We need a modern day space race to shake things up here. This is no longer the 1950's and 1960's where fears of Soviet missiles inspired us to beat them in the space races. We are losing the technology and educational/science battle and we don't even know it. President Kennedy harnessed our fear of the Soviets and used it to develop our science and technology plan for the 1960's. He said two months after Yuri Gargarin had reached space:
I believe that we possess all the resources and talents necessary, but the facts of the matter are that we have never made the national decisions or marshaled the national resources required for such leadership. We have never specified long-range goals on an urgent time schedule, or managed our resources and our time so as to ensure their fulfillment...[Plan to put man on the moon before the end of the 1960's]. Let it be clear that I am asking Congress and the country to accept a firm commitment to a new course of action, a course which will last for many years and carry very heavy costs...This decision demands a major national national commitment of scientific and technical manpower, material and facilities, and the possibility of their diversion from other important activities where they are already thinly spread. It means a degree of dedication, organization and discipline which have not always characterized our research and development efforts.Well said indeed. I agree with Tom Friedman's idea advocated first in The World is Flat and more recently in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. What if the next president, whoever it may be, said something along the lines of Kennedy and demanded an accelerated program for alternative energy and conservation to make America energy-independent by 2018.
Think of the benefits:
- No oil dependence from unstable areas of the world where we are not welcome, usually including Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Russia to just name a few.
- $140 a barrel for oil? Need I say more? Wait until next summer or until another hurricane...
- A boom in green-technology where knowledge management is in the US.
- New job creation for the next generation.
- A decrease in gas emissions. If you believe in global warming, then this applies as well. Even if you don't believe in global warming, decreasing gas consumption is still better for the air.
- By removing ourselves from the Middle East, we would eliminate one of the primary reasons terrorists attack the US. Osama bin Laden's big beef with us is 1) Supporting Israel and 2) Having Jewish and Christian soldiers in the land of the Two Holy Cities (i.e. Saudi Arabia). With no Saudi oil to protect, those troops would be home asap.
- With no oil to rely on, the above-mentioned regimes would have no way to ignore calls to reform. Do you honestly think we can force the Russians to leave Georgia when they control Europe's gas lines? Ask the Germans who voted down Georgian NATO membership (hint: it was the Germans. Any guess why?)
- After we create our own energy independence, we can sell that technology to others around the world. It's a win-win for us all. We create and patent the technology, then sell it to others. If we don't someone else will create it and sell it to us.
I know this isn't a really LDS-based post, but we are all affected by global economics, whether we like to believe it or not.
We used to say to kids: Eat your dinner because children in India and China don't have any food." As Friedman puts it, we should say, "Do your homework because children in China and India want your job."