One recent evening while filling up at a Citgo station that was going to do a 20 cent per gallon jump by morning, a man with a big white pickup truck and "veteran" on his license plate, stared at my Prius and asked me about my mpg. (miles per gallon) I told him and then he said "I just spent $75 to fill up my truck - and I swore if I had to pay $65, I'd sell it."
The veteran had a cover over the bed of his truck and I said half joking, "You should have a solar panel on that thing." He nodded and proclaimed that "there are definitely engines invented right now that can get 125 mpg and oil companies buy up the patents and sit on them. "This has been a popular, and some would say, paranoid suspicion on both sides of the political divide for years. I think it's popular because each person can identify with the tactic. If your fortune was threatened by a new idea wouldn't you do your best to block it?
The veteran then surprised me by cursing Bush and his administration - "They're all oil." He hopped in his truck and took off.
Watching the plastic price banners at gas stations is like watching MTV - the images change that quickly. Price-changing is now a morning stretching exercise for station managers. Drivers plan their outings like military maneuvers. At least four tasks per outing is the only acceptable equation this September 2005.
I notice less cars on the road.
Like a ballet dancer on point, this country can now be knocked off balance with just the right nudge from a smartly or randomly placed index finger. Since the 1970's, the steady, perceptible and imperceptible shift of US policies, has been away from the common good and has ignored "intelligent design." This shift has and will bear bitter fruit.
It is now all and only about intelligent design of infrastructure; interconnected systems that work to sustain the whole. The beneficiaries of intelligent design and smart infrastructure will be the citizens who ultimately fund the ability to build it. They will also be the victims if the design insists on being expedient rather than intelligent.
The levees in New Orleans are harbingers - New Orleans is a harbinger. Both compromised city planning and racist social systems merged to create what may be replicated in many parts of America in the not too distant future. (Did anyone else find it odd that Mr. Bush kept referring to New Orleans and Biloxi as "this part of the world?" Was he divorcing the Gulf Region of the USA by naming it part of the world rather than the country? No wonder the victims are being referred to as "refugees.")
Intelligent design requires smart, qualified persons in government telling corporate America things they don't want to hear. Intelligent design should be guiding our legislation and treasury.
A renaissance of our energy infrastructure is paramount, essential and needs to happen now. It will employ Americans, it will detox us from all domestic and foreign byproducts of oil, it will give the current generations the feeling that we are part of something - a growing, intelligent and caring construction. Citizens will not be little figures that get plugged into a pre-existing and indifferent system about which they can do nothing but complain, like the frustrated veteran at the Citgo station.
Federal Government is not an indentured policy-maker for business interests that don't want to be regulated.
The mantra "less government" means don't mess with our profit projections with pesky hysterical concerns like global warming, peak oil, toxic waste, air and water pollution and well - you name it.
Federal government must be a projection of our highest consciousness - and the moral components of that consciousness will be revealed by the benevolent intelligence of the designs that our representatives generate and legislate.
We must engage the designers, inventors and architects that look at the universe in which they live with love - yes - love is political moment that presages smart growth. And this has to happen - Now. It may be that the economy will shift but that is the necessary consequence of smart evolution. No other considerations should interfere with intelligent design and smart evolution except the common good.
Cafe standards should not be thought of in terms of profits for Exxon/Mobil. Nuclear power is not the only recourse to fossil fuels. Mass transit should not be thought of as a threat to the sale of tires and cars. The federal government, if it is interested in homeland security, should not just give a modest tax deduction for retrofitting homes to solar, or geothermal - they should pay for most of that cost. Like paying for the intelligent design of levees it will be much less expensive in the long run - but most important it is civil and decent and moral to think and plan in this way. We have seen the immorality of the shrug and the slick deals that keep federal money away from intelligent design.
The engines are revving - it is time to shift.
In my early 20's I wrote a play that took place at the Energy Pavilion of the World's Fair of 2200. After a scene in which Man proves scientifically that there is an afterlife the hostess of the presentation at the pavilion tells the audience that things really changed:
"...after years of cancerous water and chemicaled greens and particled air we are learning finally to surf on the wave of natural givens - to choreograph what is. We are embarking on a world lit by loving imagination and useful poetry; for all elements of the world connect and armies of inspired electricians are weaving a panoramic circuit board that reflects and engages the sublime order of the naked world. We see now at the World's Fair of 2200 that the energy we make must love the energy we are."
The age of the writer is apparent but philosophically I'm with the new college grad. I now don't think we need to prove there's an afterlife - this life can be motivation enough for this new wave - and certainly I don't think this new wave can wait for anytime in the future. The wave we need to surf is peaking into a question mark and a beckoning finger that says - "here - now."
Bill C. Davis is a playwright (www.billcdavis.com) and candidate for congress. (www.votebillc.org)