Thursday, May 25, 2006

Another False Choice Hyped as a "Progressive" Alternative for Ending Our Oil Addiction

As desperately as we need real policy alternatives, policy campaigns like the unfortunately shallow new KicktheOilHabit campaign just launched by the Center for American Progress are a sad distraction rather than a real benefit to the progressive political community struggling to advocate and build public demand for progressive policy alternatives that will benefit ALL Americans, rather than only the wealthy and slickly hip ones (who have perhaps newly invested in stocks for flex-fuel vehicles)--

In extreme disappointment at the shallowness of this campaign, and in the hope that it might be dramatically improved, here is the letter Satyagraha wrote to the Center for American Progress to protest the shallow policy alternative they are currently hyping. This letter was written in the belief that the Center for American Progress should be capable of developing a campaign that offers a more substantially progressive alternative for all Americans:

Dear Fellows at American Progess Action & the Center for American Progress,

Your newly launched "Kick the Oil Habit" Campaign is deeply disappointing! As currently constructed, it sounds like little more than an advertisement for the Flex-Fuel automobile industry, rather than anything approaching an alternative policy agenda....

I'm amazed and disturbed that your "Alternative" Plan to "make a difference in the lives of all Americans" completely ignores the one most important requirement of any plan for working-class, moderate-income Americans:

Raise automobile MPG fuel economy standards for all new cars, and make low-price 50+ mpg compact cars a priority for American car manufacturers!

All of your emphasis and the media's emphasis on Flex-fuel cars is cute and hip for upper-income people who can afford to pay for these more expensive flex-fuel vehicles. But your current so-called "alternative" strategy offers little to the many Americans who can barely afford to pay their current fuel bills, let alone buy new technology vehicles that are more expensive than regular cars, and provide no improvement on overall fuel economy (since ethanol provides fewer mpg than gasoline)--

So if you really want to develop a Policy Alternative for ALL Americans, you need to make a prominent demand for higher auto MPG standards (for both regular and flex-fuel cars) the center of your campaign. Without this, all this talk of ethanol and flexfuel yellowgreen cars is window-dressing that does more harm than good to work for policy alternatives by distracting attention from the most substantive policy issue of all: the need for all Americans to demand higher fuel efficiency.

We would now have much higher MPG standards if Congress had enacted legislation proposed a decade ago to require higher auto fuel efficiency standards. Instead, a total failure of legislation and policymaking in this country fostered the epidemic of SUVs, and drove our fuel economy standards backwards.

We will continue to fail to do the one thing that could achieve the most dramatic fuel savings if all the focus on alternative fuels keeps attention from being directed toward the need to demand dramatically higher fuel efficiency standards for all cars in the near term, making use of already available technologies. Without this, your supposed alternative plan is no different from the plan of the automobile advertisers for flex-fuel vehicles.... who hope to continue to have their cake while eating it too, at the expense of all working-class Americans--

Right now, your "Kick the Oil Habit" campaign offers no real alternative, and is in fact a rather sad joke on working-class Americans, since you are basically telling us the best alternative we have available to us is to buy new flex-fuel cars we can't afford to buy! This may be a good strategy to benefit the investor class that can afford to invest in the flex-fuel stock market, but for the rest of us who struggle to survive each day, and have nothing to invest in even our own futures, let alone in the stock market, this is a rather nasty and bitter joke to offer as a policy alternative for ALL Americans....

So would you please refocus your campaign on a demand to dramatically increase fuel-efficiency standards for all US-manufactured cars?! Even for the US car industry, this is an important policy demand, because if the US car industry does not become competitive with foreign-made cars in the fuel-efficiency department, there won't be much of a US car industry left in another 10 years, and THAT will also not benefit working-class Americans, especially in Michigan!

If you add an emphasis on fuel-efficiency standards to your Kick the Oil Habit campaign, I will be happy to publicize it on this Blog-- but as it now stands, your proposed policy "alternative" is a nobrainer that can only make those with brains feel insulted that you are offering it as an "alternative." Such a campaign may be good advertising for the flex-fuel auto market, but it doesn't go very deep to foster an alternative policy agenda....

So would you please be a bit more deeply creative, and offer a true progressive alternative?!! I would expect Fellows at the Center for American Progress to know and offer much better than this kind of shallow campaign to all Americans--


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