This poet has a simple solution to both our unemployment and our energy problems. Yes, I know, I’m just a poet and not a scientist or professor or economist. What do I know? I know when two problems are begging to solve each other. These problems are pretty easy to observe and understand. First, our economy and our culture is based on a fuel that is dirty, expensive and belongs to somebody else. And second, we have 25 million able bodied people sitting around unemployed because we have exported the majority of our manufacturing jobs. It doesn’t take Stephen Hawking to do the math here, folks, it’s as simple as two plus two.
When I add it up, this is the solution I get. We institute a crash national works program designed to wean ourselves from foreign oil. It goes like this: We start with a massive Federal investment fund beginning with the 20 billion from BP. We put another trillion or two with it and use the money to give seed grants and loans to entrepreneurs all over the country to build worker-owned factory businesses that would produce wind turbines, tide generators, solar cells, batteries and all the other products necessary for clean independent energy. In five years we could have a tide generator every half-mile from Bangor to Brownsville. We could raise a wind turbine on every hill and pave the roofs of our cities with solar panels and put idle hands to work in the process. In ten years we could be selling clean energy hardware and technology to the Saudis and the Chinese. It would turn our boat completely around. This is not just some poet’s pie in the sky. This is within our reach. All we lack is leadership with the will to do it.
The Poet’s Eye sees a picture of Mahatma Gandhi. He is sitting with his spinning wheel. Gandhi had a theory that if everybody spent their otherwise idle time spinning thread, that this little activity would by process of multiplying good karma, sustain all of our material needs and create a world without want. This theory has never been tested in practice because our youth has eschewed spinning wheels in favor of iPods to fill idle hours. Obviously nobody thought such a simple thing would work. Nobody thought non-violence would work either but it has succeeded in toppling tyrants and regimes and corrupt institutions all over the world. This poet wonders if winding armatures for electric generators and motors works as well as a spinning wheel?
Most of us are quite willing to pitch in and do our parts. We recycle aluminum and plastic. We insulate our houses and use energy efficient lightbulbs. There are many spinning wheels out there spinning already. Points of light are fine but we need a spotlight. We need a national focus on curing our petroleum addiction and forceful leadership to point the way and encourage the troops. Obama, during his campaign, advanced the goal of energy independence in ten years. But those were the heady days of the campaign and for all his fine and flowery rhetoric, he had yet to collide with the Washington shit-wall. As long as the powers that be, namely the giant corporate interests who love to sell us junk, are clogging the legislative gears with their endless money, we will see not a whit of change. We will continue to suck oil and bleed cash.
I want to hear a speech, a Big speech. I want to hear Barack Obama in his best JFK channeling style look the American people dead in the eye across his Oval Office desk and do a one-man intervention on our junky lifestyle and say, “Friends, this has to stop or our country will surely perish. This is the plan and we can do it, we must do it, do it now or die as a nation.”
BP’s smudge on the Gulf of Mexico is the perfect symbol of how our addiction to oil can put our environment at massive risk. Barack Obama should be on this opportunity like 30wt. oil on a Riddly turtle. He should galvanize the country by exhorting, “Come, my fellow citizens and roll up your sleeves! Let’s put America back to work doing honest jobs that will get the pusher off of our backs and keep the bankers from owning our houses.”
America! Start your spinning wheels.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.–JFK