a living thing in the forest

In 2002, Martin Feldstein wrote an article for the National Bureau of Economic Reseach describing a plan to decrease US consumption of gasoline.  Very shortly after 9/11, the connection between oil and national security was easily made.  I love the idea of Oil Consumption Vouchers as described in Feldstein’s article.

Last winter I read The Lacuna, a novel by Barbara Kingsolver and she described how, in the 30’s We the People pulled together, embraced rationing, for the common good of our nation and the world.  Americans had a common goal.  We were united.  I was not born yet, but I know women who painted lines up the back of their legs to simulate nylon stocking seams to give the illusion that they were not out in the world bare-legged.

Oil Consumption Vouchers could be our modern Community Voyage.  Conservatives and Progressives may not agree on why we, as a country, need to decrease our dependence on fossil fuel.  National security, global warming, save the earth, save our strategic political/economic dominance, decrease the deficit.  It really does not matter why you might choose to participate.  We can each hold our opposing ideologies and achieve the same goal:  use our own oil reserves as much as possible.

OCV’s will not solve the problem, but it is a step and more importantly, it is a step we can take together.

Our government needs our help.  Our democratic system is struggling right now.  Politicians are squeezed between the need to make vast sums of money to get reelected with the lobbyists holding all the power and the fringe of their constituencies.  Tea party, Coffee party, Blue Dogs.  And the majority of us now call ourselves “independent” and wait for the radicals to elect their candidates in the primaries so that we can choose from lesser evils in the general election.  We the People need to step up for energy policy, national security, deficit reduction, planet health and take action on our own behalf.

Unfortunately, I cannot find another reference to this plan.  I have written to Dr. Feldstein asking for more current information.  His assistant says that he is traveling.  I will await his reply.  Oh, and send him this blog entry.

Are you in?



July 9, 2010

Gross Domestic Product. The GDP was calculated by John Maynard Keynes in 1939 and published in the London Times to help the UK not overspend on WWII like it did on WWI, and therefore not cause inflation to hurt the working class. It worked.

We are only as healthy as our GDP? It is recovering, but not very fast. A Wall Street Journal article (January 30, 2010 Growth Hits 6-year High) explains that businesses, after being burned in 2008, are not hiring quite yet, but adding hours for current employees. Sounds like good policy. Hiring and firing is costly to an organization.

Companies that run lean are a good thing, right? We don’t want staff hanging around doing nothing. “Idle hands are the devil’s workplace.” Too much time to get together and gripe or compare paycheck stubs. How many times have I moaned about crews for my utility company: one guy working and three watching.

In the news bites, the government wants the recovery to be faster, hoping that companies will put some of their profit back into to payroll. Hope all you want, Gov. Or just hire them? OH, that is what they have been doing and getting criticized for expanding government. Except of course the person who got the job is not criticizing but pleased with the paycheck.

GDP. Am I the only one who sees a problem with measuring our society on how much we make and how much we sell/buy? It is a rhetorical question that I will ask anyway… What else can we measure our society by? Something 21st century not 20th industrial revolution. And not wartime?

Venus project perhaps?