California energy crisis serves as warning

The United States is facing a crisis that, if not confronted soon, could profoundly affect us all. We all should take California’s energy shortage as a stern warning of what is to come if we insist on continuing the self-destructive, short-sighted policies of deregulation. Something must be done now to stem this tsunami of a problem before we find ourselves powerlessly awash in a dark sea of electricitylessness.

Electricity is the cornerstone of the modern United States. It enables all that is best and unique in our society. Without it and the comforts it provides, we lose something intrinsically tied to the American way of life. This cannot be allowed to happen.

State and federal governments must move immediately to retake control of the power industry, lest the rest of the nation fall prey to the terrible inconveniences we have witnessed all summer in California. One can only imagine the horror that would befall the nation if one day, we were to flick on a light and it responded with – nothing. Or the trauma caused by a person going to the kitchen for a midnight snack, only to open the refrigerator door and be unable to select a food because the contents of the appliance are cloaked in darkness. We cannot allow Americans to miss important meetings because their alarm clocks shut off, unbeknownst to them, in the middle of the night.

During this, the worst energy crisis since the 1970s, circumstances call, nay, demand a swift policy change. Unfortunately, the Bush administration’s energy plan promises to do little to address the root of the problem. “We all must be deeply concerned about our fellow citizens in the great state of California. But the problems in California show that you cannot conserve your way to energy independence,” President George W. Bush said a few months ago.

Though this is partially true, it fails to recognize that corporate price gouging, not a lack of conservation, led to the devastating rolling blackouts in parts of the Sunshine State. Only through governmental control and oversight – in conjunction with increased conservation efforts – can these egregious failures be corrected. And they must be corrected soon, for, as President Bush said, “If we fail to act, this great country could face a dark future.”

What’s more, the American people deserve no less. The hardships we could endure because of nationwide rolling blackouts or power shortages seem almost incomprehensible. Widespread appliance failures, missed early-morning flights and forced use of hand-powered fans are only the beginning. The bottom line is, American children should not have to drink their ice cream.

We cannot afford to become complacent at a time like this. We urge you to write, call or e-mail your senators and representatives – that is, while you still can use e-mail. They must be made aware of how we feel.

We will not be inconvenienced.