Saturday, May 29, 2010


It's time that I say a thing or two about the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

People's views vary regarding whose responsibility the oil spill is. I can understand that. Some people blame British Petroleum (BP) because it was technically they who were drilling for oil where the leak occurred. Others blame Transocean (the drilling contractor) and/or Haliburton. (How can people NOT blame Haliburton? It's too much fun to blame them for everything!) Still others blame the federal government (the EPA, perhaps?) for allowing this to happen in the first place. Others are angry directly at President Obama for not doing more. (Seriously, though, how can you expect him to have the time to deal with all of this in addition to the many other things on his plate right now? It's hard enough trying to get Arlen Specter re-elected!) Everyone involved in this debacle takes turns pointing a finger at someone else. It's pretty fun to watch.

What is NOT fun to watch, however, is the collection of images of birds who are becoming covered in oil simply by trying to live in their wetlands. The sticky oil makes it difficult, if not impossible, for them to fly. The fish that they eat are dying. That means less food for them. If you want a human equivalent to this, imaging going to your local supermarket to find nearly all of the shelves empty. That is what is gradually happening to these birds as time progresses.

It's not just the wildlife who are suffering from this oil spill. People are, too. Fishing for shrimp and other fish is how many fishermen and fisherwomen along the Gulf coast make a living. For them, no fish means no money. The resulting scarcity of fish will also drive up fish prices throughout the United States (and perhaps elsewhere, too). The fish that people will be able to buy might not be entirely safe. Because fish are an excellent source of things such as omega-3 fatty acids, a lack of fish in our diet may mean some holes in our nutrition.

Regardless of whose fault this oil spill is, we need to recognize the urgency of this situation. I think many people who don't live along the Gulf simply don't understand how catastrophic this whole thing has been. To many, this is just as bad as Hurricane Katrina--if not worse. Some are prediciting it could take years to recover from this oil spill.

Instead of playing "The Blame Game," how about focusing on cleaning up the area in the most efficient way possible? Some people, such as actor Kevin Costner, have made very promising proposals about ways we could do that. Still others are presenting their solutions on YouTube, such as moving some straw around in the oily water.

But before we clean up the oil, how about STOPPING THE OIL FROM COMING OUT IN THE FIRST PLACE! There's still oil spilling out, folks! And while BP has tried many things so far, we seem still to have been unable completely to shut the flow down!

Of course, the ultimate question is, do we even still need oil? We live in a world where people have designed solar panels, wind turbines, and various other devices that we can use to harness energy that we need to get things done in everyday life, to power electricity and to power our vehicles. If we really wanted to, we likely could choose to live our lives without any oil at all.

It seems ironic that BP, which recently had ads claiming that they were "Beyond Petroleum," has become a symbol of just how much we really AREN'T beyond petroleum yet in this country. Until we are, there is no real guarantee that a disaster like this won't happen again.

This Memorial Day, in addition to the fallen veterans that we honor, let us honor those animals who did not ask for oil, but whose lives we have destroyed in our quest for oil--oil that we may not even need after all.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Immigration: What IS our problem?

Today I received an email with an article by Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen. You can read what she has to say here:

I think Senator Allen actually makes a few good points. The Mexican drug cartels clearly are causing a lot of people some very serious trouble. The violence associated with them is often horrific. Ranchers along the border SHOULD be assisted in warding off these hooligans.

Yet the question that I would like to raise here is this: is the problem here really the illegal immigration? Or is the REAL problem the illegal DRUGS?

Many parts of northern Mexico--cities such as Juarez, in particular--have been struggling for quite some time with elevated levels of violence due to the drug cartels. This is not a concern for America alone. This is a concern for both America and Mexico.

So how do we resolve this issue? It's quite simple, really. We just legalize all of those drugs that the Mexicans are smuggling in. If Americans are able to buy these drugs from their doctors or at a drug store, then they won't need Mexicans to smuggle it in to them. The Mexican drug cartels will no longer have demand in America, so they will stop supplying it to America.

Why is there so much violence associated with the drug cartels? It's because drug dealers have a lot at stake. Drug dealing is a great way to get a lot of money very quickly. People who are really addicted to drugs NEED their highs. They will do ANYTHING to get their drugs--and they will PAY anything for them, too. Throw a bunch of different drug dealing businesses into one place, and they're bound to fight. Each wants to be the last one standing so that they can reap the profits of their drug sales at whatever price they want.

Senator Mike Gravel, during the 2008 Presidential Election, emphasized the importance of ending the "War on Drugs." Perhaps he thought it was important to end the drug war because of the absurd prison sentences, such as 99 years for marijuana possession--a much harsher sentence than is sometimes assigned to people convicted of murder! However, could it be that he already knew that if we did not do something, then the Mexican competition in the illegal drug market would turn to this? Regardless of his reasons for recommending this course of action at the time, what is certain is that we really should have listened to him.