David Bushey: Old ideologies and blind faith won't fix our problems

Mr. David, Nevada Appeal's Aug. 8 guest columnist, is a man of great faith. He must be, because he has complete devotion in the idea of free market fixing all of America's woes. It doesn't matter that lack of regulation allowed the Enron fiasco, nor does the nigh collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mae conflict with his world view. If we simply cut enough taxes and regulation then everything will be fine. Repeat ad nausem.

For 30 years, that has been a conservative article of faith; to question it an unforgivable heresy. Yet for America to thrive it can no longer be assumed that cutting taxes will magically empower our nation to overcome its difficulties. The incentive of every business is to make money, not to be energy efficient or environmentally conscious. The bottom line is always the final priority in business, not people. Customers come and go. Products arrive and are sold until they are phased out. Money is always the focus of business.

He's quite right that the free market could address the energy woes plaguing America ... if the market had a reason to do so. Until very recently, SUV's were king of the car market. It's only when the consumers address the problem that business responds, and often with great reluctance. How can car manufacturers invest the time, money and energy on fuel efficient vehicles if the fickle winds of consumer interest shift back toward gas guzzlers? At the moment, public attention has finally produced a lethargic response in business, but we were once just as excited about going to the moon. Government providing higher fuel efficiency standards not only assures manufacturers of the need, but also ensures that all the players will raise their products accordingly. No matter how the interest of the masses may shift, those standards will remain. Perhaps enough to allow American cars to be sold abroad once more.

It's interesting that Mr. David brought up World War II. An era before my time, but as I recall, the effort America put into winning that war was nothing short of monumental. The entire free trade system was co-opted to produce war materials. There were curfews. Recycling drives. Victory gardens. Everything and anything that could be done to address the threat was done, within boundary of the law. Today we fight a struggle against an enemy far more insidious than Hitler or Toto. We fight against our own complacency, greed, and privilege for the prosperity and future of this country. Yet I see nothing approaching the mobilization and effort that America mustered for those dark years. Why isn't there a home wind turbine in every backyard or a solar panel on every roof? Why isn't there an effort to retool all automobiles sold in America to be hybrids? Why aren't people doing more to achieve more? We beat the Nazis and walked on the moon. How can curbing our own consumption be more challenging?

As I said before, Mr. David is a man of monumental faith to be so eager and willing to stake the future of America on a throw of Wall Street's dice. He seems unwilling to ponder where America would be if taxes were continuously cut yet the market fails to respond to his simple solution. He seems content to ignore the plight of Americans who depend on the services those taxes finance. He advocates turning a green America into a smoggy and poisoned Beijing. Sadly, Mr. David, I cannot be so callous or cavalier with the future of this country I cherish. I cannot allow personal faith in any ideology to blind me to pragmatic responses to the problems facing America.

The gilded age passed for a reason, Mr. David. You won't find any solutions in bringing it back.

David Bushey is a resident of Carson Valley and a substitute teacher.


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