Sunday, September 21, 2008

Congressional craziness

Congressional craziness keeps United States in much hot water

WE KEEP LOOKING for an expert to explain why the economy is such a mess, but haven't seen anything thoughtful and comprehensive yet. So we'll offer our own. At least two big problems can be blamed in large part on foolish government decisions.

Why are energy costs so high, triggering inflation throughout the marketplace? Why, indeed, since the United States has huge untapped energy resources in oil, gas, coal and tremendous potential in nuclear energy. Then there are renewable sources like hydroelectric, wind and moving water energy.

Some of the problems are in developing technologies, but the nation's vast oil, gas and coal resources are largely off limits to exploration and production because Congress (with a little help from presidents like Bill Clinton) made them that way.

That makes the nation dependent on foreign sources, especially the Middle East, which is now an economic lifeline and must be defended with the lives of young soldiers and the fortunes of average taxpayers.

Many politicians have sold their souls to environmental activists and fight to block oil and gas drilling and coal mining within and around the country's borders. When the subject comes up of drilling in ANWR, a huge oil and gas reservoir, critics argue that it will take 10 years to tap ANWR. "That won't help today," they say. But legislation opening ANWR was passed by Congress in 1995, more than 13 years ago. The field could easily have been in production by now.

And why does it take 10 years to get a new field into production? Mostly government regulation and red tape. It's impossible to believe that process couldn't be speeded up and due consideration still given to environmental protection and public opinion.

Then there are the stock market gyrations triggered by a collapse in the mortgage lending field. Why did that happen? Because Congress mandated that poor people should be able to buy houses whether they could afford them or not. And the rules were loosened enough that liar's loans allowed even middle class people to buy larger and better houses than they could really afford if they wanted to bet that their income was going to go up later on.

Those who sold mortgages to people who couldn't afford the payments or were at risk of defaulting made their money on the paperwork. Afterward they laid off the loans on larger lenders who tried to make their money by buying mortgage paper in large amounts. It should be no surprise that eventually the system collapsed.

These things are all craziness, folks. They just should not be. The United States could be a wise shepherd for its natural resources and still extract them in a timely fashion without damaging the environment. Doing so would create millions of jobs as well as provide the nation with major sources of energy on its own soil.

America needs reform, all right. Most of these problems stem from congressional idiocy. How you fix that is a difficult question. We don't have the answer, just the question.
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