Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Left Behind Again

Bush’s obstinacy about technology and innovation is screwing us again. Really, it’s not entirely Bush’s fault, it’s an American trait – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You might be saying - but Michael we invented computers! We invented the internet! We invented cars! True. Airplanes, television, light bulb. But what really happens after we invent it? We sit high on the hog for a few years until someone else steals our thunder and becomes the market leader for decades.

Do we make TVs any more? Any? No, the Japanese do all that. Airplanes? Boeing is perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy while Airbus is going like gangbusters. Toyota is kicking ass and taking names while GM is laying off tens of thousands. My favorite example is cellphones. Over the years we’d built this massive infrastructure of telephone lines. Sweden and Finland were all fuck that – we’re not building that shit. I wonder if we can make phones work without plugging them into anything (except with an adorable accent). Now they’re crazy rich with all their mobile technology, while I’m paying Verizon $149/hour to fix the fuzz on my line. All because we were too lazy to bother to look into it.

The most frightening example of this, and where Bush comes in, is our energy plan. We all know we have problems. Oil is over $60/barrel, a chunk of which goes to the terrorists who want to kill us in the first place. Not to mention we wouldn’t even give two shits what they do and vice versa if we didn’t need all their oil. The Senate just passed an energy bill which does, um... let’s see... carry the one... roughly... nothing to help our energy problems. Bush’s big ideas are “drill for more oil!” “burn more coal!” “add corn to the gas!” All these backward thinking, and incredibly pollution-filled plans.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world is looking forward. They’re working together to build a fusion reactor in fifty years. Yeah, fusion is a bitch, and no one’s sure if we can do it. But if we do, it’s like free energy without pollution for thousands of years. Shouldn’t we at least try? Iceland has already started with their fifty year plan to become energy independent.

Where’s our fifty year plan, Mr. President? Are you so busy looking at the day-to-day ups and downs in your poll numbers that you can’t be bothered to have a real vision for the direction of this country? Even assuming the worst and you couldn’t care less about the environment, what about your cronies? France and Iceland and the corporations involved are going to become insane Bill Gates-rich during the course of and especially at the end of those projects. Imagine when some French company is like, “Alright, we built a fusion reactor. Anyone who wants one can pay us 10 Kazillion Euro.” (And by then the dollar will be to the Euro as the peso is to the dollar today.)

We’re being left behind because Bush and Shell and Mobil and Unocal and whoever are so short-sighted that they can’t see past the end of the fiscal quarter. They would be wise to sacrifice a few quarters for the real money at the end of the road when the oil runs out.

The good bet says they won’t.

No comments: