a piece about offshore drilling that said, "Opponents contend that developing new oil sources would take too long to have much effect on current fuel prices." Like all the major monopoly papers that are leftist echo chambers, the AJC take its talking points from Nanny Pelosi, who said that any new drilling will take three years to help us. You know, the same thing that she said three years ago.

Just how short term has our thinking become in this ADD country? Our procrastination on energy solutions reminds me of a story about an old farmer who had a leak in his barn. One day, when someone asked the farmer why he had never gotten up there to fix the roof, he said, "Well, when it rains it leaks, and I cannot get up there to fix it. And when it ain't raining, it don't leak and it don't need fixing."

That old story sums up our aloof politicians' attitude toward any difficult, long-term problem that we face. It has been hard to fix our energy situation with all the dipsticks in Washington.

It's not like we should believe that they have a fix. We know the solution is letting businesses provide the supply to feed the growing worldwide demand for oil. It is just that politicians get in the way of solutions by making ever-more complex rules and regulations which drive oil companies overseas to produce oil. All the while, the oil producing thugs of the world laugh at us for not opening up off-shore drilling or ANWR.

The Democrats, who are invested in defeat in Iraq, are also happy to do nothing about the high cost of gas, since it mostly hurts the GOP voters. Red state suburbanites who drive to work each day, and do not regulate their carbon footprint like the libs would like, find no sympathy in Democratic policies. Most blue states contain major cities with fewer cars and more public transportation. Along with the environmental extremists, the Dems seem to sadistically enjoy $4.20-a-gallon gas and the pain it is causing their detested "average Americans" who "cling" to their cars - the cars they drive to work so they can pay taxes and support their families.

I am certainly for efficient mass transit and use the rail as a practical way to get around big cities. I would use the buses more, too, if they just did not make stops before they got to my destination. I do pick up trash and actually jump on idiots who throw cigarettes or trash out of their car windows. But I am not posturing as "environmentally friendly." In fact, I am not friendly at all - just ask anyone.

And yes, I do buy in to the dismissive line that we need to invest in alternative fuels - having first heard it from Jimmy Carter in 1976. It is a great political one-liner that seeks to dismiss any questions on the matter. No doubt we should invest in wind power, so as not to be as dependent on foreign wind. Yadda yadda - but if there were economically viable solutions, the free market would have produced them by now.

I know the conspiracy theorists say oil companies and Bush have hidden the technology to build a car that runs on water. That, I know for sure, is not true; it implies intelligent planning and forethought by the Bush administration, and as we sadly have come to find out, that is not plausible.

John McCain has had the only real idea for an energy solution: a $300 million prize for the inventor of a battery-powered car. At least he has the wisdom to say, in essence, that we in government have proved that we have no idea what to do, so we are going to get out of the way and farm out the idea-making to the private sector to let entrepreneurs work on it. Wow, now there's a novel thought!

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Columns by Ronald Hart. Ron grew up in Tennessee and began writing a column for his hometown paper in 2002. He attended The University of Memphis and the Institute for Political and Economic Systems at Georgetown University. Ron graduated Magna Cum Laude and was elected student government president. Upon getting his MBA, he went to work for Goldman Sachs. He was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by then Governor Lamar Alexander and is now a private investor. He appears on CNN and has been quoted in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. His columns reflect a rare combination of Southern libertarian views and humor. They have been described as "Lewis Grizzard meets P.J. O'Rourke with a dash of Will Roger's horse sense". His columns are carried by 30 newspapers with a total weekly circulation of approximately 1 million readers.