Thursday, October 13, 2005



By Elaine Meinel Supkis

I remember several previous energy disasters. All start rather slowly, as reality takes grip, the first thing people do is change fuels to whatever is cheaper. Then that goes up, too. Then the rush to conserve happens. People insulate or buy new windows and doors or fix things. Then the price still climbs and the poor who can't reduce, can't insulate, can't buy anything, start to suffer.

People literally freeze to death. Landlords, unable to collect rent or unable to maintain heat in buildings, abandon them. They are then set on fire. During the oil crisis of the seventies, I watched, literally, huge swaths of NYC go up in smoke. You could sit on a roof top with binoculars and count the many fires that sprang up. I used to remove wood from abandoned, burned building to feed my fireplace because I had no heat, too.

Well, we are well into the same train wreck and with the GOP now running the ship of state, we are sinking rapidly. They sit idle while energy companies rake in the dough and winter looms and what is the GOP doing?

Cutting funds for heating homes of the poor! From Yahoo:
With fuel bills expected to rise sharply this winter, states are setting aside extra money for the poor, dispensing energy-conservation tips and pleading for federal aid to help Americans keep the heat on when the weather turns cold.

Ohio freed up an additional $75 million for heating assistance for the needy, and Wisconsin added $16 million. Iowa officials set up a Web site to give people advice on how to save energy and get aid, but they acknowledged that may not be enough.

People "can only turn the thermostat so low before it affects your health and well-being," said Jerry McKim, chief of Iowa's Bureau of Energy Assistance, which helps poor families pay their utility bills. "This is a life-or-death matter. I have serious anxiety about what folks will face this winter."
States will go deep into the red, northern states. Of course, the Feds won't help because we are spending an obscene $5.4 billion a month securing oil in Iraq to resell to Japan and Europe! This extravagant expense is even greater since we are spending another $1billion a month to secure bases in all the surrounding countries, too! So what do we spend a year on heating help?
This winter could see many more applicants for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program with not enough money to go around. Congress provided $2.2 billion for the program last year, but this year President Bush has proposed cutting it to about $2 billion.
Two and a half fucking billion bucks a YEAR! Good fucking grief!

Condi Rice just came back from a triumphal tour of the region eating up our incomes. She made a deal with one of the despots there who threatened to close our post Soviet military base and now he is keeping it open for us...since we increased the amount of money we pay as rent! So obviously, the public purse knows no limit in this regard.

Congress just eked by yet another pro-energy company bill. They have showered tax cuts and grants upon these very wealthy companies that are reporting record profits.

So, how do we fix things?

I suggest we have an "Energy Profit Reclaimation Project." Namely, a percentage of the energy companies' profits be recycled as energy aid! I would say, if it were 20%, this will raise several billion dollars and therefore, fund all the poverty programs that provide fuel, generously.

Then, to fix the budget going billions into the red: close all American military bases across the planet, close the School of the Americas (or whatever they call that monstrosity now) and tax the rich.

Revolutionary, right? You bet. Wresting power from the very powerful isn't going to be easy. Petitioning Congress when it is owned by these people will be neigh impossible. Of course, elections are coming. Will the middle class see the poverty pit at their own feet?

After all, they are all just one paycheck away from disaster. One job loss away from no health insurance. One corporate bankrupcy from 50% pay cuts. Will they wake up? Will everyone understand, the party is over now?

I will cover this as it unfolds. And I guarantee, it will unfold as certainly as a butterfly unfolds its wings.

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