2007-06-29 / Columnists

The Progressive

American Ingenuity
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

The Progressive
American Ingenuity

Sandburg, the great American poet, was a scholar of the life of Lincoln, and a winner of two Pulitzer prizes, one for his biography of Lincoln and the other for his poetry. He was an American original.

This native of Illinois was acutely aware of the uniqueness of the American miracle.

Our collective experience is of a people who have overcome obstacles and became a mighty nation. We fought a cold war with the former Soviet Union. Nazism and fascism was fought with military might and defeated. We survived the great depression, the dust bowl, racism, and religious and ethnic intolerance in our shared history. We must conquer our lethargic indifference to the problems our nation faces or we will perish

Often, we despair about the debacle in Iraq, the immigration of unauthorized workers, and the assault on our civil liberties and middle-class values and way of life. If history repeats itself, Americans will realize how to resolve any problem the nation faces. What has become more apparent each day is that we must, as a nation, resolve some problems on a local level as well as on an international level. Our federal system of government gives the states responsibilities and the central government in Washington D.C. other responsibilities.

We are now faced with global warming and the problem of how to have a vibrant economy without non-renewable energy sources. All levels of government need to address the issue. We also need to coordinate solutions with other nations including China, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Using sources of food will only exacerbate the problem of world and domestic hunger. It would appear that the use of solar power, wind, and conversion of water currents is the solution. Coal conversion to petroleum will only result in more mining disasters, deaths, and global warming. The use of corn to make ethanol may cause food prices to rise domestically and across the globe. Nuclear power has obvious dangers.

Many state governments are addressing the energy problem but there is a need for Washington to set goals to reduce the emissions that are causing concern all across the globe. We need to also include the new polluters on the block, which includes China, India, Brazil, and Mexico. President Bush appears to now realize the serious nature of the problem. Is the American public willing to start anew with the vitality needed? Are we willing to recycle? Are we willing to reduce our dependence on petroleum products?

Many state government are addressing road safety. Too many Americans die and are seriously injured each year because of auto accidents. In Europe some nations have reduced deaths and injuries on the road. It may be appropriate for our nation to realize that auto accidents are as dangerous as terrorist attacks. In fact, we have a much higher risk of dying or being injured because of an auto accident, workplace accident or violence than from a terrorist attack.

I applaud state legislators that are proposing legislation to reduce accidents. New graduated driver licensing laws, the use of breath analyzers at the time of starting the engine, and the testing of physical abilities of senior citizens before renewing licenses are positive developments. Cheap, safe, efficient, and fast mass transit systems nationwide may help resolve the problem of global warming and reduce traffic accidents. Building a mass transit system nationwide and conversion to other sources of energy may provide an economic boom.

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