Oil fuels better lives by Jeff Jacoby –Boston.com
AS THE DEEPWATER Horizon spill continues to foul the Gulf of Mexico, pundits and policymakers everywhere are once again reaching for the A-word. The BP disaster, proclaims Washington eminence David Gergen, is “a wake-up call to end our addiction to oil.’’ Without “a real climate bill,’’ warn the editors of the Washington Post, “America might be addicted to oil a lot longer than it needs to be.’’
We must “begin to wean ourselves from our addiction to oil,’’ intones Senator John Kerry on ABC, while syndicated columnist Thomas Friedman lambastes “the powerful lobbies and vested interests that want to keep us addicted to oil.’’
Americans consume oil not because they are “addicted’’ to it, but because it enriches their lives, making possible prosperity, comfort, and mobility that would have been all but unimaginable just a few generations ago. Almost by definition, an addiction is something one is healthier without. But oil-based energy improves human health and reduces poverty — it makes life longer, safer, and better. Addictions debase life. Oil improves and expands it.
Saying America is addicted to oil is idiotic. If America is addicted to oil, then why do we need to hire people to clean up the oil spill? If oil is as addictive as a drug, then carpet crawling would be replaced by beach crawling in the Gulf of Mexico.
Accusing America of oil addiction is offensive. The underlying sentiment implies anyone driving a car has the moral fortitude of a drug addict. I’ve never checked with the gas station attendant when they would be receiving their next shipment of Columbia made gasoline–because the best stuff comes from Columbia, you know.
There are no oil-whores or gas-heads and I doubt Americans would ever break into their neighbors home or turn to prostitution in order to fund an oil habit. There is not and there is no need for oil rehab centers because using oil does not destroy one’s life.
The purpose of this ludicrous attack is solely political. People on the right use the addiction accusation, but throw in the word “foreign.” Foreign oil is undesirable as a national defense issue and adds to the trade deficit. If the imagined addiction was only to American oil, there would be no issue.
People on the left use the addiction attack in order to promote environmentalism. The hypocrisy of the left matches that of the right; if all cars ran on something environmentally friendly such as solar power, they would not be accusing Americans of having solar addiction.
It’s fine to be concerned about the environment and national security, but stop insinuating America has weak moral fiber because they’ve made the most of a very useful natural resource.