The images coming out of Louisiana's wetlands are frightening. I can't imagine the environmental and economic repercussions that this disaster will have, long-term. BP must be held accountable, and it is good that you're demanding they pay for the mess they created. But you're forgetting to address the group of people who deserve most of the blame. The ones who, in their constant demand for more and cheaper oil, are truly the cause of this oil spill. The American people.
It's not popular to blame us for anything. It's easy to target those in power or those who make their money from this industry. But it's our fault. We use too much oil; we use it recklessly, we use it wastefully and we use it without any consideration for the consequences. Speaking hard truths to the people who put you in office is sort of your job, Mr. President, and the truth is that we're the ones to blame. We ought to pay, not for the clean-up, which should be the responsibility of the private companies who caused it, but for ensuring that something like this does not happen again. We need a higher gas tax; that money should go toward the research and development of alternative, sustainable energy sources, and it should start right away. We've all contributed to this national addiction, and we all must work together to break away from it. Paying more for gasoline is the only way we will ever use less of it.
It will not be popular. Republicans will go crazy. Proposing a new tax, especially one that would affect every single American, will never be a great way to get votes. But we have to look past the political expediency of the present and focus on the long-term needs of our society. Right now, while the whole country is still reeling from the magnitude of this spill, this moment may be the only one in which the country would accept it as their obligation, as the right thing to do. Don't speak to us like we are children who need to be protected from this; we caused this and we have to be part of the solution. This is what divides us from the generation of Americans we called the greatest; we do not participate in the work, the struggle or the sacrifice unless we are asked to. Ask us. Ask of us to pay more, to use less, to make conscious, daily efforts towards reducing our use of oil. Make sure we see the pictures of those wetlands, hear the stories of all the fisherman facing financial ruin, witness all the destruction wrought by our own willingness to take what is easy and cheap over what is better for us.
Even more than a gas tax, we need a national campaign that reframes this, not as an environmental issue, but as a question of our values. Do we value our way of life? Our industries, our communities, our wildlife and natural beauty? The world we will be leaving to our children? Is cheap oil worth that much? This is a moment when the best parts of the American people need to be called upon, when we can be rallied to do our part to make up for the mistakes we've made and the damages we've caused.
Please, Mr. President, don't spare us any of the blame we have coming.