The cost, spoils of war

Posted: Wednesday, January 29, 2003

National Public Radio recently reported someone's opinion that a war to secure stable, U.S.-favorable leadership in Iraq so that its oil can start flowing to global markets is the most effective economic stimulus package possible for the United States.

Furthermore, with an $11 trillion economy and $2 trillion national budget, we can afford a war that will likely cost $100 billion to $200 billion. Yes, I thought, this person is right: Giving the U.S. economy a shot of cheap energy is a very effective economic stimulus. But I believe we have missed the significance of the next statement.

Leaving debates over the presence or absence of weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's status as terrorist or dictator or heathen aside for the moment, let's focus on the simple statement that: We the United States can afford $100 billion to $200 billion to secure inexpensive energy to stimulate our economy.

I agree! So regardless of whether we choose to fight Saddam, let's start investing those billions in renewable energy machinery and transmission infrastructure to secure inexpensive energy produced within our own country forever! Rather than exporting money from the U.S. economy (approximately $90 billion per year) in our pursuit of dwindling fossil energy that comes primarily from foreign sources, we can follow wise business strategy by retaining production of the most costly input to our economy - energy - within our borders.

For the selfish American who wants to continue economic and "standard-of-living" (material wealth) dominance in the world, there couldn't be a more logical step than promotion of renewable energy machinery and infrastructure. The $100 billion to $200 billion would bring us a long way toward energy independence. For example, investment of $150 billion would buy us wind generation and transmission equipment that will generate 350 billion kilowatt-hours per year of delivered wind energy (generation plus transmission). That is 3.5 percent of total U.S. energy use (10,000 terawatt-hours per year).

The Alaska North Slope gas pipeline is estimated to cost $15 billion. In this time of uncertainty, may we have the vision and courage to seize what opportunities exist, may we remember that goodness begins with us, and may we each humbly work to achieve intelligence and compassion in our actions.

Wayne Waterman


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