Friday, April 21, 2006

Shaming JFK's sacrifice creed

Few phrases in modern American politics inspired so many as President John Kennedy's 1961 inaugural appeal, "Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."

JFK's heirs, sadly, seem to have forgotten about sacrifice.

U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy and his nephew, Robert Kennedy Jr., used their names and influence, along with others, to effectively help kill a farm of 130 wind turbines six miles off Cape Cod, thereupon contradicting their lifelong claims of championing energy independence.

Estimates were the giant wind-driven propellers would save 113 million gallons of oil per year, or 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas or 570,000 tons of coal.

But the Kennedys complained the 400-foot-high turbine towers would interrupt their ocean views from Nantucket shoreline sites. From six miles, the turbine towers would be only the size of a fingernail.

The Kennedys could have argued against the wind farm on other counts, as some opponents did—safety to shipping, costs, and the like. But the Kennedy insistence that the view of privileged shoreline homeowners should override alternate energy sources is lame and selfish.

Breaking the addiction to oil will be unpleasant for everyone. Sacrifice will be required. In helping kill a wind farm, the Kennedys have shown unwillingness to share ocean views for the national good.

Now JFK's call to sacrifice might read, "Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you."

What will the Kennedys' stance be when wind farms are proposed for backyards of other Americans?

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