July 26, 2006

The Challenge of our Generation

Every generation faces a major challenge. In the past 100 years we have seen wars, economic depressions and an iron curtain that divided the world for decades. Undoubtedly, our generation too will have to come to terms with a major crisis. While we can only speculate what that may be, the challenge of developing a new fuel source ranks very high.

For centuries the world has utilized coal, oil, and other non-renewable fossil fuels as the primary source of energy for everything from lights to spacecraft. At our current rate of consumption, the planet cannot endure this kind of energy expenditure. With globalization offering empowerment of millions every day around the world to own cars, use air conditioning and power electronics, the rate of energy use is skyrocketing. China and India in particular are each bringing over a billion people into the modern energy world. In part, this competition has driven the costs of fuel up as demand for energy is increasing much faster than the available supply.

While the supply-demand problem of energy is becoming easier and easier to see through our wallets, it is only a matter of time until this becomes an even bigger international issue. It will not be long until countries begin to compete over access to oil. Because fuel is such a necessity for the modern economy to power our computers, trucks, cargo ships, cars and trains, no country is willing to go without it. As if the soon-to-be intense competition for oil between India, China, the US, Europe and others were not problem enough, a sick twist of fate has left the majority of the worlds' oil supply in the hands of a few rogue nations. The world's largest oil producers are Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran and Nigeria. Each has a history of human rights issues, social problems and most importanty, international political difficulties. When oil supply gets worse, the countries wielding the most power will be those who least deserve it and least able to handle it.

Beyond the supply of fossil fuel, its very use is causing tremendous environmental damage. The notion of global warming used to be almost a joke. Even if it were true, it was happening so slowly that no one alive today would survive to experience its real effects. But look at the last 12 months. Last August demonstrated a hurricane season unmatched in decades. As you may recall, the national weather service actually ran out of names to give all of the hurricanes. The following winter was unusually mild. Here in Ohio there was hardly snow to speak of. Now this summer has shown an incredible heat wave throughout the whole of the United States with temperatures of 100 degrees no longer limited to the southwest, but into the northern plains and Midwest.

The challenge of our generation may be to find a solution to this compounding problem. We need to discover a new form of energy that is clean, renewable, and sustainable. No time soon will fossil fuels be entirely replaced, but they need to be subsidized as soon as possible to alleviate today’s energy woes.

July 13, 2006

Foul pLay

Though it was covered a lot less in the news than one would expect, ex chief of Enron and W. henchman Ken Lay died last week of an apparent heart attack. The reaper found him at one of his vacation homes in Aspen, Colorado. Since the collapse of Enron and the theft of countless individuals’ jobs, salaries, retirement packages and stocks, Ken Lay has been on my list of hated individuals. I firmly believe that this guy and his partners committed a serious crime and deserve to pay the penalty for their unbelievable greed.

That day will never come, however. In May, Lay was found guilty on counts of fraud and conspiracy, as well as for being an outright asshole. Sentencing was to take place this coming September, in which Lay would be likely forced to spend the rest of his life in prison and return $183 million of stolen funds. Because you can’t put a dead guy on the stand, and nor can you stick one in jail, the trial is being vacated. That means that the Justice department is giving up on seizing Lay’s assets. Yeah- his family gets to keep all of the money, even though Lay was convicted.

I hate to be “that guy” when it comes to conspiracies. I don’t like to be thought of as crazy because I believe there’s more than what meets the eye. However, Ken Lay’s death seems altogether too convenient. After losing the trial, Lay was out of prison on $5 million bond- pocket change for him. With millions tucked away in offshore bank accounts, it would be easy for Lay to fake his own death, and could be anywhere right now sipping daiquiris on a beach in the Caribbean.

Lay has the money and the connections to pull something like that off. Frankly, if you have enough money you can do pretty much whatever you want. His close ties with the Bush administration including large donations to the president’s election war chest could have allowed him to obtain a new passport, safe passage out of the country, or even a position within the witness protection program- any of which could help him skirt the sentencing trial, jail time, and hefty fines.

I’ve consistently been very skeptical of the Bush regime and the whole Enron situation. Honestly, I find anything coming out of Texas to be a bit unnerving. So maybe its fitting that I’m suspicious of Lay’s opportune death, but I think someone needs to be looking into it. The autopsy was too fast, the body was cremated, and I have yet to read a report that suggests that a member of the press actually witnessed Lay’s deceased body.

Interestingly enough, Lay is not the only one connected with the Enron fallout that has recently died. A British banker who was questioned regarding his involvement in the collapse of the energy giant was also found dead.

After doing some googling for other Ken Lay conspiracy theorists, I have found a few other ideas of what happened. I find these to be a little bit farther fetched, but still worth reading. Some suggest the Bush administration may have disposed of Lay to take away some negative press. Others believe that Enron attorney Jeffery Skilling may have had something to do with it. With Lay gone, Skilling may be off the hook.

Any way you cut it, Lay was found guilty of a crime against thousands of hard working Americans who lost thier financial lives to the greed of a handful of executives. Those victims will never get justice, nor will they retrieve thier lost money. The Ken Lay- Enron story is altogether a chilling tale of what people in high places can get away with.