Independence, or… privatization?

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Best idea I’ve heard all day, from the Washington Post:

Some say the president should set aside, or scrap, his Social Security plan and dedicate his second term instead to dramatically restructuring the way Americans power their businesses, homes and cars. They cite the confluence of three events as reason to act immediately: the steep rise in oil and gas prices, increased U.S. dependency on the oil-rich Middle East and skyrocketing demand for oil in China and India.

Note that the “some say” in the first sentence include several key Republican luminaries, including “Frank J. Gaffney Jr., a Reagan administration defense official, R. James Woolsey, a former director of central intelligence, and Gary L. Bauer, president of American Values, a Christian group.” None of these folks are laboring under the delusion that the energy bill now circulating through Congress, mostly just stuffed to the gills with handouts for GOP donors, is at all a serious step forward.

The sad part is, George W. Bush is the one person who could really lead the charge on promoting energy independence. With has vast array of business connections, he more than anyone else could pull a “Nixon goes to China”: pressure automakers into supporting higher fuel efficiency standards, crack down on CO2 emissions, invest in R&D for alternative energy sources, perhaps even levy a gas tax that would make those fuel-inefficient behemoths on the road a little less palatable to the average car-buyer. The U.S. could hop out in front on developing the leading energy technology of the 21st century. Bush could make this happen in a way that no Democratic president ever could—if only because of the oh-so-predictable antipathy from Big Oil and Big Auto and Big whatever else. Yes, Bush could do all this, and leave a lasting and positive mark on this country, permanently improving our economic and national security.

But no, instead he’s spending all his time shuffling around the country, lying through his teeth about Social Security, and sleazily touting a program that would slash benefits, force the U.S. to borrow trillions from China, and expose ordinary Americans to risk, hassle, and uncertainty.



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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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