(Note, I'm an unabashed "Clarkie")
From the Washington Monthly, 1 November 2010
America has a dirty secret, and a mortally dangerous problem. You will occasionally see it mentioned in the press, but almost no politician will give it more than a passing reference. Many despair of finding a solution; others fear offending powerful constituencies. Scholars now consider it so banal that they seldom study it. Most businessmen accept it as a sad, sorry fact of life, though it makes some of them very rich. It’s an $821-million-a-day addiction to foreign oil. That’s $300 billion a year, or about $1,000 for every American—man, woman, and child. In June we sent $27 billion abroad; in July it was over $29 billion. Our dependency on foreign oil costs more than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s about 60 percent of the total U.S. trade deficit. If we weren’t sending the money away, it would be enough to repair America’s woeful infrastructure in a few years. Enough to send every child in America to college, and fix public education to boot. At a time when we’ve lost 8 million jobs, it would be enough to hire 3 million Americans at $100,000 per year, or almost 8 million at about $40,000 per year. If a foreign country came here and said, “Pay us this tax,” we would consider it an act of war. Yet when a political party discusses trying to recapture $300 billion a year in taxes, it’s political suicide. Americans pay billions of dollars per month to foreign countries—some of them incubators of terrorism, nearly all of them unstable dictatorships—and it isn’t even a campaign issue. But this tragic situation also presents us with the greatest opportunity in a decade to recharge America’s economy and build a platform for renewed economic growth. I want to tell you how it can be done. And without a tax on gasoline or carbon.
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