The Republicans have their echo chamber which allows them to influence the media, so it is my turn to help the other side.


Gas Prices

Congress makes me sick. Today, while eating some vegan food at a cafe, I was reading a few articles about what the congresscritters are doing about gas prices; which is to say, more than they should be.

The GOP is recommending tax rebates. The Democrats want to temporarily remove federal gas tax. You people are all idiots! The only person I agreed with was Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico who said, "Oil is worth what people pay for it." Now he understands how the free market works. I can't believe how hypocritical all these senators are. Maria Cantwell wants us to reduce energy consumption, but at the same time, she keeps making noise about going after the oil companies for "price gouging". Here is how it works: prices go up, then consumption goes down. If consumption goes down enough, prices will stop going up. It doesn't take a rocket scientist.

The only appropriate course of action for Congress at this point is to repeal the tax breaks for oil companies... tax breaks which should have never been passed in the first place. The only thing that'll convince Americans to start changing their habits is a swift kick to the balls, which high gas prices have the potential to cause. And hey, look on the bright side, the less people drive, the less congested the freeways.

The way I see it: leave things alone, and it'll all work out okay. Because hell, with peak oil, tax breaks only get you so far.


Buyer, Be Fair

Tonight the University of Washington Earth Club hosted a Fair Trade movie night on campus. The event consisted of the short film Turtle World and the new documentary Buyer, Be Fair. John de Graaf and Matt Warning were on hand to take questions and have discussions about the film. Buyer, Be Fair gives an overview and history of two certifications: Fair Trade and FSC (which certifies wood). It also talks about a couple of communities that have been positively affected by these certifications.

Both certifications are market-based approaches, which means consumers decide about whether they purchase certified products and they are not required through government regulation. Fair Trade was started around 20 years ago in order to guarantee coffee growers fair prices for their goods. While Fair Trade is mainly a social guarantee, it often comes hand in hand with organic and shade grown guarantees. Farmers are kept on their land, instead of moving to the city for another job while a big company clear cuts their land for coffee, or they cut it themselves in order to grow more profitable maize. Shade grown coffee helps biodiversity and keeps habitat for native animals. FSC certifies forests and logging operations for compliance. A certified forest (which produces certified wood) isn't clear cut and leaves lots of habitat for animals.

For more information on either certification or the movie, go to their respective websites (found in the first paragraph). I feel market-based approaches are the way to go. I believe that people, when given the information and choice, would choose to support living wages for coffee farmers (so they can actually turn a profit) and sustainably managed forests. The United States is currently far behind Europe in both support and knowledge of these certifications, but that doesn't mean we can't catch up.