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Personal political profile regarding positions on energy

By Jim Killebrew

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[February 20, 2014]  In the first article regarding our personal political profile, I discussed the issue of abortion (article). In short, if a person believes in the liberal position on that issue, the person will most likely believe in a woman's right to choose abortion at any time during the pregnancy. That person will likely believe it is OK to kill the child in gestation and even have the government pay for it if the woman cannot afford the procedure. That position is widely held by the Democratic Party, so the person will likely agree with the Democratic candidate. Conversely, if the person believes it is wrong to kill the child during the gestation period, the person will believe in the position of the "right-to-life'" group. That person will believe the child inside the mother is a human being and has the rights afforded by the American Constitution and will work toward overturning the laws that support abortion. The person will be opposed to the government paying for an abortion procedure since that person would consider killing the child to be murder. That position is widely held by the Republican Party, so the person will likely agree with the Republican candidate.

This article will address another issue to add to the individual's "personal political profile." The issue addressed in this article is America's energy. America has a long history of being fueled by various types of fossil fuels: Coal, oil and natural gas are the most common types of fossil fuels since they are derived from the earth's resources of reserves for those commodities.

The producers of oil have been demonized, the practice of "fracking" has been maligned as irresponsible, moratoriums on drilling for oil and mining for coal have been implemented, and some have suggested we strengthen, with government stimulus funding, the alternative energy efforts to find ways to provide alternative sources of energy including solar power, wind power and water power. At this current point in our national development, those alternative sources are not nearly as marketable in society at large as is the dependence on fossil fuels.

The reality is that we have during the last century put ourselves in a position that has brought us to a dependency on the fossil fuels we must have to run industrial nations, irrespective of their political ideology. At this point on the spectrum of human existence, we have sold our souls to the use of fossil fuels such as oil and coal. Without those things, we would be required to return to the so-called Middle Ages, when ships depended on wind and travel depended on feet. The truth is no person in any industrialized society or otherwise would be willing to give up the industrialization and technological advances we have with oil. Remember, much more is made from oil than just gasoline. Look around the environment  literally tens of thousands of "things" are made from oil derivatives.

Because this is such a large issue for America and the rest of the world, it has worked its way up the issue ladder to become a political issue tied up in the election cycles. One cannot discount the extended impact energy has on the rest of the economy, including transportation, jobs, manufacturing, research and development, medical science, and believe it or not, tradition. So, it is not surprising that energy has become a hot issue that brings out large decisions such as the building or not building of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Energy

Liberal perspective

The liberal perspective is tied to other issues like global warming, or climate change, where many in the liberal camp believe the phenomenon is more "man-made" than natural consequences. Even though there are huge reserves around the world, the liberal position puts a lot of emphasis on fossil fuels being a resource that is diminishing. Because those resources are diminishing, the liberal groups want to cut back or eliminate dependence on oil and coal in favor of more research and development of alternative sources of energy.

Again, remembering the liberal viewpoint is built on a foundation of large government tending to problems, the liberal group wants government to establish an overall plan of shifting from the use of fossil fuels to alternative sources like solar and wind. The liberal mindset believes the government should have the dominant say-so in exploration of new forms of energy, and this should be funded through taxpayer funding. The liberal point of view wants to engage in a form of capitalism that has politicians making choices between companies that should be funded by taxpayer money and those that don't. Additionally, the liberal group believes that more restrictive laws, regulations and policies should be enacted to control the efforts of private markets in the energy business. This ultimately leads to government control of the gas and electric companies, removing them from private ownership. Again, the liberal groups believe the individual citizen should be protected from the private ownership of energy-producing executives and companies.

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Conservative perspective

The conservative perspective, of course, counters the liberal perspective by insisting that the fossil fuels are in abundant supply and available to the United States to keep America self-sufficient for several generations in the future. They cite the current exploration and production taking place on private land in the United States, and they look to studies that have produced results that there are vast supplies of oil under the public land and offshore around the borders of the United States. They support the issues like building pipelines to transport the oil and offer studies and current safe pipelines as evidence there is little or no impact on the environment when pipelines are built.

The conservative group believes the prices of oil dictate the price of domestic fuel and artificially keep the price higher when other countries like Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia and additional countries in the Middle East band together to keep the price of oil much higher. The conservative group insists the United States actually helps the people in other countries who engage in terrorist activities against the United States by propping them up with higher prices of crude oil. The conservative group continually calls for opening up the oil fields in America to stop the dependency on foreign oil.

The conservative perspective supports the increase in development and production of nuclear energy as an alternative to the fossil fuels. They often cite the redundant safety procedures and practices in that industry, both in America and abroad, that demonstrates the low incidence of accidents around the sites.

The conservative groups contend that the use of wind and solar power has not arrived to the 21st century in sufficient enough availability to provide affordable energy to the mainstream American. Although the conservative group does support the continued search for and development of alternative sources of energy, they believe it should be through private investments from private companies and not with taxpayer money. Further, the conservative groups believe the industries that supply natural gas and electricity should remain in the free market system, owned privately rather than being taken over by the government.

Therefore, regarding the issue of energy, as a voter, one must decide if they are standing with the liberal side of the issue or the conservative side of the issue. Generally, if agreement from the voter is with the liberal perspective, the voter will vote for the Democrat. If the agreement from the voter is with the conservative perspective, the voter will vote for the Republican.

So, as with the issue of abortion, this issue of energy adds to the voter's personal political profile and will help guide the voter through the election. Each candidate will be examined regarding their standing, not just on their political party affiliation, but how they stand on the issues of abortion and energy. That candidate who matches the voter's personal perspective will win the vote from that person. Again, this is very important not just in the general election, but in the primaries as well. During the primary cycle, there is usually an array of candidates from the same party, but with differing viewpoints regarding how they will approach solutions for any given issue. So look for discussions regarding more issues in the next articles.

[By JIM KILLEBREW]

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