Friday, July 18, 2008

Donít count America out

National economic reports Wednesday called for more stormy weather with inflation rearing its ugly head at an annual rate of more than 5%.

Goods and services cost more while the dollar buys less—a double whammy. Many people who should know better expressed surprise.

Why anyone thought the U.S. would duck inflation, given its weak dollar, record high gas prices, cities designed for long commutes, highways full of fat SUVs, diversion of 20% of the nation's corn crop to ethanol, bursting of the real estate bubble and collapse of the second largest bank since the Depression is a mystery.

There's plenty of blame to go around, but Americans will be better off gaming the future than blaming the past.

Deceased Congressman and Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, who served through the 1980s, once famously said, "All politics is local."

If he were alive today, we suspect he might take that one step further. The solution to what ails us is local--and personal.

Short of giving up and waiting for someone else to rescue us, we Americans need to engage in some self arrest to stop the slide down this slippery slope.

Some signs are encouraging. Robber gas pumps have got us thinking hard, and it's beginning to show.

Here in the Wood River Valley, commuter buses are packed, commuters are sharing rides to work and more people are riding bicycles. The cities and the county finally seem to be taking valley-wide bus transit seriously.

A group called Community Rising has formed to devise strategies for survival and prosperity in this age of diminishing oil supplies.

Nationally, sales of smaller cars have gone up. T. Boone Pickens is putting up money to call for and build wind generators because the oil man says the nation can't drill its way out of the energy crisis.

Urban areas are seeing prices of residential units in close proximity to jobs remain stable or increase in value. Inefficient sprawl that hurts tax coffers, and wastes land and resources is slowing down.

An Idaho nonprofit just released a report that says that opportunities abound in the state to harness renewable fuels like wind and biomass and to create jobs in the process. However, the state's regulatory structure must change to enable clean power producers.

No one should count America out. We can have a strong economy, good jobs and good lives. We have to quit focusing on the next get-rich-quick scheme, put on some work gloves and devote our energies to designing and engineering our way to a cleaner, smarter future free from foreign oil cartels.

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