Letter to the Editor: To step up, not sacrifice, is to succeed

I was somewhat shocked at the criticism and headline of a commentary on President George W. Bush’s State of the Union Address (“Bush should ask us to make sacrifices,” Feb. 8). Contrary to what Joshua K. Robin and Jon Kent had to say, the president did offer “real solutions,” and not just rhetoric, on some of the more pressing issues our country faces.

On their global assessment, I completely disagree with their assertion that “in our crusade into Iraq, we have neglected real and emerging threats in the world while alienating our allies and damaging our influence.” This administration has been anything but negligent in dealing with emerging threats in the run-up to Iraq, specifically with Iran and North Korea. We have actively supported our European partners in their talks with Iran to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis, and continue to stand firm with our allies in Asia as members of the six-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

As their commentary called for mending relationships with our closest allies, they seem to neglect the advances that have been made on that front. For example, recent elections in Germany have ushered in new leadership. Just last month, the new German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently visited the White House for successful talks with President Bush, something we have not seen in a while given our disagreements with Germany over Iraq.

President Bush’s banner statement of the speech that “America is addicted to oil” was the first of the solutions the president would later propose leading our nation to energy independence. One of the criticisms Robin and Kent have of the president was his proposal of “solving the energy problem through innovation” and that it “proved to be merely talk.” That statement of theirs is nothing but misleading.

Look at what innovation on this has done so far. They seem to fail to recognize the advancements innovation has already brought us. The major automakers, as well as oil companies, have already taken it upon themselves to develop products that will provide and consume sources of energy other than oil. The major automakers in Detroit realize the wave of the future and demand in the market lay in hybrids, ethanol and other technology, and have thus started focusing more research and development in that field. In fact, General Motors ran ad spots on this during Super Bowl coverage.

The resiliency of our economy and our free market enterprise system here in America – not the hand of a forceful and overreaching government telling citizens how to consume – will ultimately lead to what is needed to sustain our energy independence in the future. It is a flawed philosophy to believe that if President Bush had called for a gas tax, it “would push Americans toward more energy-efficient vehicles.” For starters, a gas tax would offer little-to-no incentive to make the switch, as the savings in the end wind up being negligible. Furthermore, the gas needed to run the vehicles would still be taxed, which is counterproductive.

Innovation, not conservation, will create the real solutions necessary. If you don’t place an emphasis on innovation to breaking that addiction to oil, how do you propose solving the problem at hand? Conservation is not a solution, nor does it lead to a reduction in dependence on foreign oil. If you want to reduce foreign oil dependence, America would either have to find more of it domestically (up in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) or find alternative sources of energy. President Bush stressed the latter as the solution.

Still, on the home front, the health care issue continues to be a central issue. Just because the president may not have spent a great deal of time on health care in his speech does not mean he is lacking compassion for those Americans who are uninsured. The only lack of compassion in Washington on health care is if Democrats do not work with Republicans on Capitol Hill to create a viable solution to fix our system, and the only way we will solve it is if we work together. I challenge members of Congress to create ideas and solutions together, not remain divided, to fix health care.

For the prosperity of our future, Americans shouldn’t have to make sacrifices, but, rather, step up to secure it. Instead of asking Americans for sacrifice, President Bush has asked Americans to step up to meet the challenges we face. Not backing down and shying away from them will bring about the solutions necessary to lead our nation into the future.

In my humble opinion, asking Americans to step up, not sacrifice, is what John F. Kennedy meant at his inauguration when he said those inspirational words: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

– Curtis Bergh is a senior business major and president of the Northeastern University College Republicans.

Leave a Reply