Friday, February 4, 2011

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

The situation in Egypt poses many potential problems for the United States and for the world on many levels. Innocent people have been killed and human rights violations abound. Civilization in the Middle East is fragile, with radical theocrats attempting to impose stringent regulations on the populace of many countries, and if successful will have lasting negative ramifications for the world. One can cite the abuses of the Mubarak regime, and there have been many. The problem for the United States is that our nation has played both sides of the fence in the Middle East, supporting regimes that have less than stellar human rights records while at the same time attempting to establish democratic governments that respect the rights of their peoples and hopefully will be supportive of the interests of our nation. The word of the United States government in the form of support and commitment to leaders and nations has been consistent and solid- up to now. Vacillation in our relationship with Egypt has emboldened those who would turn the nation of Egypt and the Middle East into a radical Muslim theocracy and has sullied our reputation for being true to our commitments to leaders and nations. Regardless of the shortcomings of Mubarak and his leadership, he has been a supporter of the United States and our interests in the Middle East. Not backing a leader that we have said we support  has, perhaps, irreparably damaged our credibility. This loss of credibility will damage future relationships with all our allies, especially those countries in the Middle East. The ramifications of this loss of trust will be profound for the United States.

I used to work for an origami company, but it folded.

The revelation that Iran is sending insurrectionists into Egypt to attempt to further destabilize the political situation is indicative of the intentions of this rogue nation. Should Egypt fall, and other democracies such as Qatar and Abu Dhabi become destabilized, the entire region could fall under the sway of radical Islam, and the repercussions will be extraordinarily negative. One scenario is that the Suez Canal could be blocked to shipping, in particular, the shipment of oil. 28% of the oil that the United States consumes passes through the Suez Canal. Let that source of oil stop, and we will see gasoline prices soar to around $5 per gallon. Obviously, it is in our interest to keep the Canal open to all shipping, especially oil. This situation also points out the short sighted energy policies of the United States. Failure to drill for oil within our own borders and to construct refineries- we have not built a new refinery in our nation since 1973- make us too dependent on oil and energy from an area of the world that is inherently unstable and whose interests often collide with ours. It is time to allow the development of natural resources that are abundant and within our own borders to reduce the dependence on foreign sources of oil.

My new diet is heavy on local, seasonal foods. Mostly Valentine's candy from the Walgreen's down the street.

Our nation has embarked on a program of bio-fuel development to attempt to replace some of need for foreign oil. According to a recently released draft of an Environmental Protection Agency report, the expanded production of bio-fuels like ethanol and bio-diesel have created massive environmental problems such as erosion of cropland and compromised water quality from fertilizer run-off. The report goes on to state that land use changes that create arable farmland will have a deleterious effect on air quality, water quality, and bio-diversity. This is on top of the fact that upwards of 15% of the U.S. corn crop is now being diverted from the food supply chain into energy production, driving up food costs and creating shortages. While decreasing dependence on foreign sources of oil is a commendable goal, bio-fuels is a costly and inefficient method to do so.

Some days I wake up and ask what I am doing with my life. Most days, however, my wife does it for me.

And that, my friends, is my view

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