If you’ve followed American politics, even loosely since George W. Bush, stole office in early 2001, you would have realized a few common themes that separate this administration from the other more competent, tolerant and knowledgeable administrations that have come before it (read: pretty much every administration ever).
For one thing, Bush and his political pals love to make charts with tiers, as evidenced by the now-infamous “Terror Alert” chart that was just so essential informing us of those all-important “we don’t know where, we don’t know when, we don’t know how, but the terrorists are going to blow something up soon, so you might as well go down to Wal-Mart and buy some damn duct tape” alerts. Of course, they love making these charts even more when they are accompanied by a helpful color-coding technique (insider information has informed me that the colors were added so that even Bush himself could understand the chart).
The latest user-friendly chart came after Bush recently enacted into law a $12 billion energy bill, one that – not surprisingly – does little to address our long-term needs for decreasing the pollutants in our air that have been known to, among other things, cause a variety of cancers and are attributed to the sharp increase in our children’s asthma rates. Ironically, the bill actually invites auto manufacturers to increase their production of beast-cars like the Hummer, a car that so gluttonously guzzles gas that it would put any of us beer-chugging I.V. partiers to shame.
How does the bill accomplish this seemingly counter-intuitive rollback of the already pathetic fuel efficiency regulations? Through – you guessed it – a handy dandy tier chart. In this chart, car manufacturers are no longer asked to regulate their gas mileage based on a one-size-fits-all classification for a certain type of vehicle. Instead, our brilliant elected representatives have decided it would be better to break down those classifications into six different tiers based on their size. So far, so good, right? It is, until you read the fine print: The bill does not require regular cars to improve their fuel efficiency, only what they classify as light trucks and SUVs (and these improvements are not even close to where they should be). The legislation even goes so far in its ridiculousness as to exempt any vehicle over 8,500 pounds from these regulations, because those vehicles are generally used for “commercial purposes.”
Commercial purposes. Yeah, right. The last time I saw a Hummer (one of the cars that is too massive to be regulated under the new energy bill), it was being driven by some trophy wife soccer mom who’d gone a wee bit overboard with the Botox injections on her way to pick up bratty Tommy and slutty Taylor from practice. As an added bonus, the owners of the beast-car were so devoid of any self-awareness that they thought it would be cute to put that omnipresent “Support Our Troops” ribbon on the bumper. Support our troops? Well, let’s see, your sport utility monster gets 13 miles to the gallon, at best… so, yeah, you better support our troops. Almost 2,000 of them have died in Iraq so you can fill up the tank that just barely gets you to your weekly plastic surgery appointment. If you want to talk about the epitome of American selfishness, arrogance and disrespect for anything that does not involve me, me, me (and my money), look no further than the Hummer. And the new energy bill invites the campaign-contributing auto industry to crank out more and more of these badass mobiles. Democracy at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.
On top of all this, a new global warming study released last week shows the Arctic ice sheet continuing to melt at an incredibly shocking rate, and experts predict that the area will be completely melted by the end of this century. According to an article in TIME on the topic, this could spell disaster for humans, with the higher temperatures causing everything “from droughts to crop failures to the migration of tropical diseases” – and that’s not even considering the destruction to several animals’ habitats.
The new energy bill does not sufficiently address these real and deeply concerning problems. Instead, politicians have decided to again fall back on what they do best: thinking up short-term non-solutions to long-term problems in order to make sure that the industries that gave them the dough will continue to do so.
Joel Aurora is a sophomore political science major.