The highs and lows of it

Published 5:14 pm Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ain’t no levee high enough and ain’t no gas price low enough. This is the American blues.

As I look around the country that I love I realize it is having some birthing pains and no one brought an epidural shot.

The levees aren’t high enough and the gas isn’t low enough. We are facing some heavy problems. The lucky folks are the ones whose house foreclosed before the floods! At least they have their stuff.

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One moment I am depressed about all the flooding and having flashbacks to post Katrina when the levees did not hold in New Orleans and then the next I am angry because I have to fill up my Ford Explorer. The fear after the storm when gasoline was scarce and desperately needed gave me a glimpse into the future and I did not like it then. I am really not liking it now either.

I am mad that people live behind barriers they think will keep the water out, and yet, no one can plan for the big 500 year floods but the Dutch. The water comes in, the water goes away and the people build back and then a few years later another 500 year flood hits and so on and so on. Did anyone learn any lessons? Will lightning strike twice for Louisiana since 500 year floods are hitting 15 years apart?

Our coastal areas are vulnerable to another hit by a hurricane, and yet we continue to build back. We build stronger and higher, but we put ourselves back in the position of being another disaster victim. Do we hope for the best? Or is it worth the fight to live in such a beautiful place?

It reminds me of those ants in the fields. I see the giant mound of ants and as a child I found morbid pleasure in stomping on their skyscraper dirt pile. Those ants would come tearing out of the holes and after what appeared to be extreme confusion and chaos, would set out building back what was destroyed. (They did not wait for FEMA) You could tear that mound up everyday and they would continue to rebuild and rebuild again. Were the ants stupid, or was it easier to pick up the pieces right were they were? Maybe ants have nothing better to do than watch WifeSwap.

Could it be the mentality of the ant that keeps people staying where a government controlled levee could break again and destroy their dirt pile? Or could the connection of home be such a strong force that it drives people to suffer the consequences of the forces of nature?

As the flood waters continue to play havoc with our mid section, the country continues to struggle with our high gas prices. Can gas go lower ever again? Saudi Arabia pays 68 cents a gallon, are they digging in couches looking for more money to put gas in their cars?

Should I even complain about gas prices? Well it hasn’t stopped me yet but I do feel guilty. Yes, I think we should have had an energy diet since the time the experts knew oil production would soon be out of balance. You can’t expect us Americans to wean ourselves from our oil addiction, we have to be forced.

Why are they selling big trucks and SUV’s if the gasoline is going to run out before the payments do? Is it my fault the Hummer gets a poor MPG rating? It keeps little Susie up with the Jones’s.

My husband’s giant Nissan Titan truck was great for the family. Six could ride comfortably to the family farm in Perry County, but the gas mileage turned brutal. That is why the new truck is an Nissan Altima. We decided to buy a trailer to pull when a truck bed is needed. However, the testosterone level of my husband has suffered but the fewer stops at the gas station have more than made up for it.

Looking to our next president, whoever he may be, I hope he can do something about raising levees higher and lowering gas prices. But, I am not going to get my hopes up. He has to work with Congress to get anything done and we all know how that’s working (or not working).

After all, Congress finally agreed after Hurricane Katrina to start a program to inspect levees similar to the program to inspect dams. The catch is the lawmakers have yet to appropriate sufficient funds to activate such a brilliant plan. That is like having the cure for cancer but not spending the money to hand it out.

I guess the moral of this story is that sometimes we have to help ourselves. We should not wait on others, even if it’s the government to come and save the day or even prevent the day from coming. We must act first. We must enact our own energy policy. We must conserve gas ourselves; change our habits even if you are the only one in a sea of millions who will. Times a wasting and holding out till the end could mean that Al Gore may show up at your house and make you hug a tree. (Although I did hear his large home could power up 22 houses a year for the amount of energy it uses, but who am I to point fingers at an Oscar, Nobel prize winner.)

Take care of our own problems like the town of Valmeyer, Illinois along the Mississippi River whose little town washed away in the big ‘93 flood. They decided to take matters into their own hands and save their own selves from the next 500 year flood. The town moved its location away from the floodplain and onto higher ground. As I write, they are looking down from their bluffs at the scene where their little town was flooded before. They are high and dry. But they still are paying over four dollars a gallon for gas!

That’s the American Blues.