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Change, or more of the same?

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: June 18, 2008 2:33 a.m.
Updated: August 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 

BERMUDA - Last night, Carrie and I went out to dinner at the Four Ways in Bermuda to celebrate our 29th anniversary.

Now, before you moan and groan about "coddled liberals," let me share the back story - that we flew there on free Jet Blue tickets left over from when they stranded 100 of our people for three days and gave us 100 vouchers.
That, and two $500 discount coupons for the hotel made it a great deal during a tough time. So excuse us liberals for living it up a little on the big number 29.

A lot of water has gone under that bridge. To tell the truth, back when we were first married, there was no way Carrie nor I ever pictured ourselves owning a home, much less enjoying romantic dinners in Bermuda.

We've both worked very hard, establishing our company, raising three kids, seeing them all graduate college, and along the way, participating in the community stuff that comes with it.

And we thank so many great people in Santa Clarita who have helped make our dreams, and our kids' dream, come to life.

That's a great thing about America. Given smarts and work ethic and a functional neighborhood, boy ... with effort, folks can do pretty well.

God bless America; let's thank America for the good she provides - and God give us the clarity of mind to improve the things that need improving so the rest of our citizens can share her bounty.

Back to the "liberal" thing. That's a word that's going to get loaded up and thrown about hard during the next few months.

Most in Santa Clarita have hardly met a liberal, much less know what they're about. Well, like Carrie and I, they marry and stay married. They value education. They work hard and work for the greater good.

They're likely the folks teaching your kids for wages too low at the public schools.

When our son Jon graduated Berkeley, he took a teaching position in the New York City public school system teaching learning-impacted elementary school kids.

The New York City schools had a great deal, providing financial incentives for your Masters of Education in exchange for teaching in impacted schools. So off he went, teaching for three years in a remarkably tough spot in Brooklyn, helping kids in the kind of straits most of us will never see, much less imagine.

That's what "liberals" do.

When Chris graduated Colgate, he went off and taught high school kids studio art for three years. His job was at a private school, and after nearly starving on a subsistence teaching salary, he got accepted into Cornell for a Masters of Landscape Architecture.

He's just finished his first year, now doing a summer internship in Santa Monica. He'll graduate an accomplished architect, and will work to make our environment more attractive and sustainable.

That's what "liberals" do.

And our daughter, Katie, just graduated the University of Puget Sound, completing a great education in English Literature. Education: That's what "liberals" do.

But back to the anniversary trip. So, in addition to relaxing and romancing, I had a goal to finish reading Barack Obama's first book, "Dreams From My Father."

Scared to death by gas prices, I also wanted to read the reactive book, "The Coming Economic Collapse - How You Can Thrive When Oil Costs $200 A Barrel."

Happy to say I got them both done, and both provided good insights into where America needs to head. They should be on your reading list. Of course, in addition to your daily dose of The Signal.

The oil book deals with the notion that, whether or not you believe oil is a magical infinite resource, or conversely, that we've reached "peak oil" and that production rates are topping out and due to decline - either way, with China and India coming on fast, oil consumption is exploding demand and causing exploding prices.

Funny that "conservatives" answer this problem with proposed gas tax holidays so we just keep on burning the stuff, sending our money overseas without addressing the core problem of competition for scarce resources.

While "conservatives" would have you consume until the last drop is gone and the last dollar spent, liberals would have you ... well, conserve. We need to prudently conserve while we work our pants off to bring alternate energy online quickly - the quickest and best choice being wind-generated electricity.

But that requires a government willing to change and willing to lead. The habits and practices of the past won't get us there, and pretending there's no underlying problem just speeds our eventual impact with a rough reality. Remember the gas rationing of the ‘70s?

So for reasons ranging from gas shock, to wars, to record deficits - all of it - this presidential election is pivotal for America. Do we want change or more of the same? The trend lines aren't promising.

On the night Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination, giving a rousing speech to 20,000 cheering fans, John McCain attempted an opposing speech to a dour cluster of 600 sedated citizens in New Orleans.
Obama's crowd had the energy of a rock concert, while McCain's exuded the enthusiasm of a 30th reunion of Eternal Valley internees.

McCain stood immobile, visibly confused by the teleprompters, as he lethargically delivered mangled words mocking Obama. "That's not change we can believe in," he repeated, over and again, as though he had nothing else to say.

Observing such a confused, bumbling McCain, I thought, "That's the status quo we lost faith in!" Clearly, the dire problems we face today require a super-smart guy willing to lead well beyond the status quo.

New challenges require new solutions. Addressing our gas problem with trite tax giveaways won't create new energy or get us more gas.

Addressing America's security by running more war with economy-squashing deficits won't bring us long-term security. Old dogs don't learn new tricks; so don't expect McCain to do much else than what you've seen other old Republicans do.

A McCain victory isn't just a third Bush term. It's a third strike for America. Three strikes and you're in prison for life.

Our two strikes with Bush already have us locked up, doing hard time. On Election Day, we might just get out for good behavior. But one more strike and America gets sentenced for life with no possibility of parole.

God bless America for the good it has given us. But blessings come with responsibility to manage them prudently. America's trend lines are all pointing down, not up.

So we have two important choices: Change we can believe in, or the status quo we have already lost faith in. "Conserve" the status quo. Or "liberate" our future.

Last I looked back in Santa Clarita, gas was heading nigh to five bucks. Now that's change you're going to have to live with, unless you get change you can believe in.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port" runs Wednesdays in The Signal.

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